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IGF 2017 - Day 1 - Room XXVII - CENB III

 

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Geneva, Switzerland, from 17 to 21 December 2017. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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(Captioner standing by for audio )

>> CHRISTOPHER:   (?) . . . are nine of them listed here, I believe.  There are ten in the official report.  Now, to really show different kinds of ways to bridge the digital divide and provide connectivity, what my key takeaways are, and the first point is really there is a number of different technological solutions tailored to different geographic situations, population densities and economic situations in ways that can be quite effective and one of the challenges we have is figuring out where each ‑‑ to right‑size each type of intervention to give proper guidance to people to understand when each is best. 

We actually hear a lot of discussion about the importance of backhaul and IXP's and the costs associated with it.  And in fact also the importance of harnessing energy.  Many of the employments we are talking about are off‑grid deployments that bring electric power you to communities for the first time as well as providing Internet connectivity. 

So as a brief overview, that is what we've accomplished.  This report is ongoing.  It will be published early next year but the opportunity of this session is to present to you the initial results but to also obtain from you your further input on other ways, other examples we should be presenting.

>>  MODERATOR:  Thank you very much, Christopher and I think that's really put us in the context and environment and it was a pleasure to work with you and Shirada [phonetic].  I don't see her ‑‑ okay.  She is in the back of the room ‑‑ together with Mili, who were instrumental in putting the documentation together. 

Let's hear a little from the experts and then from the ground leaders here today.  I am going to start with Olga Cavalli, chair of The Internet Society, Argentina chapter and also a board member from Internet Society.  Olga, could you share with us your experience and the challenges to get connected with the next billion.  Thank you.

>>  OLGA CAVALLI:  Thank you very much.  I want to commend you for this report.  I have been reading it.  It is really impressive.  Specifically related to my work at university which is education ICT's and education, which is the goal number four.

I am really impressed.  I went through all of the projects and most of them are mainly related with enhancing the infrastructure.  But I would like to comment a little bit a step forward from enhancing the infrastructure, how we use the technology to help young people and children to get information and skills related with technology.  So, if you look at the numbers, the primary education is in developing countries about more than 90% achieved.  But the problem is still in many countries, secondary education. 

It is also an issue in Latin America.  Not all of the young people finish their secondary education.  That means that they are more ‑‑ they are more vulnerable.  A young guy or girl who is not educated, it's difficult for them to get a job; it's difficult for them to be economically independent.  This is also a problem for women. If they are not economically independent  they are more vulnerable to violence at home.  One thing I would like to stress is the fact, if we can teach young people programming that can be an easy way for them to achieve a good job but at the same time there is a high demand for programmers in developing countries.  You can't not develop a country without technical skills in young people and young professionals.  But that doesn't mean that you have to go to university and do three‑four years of education.  There is an interesting example in Argentina that is run by the government from the Ministry of Production that it's called ciento mille ‑‑ it is a high number, how to say in English.  To train more than 100,000 programmers a year.  It is a short programme of short short semesters.  So, in one year, young students, girls and boys, can get skills in programming.  But the interesting thing of this project:  It is not done alone by the government.  It is done in partnership with universities, with technical schools, with companies, with the business sector and also with associate associations, industry associations.  So this is interesting.  It is very difficult for the government to do this alone.  It must be done in a multistakeholder environment and with a multistakeholder private sector/public sector partnership together.

The other thing I wanted to share with you:  I think that would help satisfy the demand from the technical companies needing more programmers and at the same time that enables young people to have education as programmers.  Also, the programme is focussed to entrepreneurship.  It is not only training for coding it has some training foreign entrepreneurship. 

In Latin America, they use online information to start small projects; like they get some short training in YouTube to perhaps paint or to build get small pieces of machines and start a small project.

How you take the first step in a project, it is sometimes taken by information that is online.  I think the role of ISOC chapters and special interest groups is very important because they are in contact with the community and they can be the catalyst for this change.  Finally ‑‑ I don't want to take all of the time, but I would like to mention something.  In endangered areas, sometimes connectivity is not available.  But ICTs and information can be delivered without connectivity perhaps through content that could be delivered in some devices, perhaps through content that could be delivered through devices, perhaps satellite connections.  That is the something that we have to have in line.  Areas that don't have connectivity could have other ways to achieve contents.  That could be great, in their own languages.  I will stop here and may comments after that.

>>  RACHEL:   Gracias, Olga.  Thank you very much.  It is important that the participation of the young people . . . we see how powerful and engaged they are.  So we have a lot of young participants, youth programs all around.  That also brings us a clue as to where we should be going.

>>  So, next let's hear Jack who is my colleague as well.  She works with APC in the women's programs, right?  And is my partner in crime.  For those here, let me do some advertisement:  We have a main session on gender also tackling SGD 5.  Jack, can you share your thoughts on connecting the next billion and the gender empowerment.  Thank you.

>>  JACK:  Yes, thanks, Rachel.  Partner in crime.  I will share a little of the work I have been doing around the Best Practices Forum on gender.  

