On 6-7 September 2012, the government of Kenya hosted the 2nd Freedom Online Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
This conference was important to Kenya and the coalition members as it provided an excellent platform to further the agenda of the coalition. Many African nations were either just starting to develop interest in policy making for ICT and Internet governance, and putting in place standards of freedom of expression online, or were yet to get involved. The conference gave Kenya the opportunity to offer leadership in Africa on related policy debates. This was with a view to getting more African populace to leverage the economic and social benefit of the Internet without inhibitions. This was especially important as Kenya and Ghana were, until the conference, the only African members of the Freedom Online coalition. During the conference, Tunisia joined the Coalition, becoming its third African member, and bringing the total number of countries in the Coalition to 18.
Kenya has had many firsts in the area of ICT and governance that present useful benchmarks for other nations in Africa and elsewhere. With 4 undersea cables holding more than 2.8 terabytes of bandwidth available to Kenyans and much more in waiting, a national Fiber Optic connection to all its neighbouring countries and over 5,261,919 Mbps international connectivity (Ref Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) 2-11) there was vast knowledge and opportunity to be shared at the Kenya Freedom Online conference.
According to the Communications Commission of Kenya, Kenya’s Internet adoption is top in Africa with over 17 Million Kenyans (36 percent of the population) accessing the Internet. Approx 6 Million Kenyans access the Internet via mobile devices. Some of the social benefits include mobile money transfer which has transformed lives of Kenyans immensely. Kenya is working on policies and programs that aim to ensure more Kenyans have access to the Internet. The Kenya Freedom Online conference was therefore an excellent opportunity for the coalition’s agenda to be fronted in Africa, offer membership growth, and create awareness of its themes.
Conference Venue: UN Complex, Nairobi
Governments - Ministers/high-ranking representatives from Coalition member countries, African countries and other countries with a good track record on respecting Internet freedom and supporting statements and resolutions.
Civil Society - Non-governmental organizations active in African countries and elsewhere on promoting freedom of speech and expression on the Internet, technical organizations and tool developers, individual bloggers, and other members of civil society.
Companies - Representatives of search engines, Telecom companies, and other companies with a pronounced interest in Internet governance, legislation, and a free, open and innovative Internet.
International organizations - Representatives from African Union, COMESA, East African Community, European Union, Organization of American States, ASEAN, etc.
Professional bodies - Including vendors, consumer/user associations
The conference provided opportunities to network with stakeholders from around the world, exchange views, share valuable insights, align with best practices on Internet freedom, and learn how to use the Internet to promote development and governance.