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Local Policies - DIGRA Ambassadors Program

The final week of training for Cohort 1 Digital Grassroots Ambassadors before the mentorship phase was on Internet for Economy.  Following a take on Internet ofThings and Local Content, the youth channeled their community engagement to internet policies affecting their community.

Photo Credit: Wevyn Muganda, DIGRA Ambassador

Local policies are vital in building and maintaining the core values of a healthier internet. The openness and bottom-up approach of internet governance only works when every digital citizen participates and defends their digital rights, which includes human rights such freedom of expression and privacy.

DIGRA Ambassador Eileen said;

"Unfortunately, employers (use) your online identity as a prerequisite for hiring and during work as a way to control how you could be useful for the job... that is severe intrusion in our privacy. Social media representation of ourselves is not always accurate...
We can't forget that, as soon as we accept the terms and conditions to create a user in some online platform, we are giving away some part of our privacy online which is a cost of 'belonging in the system.'"
Policies governing our privacy and security online go beyond large-scale violations like the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Ambassador Nardine wrote:-

"It is alarming indeed but it;s an outright violation of digital identity (personality) and right to privacy. On my campus, a lot of students get penalized if they criticise the university on their private accounts... such a practice paves the way for a more strongly held belief in self-censorship..."

The unique factor of DIGRAs Internet Literacy Course is how we engage youth and newcomers in the Internet Governance space to go beyond the jargon and translate the need for a healthier internet to their local community.

Our Ambassadors did just that with round table discussions, some in their local languages, about policies that are working, not working, or not present in the digital spaces affecting their communities.

Listen to Panel Discussion on Issues around Internet for Economy and Local Policies. Anchored by John Madayese, Digital Grassroots Ambassador.

In the final leg of the training course, Ambassadors studied about Critical Thinking, Open Education, and E-Commerce. Marginalized societies need to recognize the fledging potential for economic liberty the internet can offer. More important, the internet must be ready to create a safe space for them to engage in commerce.

Doni Muvukor, DIGRA Ambassador put it this way;

"Local policies can be made .e.g lower tax rates to allow local companies compete with foreign giants but care must be taken not be become too 'nationalistic' when making such policies. As much as we want local companies/businesses to thrive, it is also true that there are skill gaps which  require teaching and mentoring by established players in the industry.
In other words, don't drive away the 'teacher'; it will make it harder for the 'student' to learn, but also give the 'student' incentive to one day become a 'teacher' in his or her own right."

What's Next?

After three weeks of training, the mentees who had proactively engaged in community engagement and course work study proceeded to a 4 week mentorship with experts in the field of Internet Governance. The mentorship is purposed to fuel youth engagement in Internet Governance.

Political leaders taking selfies at the flagging off event of a high school students human rights camp. Photo Credit: Wevyn Muganda, DIGRA Ambassador

Esto Fidelis, a DIGRA Ambassador had this to say prior to the mentorship;

"Two weeks ago, I was introduced to Digital Grassroots Ambassadors Program. These weeks have been weeks of continual learning, sharing, and connecting-with gripping folks from around the world, including experts in various fields especially in internet governance...
Two weeks later, to the credit of this great platform, the organizers, our trainers and fellow participants, I have learnt immensely of pros and especially cons in digital citizenship."

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