By Kingsley I. Ilechukwu, Correspondent Lagos
The Chief Web Advocate at the World Wide Web Foundation(WWWF), Nnenna Nwakanma, has counselled Nigerians to stop ethnic tensions but rather target the 8 billion market space in the digital economy.
She made this call at the 2021 Nigeria DigitalSENSE Africa Forum on Internet Governance for Development (IG4D), held at the Golden Tulip Hotels Essential, International Airport Road, Lagos hosted by award-winning ITREALMS Media under its DigitalSENSE Africa Forum series, an At-Large Structure (ALS) at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) as part of efforts for shaping the future of the Internet.
Nwakanma, who dwelt on developments on digital cooperation and effects on growing demography on African and Nigeria perspective, said “Digital Cooperation is a global initiative to get all stakeholders to collaborate on key issues.”
She called on Nigeria to assume her rightful role as leader in Africa and also in the digital space in the continent, describing the nation as the number one country in Africa.
“If we are saying that Africa is the future of digital cooperation, it means that Nigeria is No. 1 in Africa, it means that Nigeria is number 1 of the future of digital cooperation,” she declared.
Nwakanma told participants at NDSF2021 via a live-broadcast, that as Nigerians, cum citizens in the digital ecosystem “we need to go beyond a wailing republic. You go beyond a complaining republic. You go beyond a ‘poor hustler’ mentality. “
According to her, “What the world expected of us is leadership. What the world expected from Nigeria is digital leadership. Digital leadership is innovation, creation. You need to step away from the N100,000 or N20,000 mentality and begin to think of 8 billion, because that is the global population. That is your market. That is your field.”
The Chief Web Advocate equally charged Nigerians to stop ethnic battle and focus on a larger market of 8 billion.
“Please stop fighting the Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Tiv, Edo battle. We are fighting against a market of 8 billion. So please, stop fighting the little fight and take up the bigger one. Quit the hustler mentality and take up the leadership mentality,” she charged.
Nwakanma specifically called on the government of Nigeria to do more on the policy level. “There are lots to be done on digital rights respect. There are lots to be done on protecting the dignity of Nigerians in the country and online. A lot is being done already to clean up the image of Nigeria in the digital space, but we still need more to be done.”
Said she: “More good stories and more billion-dollar stories; we need more innovation stories coming from Nigeria in the respect of human rights and human dignity.”
To the industry players, especially technology companies, Nwakanma tasked them to ensure they worked in Nigeria with the intention to innovate, create, design, build and grow; so as to grow Nigerians, the young people, grow the market of tomorrow and leaders of tomorrow.
She stressed that they must show accountability: “The same way EU citizens are being treated, I think should be the way, Nigerians have a right to be treated. We are not less human than anybody. American citizens are not more human than Nigerian citizens. The same way their data and rights are protected, the same way Nigerians should be respected and protected,” while maintaining that Nigerian women, men, and youths needed to be safe and secure online and offline.
Nnenna is a Nigerian Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) activist, community organizer, development adviser. She worked for the United Nations for 15 years and was the Interim Policy Director for the World Wide Web Foundation before her current post as the Chief Web Advocate.
Also, she is the co-founder of the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa FOSSFA, which she co-chairs. She is a former member of the board of the Open Source Initiative and served as co-founder at The Africa Network of Information Society Actors, and the African Civil Society for the Information Society. Equally, Nnenna served as Vice President of the Digital solidarity fund and had previously worked as the Information Officer for Africa of the Helen Keller Foundation.