For the past two years we have been looking at BPF on gender and access.  And let's take a moment to pause on SDG 5, no?  It's about access to ICTs to achieve equality and empower all women.  So, pausing on equality.  First we can't achieve equality without human rights.  So, human rights is a really important framework when we talk about access to the Internet.  Without which it's kind of gestural, without trying to achieve equality.  For example, the OHCR report on bridging the gender digital divide is a useful document to that end. 

Then second it's about empowering all women and girls and that means that we have to understand women and girls as not a singular group of people with shared interests and therefore like, you know, one woman will represent everybody but that are there are really, really distinct and specific differences within this sort of group that is being called women as well and how do we start to a pay attention to this distinction and this specificity in a way that is very helpful towards achieving this very important policy and an end‑target.  So that also means that we cannot have one set of indicators that rules them all, unfortunately, but that we really have to pay a little more attention to how do we engage in research, kinds of initiative the, targeting particular groups and communities of women.

So this is the work that we try to 'start to do at this year's BPF.  To bring in lessons from last year's Best Practice Forum as well, some lessons we got, first ,to think about access is that existing gender disparity matters.  This affects all things.  Whether this gender disparity is in terms of economic, education, access and control of resources, this will have a very direct and clear impact no access issues. 

Second, barriers are specific to specific communities of women, as I mentioned earlier. 

Thirdly, culture and norms play a huge role in this matter and that meaningful access also means including things that are not just about economic empowerment or education but also about pleasure and about leisure, about things that make life meaningful. 

This also responds to the value lag in access.  Why will I spend the little money I have getting access if I am not the breadwinner as the breadwinner has been put forward as the only reason for access.  So, yes, this is not the only dimension in life that matters to people.

So this year we started to look at specific groups of women for the BPF work.  We have five groups.   I won't talk about them all. But I will pause about three.  First is refugee women.  It is a context of crisis, a context is of precariousness.  Of where you also have great restriction of movement and cultural norms play a huge role as well as discrimination in terms of the ability to access infrastructure which may or may not be there.  But, then, information is really critical, information about what is happening, a changing context, et cetera.  What about aid, connection to families. 

If you have access to information, this truly can transform your relationship and location as a passive recipient of information to agents of decisionmaking and change, based on your ability to access information and to be able to exchange experiences.

So, this in and of itself presents a really interesting way to understand, okay, so what does it mean to address access issues for all refugee women in particular context. Again, this is not a monolithic group.  It changes from space to space. 

Second, we looked at indigenous women and communities.  It is important to know this is not the same everywhere but some things that came out is the value of access to the Internet is actually about sharing important information about community and family events because they are often in quite remote locations, so to connect from one place to another, this is where access to communication and information technologies becomes very useful.  And also, of course,  to build education, and skills and capacity.  But what happens is we have the problem of gatekeeper. 

So this is where we look into very specific indigenous communities itself.  Often, there is a head of a village that does all kinds of decisionmaking.  This is also something we see in community access projects that aims to look at access, at community levels in the last mile; and you often have to negotiate and engage with existing decisionmaking and social structures that is very gendered in the community itself. 

So, you have to negotiate this and think about it and therefore access is not just about the most relevant or propriet or affordable form of infrastructure but it is also about having to think through governance and decisionmaking, no?  From the type of infrastructure, to management, to resource distribution, to conflict resolution and so forth.  And that the promise of access is also the capacity to be able to transform power relationships from within the community itself and that is very ‑‑ quite exciting.  We try to look at women with disabilities but unfortunately couldn't get too many findings which is a shame because there is a huge community of people with lots of work and policy gains as well.  I will not go too much into it.  But come to the BTF workshop if you want to talk about it. 

And finally about lesbian, bisexual, trans and queer women.  And this access to the Internet is supercritical to gather information that is explicitly blocked or censored about finding community and about organizing for rights, being able to be recognized as full citizens regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

So for example in Lebanon and Vietnam the ability to be able to connect and access the Internet has been instrumental and directly linked to the ability to be able to organize for offline kinds of abilities to access their rights. 

To conclude briefly, I think we have to be more specific about what we mean by women and girls; to challenge our assumptions about value, use and response.  Then the importance of also framing this from the perspective of access for enabling the realization of the full range of human rights, without which there will be no equality.

>> MODERATOR: 

>> RACHEL: Thank you so much, Jack, and bringing all this work from the BPF which is great.  I am sure we will hear more and read in the final report.  Now I want to call Cheryl Miller.  Cheryl is the Director of International Affairs and Public Policy at Verizon.  She has also supported a lot of this groundwork.  Let's hear more on your experience of those case.  Thank you very much.

>>  CHERYL MILLER:  Sorry, I am short; I have to get closer to the microphone (Chuckling).  I sort of began my career working on Internet issues 17 years at Sun Microsystems.  Connectivity and insure issues around it were personal to me growing up.  I was one of the last students in my school to have a computer.  We were living in New York.  I grew up with my grandparents, so they were an older generation, not tech savvy. 

