Adisa Bolutife is a 22-year-old open access advocate based in Lagos, Nigeria. A graduate of the University of Lagos with a degree in and electronics engineering, he is passionate about issues related to access, technology, inclusion, and Internet Governance. In 2016, Bolutife founded Open Switch Africa, where he leads a group of students, researchers, and academics to advocate for open access in research, education, and data in Nigeria. He is also a co-founder and director of Digital Grassroots, a global initiative that works to improve digital literacy in local communities. He is an Internet Society 2017 Youth@IGF fellow and an alumnus of the UNESCO Youth Leadership Workshop on Global Citizenship Education, Mozilla Open Leaders, and OpenCon 2017.
Like many people around the world, the Internet has contributed largely to the person I am today – building my knowledge base through access to a wealth of information. Without the Internet, a lot of things would not be as easy as they are right now.
As a recent graduate, I can relate to the fact that the Internet has been extremely helpful in aiding and improving student learning and research, as I can cite academic resources online and watch lectures from world class tutors from the comfort of my room. I am a strong advocate for open access in research, education, and data, and the Internet has been a powerful enabler in bridging knowledge gaps between privileged and underprivileged communities. The ability of the Internet to serve as a platform for disseminating information to all and sundry, regardless of race, gender, or nationality is what makes the Internet a global tool trusted by billions of people around the world.
In 2016, I founded Open Switch Africa, where I advocate for an accessible and inclusive Internet where information is not hindered by paywalls, regulation, or lack of connectivity.
Without connectivity we cannot have the vast interconnection that the Internet creates between billions of computers and devices, thereby forming an interconnection between people and information. Information brings knowledge, and knowledge, as they say, is power.
It has become increasingly clear that the Internet is at the core of almost all that we do. With automation and machine learning at the forefront of transforming the scope of future jobs, open education and open data driving the scope of education and research, and social media plus blogs disrupting the status quo in communication, very soon a much larger percentage of the world population will depend on the Internet for their livelihood. This is why it is extremely important, in preparation for the future, that we ensure all voices are heard when it comes to critical decisions regarding the future of the Internet.
The Internet is diversity by its very nature, and youth involvement is crucial to shaping the Internet of tomorrow. Young people are already shaping the online culture in so many ways. They are building their dream Internet. And yet when it comes to policy discussions, they are not at the table.
We need policies that protect us and prepare us for the future of the Internet, while ensuring that no one is left behind.
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Global Repository for Internet Studies is focused on creating a social enterprise platform that builds innovation and technological support systems and advocates rights in order to improve youth livelihoods in Africa.