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Benin was one of the first countries in West Africa to have access to the Internet. Already in 1994, a few Beninese people enjoyed the Internet; they could send emails through the Benin Online Service System (BOSS). The history of the Internet officially began in Benin in 1995. Today, Benin is developing a digital ecosystem that relies heavily on the Internet. The exponential growth of the Internet in recent years has led to an increasingly remarkable appropriation of digital technology among the population and especially in professional circles. Despite this, there is no complete document tracing the history of the Internet in Benin to the present day – this document would present the current Internet ecosystem in Benin with particular focus on the actors involved, the initiatives contributing to the evolution of the Internet, and the challenges or issues related to the Internet in Benin.

 

 

 

According to the ITU, many people are excluded from the digital revolution 1 . Digitalization in Benin has led to the development of internet access infrastructures, resilience systems, and an increasing demand for quality of service. Nonetheless, there remains a gap in the implementation of policies that allow for a greater number of people to access the Internet for two purposes and to create favorable conditions for its use in the service of human social development. For instance, several thousand farmers in Benin do not have better access to broadband services and digital solutions in rural areas 2 . By increasing access to all sectors of Benin’s society, Beninese internet will be shaped by its citizens. This is why the project to map the history of the Internet is crucial. This allows citizens to become involved in processes aimed at designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating policies that have contributed to the current internet scenario in Benin and give citizens a voice in choices and orientations that will shape the digital future of Benin.

 

Creating an inventory of the state of the Internet in Benin has been my goal as a member in the working group working on this as part of Internet Society Benin Chapter. It involves synthesizing and reconstructing the archives to publish a book in clear and accessible language with illustrations to explain and present the current state of the Internet in Benin. The project will map the path of the internet in Benin for 25 years and envision its future. The project is open in the way it will include many contributors from Benin, such as digital ministry professionals; jurists; historians; ICT professionals, researchers, students, Internet Society Benin Chapter members, Benin IX (IXP) members, designers, editors, and publishers. The open contribution to this work will ensure that no one is left behind. After validation of the roadmap, the plan is to assign responsibility for the various drafting parts to sub-groups. Each sub-group is coordinated by a lead. We will then have two validations of the document after the pooling of the different works of the subgroups. Before the final validation, another sub-group will be created to proofread the document. And finally, the publication of the document will follow. Currently, the roadmap for drafting the document has already been validated.

 

As co-leader of the project, I am working on it openly because of the nature in which it has encouraged volunteerism and collaborative from the community. The power of collaboration is creating space for important community members to draft a comprehensive document on 25 years of the Internet in Benin. This will allow members to build on this project and maximize its usefulness equally to Benin citizens and internet users. Everyone has a role to play in achieving digital inclusion. And in this way, we are shaping a healthy internet by making sure no one is left behind. And most important, a complete document tracing the history of the Internet in Benin (1995-2020) over 25 years will finally be available.

 

It is imperative to raise awareness among users on the history and future of the internet in order to build understanding on the challenges and opportunities of digital citizenship. A thorough knowledge of the journey of the internet in Benin will allow citizens to contribute meaningfully to other Internet health issues including decentralization, privacy and security, openness, and Web literacy. Advocacy for health on the Internet must be daily.

 

Interested contributors can contact us on our different social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook) by searching @isocbenin. To support our project, you can also make proposals at https://isoc.bj/contact/ always to improve the final document. Everyone can participate to achieve digital inclusion.

REFERENCES

[1] ‘INCLUSION NUMERIQUE’, ITU. https://www.itu.int:443/fr/ITU-D/Digital-

Inclusion/Pages/default.aspx

[2] Commodafrica, ‘Connectivité dans les zones rurales au Bénin ’, Commodafrica, Jul. 08,

2019. http://www.commodafrica.com/08-07-2019-connectivite-dans-les-zones-rurales-au-benin-

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