We lived on a salary of $11,000 a year, 1966, a family of three.  So, to actually buy a computer for my grandpa ‑‑ he surprised me one day with a computer ‑‑ it was 1,000 out of 11,000.  It was kind of a big deal. 

When he did that, I didn't have the heart to tell him I needed to be connected, though.  It was going to cost more; it didn't stop there at the computer.  What I used to do ‑‑ I ran track, so I would run to my friends' houses and my friends had ever tech‑savvy households. 

They taught me how to get online, how to use the Internet et cetera.  Really it was the community around my that helped me understand that.  Since then, I just fell in love with all of the policies surrounding it and always wanted to be more involved in the connectivity issues themselves.  But I want to talk a little about SDG, sustainable development goals ‑‑ we use so many acronyms in is this space.  SDG5.  Gender equality.  There has been great work at the Internet Governance Forum on this.  I want to commend Jack and her team.  They have been amazing on the work done on this particular SDG.  Really thankful for this.

Getting ready for this, though, I looked up the definition of gender equality.  It stated it is the state in which access to rights or opportunities is unaffected by gender.

And I also kind of was poking around on the Internet and I read a statistic that really made me pause.  It said that closing the wage and gender gap will take 177 years if we don't start addressing the issue more vigorously.  Now, that's scary for me because I certainly won't be around they.  177 years is huge.  We certainly have a lot of work to do on this issue.

The Internet real;y is a platform that can help us achieve greater gender equality through digital inclusion.  But globally women are 50% less likely to be connected to the Internet than men.  There are a number of different reasons for this. The statistic comes from the Web Foundation.  I am not pulling numbers out of thin air or anything like that. 

I think it is important talking about digital literacy that we have a problem with literacy, period.  Not just digital literacy but a large population of the world doesn't how to read.  I think at the IGF, we are privileged.  When we look around the room, this is not representative of the world. 

We really need to think and understand that as we are looking at these different issues.  My company, Verizon, is committed to improving this situation in a number of different ways.

I wanted to talk about some of them.  First, we have launched a new initiative around innovative learning.  Many of these programs are through what we have, it is called the Verizon Foundation.  If you have an organization that wants to apply for a grant and focussed on digital literacy, healthcare, the sustainable development goals we are working on, you can apply for a grant.

Go on the Foundation website or email me, I am happy to give you more information on that.  But a number of these programs are put in place to ensure young girls are empowered and have access to technology and STEM education.  We committed $160 million to provide free technology, access and immersive hands‑on learning to kids in need.  I was proud that we recently launched that.  It does not stop there with the funding.  It is not only about the funding. 

What are doing, we are trying to administer the programs and create them in partnerships with leading nonprofits.  Another track that we are involved in is what I would call tech emerging.  We are combining technology with role models for young people. 

We are teaching them to code, how to become involved with 3D design, robotics.  The results have been really just amazing to watch.  It was amazing to interact with these young people.  We also have been digitizing schools. 

What we want to do, we want to get on the front end and change the way teachers teach and students learn.  We are keeping close metrics to track these programs.  One example I have, we found that 1.5 times as many sixth graders in one of our innovative learning schools has been able to improve their math compared to students not in those schools.  There are a lot of metrics online if you go to the Verizon Foundation you can read more on that. 

We also launched a number of innovative learning and lab challenges.  I am proud to say that through a lot of these different programs, the girls are the ones that are leading.  The girls are winning the competitions, developing new apps, et cetera.  And so it has been really amazing to watch the programme grow.  We are definitely really proud of it.

Another thing my company is involved in is making sure that we find and recruit women to be in positions of leadership.  So there are a lot of Verizon women that you will see through the IGF.  You will see Kathy Brown,  formerly from Verizon. You will see Theresa Swinehart from ICANN et cetera. And if you ever sit in a meeting with vers staff, there will always be more women than men.  That's something I am very proud of because when we meet with other companies, that is something is that stands out.  It definitely stood out for me when I interviewed with them.  And we are also definitely interested in including women. 

If I see a conference is ongoing and the panel does not have representation globally and genderwise I will literally call and suggest people to be put on the panel.  I think we need to do a good job of that:  Keeping the community of women involved and providing opportunities for each other going forward. 

I want to give a shout‑out to the One World Connected team.  They are a programme we support.  I am so proud of them. Sharda Muget (phonetic) and the team of fellows, they did tremendous work.  Women, again.  I would like to point that out.  But I think finding partnerships like this.  If your organization's able to do that, it is great.  I encourage you to do it. 

I encourage you, if you are a woman at the IGF looking to become involved, talk to the companies that are here.  Verizon is not the only.  We have Facebook, many other programs. We have great programs, and they are looking to  focus on diversity. We want to include diverse voices.  Also, if your organizations can improve your level of diversity and gender inclusion, think about that.  Look around the room.  There are plenty of amazing and smart and talented women.  Get to know them and see what opportunities you both can share.  Thank you very much for having me here.  I appreciate it. 

