[menog] #iGmena Summit 2016 hosted in Tunis

Michael Oghia mike.oghia at gmail.com
Tue Oct 4 09:35:21 UTC 2016


#iGmena Summit 2016 hosted in Tunis

TUNIS, TUNISIA, 4 October 2016 — The Internet Governance in the Middle East
and North Africa (iGmena) program (www.igmena.org), an initiative of the
Hague-based Humanistic Institute for Development (Hivos) (www.hivos.org),
held its first-ever Summit in Tunis, Tunisia, from 30 September and to 2
October. iGmena Summit 2016 was hosted by Wasabi (www.wasabi.tn), a media &
communications company and iGmena’s local partner, at Cogite Coworking
Space (www.cogite.tn). The Twitter hashtag used during the Summit was

Since its inception in 2012, iGmena has been on the forefront of developing
and reinforcing knowledge as well as building capacity on Internet
governance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). iGmena Summit 2016
invited our alumni, partners, program contributors, and other regional
collaborators to take stock of the work we have done so far and learn from
their experience with iGmena so we can create a more effective and
sustainable program. Over three days, more than 75 human & digital rights
activists, journalists, technical experts, nongovernmental organizations,
Internet governance professionals, and other stakeholders came together –
many meeting for the first time in person – to share their work with the
community, reflect on the achievements of the program, and formulate
relevant steps and strategy for the next four years. This included sharing
their perspective about the program openly with the community, discussing
how iGmena can support them in the future, and how to strengthen Internet
governance as well as civil society in the MENA region.

The Summit featured representatives from multiple stakeholders and
partners, including: 7iber, Access Now, ALIXSYS, the Alexandria Media
Forum, Article 19, ASL19, the Association for Progressive Communications
(APC), ATA, DiploFoundation, Front Line Defenders, Global Voices, Gulf
Centre for Human Rights (GC4HR), Index on Censorship, the Institute for War
and Peace Reporting (IWPR), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Society (ISOC), the Iraqi Network for Social
Media (INSM), Maharat Foundation, Nawaat, Psiphon, the Tunisian Internet
Agency (ATI), Ushahidi, and many others.

Presenters and speakers discussed various topics concerning Internet
governance in the region, from Internet law and policy to censorship and
free expression online. Some of the topics discussed included Iran's cyber
army, digital media literacy, crowdmapping, the state of digital freedom in
Iraq, circumvention tools, and ways to strengthen Internet-related policy
development in the MENA region.

The Summit culminated on the third day with two sessions, one on the future
of Internet governance in the region and the other exploring how civil
society in the region can contribute to creating a more open and free
Internet. Members of the public were invited on the third day to join the
discussion as well. Speaking about how civil society can better engage with
government, former Tunisian Constitutional Assembly member Noomane Fehri,
stressed: “If Internet governance stops, the whole world would stop. My
skills and the [relevant] laws were not up to date to deal with 21st
century governance issues.” Moreover, former Tunisian minister Slim Amamou
highlighted the importance of civil society in bringing stability to legal
and policy frameworks, which ultimately positively impacts the local,
regional, and international Internet ecosystem. Speaking on behalf of Index
on Censorship, Melody Patry said the experience of civil society in the
MENA region can have a snowball effect or a chilling effect that can also
impact policy as well.

Reflecting on the Summit, iGmena alumnus and Summit contributor Ahmed Esmat
said: “Attending iGmena Summit 2016 allowed me to understand how the
Internet governance arena in the MENA region is functioning. The Summit
expanded to include topics like media literacy, the need to create local
content, and outlining sustainable business models. The speakers at the
Summit came from different backgrounds that enriched the discussions and
insured that everyone is included.”

iGmena Program Director Hanane Boujemi echoed his sentiments. “We have
often brought segments of our community together at various Internet and
technology-related fora in the MENA region, but this was the first time we
brought everyone together. The resulting exchange of ideas and potential
collaboration gives us a lot of hope for the future. It was definitely a
valuable and enriching experience, and I hope we continue to grow and
thrive in the time going forward.”

*About iGmena*

Launched in 2012, Hivos’ Internet Governance in the Middle East and North
Africa Region programme (iGmena) focuses on safeguarding Internet freedoms
in the MENA region. The program aims to ensure that the freedoms of thought
and expression are protected online, digital rights and access to
information are codified in legislation and policy across the MENA region,
and trains civic actors from the region in order to improve their knowledge
on Internet governance and Internet policy.

*About Wasabi*

Wasabi is a media and communications company dedicated to creating
platforms for public debate, community building, and open expression, with
a specialization in event management and video production. In particular,
Wasabi specializes in engaging youth, women, and marginalized voices in
public discourse. Wasabi has been active in Tunisia since 2013, running
debate programs, capacity development initiatives, and media projects aimed
at reaching youth and women.

*About Cogite*

Cogite Coworking Space is the first and largest co-working space in
Tunisia. Voted as one of the top 10 best co-working spaces in the world by
Forbes, Cogite’s mission is to fuel a movement of impact-driven
entrepreneurship in Tunisia by building skills, fostering collaboration,
and nurturing innovation. Located in Lac 1, Tunis, Cogite currently hosts
100 permanent co-workers, organizes 80 events per year, and runs several
entrepreneurship and employability programs, such as the Aventures
d’Entrepreneurs advocacy program, Cogite Direction Sud initiative in
Medenine, the Co-working Camp program (Gafsa, Kairouan, and Djerba), and
has organized Tunisian delegations to Startup Fest Europe in Amsterdam and
the Rise Up Summit in Cairo. Initially just a small community in Tunis,
Cogite has expanded to grow its networks throughout the country and
establish meaningful ties with collaborative workspaces across Europe, the
Middle East, and North Africa.

More information and photos are available through the #iGmena hashtag on
Twitter, the iGmena Twitter handle (@iG_mena
<https://www.twitter.com/ig_mena>), and the iGmena website: www.igmena.org.

For more information, contact:

Dick E. Broggel Michael J. Oghia
iGmena programme officer iGmena communications manager
Hivos Hivos
The Hague, Netherlands  Belgrade, Serbia
dbroggel at hivos.org  mike.oghia at igmena.org

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