Promoting Net Neutrality through multi stakeholder Capacity building and dialogue.

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Net Neutrality Cameroon

A capacity building seminar was organized in Douala-Cameroon on the 18th of July 2014 at hotel Lewat by I-Vission International with the theme: Promoting Net Neutrality through multi stakeholder capacity building and dialogue.  A multi stakeholder discussion  was also conducted to get the opinions of the different actors present on the challenges faced in Cameroon and how to influence policy in the interest of everyone. Georges Ndenga, a senior journalist with CRTV (Cameroon radio and Television Corporation) moderated the discussion.

SEMINAR PROGRAM

Arrival of invitees

8:30 am to 9 am

Opening speech by the Regional delegate of Post and Telecommunication

9 am – 9:10 am

1st session of training by Excel Asama

(Internet Society NGL, ICT Expert, Netsquared Ambassador for Africa)

9:10 am: 11am

  • Net Neutrality: definitions and generalities of the concept
  • The different forms of net Neutrality abuse and how to detect them
  • Net Neutrality issues and networks worldwide: legal, technical and social

Break

2nd session by Grace SAME

Internet Society NGL, Coordinator, Women & Girls in ICTs Africa

11:25am – 12:25m

  • The importance of having and maintaining Net Neutrality
  • The impact of not maintaining Net Neutrality on the next generation of internet users.

Break

12:30am- 2pm

Multi Stakeholder discussion

Moderator

-      Georges Ndenga

Forty two participants were trained on the concept of Net Neutrality including its historical background, how to detect abuse, its importance and impact if not maintained.

These participants came from different social sectors including government ranks, civil society, the private sector and the media. They all came with different expectations on the issue of Net Neutrality as a concept and as a social challenge in Cameroon. Most of the trainees focused more on cyber crime which is just one of the consequences of Net Neutrality abuse. Excel Asama and SAME Grace explained the concept and explored the different forms of abuse noticed in recent years through PowerPoint presentations and live demonstration on the Internet.

Almost all the participants made known to the project team that they were ignorant of the concept and especially the different forms of abuse by some Internet Service Providers and Governments. At the end of the training, they actually understood what has been happening in their networks, what their rights are and how to detect and report any form of abuse using online open source tools. Web tools from the Glasnost Measurement Lab were used as a case study to measure the performance and transparency of the network. Our aim was to verify any form of network probing or shaping and application blocking.

We carried out the following test:

  1. P2P applications blocking: BitTorrent, emule, Gnutella
  2. Standard apps: Email (POP), Email ‘IMAP4) http transfer, SSH transfer
  3. Video on demand: Flash video (YouTube)

At the time of the test, we did not notice any form of traffic shaping in the selected network.

About Glasnost Measurement Lab

M-Lab provides the largest collection of open Internet performance data on the planet.

When an Internet application doesn't work as expected, how can you tell whether the problem is caused by your connection, the application or something else? It can be very difficult for professional network administrators, let alone average Internet users, to answer this sort of question today. Transparency has always been an essential component of the Internet's success, and Internet users deserve to be well-informed about the performance of their broadband connections. For that to happen, researchers need resources to develop new analytical tools.

M-Lab provides the largest collection of open Internet performance data on the planet. As a consortium of research, industry, and public interest partners, M-Lab is dedicated to providing an ecosystem for the open, verifiable measurement of global network performance. Real science requires verifiable processes, and     M-Lab welcomes scientific collaboration and scrutiny.                                                             Source http://www.measurementlab.net/

Output of the training

  1. Forty two (42) participants acquired new skills in the concept of net neutrality; What it is all about, what the law says, how to detect abuse and report back Participants expressed their support for the initiative and promised to translate the skills acquired in their various institutions.
  2. Twenty five (25) participants signed the partnership convention with us to support and participate in Net Neutrality Observatory Group (NetNOG)
  3. Government, ISP, Civil Society and Internet Users sat on the same table to discuss issues on Net Neutrality for the very first time in Cameroon