>>  RACHEL:  Thank you, Cheryl.  It is really great work and I am sure we will continue with more examples.  Without further delay, let's hear from Robert Pepper, who does not need an introduction.  He is the head of the connectivity and policy at Facebook.  Bob, can you share your experience and cases, please. 

>>  ROBERT PEPPER:  Yes.  Again, a great shout‑out to the organizers ISOC and the One World Connected project that Cheryl just talked about. 

So I'm going to actually talk about SDG 9 which is infrastructure, but before I do that just a couple of comment the about some of the previous speakers.  I loved Jack's point about the point of the importance of the Internet creating sharing of information, building communities; and building communities is clearly what Facebook is about.

And I am going to refer back to this in terms of some of the work that we have done with the Economist Intelligence Unit.  On the gender gap issues that both Jack and Cheryl referred to, the global average topline, that there is this huge gap is great to grab attention.  But averages actually are not very useful.  We have to dive down deeper to understand.  And some of the work that we have done with the Economist Intelligence Unit begins to look at the gender gap on a country‑by‑country basis.  Let me back up a second and come back to that.

Last year for the first time it was kind of a beta test.  We did a study with the Economist Intelligence Unit.  They did the all the collection and data analysis.  We ended up calling the Internet inclusion index.  We looked at 46 indicators for 75 countries.  When we did the analysis, they clustered into four areas:  Availability, which is supply side which is the infrastructure I will come back to.  Affordability, which is obvious.  But then, relevance and readiness. 

When you began to look at the questions surrounding why are people either connected and using and benefiting from the Internet or why not, you have to look at all four of those areas.  So it's about supply side; the availability of the infrastructure, SDG 9, which is the necessary but not sufficient prerequisite. 

Nothing happens the unless there is connectivity.  But, even with connectivity, there are other variables that get people to use and benefit from the Internet.  This goes to some of the things that we have already been talking about.

What we found that being connected is not the same as inclusion.  Inclusion depends on being connected, using and benefiting from the applications.  Right? And that is really essential to understand.

And so that brings me back to the more granular analysis on the gender gap.  Last year was the first year we did the study.  It was thought of more as a beta test.  We learned a lot; we' improved it.  We looked at 75 countries.  This year we are looking with the Economist at 86 countries.  We will release the results at Mobile World Congress at the end of February. 

But, one of the things that we found as we are beginning to get the results this year, looking specifically at the gender gap, is that the good news is that there's rough parity, statistically significant parity, in about 20% of the countries.  The bad news is that that means that in 80% of the countries there is not statistically significant parity. 

If you are looking at a country that has 86% of the men and 85% of the women connected, statistically, based on the sampling it is essentially parity.  By the way, in Saudi Arabia, there are 85% of the men and 85% of the women connected. 

That does not mean full inclusion because that goes to the issues of the applications you have available.  How are people using it and benefiting.  Interestingly, there are a number of countries in which there is an important statistically significant gender gap in favor of women.  So we need to understand why in those countries men are not and boys are not online and using and benefiting the same way that women are, women and girls.  We are beginning this year to dive down and tease out some important information that we are just beginning to get the early results from and then we will make all of that available.

One of the things with this study that is not what most studies do ‑‑ we started this last year.  It was important to us to make all of the data available.  I think of the data as a public good.

And so if you go to the Economist Intelligence Unit website, you will you find the Excel spreadsheets with the data for each of the 46 indicators, for each of the 75 countries. 

But now, let me shift to the important findings on ‑‑ related to SDG 9 infrastructure.  I've already mentioned that inclusion is being ‑‑ is more than just being connected.  We found that, as we all know about three and a half ‑‑ the good news is it is closer to 3.8, not four and a half billion people, are not connected at all.  So, that is one of our priorities.  But we also found that a majority of the people connected were underconnected.  And what do I mean by that?  If you understand as I said earlier that inclusion means being able to use and benefit from all of the rich applications, it means you need really good broadband robust persistent connections. 

2G is not enough.  Right?  You barely can be connected even with 2 and a half G, what they call GPRS.  3G begins to get you there but it is not a native protocol network. 

You really need the equivalent of 4G LTE that will give you the type of connection with good download, upload, low latency and persistent connections.  And that's the type of infrastructure that you need.

So when we look around the world and we use the data to help us understand the types of connections people have, that either they don't have or they do have but they are underconnected.

And if you look across, for example, Africa, there is between 80‑85% of people have available to them a 2G voice GSM signal.

But less than 40% ‑‑ less than 30% had available to them a 4G signal.  People, even though they can do voice, cannot do full robust Internet connectivity.  And if you take a look globally at the case across the world, there are a couple of things that need to happen in order for the networks and network operators to upgrade from 2G to 3G.  First, they need more spectrum.  But the good new is that most government and regulators understand that, and spectrum is being made available. 

