Internet Society is an American nonprofit organization founded in 1992 to provide leadership in Internet-related standards, education, access, and policy. Francis CUBAHIRO, a telecom engineer and currently Director of the Information and the Communications Technology (ICT) Infrastructures in the Ministry of Communications and Media was elected Chairman of the Internet Society, Burundi chapter on the 1st of September 2020.
Putting Burundi on the ICT global map
Known for his contributions to a universal internet access and its policies by initiating some “ICT pilot project” for rural areas CUBAHIRO takes credit also for his commitment to empower women through ICT.He has successfully chaired the International Girls in ICT Day and Miss Technology 2018 organized in August 2018.All ICT key stakeholders and actors including UN agencies were present. Mr. CUBAHIRO made an advocacy for the 3 finalist young women in order to be granted a full fellowship to attend the International World Telecom 2018 (Durban, South Africa).
Last year, Francis Olivier CUBAHIRO facilitated the appointment of one of the MP (Members of Parliament) to participate in the IGF 2019 in Berlin. He took on to assist the MP once in Berlin, especially for key B2B meetings but also preparing her speeches.It is reported that after the Internet Governance Forum in Berlin, Mr. CUBAHIRO madea personal follow up. The MP sponsored to attend the IGF Berlin and CUBAHIRO himself provoked an oral-debate session in the Parliament during which the ICT Minister was invited to give a global overview of ICT in all sectors in terms of connectivity,connectivity access, connectivity infrastructures, cost and tariff of connectivity access and particularly the Internet Governance Forum perspectives in our country after the participation of Burundi during the IGF Berlin.
Mr. CUBAHIRO was the reporter of the oral-debate session in the Burundi parliament. He reports that his last personal follow up of the report stated tit had been transmitted to the vice-president office. Currently, Mr. CUBAHIRO has been doing a close follow-up and advocacy in order to have a national law in cyber security and a national personal data protection law.
On a global scale, Francis Olivier CUBAHIRO often represents Burundi at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) where he has been appointed as an Associate Reporter of Q6/2 (ITU-T SG2) in regard to the Management architecture and security of telecoms. It is worth noting Francis Olivier has managed to initiate a new work item on requirements for management of application services over cloud and broadband ecosystem in Burundi.
Internet for everyone!
“Internet for everyone is the Internet Society’s motto”, Francis Olivier CUBHIRO says. This is in the line of the Internet Society’s objective which is to ensure that everyone has an affordable, a secured and a reliable internet. In this regard, its mission is to promote the open development (standards), evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world.
As Francis Olivier CUBAHIRO would put it, access to the internet is access to the entire world in one hand and an access to a multiple of opportunities on the other hand. “Internet is that tool that can provide you great opportunities to improve your life. It has positive effects on education, agriculture, business, health, etc. With internet, all types of information are accessible through a wide range of devices. The Internet has significantly increased the information resources available to people“, he says.
There are many opportunities when using the internet as a tool. “The internet can improve your life, your work; briefly the internet can bring you the opportunity to improve your life, your work methods and business”, he highlights.
Francis Olivier CUBAHIRO rejoices that the Internet in Burundi is the cheapest comparing to its neighboring countries. “All provinces in our country are connected, which is a good thing. Actually, there are about 20 internet providers in our country. And we have at least 8000 km optical fiber with many operators. Generally, the internet situation in our country is very good”, he states
Nevertheless, Chairman CUBAHIRO regrets that there is still a gap between urban and rural areas. “Internet is really very cheap in our country. But this doesn’t mean that everyone has access to the internet. To have and use internet requires devices such as Smartphone, computer and so forth. This is then the hindrance to access to internet for people living in the rural areas of our country. The main barrier is the cost of the devices comparing to the revenue of the population”.
Francis Olivier CUBAHIRO shares that The Internet Society Burundi chapter is advocating towards decision makers and all key stakeholder (public, private, academia, civil society, internet users) via a multi-stakeholder approach.
There are projects to reduce the gap of the use of the internet between urban and rural areas. “Our mission is that we bring together different stakeholders to find solutions for even the decision makers (policy makers) who may be advised or associated to some new challengers we are facing in the internet governance. It’s very important to put everyone together to share not only problems but also solutions and opportunities related”
CUBAHIRO also mentions that people should use a secured internet. “Some institutions like banks, big NGOs invest a lot in a secured internet because security is crucial. We have to educate people how to use internet wisely, how to protect their data”, he explains.
The Internet Society Burundi Chapter plans to organize in collaboration with the IGF National structure a National Internet Governance Forum. “We will invite all the stakeholders in order to discuss and share everything related to the internet, challenges and opportunities”, Francis Olivier CUBAHIRO concludes.