Supported by the President of Benin, Patrice Talon, Benin broke new ground as one of the early adopters in Africa to start implementing UNESCO’s Internet Universality indicators. The launch ceremony was attended by the key actors from various sectors in the country on 23 July 2019 in Cotonou, with the presence of the Minister of digital economy and communication, Ms Aurélie Adam Soulé Zoumarou.
“Internet access and the related digital usages are crucial for economic growth, human development and social inclusion”, said the Minister. She stressed the need for bold actions to be put in place to address inequalities, for Internet to equally serve all.
Following this intervention, the Director General of the Beninese agency for universal service, electronic communications and postal services, Emile Kougbadi, presented the Agency’s work, its achievements and projects stemming from the government’s ambitions for the sector, as well as its challenges and perspectives.
“This study [assessing Internet Universality Indicators in Benin] is a first in Africa. Benin is a pioneer, and the Beninese experience will serve as a model for other countries, beyond the continent” pointed out by Professor Alain Kiyindou (UNESCO Chair on Emerging Practices in Technology and Communications for Development at Bordeaux Montaigne University), in charge of coordinating the assessment project in Benin.
The launch event highlighted the role of the newly created Multistakeholder Advisory Board (MAB), responsible for overseeing the research process through a truly inclusive manner. The MAB is composed of 29 members representing various stakeholders of the Internet ecosystem in Benin. Among these 29 members can notably be found representatives from academia – Abomey-Calvi University, Computer science training and research institute; from government – Ministry of digital economy and communications, Ministry of secondary and technical education and professional training; and media – Sonia TV, Radio France International.
The assessment is being conducted by 15 researchers from the country who will collect data from around 80 targets, 20 national and international databases and 100 Beninese institutions. This is to acquire reliable information on the state of Internet evolution. The project team covers the diverse expertise of the different ROAM-X categories of indicators: that of human Rights, Openness, Accessibility, Multistakeholder participation and Cross-cutting indicators.
The ongoing assessment, being contextualized within the framework of the country’s Agenda on Information Society, aims to reach a comprehensive understanding of the national Internet environment and of Internet policies in Benin, by assessing these according to the 109 core indicators identified by UNESCO.
The goal is to shed light on shortcomings and achievements of the national Internet by evaluating the factors of change and complexity of Internet development, its contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as to facilitate the flow of information and innovations in Benin.
Closing the ceremony, several upcoming events were announced: notably, the second meeting of the Multistakeholder Advisory Board on 21 September, the national validation meeting on 19 October, and the presentation of the study on the framework of the Internet Governance Forum in Berlin on 25 November 2019.
Professor Alain Kiyindou, UNESCO Chair on Emerging practices in technology and communications for development at Bordeaux Montaigne University, in charge of coordinating the study, presented the implementation process. © Benin Ministry of Digital Economy and Communication