It turns out that unwhere the biggest gating factors, barriers upgrading to 4G networks is the lack of backhaul.  Good backhaul.  Right?  We talk about everything being wireless, whether WiFi or mobile.  I don't care if it is WiFi or mobile; it has to connect into a core network to get pulled back into the network to be connected. 

When people ask me is the world going to be fiber or broadband wireless?  The answer is:  Yes. 

You need both.  So, very specifically and concretely, in a very practical way, what we are trying to do is solve the backhaul problem by partnering with operators to give them the ability to scale from 2G to 4G.  One of the examples of that and we are looking at projects globally, one of the examples, we partnered with Airtel, a mobile operator, an infrastructure company.  In Northwest rural Uganda. 

We just finished building and turning on 770‑kilometer fiber core network.  Digging trenches, putting in poles, crossing the Nile, building fiber across Northwest Uganda. 

As a result, Airtel is now able to migrate its sort of narrow band mobile network in northwest Uganda to full data networks.  As a result, people are getting on and downloading and using applications they could never use before.  It's very practical.  Not easy but the type of work that needs to be done.  We see the partnership ‑‑ we see the relationship with the mobile operators as a partnership in which it's mutually ‑‑ we are mutually dependent on one another; it is a symbiotic relationship. 

We need really, really good networks for the future of the applications and content ,which will be video.  The Cisco forecast several years ago was that, by 2020, 80% of the data, whether mobile or fixed, Internet connections will be video or already there.

They need to make the transition from voice companies selling minutes of voice to full data companies.  And when they do that, they benefit from more applications, more content with bigger data plans and there is this mutual interdependence. 

So, you know, those are some of the things we are doing to do that.  I can come back and talk about our express WiFi project.  I know One World Connect has looked at those in the access.  Thank you.

>>  RACHEL:  Thanks very much, Bob.  It is always a pleasure to hear all of your data.  I am sure if you have something already, Jack will be ‑‑ she had to leave for another session, but she will be pleased to receive the information.

I know and I understand there are some questions already that people want to ask.  But, let's hold for a minute.  We are going to hear from some of the projects who submitted contributions. 

I think it is important also to hear we are going to start with a Asawacotery (phonetic), he is fromVanuatu, the chairman of the project ‑‑ sorry if I am not saying that correctly ‑‑ but My Telecommunications Community Vital Project.  Please, go ahead and share what you are doing.  You have a video, right?

>>  PANELIST:  Sure.

>>  RACHEL:   As Bobby was saying, now presentations are arriving here.

>>  PANELIST:  Thank you very much for the opportunity.

  Thank you everyone.  I am the Chairman for my Telecommunications Committee.  I will talk about that project.  It is a community project.  To start off, the people out there in my community have been struggling for the telecommunications services and the Internet connectivity.

We have seen people suffering with conditions of health, we have health facilities there but not proper communications to cater for the services to be delivered adequately on time.  So, therefore, we have come up with the idea of let's do something about the issue going forward.

So, we began to talk about and we formed a committee locally.  They chose me to be the chairman of the committee.  We have come up with some fundraising.  You have to go to certain places you can access with the Internet or you can access with your telephone.  The cell phones.

There is no accessibility in the ‑‑ in my island, as one of the people here have said.  So we did the fundraising and continued with the project.  We have a project here that we have two phases of the project.  One is telecommunications.  If somebody's sick, then they take him to the health center.  The nurse there can look at the sick patient.  Which, at first, they have to climb a long way, steep hills, a remote area.  It is very difficult. 

They have to find a way how to transport a sick patient to the other side.  So we came up with the establishment for the committee and worked hard to fund‑raise locally.  I am here to say also thank you for the partners who are supporting us with the project to deliver some assistance to make our project ongoing. 

The first phase is about the telemedicine.  We have challenges there but I think life will become better for the health services.  Doctors can communicate with other doctors through the Telemedicine Project.  Another is to get kids to know about the Internet connections and accessibility in education. 

It's been ‑‑ we have challenges administered.  We put up the extension.  But we have problems with the (?).  It is something to talk about.  We welcome partnerships with the extension for the Learning Project for kids.

We have video.  It is something to show us about the ‑‑ what the project has been doing there.  The great impact it has on people's lives.  And how it is connected to other parts of the world to help services be drawn on and continue with the life, as we have.  Thanks.

>>  RACHEL:  Thank you.  We have the video up.

>> PARTICIPANT:  We have a two short clipns. This is how people get from one side of the island to the hospital which is actually on another island:  They have to carry people over on a stretcher because there is no road.  Then get to a boat, take a boat to another island and then potentially get on a plane to get to the capital.

Then there is another, a short clip, which is the nurse climbing one of the towers to fix it (Chuckling).

>>  So, both Pepper and Cheryl were nice enough to mention One World Connected. It is a study at the University of Pennsylvania we're doing as case studies to try to bring some empirical rigor and some traction across projects to see what is going to work.

