Ginger Paque   29 Mar 2012   Internet Governance

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I unpacked my souvenirs from Abuja, and realised my best memories were not of Nigeria and Africa, but of Nigerians and Africans. I had just arrived, exhausted and jet-lagged from the IDLELO 5's Free and Open Source Foundation For Africa Conference and my mind was still racing. It was well worth the three-continent marathon (South America-Europe-Africa) – it was one of those times when serendipity rules: the wrong and the right things come together in the perfect juxtaposition of people and ideas to catalyse new insights and understanding.

  Sonigitu Ekpe and Ginger at IDLELO 5

In the midst of rampant technology and idealism on open source, I had the pleasure of facilitating a flood of dynamic ideas which even gave me a new description for my workshop technique: a P2P IG (Peer-to-peer Internet Governance, my new catch-phrase) open source knowledge exchange. What could be better? It reminded me of the ICANN 43 capacity building sessions in Costa Rica: ICANN 2 ICANN sessions where experts shared knowledge with each other, and worked together to work better – the bottom-up application of a real ICANN 2 ICANN Academy!

The IDLELO (idlelo is a Southern African word meaning 'Common Grazing Ground') conference had such a high level of energy that sessions intruded upon each other, and we ended up not using or even needing the illustrations, videos and slides I had spent hours preparing. The conference room (theatre-style) should not have been conducive to discussion and exchange – it looked like we were preparing for a lecture. But with the interest and generous sharing of the experts, non-experts, techies and non-techies, we went back to the good old-fashioned tradition of discussion, common to civilisations, from Africa and China to – more recently – Greek and Roman squares.

We debated, discussed, even argued, the concepts and viewpoints of Internet governance. The discussion was so interesting that we skipped breaks, and continued after the closing ceremony. I can only hope that the other workshop participants learned as much from the workshop as I did about open sourcing Internet governance through multistakeholder knowledge sharing.

Virginia (Ginger) Paque is IG programmes co-ordinator at DiploFoundation.

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