Ms Nwakanma – an experienced development professional who has worked in the ICT field in Africa for over a decade – is a co-founder of The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa and served as a board member of the Open Source Initiative.
She has also worked closely with a range of civil society organisations, the African Development Bank, the Digital Solidarity Fund and also been involved on the UN’s Africa Information Society Initiative.
In her new role, she was recently invited to speak to over 2000 participants from 111 countries at the opening ceremonies of the Internet Governance Forum in Bali on behalf of civil society.
“A basic broadband plan costs the average African almost two-thirds of their monthly income. In the world’s 49 poorest countries, only 1 in 10 people has access to the Internet. 25 Netizens and citizen journalists were killed and 157 netizens were imprisoned last year,” said Nnena in her speech during the IGF in Bali.
She stated that since May 2012, 24 countries have passed new laws or regulations that could restrict free speech online, violate users’ privacy, or punish individuals who post certain types of content.
“This, therefore, is an urgent call to action. A call to action for greater and enhanced cooperation of all stakeholders. A call to action for an affordable Internet for everyone, everywhere. A call for action in favour of accessibility, to make the Internet real for persons with disabilities. To continue to enhance the capacity of the Internet as a tool for safeguarding social justice, equity, diversity, and multilingualism,” she said.
The World Wide Web Foundation was established by Web inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee to strengthen and defend the open Web as a global public good and a basic right. It works with other organizations to make the web truly universal, open and free, through initiatives like the Alliance for Affordable Internet to bring down the cost of access, and the Web Index tracking the health and utility of the Web in over 80 countries. It also put the open web to work to strengthen democracy and participation, especially by harnessing the power of open data.