I have to say a personal debt of thanks to the people in Vanuatu. The people in Vanuatu have been great partners with us, and frankly participated remotely in ways I found inspiring.  It is a classical community network where the people with no other experience people made a network out of nothing and without connectivity didn't really have other resources aside from what they could develop on their own.

And the kinds of things they have accomplished ‑‑ one of the things we are proudest about in this session is to give a chance to people who have done amazing things to share their stories with the rest of us because that is ultimately, until it happens at the ground level, nothing that we say at the high level really matters.  I really have to say thank you to you for all of your efforts.

>>  MODERATOR:  So, next, I think we have Andrea is already in the room?  NASCO.  Daniel Paysch [phonetic].  From NASCO Feeding Minds.  Can you please share,  then, your results.  Oops sorry, you are going to put the video up also.  Okay, perfect, perfect.  And Andrea, I think it's held in the line, so . . . perfect.

  Sorry, I didn't tell:  They are from Ghana.

(Video played)

>> VOICE OFF SCREEN: Once upon a time a boy of twelve left home for lack of education in pursuit of a utopian life in Europe, which was like a chorus sung in every conversation in Ghanian nsociety.  Everywhere, the streets were gold. Milks flows from taps like water.  The journey to Europe had begun, meandering his way through dead bodies in the desert and the mafia.  But the belly of death, the voyage, had begun. 

The tales told at home did not include the cruelty, the risk, of the death that awaited patrons of the journey.  Who would have dared?  If only someone had told him the reality.  If only he had access to education.  If only he had access to information about this, Ousman Umar would not have undertaken a five‑year journey to the wonderland. 

Information became the most important fabric, weaving and shaping our society, our communities and our world. 

Information and communication technology has become the better of global development.  Lack of these means the prevalence of illiteracy, human and social underdevelopment.  The speed with which information communication technology, ICT, is developing and its impact on socioeconomic activities cannot be overemphasized. 

It is imperative that Africa is not excluded from this technological revolution.  It is a stark fact that the use of ICT has been integrated into virtually every facet of commerce, education, governance and every civic activity in developed countries and has become a critical factor in creating wealth wordwide.  Unfortunately, in Africa, ICT has barely taken a foothold.  Computer illiteracy and lack of access to ICT are widely recognized as an increasingly powerful obstacle to the economic, civic and political development of Africa. 

According to the UN ICT task force, nowhere is the digital divide more pronounced than in countries on the African continent.  Africa is the most unconnected in an increasingly connected world.  This is where Ghana as a country finds itself. 

It is against this background that the ICT Literacy Project was designed by NASCO Nuhu and Ousman collaboration.  The ICT literacy project is designed to offer the best of training, knowledge, skill and information to students in particular and the general public at large.

The organisation is founded on the premise that universal primary education is vital to the global community.  Our mission is to provide academic resources and to support educational initiatives in underserved communities by strengthening collaboration between African educators and their global counterparts.

Three centers of learning have been established.  8,241 students have passed through our ICT training programs, in introduction to ICT, intermediate and advanced courses and 3,298 are currently studying at centers.

Some of our students are gainfully employed in secretarial portfolios, graphic designing, web designing as well as applying the knowledge of ICT in other areas of study as they cling on to the educational ladder. 

Hitherto, these students ended up in the streets with no skills and eventually embark on a journey of no return, chasing the Europe dream.  Support from Laptu (phonetic),, UPC, Nibus Denmark will see the establishment of more centers this summer. 

The significance of our work has attracted the attention of Open Arms, an operative on the Mediterranean Sea, to cushion us on a sensitisation programme to tackle a migration crisis at source.  Other projects include educational accessibility for students living with disabilities.  Beekeeping is an economic empowerment for women and volunteering.

In an increasingly pronounced population growth, the activities of NASCO Foundation may be meagre or just a tiny spark.  But we may never know when the spark becomes a flame.

(Organ playing)

(Applause)

>>  MODERATOR:  Well done.  Well done.  Please go ahead.

>>  OUSMAN UMAR:  Thanks a lot.  Hello.  That is a reality.  Definitely.  Sometimes you see these videos, in the news and things like that.  This is real.  Here I am. I mean, I have passed through all of this situations at the age of 14, I was able to go through all of the difficulties.  On the way, the desert, the sea, I arrived in Spain in 2005.  Almost illiterate, 17, 18 years.  I am starting my master's degree . . . I don't know how to say in English.

>>  MODERATOR: international cooperation.

>>  OUSMAN UMAR:   Exactly.  In ten years I have been able to pass through the education system, the Spanish education system.  I graduated last June and am getting my master's degree.  And of course we have to share this lack that we have with a lot of people, a lot of children down there.  That's why NASCO was funded.  That is what we do.  I will let my partner Daniel explain more in detail what  NASCO does in particular. 

February 2005, I was moving on the street, searching for milk on the street.  In my country, Africa in particular, we don't have milk cows to get milk; you only go to push a fountain where milk comes from, for example. 

So, this is where we have the real situations and the real problems and how to tackle this real problem and the source where it is generated.  Thanks. 

