Africa, a continent historically dependent on commodity prices when it comes to boosting economic performance has, as evidenced by the various gatherings that have occurred to construct the strategies to be used for the next phase of growth of late, has earmarked the Fourth Industrial Revolution as the era where it will take the lead. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by huge breakthroughs in technological innovation, which are set to fundamentally alter the way in which human beings live, work and relate to one another. One of the sentiments shared during the 26th World Economic Forum held in Kigali Rwanda earlier this year was the need for Africa to use the Fourth industrial Revolution to become a full player within the world economy. To do this, it is crucial Africans aim at huge heights and they become impatient. One of my beliefs is that to foster this kind of attitude in taking full advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is absolutely vital we educate the African youth, our leaders of tomorrow, about all that is at stake and why it would be detrimental to let this opportunity of becoming global leaders, slip through our hands. Although the act still symbolizes a small drop in the ocean, in terms of how intense the approach needed to ensure our youth lead the 4th Industrial Revolution is, I decided to take the youth of the Cortex Hub to Botswana on the weekend of the 3rd of June, to the 17th annual Africa Internet Summit. The trip served to raise awareness in this group, of the various Internet issues confronting the world right now whilst also introducing them to the various organisations we have in operation around the continent, which can be used to ensure their views are well represented within the context of digital democracy.
The results of the trip amongst the members of the Cortex Hub I took along with me proved to be fruitful, as a new interest in the issues affecting the Internet seems to have been sparked. As the entrepreneurs and members of the Cortex Hub Board come from a variety of academic backgrounds this enabled them to plug into a diverse set of issues under discussion, from the infrastructural layer to the economic and societal layer.
Some of the sessions that proved to be firm favourites amongst the group included the practical lesson on determining the sources of cyber attacks. The group were introduced to a number of web based tools one can use in conducting such research but the emphasis was, as African countries, finding the source and the necessary solution to the problem is likely to occur faster if countries work together. This is the attitude that needs to be adopted in conquering cyber attacks as African countries.
Another session the group seemed to enjoy immensely was the ICANN session that took place on the Saturday. This covered a variety of issues such as informing the audience on the functions of ICANN, the structure of the organization, the potential Africa has to leapfrog during the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the IANA transition, ICANN’s policies with respect to domain name changing and many more. The emphasis during this session was that the need to practice inclusiveness- digital democracy- in establishing means to govern the Internet.
The objectives of my decision to invite these members of the South African youth to this event were attained as I foresee South Africa becoming more involved in these debates and discussions in the future but as I said, taking this group was just a drop in the ocean. I hope that we will see more and more South Africans participating and making their views heard on Internet governance issues as these will affect many generations to come, and joining the discussion is a necessary component in catapulting the continent into leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution.