The Gambia has announced its return to the practice of internet governance starting with the organisation of a National Internet Governance Forum, which will be held on July 4th and 5th at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) serves to bring people together from various stakeholder groups as equals, in discussions on public policy issues related to the Internet.

In 2005, the UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society defined internet governance as “the development and application by governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programs that shape the evolution and use of the internet.

The Forum will be organised to represent all key stakeholders in the Gambia through a National Steering Committee coordinated by the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MOICI).

The Forum was initiated in late 2009, after the start of the West African Internet Governance forum. Since 2010, the Gambia has hosted three National Internet Governance forums, the last being in 2012.

Internet governance has evolved over time, and various groups have attempted to develop working definitions. As the internet first opened to commerce and the wider public in the mid-1990s, the term referred to a limited set of policy issues associated with the global synchronization and management of domain names.

Organisers said due to the restrictive nature of the former regime, the National IGF was halted after its 3rd edition. “The reasons were lack of open access to internet resources and an enabling environment where freedom of expression was respected.”

Since the coming into office of the new government in January 2017, the Gambia re-joined the community of democratic nations where freedom of expression and civil liberties are fully respected.