Following the completion of a research process that began in 2018, some 40 participants (from the private sector, higher education and research institutions, civil society, the media and government services) took part in the validation workshop for the report of a pilot study on Internet Universality Indicators in Senegal, held in Dakar on 30 July 2019.
Under the coordination of UNESCO’s Multisectoral Regional Office for West Africa-Sahel, in partnership with the Senegalese Chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC), the ITU Dakar Office and the Ministère de l’économie numérique et des télécommunications of Senegal, participants reviewed the draft report of the national consultation held in May 2019.
UNESCO’s Internet Universality Indicators are a framework for assessing Internet development in order to identify trends, grey areas and suggest lines of action to ensure that Internet development respects human rights, is open, accessible and based on the participation of multiple stakeholders. This important activity is part of a pilot initiative actually led by UNESCO in West Africa in two countries: Senegal and Benin.
The final report, which was validated by the participants, is based on a subset of indicators from the five categories of the Internet Universality Indicators’ framework, namely: Rights, Openness, Accessibility to all, Multistakeholders participation (ROAM) and Cross-cutting issues.
UNESCO has proposed the concept of Internet Universality to, inter alia, stimulate actions to promote freedom of expression and media development in the digital age as well as universal access to information and knowledge. It also aims to improve global Internet governance and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
What can we learn from Senegal’s report?
The validated report presents the state of Internet development in Senegal, with its advances and shortcomings in the different categories of indicators. For example, in the category of “Rights”, the report notes that Senegal, although it has ratified a set of conventions and adopted laws guaranteeing the protection of human rights, still needs to make efforts in the implementation, monitoring and enforcement of the texts and frameworks adopted.
Under the category “Accessibility to all”, Senegal is ranked 14th on the continent in terms of telecommunications infrastructure development and has a significant mobile phone penetration rate, which fluctuated around 105.3% in December 2018, however, disparities exist between men and women.
During the debate, the members of the Advisory Committee repeatedly observed the lack or insufficiency of data in the ICT sector, sometimes making it difficult to measure certain indicators. One of the crosscutting recommendations of the report is about the importance of supporting the national statistical system for the regular production of ICT related statistics.
The Chief of Staff of the Ministère de l’économie numérique et des télecommunications, Mr Mor Ndiaye Mbaye, closing the workshop, said that Senegal was aware that “there is still room for improvement in Internet accessibility, from both technical and price affordability perspectives and also in terms of indicators for policy assessment measures”. He also pointed out that the Ministry is engaged in a process of setting up the National Digital Observatory to ensure, among other things, the regular collection of data.
Finally, the Chief of Staff confirmed that Senegal would take responsibility for the various recommendations made in the report to ensure that the Internet develops in a way that takes into account the needs of the population.
UNESCO has created a new publication series: Series of Internet Universality National Assessments. The finalized report of the Internet Universality Indicators study in Sénégal will be published as part of this series to help inform national Internet-related policies and share good practices. A UNESCO pre-event is being planned to present the first findings at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin on 25th November.