UN appoints Nigerian, others into inaugural Internet Governance Forum Leadership Panel

‘Gbenga Sesan, UN, appointed, Internet Governance Forum Leadership Panel
‘Gbenga Sesan

UN appoints Nigerian, others into inaugural Internet Governance Forum Leadership Panel

A Nigerian, ‘Gbenga Sesan, is among the ten distinguished persons hailing from all regions of the globe that have been appointed to serve on the UN secretary-general’s inaugural Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Leadership Panel, the United Nations announced on Tuesday.

UN chief António Guterres established the Panel to support and strengthen the IGF, an annual meeting to discuss public policy issues pertaining to the Internet.

Panel members will address strategic and urgent issues and highlight Forum discussions, as well as possible follow-up actions, to promote greater impact and dissemination of IGF discussions, according to its Terms of Reference.

They were appointed by the Secretary-General following an open call for nominations, and in line with “an equitably distributed, multistakeholder configuration” of representatives from Government, the private sector, civil society and the technical community, as well as prominent persons in the field of digital policy.

Two-year term

The members of the Leadership Panel are Mr. Vint Cerf from the United States, Mr. Hatem Dowidar from Egypt, Ms. Lise Fuhr from Denmark, Ms. Maria Fernanda Garza from Mexico, Mr. Toomas Hendrik Ilves from Estonia, Ms. Maria Ressa from the Philippines and the USA, Mr. Alkesh Kumar Sharma from India, Ms. Karoline Edtstadler from Austria, Mr. Gbenga Sesan from Nigeria, and Mr. Lan Xue from China.

They will serve for a two-year term during the 2022–23 IGF cycles.

The Panel also consists of five ex-officio members: senior representatives of the current, immediately previous, and immediately upcoming IGF host countries; the Chair of the Forum’s Multistakeholder Advisory Group, as well as the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology, Mr. Amandeep Singh Gill.

Besides the UN Envoy, the other ex-officio members are Mrs. Huria Ali Mahdi from Ethiopia, host of this year’s IGF; Mr. Yuji Sasaki from Japan, where the 2023 Forum will be held; Mr. Krzysztof Szubert of Poland, the 2021 host country, and Mr. Paul Mitchell, the Multistakeholder Advisory Group chair.

About the IGF

The Internet Governance Forum is an outcome of the Tunis phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WISS) that took place in 2005. The first phase was held in Geneva in December 2003.

In the Tunis Agenda, governments asked the UN secretary-general to convene a “new forum for policy dialogue” to discuss issues related to key elements of Internet governance.

The Forum’s mandate was extended for another 10 years in December 2015, during the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly on the overall review of the implementation of WISS outcomes.

The 17th edition of the IGF will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 28 November to 2 December.

Who is ‘Gbenga Sesan?

‘Gbenga Sesan is the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise working on digital inclusion and digital rights through its offices in Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Zambia and Zimbabwe. He is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford University. Prior to starting Paradigm Initiative, ‘Gbenga led the Lagos Digital Village, a joint project of Junior Achievement of Nigeria, Microsoft and Lagos State Government.

Originally trained as an Electronic and Electrical Engineer at Obafemi Awolowo University, he completed Executive Education programs at Lagos Business School, New York Group for Technology Transfer, Oxford University, Harvard University, Stanford University, Santa Clara University and University of the Pacific. ‘Gbenga’s consulting experience includes assignments completed for numerous institutions, including Microsoft, Harvard University and United Nations agencies, among others, in over 30 countries.

A Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year and former member of the United Nations Committee of eLeaders on Youth and ICT, he is a CyberStewards Fellow, Crans Montana Forum Fellow, Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow, Ashoka Fellow, Our Common Future Fellow and Cordes Fellow. ‘Gbenga served as a member of the Presidential committees on Harmonization of Information Technology, Telecommunications and Broadcasting Sectors (2006) and Roadmap for the Achievement of Accelerated Universal Broadband Infrastructure and Services Provision (2013), and was listed by CNN as one of the Top 10 African Tech Voices on Twitter and by Ventures Africa as one of 40 African Legends Under 40.

‘Gbenga is married to Temilade Sesan, PhD, an expert on Energy Poverty and Development. He advised the World Health Organisation on Data Privacy in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic and has advised the World Economic Forum on its Operationalising Trust Project, to develop rights-respecting Data Policy for businesses.


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