Participants of the Maputo Internet Forum (MIF).
The Internet plays an important role in the social and economic development of developing countries
The first Internet Forum organized by the Embassy of Sweden in Mozambique took place in the Mozambican capital Maputo, on 8 October 2015. According to the Swedish Ambassador to Mozambique, Irina Schoulgin Nyoni, the Maputo Internet Forum (MIF) is part of the Celebrations of 40 years of Bilateral Relations between our two countries.
The Maputo Internet Forum has its origins in the "Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF)," an initiative by the Swedish Government held annually in Stockholm, where Mozambicans from different sectors of society have previously had the opportunity to participate. This year, six Mozambicans from the public and private sectors as well as civil society attended the Stockholm Internet Forum.
Over 130 participants from different segments of society participated in the Maputo Internet Forum, including academics, civil society, members of parliament and representatives from the public and private sectors.
The opening remarks were presented on behalf of the Government of Mozambique, by the Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Jorge Nhambiu, who emphasized that the Mozambican Government has taken actions to expand access to information and communication technologies by promoting the development of appropriate infrastructure.
According to Nhambiu, the importance that the Internet plays in the country´s development should be highlighted, in particular the pertinence of reducing costs to access information and communication technologies. He also pointed to the advantages of improving the business environment in Mozambique and streamlining public services, making them more readily available for the population.
The Minister also said that in 2002, Mozambique had only a single telecommunications service provider, but today the country has three operators, a situation which, according to the Government, is a result of existing programs to expand Internet access throughout the country.
Freedom of speech on the internet
In turn, Ambassador Irina Schoulgin Nyoni praised the Internet as an "important element" for the social and economic development of a developing country such as Mozambique and the need for the country to adopt measures to improve cyber security, in line with its plans to expand internet access.
Ensuing roundtable discussions treated crucial issues such as how to expand access and how to balance security issues and freedom of speech on the internet. The role of the internet in expanding opportunities for entrepreneurship was also highlighted, as well as how public policy can help to bridge the digital gender divide in Mozambique. Recent efforts to provide a legal framework for the internet in the country were also discussed in light of the global debate on internet governance.
The discussions between representatives of relevant Ministries, parliamentarians, civil society, multinational corporations, local entrepreneurs, academics and international guests sparked a vivacious debate with the audience, which also included the local press and prominent politicians. The participants reported that this event provided a rare opportunity to discuss ideas for how the internet can promote socioeconomic development in Mozambique and make the political process more inclusive.
The next step will be a follow-up event in which the Mozambican participants at SIF 2015 will be able to share their experiences.