Excel Asama saluted the presence of the following stakeholders:

  1. The  Regional Delegate of the Post and Telecommuiation Mr Mohamadou Bassirou for his perpetual support and concern in the development of ICTs in Cameroon. He reiterated his support for ICT initiatives and the commitment of government to become a hub in the central Africa zone. More than 12000km fiber optic backbone cable network has been installed nationwide, an Internet Exchange point is currently being set up in Caltel Bepanda, Legistaltions are operating in the ICT sector in Cameroon.  In  a few words, Mr Mohamadou Bassirou encouraged Internet Service Providers to respect and observe Net Neutrality in Cameroon.
  2. Marc Ngiamba, project manager of www.ici.cm platform, ISP and
  3. Madam Alloumeck Christelle, representing the Regulatory board and the long list of civil society organizations who actively took part in the multi stakeholder discussion.

Challenges faced

  1.  Due to the heavy rainfall on the event day, we could not reach the expected number of participants in the seminar.
  2. It took us about eight days to get authorization from government to organize the event due to controversies surrounding the and lack of information at the local level on the importance of maintaining net neutrality. The local authorities were wondering the kind of reaction to get from Yaounde if such a meeting is authorized. At the end of the day, we had to lobby to get the meeting declared.

Perspectives

  1.  Discuss and apply for a partnership possibility with the Glasnost Measurement Lab to set up a server in Cameroon to measure and report net neutrality abuse incidents.
  2. Mobilize more funds sensitizing at the national level

Other activities executed as of now

  1. The web platformis effectively operational, with 1193 visits at the time of this report @ www.netnogcm.net
  2.  Online campaign platform setup. We designed an email mailing list made up of 1750 subscribers through MailChimp for Weekly Newsletters and articles on the project. The Facebook pageand twitter hashtag for the project are functional. We will gear up from the 8th of August when the last capacity building seminar will be organized. At that time, the Net Work Observatory Group must have been set up with clear goals and roles to play by individual members.

Special event on television

The project team organized an interactive multi stakeholder discussion on Spectrum Television (STV) Douala, Cameroon on the 26th of July 2014 from 3pm- 4:30pm Cameroon time. The presenter of the show was Amy Banda, panelist included Excel Asama, CEO of I-Vission International (www.ivission.net) and Ngwaneba Jonathan, managing Director of Leading Edge Technologies Cameroon (www.letecam.com)

For ninety minutes, the panelist explored the concept of Net neutrality and surrounding issues including:

  1. The actual context of the Internet as a whole in Cameroon
  2. The reasons behind the slow bandwidth
  3. Regulatory issues (in the ability of the regulator to redress the issues)
  4. Network Shaping and censorship
  5. Deep Packet inspection Technologies
  6. Legislation in Cameroon
  7. What structures have been put in place to manage the Internet as a resource and
  8. Online safety

Some questions from televiewers

Televiewers were interested to know why the Internet bandwidth is slow in Cameroon, how can they work safely online and what are the indicators that a user’s bandwidth is either throttled or system hacked.

We noticed that some of the questions were asked by government officials and ISPs. This programme will be rebroadcasted today Sunday at 10:30pm and on Wednesday at 4pm Cameroon time on STV (Voice of the Voiceless)

Major incident

To our greatest surprise, three major panelist gave their word to participate in the debate but did not show up:

  1. The regional Delegate of Post and Telecommunication for the Littoral region (Due to intenses activities in this ramadan season and other official occupations)
  2. The regional director of the telecommunication regulatory board and
  3. The representative from Yoomee SA, an ISP (Did not get feedback from hierachy)

Observations

  1. The discussions on Net Neutrality in Cameroon are getting more and more emotional and sensitive
  2.  Government officials and ISPs are not willing to make public declarations. They instead prefer to meet us in our offices for any talk.                                     

A report prepared by Asama Abel Excel

Net2 Ambassador for Africa

Project Manager

T: +237 76 14 26 23

E: Excelasama@yahoo.fr

www.excelasama.wordpress.com