Daniel will give you an idea of what the NASCO activities are in particular. 

>>  DANIEL:  The NGO NASCO Feeding Minds was founded at the precise moment Ousman stopped wondering why he went through all of this and started asking instead for what purpose he had gone through all of this.  What was destiny expecting from him.  The answer to why NASCO was born is simple:  So that no one else has to go through what he went through. 

Therefore, the next question to ask is:  What pushed him to go through all of that?  The answer is twofold:  First, he lacked reliable information.  Second, his country could not provide him with a real education and self‑development opportunities.

We believe that if we are able to find solutions to these two problems, we will be able to stop the unacceptable tragedies that are taking place at this very moment.  Yes, in this very moment, as I am speaking, there are probably several groups crossing the desert that have to drink their own urine to survive.  People that spend all their life's savings are right now drowning in the sea. 

The absence of information might lead to some funny moments, as he said before, the first day in Barcelona, he was looking for the milk fountain.  But, other times it's deadly, as it was for his journey companions who did not know what would happen if they paid mobsters to cross the desert.

Libraries may solve this dilemma. Nowadays, however, we have this revolutionary tool called the Internet that reaches the whole world.  Knowing how to use Wikipedia, Facebook or Google, provides access to a vast range of information, which can enable people to make rational decisions evaluating the risks associated with any action plan.  However, providing access to this information is not enough.  Even after finding out they have 90‑95% chance of dying if they repeat Ousman's journey, they might still decide to undertake it. 

In order to avoid more tragedies, they must have the chance to prosper in their own countries.  It's unthinkable to belive that you cannot attract investments from traditional industrial companies such as from the automative sector, for example, because there is no internal demand, no real infrastructure to export and no high level of training human capital.  The information and technology sectorn, however, is different.  You do not need goods to export or qualified human capital.

At NASCO we collect computers no longer used in the First World and send them to Ghana, so students can use them in their classnes. We fight climate change by recycling products that that will help change the lives of the Ghanaian people.  The recycled computers are then adapted for our classrooms, which then become computer centres with access to worldwide information and education. 

Nowadays, 6,000 students went to our course.  We are proud to aid each one of these students.  Nevertheless, we want to reach 9 million students, the approximate population between six to eighteen years in Ghana. 

In order to achieve this, we need to create 15,000 classrooms.  We are seeking companies and individuals who want to help us reach this number.  We are far away from our objectives.  However, this does not discourage any of our volunteers or any of us.  We will continue investing, as we have done to get here, our time and personal money and resources until we achieve our goals. 

Some of our students have never used a computer before and learn really basic tasks such as how to rename a file.  Others have used our classes as the stepping stone to study degrees in computer science.  One of them is Tasli, a teacher in one of our schools.  Another example of success is Ousman's brother Manasco.  Manasco, wanted to emigrate to Europe, following his brother Ousman's footsteps.  Access to information and the possibility of having an education in his country, radically changed his destiny.  Now he has his own start‑up with six employees and more than 45,000 users.  So, that's the way.

>>  MODERATOR: very good.  Congratulations.  After the master's comes the Ph.D., so you are you never stopping.

(Laughter)

>>  MODERATOR: thanks.  Congratulations.  Andrea has finally arrived.  Thank you very much.  I know it is hard with the queue.  Andrea is from Colombian presenting the Lavasa Project [phonetic].  Gracias.

>>  ANDREA:  Hello, everybody, thank you for this invitation.  The project is the Lavasa (Phonetic) Foundation Project.  We are working in Colombia.  I am going switch into Spanish.  I feel better if I can speak in Spanish.  If that is not a problem.

(Video played)

(No English translation in this room)

>>  MODERATOR:  I think the video was self‑descriptive.  To give an overview, it talks about access in rural areas; how access to a spectrum for broadband was important.  You have Martha Suarez, the head of the Spectrum agency there.  There are some access through schools and libraries and how this changed not only the child's learning to give kids more interest in studying but also changed their knowledge and capacity and also the adults develop skills and look for other areas of interest, in this case, in rural environments.  Well, for cacao girls.  I think colombia is also known for coffee. Andrea, if you can speak slowly.

>> ANDREA:  Okay, perfect.  This is a project that was born with defending from the organisation La BaSa [phonetic], an Italian company.  The goal was to incorporate the technological component into the coffee production system.  The second slide, please.

When they found the place, landed there, they discovered they had no infrastructure and limited capacities there.  So they were imagining some scenarios with the Internet of Things.  But when they arrived there think discovered it was not possible because they discovered that they did not have even the groundwork in the land.  So they discovered they had this opportunity because Microsoft was already pushing for some TV white spaces allocation in rural certain areas and the Spectrum agency in Colombia was already creating these enabling policies.  So it's really a project that brings together the public sector, the private sector and the municipal, the cities and the regional authorities.

They have already connected five coffee farms.  Can I say coffee farms?  Right? okay.  You got it.  And two schools.

