Kenya rattles Africa group at WICT

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Diplomacy is tough, and its for the patient. So, if you are the type that likes to stick to the issues and make a decision fast, treaty making is not your place, stay away because these guys will know what they want on Monday, but they will only yield on Sunday. This process is being led by the Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication and the technical negotiations and contributions was and is being handled by the Communications Commission of Kenya  team.

The CCK team was part of the preparation and negotiation for the Africa position which lays downs what Africa wants. In short, Africa has taken positions against what the West countries are proposing, like having the internet and exchange points as part of the text, as well as human rights.

The US and allies want the ITU to keep off the internet by not alluding to anything internet. The Arab group, Russia, etc had their position on why the issue of internet should be part of the text, which was later withdrawn. On the issue of human rights, that discussion will go on for long.

So, last week, US team, they have over 30 reps with five or more ambassandors met with the CCK team and they made it clear that the Africa position prevailed. Yesterday, US team met with Ndemo and explained their issues and why they need support.

During the plenary, Ndemo spoke about the support for the removal of internet and exchange points in the text, which went against Africa position.

Other African country reps were livid.

The South African rep lectured Ndemo like….. well…..a small boy (those are Ndemo’s words). The SA rep wondered why Kenya had betrayed their trust by going against the Africa position etc and you could tell from the body language that if he had the power he would have kicked Ndemo… maybe slapped him.

Ndemo was later summoned and talked to by other African countries.

Geo-political implications

For the CCK team, this was a disaster, they will work harder to earn the trust of the Africa and Arab group in order to get support for other ITU positions and chairmanships.

This means that if in future Kenya wants to put a position or get appointment in some of those positions that need governments to support, they can kiss them goodbye for now because the level of support is very low.

In my opinion, they didn’t manage the process well in terms of  informing the PS of the geo political implications that were not apparent and what it means for the larger cause.

The CCK may probably not have expected the PS to move away from the Africa position, which they insist had been previously discussed. But if it was buried in the lengthy ITR documentation, well, maybe they didn’t read.

 

Opposing the US and the West

During the Africa group meeting, it seemed that the opposition was against the “colonial powers” and it was also clear that no one wants the unilateral actions like what the US does by jamming frequencies whenever one of their top dignitaries is in town.

The US has career  lobbysts attending this meeting and they have been camping here since November and meeting most delegates. With sovereignty, even the smallest country with voting powers can be your ally.

So, the US may have convinced Kenya to support exclusion of anything internet or exchange points in the text, but will it hurt Kenya in the long run? The ITU has insisted that this meeting was all about telecommunication but the likes are becoming very blurry…

 

 

3 COMMENTS

  1. Kenya made a good choice. The African position is based plainly on what autocratic members of the AU envision; A centralised controlled and heavily regulated Internet. Such regimes think national telcos should decide who passes through the gates of cyberspace. Well done Ndemo!

  2. […] I know Ndemo ruffled feathers with his statements and bold moves, but that was because he was either informed and could take decisions. For instance, during last year’s ITU WICT, the CCK had taken one of those retrogressive stands in cahoots with the Arab League, Ndemo defied them and he had commons sense on his side, the CCK folks had per diems and future appointments of their side. You can read more about it here. […]

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