IGF 2018 WS #85 Fostering an Inclusive Digital Economy with the Global South

Organizer 1: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 3: Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Mary Rose Ofianga, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Ndongmo Kathleen , Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Katrin Kuhlmann, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 4: Louisa Tomar, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

In order to overcome the digital divide that increasingly hinders economic and social development, countries across the Global South are preparing for digital transformations as part of their 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As countries prepare to invest in new infrastructure and technology, they must also create responsible policies that are inclusive and competitive. Subsequent locally-driven, sustainable economic development in the digital age requires that the business community can compete in domestic and international markets, and can employ broad sections of the local labor force. The global digital economy allows goods and services developed in the Global South to be sold more efficiently to neighboring communities as well as far off countries, further democratizing economic growth and inclusive trade. While the internet and accessible e-commerce platforms have great potential to democratize access to the global economy, there are also implications that must be addressed by government, civil society, and the local private sector. Those tasked with developing the legal, regulatory, and policy frameworks around e-commerce must carefully balance the (sometimes conflicting) needs of many different stakeholders. In addition, as digital trade continues to expand around the world, it is becoming clear that there is a heightened need for global consensus around the rules in key areas, including internet and ICT penetration, digital transactions, online contract enforcement, data privacy, and consumer protection. It will become ever more important to include the voices of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and others who are not often involved in decision making at the global level. The purpose of this workshop is to bring diverse actors together to explore how diverse stakeholders can ensure that inclusive growth happens online, and especially so that the needs of MSMEs and local businesses from the Global South are heard and addressed. This participatory workshop will ask key questions including: what policy barriers are local private sector actors in the Global South currently facing to join and operate in the digital economy? How are different stakeholders working (or not working) together to address such challenges? How can companies, governments, and civil society from the Global North support and engage local economies in the Global South? What does the future hold for local business communities as formal and informal e-commerce platforms become an increasingly popular method of buying and selling goods and services around the globe? How can we work toward creating a common framework that facilitates MSME participation in the global digital market?

Format: 

Break-out Group Discussions - 60 Min

Interventions: 

The intent of this session is to have a compelling global discussion on how to create a democratic and inclusive digital economy. Each speaker will share their experience working with various stakeholders to improve the enabling environment in emerging markets, the challenges they face, and their personal perspectives on how the future of the digital economy should be shaped.

Diversity: 

To encourage a global discussion, two female entrepreneurs, one from Cameroon and the other from the Philippines, will share the challenges that entrepreneurs, especially women, and small businesses in their specific country and regional context face when accessing the online marketplace and establishing an online presence to expand and grow their businesses.To supplement this diverse discussion, this session will also include an expert in economic law, regulation, and policy, entrepreneurship, (especially in emerging markets), and international legal and regulatory reform, who will provide additional insights on the challenges presented from other regions and potential recommendations on how multi-stakeholder dialogues can support the implementation of better policies that help create an inclusive digital economy. The moderators will also poll the in-person and online audience to get additional data and perspectives on the challenges other entrepreneurs from other regions have faced. The questions will provide insight into the similarities and differences between the experiences of the audience based on demographics such as region, gender, occupation/role, and more.

This session will begin with the speakers addressing some of the most common and pressing policy barriers that entrepreneurs and MSMEs in the Global South face when accessing the digital economy. The speakers will also highlight how the future of the digital economy should be shaped through a multistakeholder approach that facilitates the creation of democratic and inclusive markets in the digital world. This session will also crowdsource the views and opinions of participants both online and in person representing governments, civil society, technology companies, international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), and the broader international community at large on how common barriers to participating in the digital economy can be addressed to promote an inclusive digital economy and to amplify Global South participation in e-commerce. Each distinguished speaker will also share their perspectives on how stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, and government should work together to ensure that the digital economy is diverse, taking into account the considerations and needs of all citizens, regardless of location, or size of business. In order to facilitate an inclusive, global discussion, this session will also allow for all participants (including those joining online) to brainstorm how the main policy barriers presented by each speaker can be addressed and how different stakeholders can have a role in creating an inclusive, global digital economy. Time will be allotted for participants to share their perspectives, and for questions from the audience within IGF and through online participation. Perspectives and questions may be directed to any speaker in order to produce a fruitful and inclusive discussion. The second half of this session will involve break out group discussions, where participants will have an opportunity to discuss the themes, challenges, and potential solutions presented at the beginning of the session. The on-site moderator will offer prompts to the audience to help move small group discussions forward, and will encourage a mix of stakeholders within each group. Online participants will also have the opportunity to share their perspectives through the online moderator or through the use of an online polling platform that will be displayed during the session.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The panelists and moderators will all help facilitate the discussion between the speakers and the audience. While the speakers will begin the session by providing key perspectives, background, and insights into the discussion topics, the core of the discussion will center on the audience and online participants’ thoughts and answers to the key questions. The session will use a variety of online tools, including Poll Everywhere software, social media platforms such as Twitter, and webcast discussion features to ensure the widest participation. The panelists and moderators will also float between the small groups, and chime in as appropriate to spur discussions and answer questions. This will include circulating guided discussion questions and prompts. The moderators will also take care to keep the small groups as diverse as possible, by encouraging the participants in the room to mix with others they do not know, and especially ensuring that a variety of different stakeholders (civil society, private sector, government, and intergovernmental participants) are represented within each breakout group.

Online Participation: 

Including the use of Twitter to promote the panel discussion, the session coordinators will have the ability to live stream this event to the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) and filter up questions from the network to the online moderator in order to increase diverse and pluralistic dialogue. (ANDE) is a global membership network of over 280 organizations from more than 150 countries that propel entrepreneurship in emerging markets. ANDE members provide critical financial, educational, and business support services to small and growing businesses (SGBs) based on the conviction that SGBs will create jobs, stimulate long-term economic growth, and produce environmental and social benefits. In addition to engaging the global ANDE network, our online moderator, Morgan Frost, will filter questions from all online participants up to the panel in real time in order to develop a robust multi-stakeholder and global discussion. Online participants will also have the ability to engage in virtual small group discussions through the online moderator and a polling platform that will be displayed during the session.