They solved the infrastructure issue now by the TV white space use but they are targeting the contents, so it is not only getting connected but also having the content and they are working first with the telemedicine.  They are bringing healthcare to really isolated communities and also bringing some of the content around the, well, the coffee production; including information about the costs, et cetera.

For example, the coffee production has some diseases that attack the plants.  So the farmers can get information through the centers and they have access to the Internet and they can make their production more efficient.  They are working now on how to document the experience and replicate in Colombia and other places around the world. 

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, gracias, Andrea.  Thank you very much, everyone, for sharing all of these amazing experiences.  We have been very hard on the time.  It is about to close.  But it is important also to hear from others.  So, are there any other questions, comments?

>>  There is one team here from Gambia who did one project on digital project for literacy for girls.

>> MODERATOR:  Go ahead.  But, please be short; we are short on time.

>>  PARTICIPANT:  No problem, no problem.  Good afternoon, everybody.  Thanks for giving us the chance to talk about our project which was started in 2015.  One of the first projects that we started, because Gambia digital literacy, like many of the African countries is very low.  Most of the gals, especially in the rural areas, do not know how to use computers. 

So we started this project in 2015, training gals on basic ICT.  They went up to the level of being able to code, start building mobile apps and web development.  As I speak right now, our website is being managed by people that we trained in the project, which is part of the success stories of the initiative.

Last year we won the Google Fire Award (phonetic).  And part of the initiative we are trying to push now is to create tech centers and libraries.  In Gambia we set up a library in one of the rural communities last year. 

This year we realized that almost 100% of the gals who attended to the library, all gained admission to high school because the library is providing them that safe space to explore their potential, so this is a centre they can come and learn to use most of these things.

And through the initiative, also, we linked them with entrepreneurs to provide mentorship for them because we realize that is a link in the chain that has been missing in most of the projects that people are involved in.  They just train these people and leave them on their own.  One of the things that we are doing is linking them with entrepreneurs and young leaders in the country who can help mentor them and successfully. Most of the gals we have trained are doing well in these areas. 

And we also are using ICT for advocacy through Internet initiative in the country because Gambia has had a dictator regime for 22 years. 

So part of the intergenerational dialogue initiative that we were using through Internet advocacy was to get people to come out and vote.  Last year, we remember, before the elections, it was very difficult talking about politics, but we were able to mobilize a lot of young people, using the Internet, getting them out to vote. 

Forty‑eight hours before the election, the government used some bad, repressive laws to shut down the Internet.  But before that people were empowered to get out and vote.  With the new government, also, we are pushing for those laws to be quashed.  For just a Facebook post, one can go to jail 15 years in Gambia.  We are trying to advocate to see how best we can change most of the policies and laws in the country. 

And moving forward, also, there is a new project that we are launching called the Prison Code Project.  Because we don't have prison reform in Gambia.  Most of the time, they take people to prison not to correct them but to punish them. 

We are working with the prison department, most of the juveniles that are incommunicado, at the moment, to help train them on ICT and give them skills so when they go out they can be responsible people in society.  Recently also we are launching a disability project called the Empowerment Project led by one of my colleagues here.  Also it is trying to include everybody:  Women, minorities, and people having disabilities in order to empower them to actively participate in society; because we believe it is only through education that we can change our communities and, hopefully, with time, maybe we will also be part of the larger context, having successfully achievend the sustainable development goals. 

Thank you very much for this opportunity to discuss our project.

>> MODERATOR:  Thanks to you and thanks for sharing.  So are there any other comments or questions?  I don't see any hands.  And I think we are about have one minute to close.  I want to ‑‑ Christopher, I think already said:  It is really, really amazing.  ,Hearing what you all are doing on the ground.  I come also from Brazil, which has its challenges and ‑‑ but I mean, you guys are doing an amazing job.  So, keep going.  We can bring here these policy challenges.  That's important to consolidate them.  But it is also important to look at it the other way around:  See what has been done and why policies need to be an enabler and not a blocking for all of this work.  Thank you very much.  I think,  CHRISTOPHER, you wanted to say something?

>>  CHRISTOPHER: I just wanted to say thank you to the people who traveled so far to be with us.  Your sharing your stories is really exceptional and is really what we need to hear more of.  So, we are in your debt.  We are very proud at One World Connected and the University of Pennsylvania.  We have now connected 120 case studies of different kinds. 

If you are interested in hearing more, Grand (?) Project,  (?) is here with us on Thursday at 10:40. We have five more of projects of people doing projects on the ground and we will talk about other case studies.  If you enjoyed this kind of environment, you will have another opportunity to hear from more people making it happen in the real world.

>> MODERATOR:  Perfect.  Thank you very much.  As a final comment, if you have additional cases or comments, you can send that to us you.  We are consolidating a final outcome report by the end of the year.  Well, it's nearly there.  But we still have time.

And a big, big shout‑out to Mili and Shiradi, who really helped us here.  Thank you very much, everyone.

(Applause)

(Session ended at 12:00 noon)

Contact Information

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