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UN Secretary-General Appoints PIN’s Executive Director to a High-Level Internet Leadership Panel

The appointment by the UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, is a major milestone for Mr. Sesan and the Pan-African digital rights and inclusion organization as it is an endorsement to its role in expanding digital rights and freedom on the continent

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UN Secretary-General appoints PIN’s Gbenga Sesan to a High-Level Internet Leadership Panel
Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative

Paradigm Initiative’s (PIN) Executive Director, Mr Gbenga Sesan is among 10 high-level and eminent persons appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General to serve on his inaugural Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Leadership Panel.

The appointment by the UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, is a major milestone for Mr. Gbenga Sesan and the Pan-African digital rights and inclusion organization as it is an endorsement to its role in expanding digital rights and freedom on the continent.

Other eminent persons appointed on the panel are Mr. Vint Cerf (United States of America), Mr. Hatem Dowidar (Egypt), Mr. Lise Fuhr (Denmark), Ms. Maria Fernanda Garza (Mexico), Toomas Hendrik Ilves (Estonia), Ms. Maria Ressa (Philippines and United States of America), H. E. Mr Alkesh Kumar Sharma (India), H. E. Ms. Karoline Edtstadler (Austria) and Mr. Lan Xue (China).

Mr. Gbenga Sesan welcomed the appointment saying he was honored and looking forward to serving the world alongside the high-level leaders and also influencing digital policy globally.

In an announcement made on Tuesday, August 16th, 2022, the UN Secretary-General indicated that the Leadership Panel has been established as a strategic, empowered and multi-stakeholder body to support and strengthen the Internet Governance Forum. It is also in line with the IGF mandate and the Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.

The Panel will address strategic and urgent issues and highlight Forum discussions and possible follow-up actions in order to promote greater impact and dissemination of IGF discussions according to its Terms of Reference.

The 10 distinguished members who will serve for a two-year term during the 2022-23 IGF cycles were appointed following an open call for nominations and in line with an equitably distributed, multi-stakeholder configuration of ministerial-level Government representatives, executive-level representatives of the private sector, civil society and the technical community, as well as “at-large” prominent persons in the field of digital policy. 

The Panel also consists of five ex-officio members who are senior representatives of the current, immediately previous, and immediately upcoming IGF host countries, the Chair of the Forum’s Multistakeholder Advisory Group and the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology.

They are; H.E, Mrs. Huria Ali Mahdi, IGF 2022 Host Country (Ethiopia), H.E. Mr Yuji Sasaki, IGF 2023 Host Country (Japan), H.E. Mr. Krzysztof Szubert IGF 2021 Host Country (Poland), Mr. Paul Mitchell, Chair of the IGF Multistakeholder Advisory Group and Mr. Amandeep Singh Gill, Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology. 

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The IGF is an outcome of the Tunis phase of the World Summit on the Information Society that took place in 2005. In the Tunis Agenda, Governments asked the Secretary-General to convene a “new forum for policy dialogue” to discuss issues related to key elements of Internet governance.

The mandate of the Forum was extended for another 10 years in December 2015, during the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the overall review of the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society outcomes. The 17th edition of the Forum will take place from 28 November to 2 December 2022 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

About PIN

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights in order to improve the livelihoods of under-served young Africans. The organization’s digital inclusion programs include a digital readiness school for young people living in under-served communities (LIFE) and a software engineering school targeting high potential young Nigerians (Dufuna). Both programs have a deliberate focus to ensure equal participation for women and girls.  

The digital rights advocacy program is focused on the development of public policy for internet freedom in Africa, with offices in Abuja, Nigeria (covering the Anglophone West Africa region); Yaoundé, Cameroon (Central Africa); Nairobi, Kenya (East Africa), Lusaka, Zambia (Southern Africa), Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and Dakar, Senegal. 

Paradigm Initiative, which is this year celebrating its 15th Anniversary, has worked in communities across Nigeria since 2007 and across Africa since 2017, building experience, community trust and an organizational culture that positions us as a leading social enterprise in ICT for Development and Digital Rights on the continent.

Paradigm Initiative is also the convener of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF), a pan-African bilingual forum held annually since 2013.

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​Joan Aimuengheuwa is a content writer who takes keen interest in the scopes of innovation among African startups. She thrives at meeting targets and expectations. Contact: [email protected]

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