IGF 2019 WS #409 Electricity, Community Networks and Digital Inclusion

Organizer 1: Wisdom Kwasi Donkor, Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation
Organizer 2: Marilyn Cade,
Organizer 3: Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro, Pasifika Nexus
Organizer 4: Zeina Bou Harb,
Organizer 5: Olusegun H. Olugbile, Continental Project Affairs Associates

Speaker 1: Nilmini Rubin, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Steve Song, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Carlos Rey Moreno, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 4: Ankhi Das, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 5: Bunmi Durowoju, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

DAY ZERO EVENT QUESTION APPROACH:
Based on the draft white paper, and the mini lightening talks, two groups will be assigned to 45 minute working sessions – one on energy and one on access/digital capacity. Specific questions will be developed via email consultation with a number of experts and those interested in the Day 0 event, and these will be published as the suggested discussion topics for the breakout sessions. The output of each group will be reported into the larger session. Remote participants will have the ability to participate through chat with a Remote Moderator in each of the two sessions, so that their comments can be included. The larger group will then distill the recommendations into a set of principles and action items/recommendations as a "working document". Participants will be invited to suggest ways to advance the outcomes document and any recommendations into other fora that they consider relevant.

Relevance to Theme: Most countries in Africa and other part of the developing world have gone through a series of technological revolutions which has transformed access to communication on the continent in the last two decades. However, as demand for Internet and electricity grows, access penetration is slowing. There is a growing body of evidence that suggest current connectivity strategies will fail to connect everyone, poor rural communities in particular. Those of us with access to the Internet accept the increasing social and economic benefits of access as normal, often without considering how the unconnected are increasingly disempowered as a result. This need not be the case. A new wave of technological and organisational innovation offers an alternative vision of access that could empower everyone. Small-scale commercial and community network operators can address access gaps if they are empowered by effective regulation and investment.

The workshop will present a challenge for policy-makers and regulators where value continues to accrue to those with affordable access to communication infrastructure while the unconnected fall further and further behind by simply staying in the same place. Those who most desperately need support are cut off or excluded from access to opportunity, to social and health safety nets, to education, to information that can improve lives and to platforms to demand change. It is ironic, or perhaps tragic, that the voice of the unconnected are not heard on this issue for the very reason that they are unconnected.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The value of being connected to a communication network is steadily rising. And yet, half of the world population remains unconnected to the Internet. Existing network operators are showing signs of having reached their limits in terms of connected the unserved. In recent times, affordable access to communication is of such value as a social and economic enabler that we need strategies that can embrace everyone. In order to have a meaningful conversation about options to reach the unconnected, we need better information on current telecommunications network development.

As demand for broadband grows, access penetration is slowing. There is a growing body of evidence that suggest current connectivity strategies will fail to connect everyone, poor rural communities in particular. Those of us with access to the Internet accept the increasing social and economic benefits of access as normal, often without considering how the unconnected are increasingly disempowered as a result. This need not be the case. Renewed adoption of the new technological and organisational innovation offers an alternative vision of access that could empower everyone. Small-scale commercial and community network operators can address access gaps if they are empowered by effective regulation and investment.

Format: 

Other - 90 Min
Format description: DAY ZERO EVENT:
After the initial set up of the premises, based on the draft white paper, and the mini lightening talks, two groups will be assigned to 45 minute working sessions – one on energy and one on access/digital capacity. Specific questions will be developed via email consultation with a number of experts and those interested in the Day 0 event, and these will be published as the suggested discussion topics for the breakout sessions. The output of each group will be reported into the larger session. Remote participants will have the ability to participate through chat with a Remote Moderator in each of the two sessions, so that their comments can be included. The larger group will then distill the recommendations into a set of principles and action items/recommendations as a "working document". Participants will be invited to suggest ways to advance the outcomes document and any recommendations into other fora that they consider relevant.

Description: While a good amount of work has been done by earlier activities supported by the IGF through its own focus on connecting the next billion, to date, the focus on the interdependency of electricity and access and digital literacy/skills has not yet been taken to actionable steps.

This Day Zero event is a working session and will have invited participants in a roundtable approach, with experienced moderators, who also engage with those invited to participate pre event so that all are able to prepare for a highly interactive event. As a first time initiative to try to merge two different "worlds" of energy/electricity and access with the need for empowerment of those who are the most under connected, or unconnected, the invitations to participate are very wide and diverse -- inclusive of World Bank and other such funders; regional entities, such as OAS, CTO, Commonwealth, ECOWAS, and their counterparts, UNDP, UNCTAD; regional technology organizations; entities such as ISOC ; ICANN; IEEE and business organizations and NGOs and think tanks, as well as academics that are practicing in areas that affect access or innovations in power.

Expected Outcomes: The session will start the discussions on creating a road map process to better understand what needs to be done in the short and long terms. There are several expected outcomes:

1. Identify opportunities and lessons learned that would support the developing countries alignment of clean energy sources that support both urban and rural and remote users

2. Identify the most critical gaps hindering the adoption and deployment of community networks in the developing countries.

3. Identify opportunities for governments to align national broadband and connectivity priorities programs with key community network infrastructure

4. Identify key issues on funding, resources and capacity at the national level.

5. Identify key data gaps hindering the penetration of Internet to the underserved communities in the developing countries

Onsite Moderator: 

Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator: 

Olusegun H. Olugbile, Private Sector, African Group

Rapporteur: 

Ines Hfaiedh, Government, African Group

Discussion Facilitation: 

The Day Zero event will be structured around two core segments with specific policy questions that examine the respective topic, plus a concluding wrap-up session:

• Session introduction, Orientation to Session Format, Key Note and Presentation:
• Segment 1: electricity and community network gaps within the underserved communities
• Segment 2:- Digital Inclusion and strengthening the ecosystems to address these gaps
• Q&A, In-room and remote audience
• Conclusion and wrap-up

While the invitational list is preliminary, the goal is to be very inclusive to both those who are addressing the challenges and those who can contribute to the needed change: Invitations to Experts from NGOs, business, IGOs, technical community and academics

The organizing team proposes to invite 40 such participants, leaving space for 20-30 individuals who self-select to participate. The invited participants will include:

• Community network operators
• Regulators from at least 3-5 developing countries/or their designated staff
• IGOs, such as ITU, UNCTAD, UNDP, World Bank
• Funding entities, such as development banks
• UN-DESA
• Businesses that are engaged in funding initiatives –e.g. Mastercard Foundation; Google, Facebook, Microsoft, GSMA, etc.
• NGOs with existing focus on these issues
• Internet Community: ISOC/ICANN/RIRs
• Commentators from the UN HLP on Digital Cooperation
• Entities with special focus such as Mozilla; and others that are studying change in the digital world from the academic practitioners in related areas

This is not an exclusive list of invited participants, and the session is open and inclusive to all interested in collaborating toward advancing progress. The organizers will establish a mechanism to sign up and reserve a participant slot, as space may be limited based on IGF Secretariat decisions regarding space allocation.

Online Participation: 

After the initial set up of the premises, based on the draft white paper, and the mini lightening talks, two groups will be assigned to 45 minute working sessions – one on energy and one on access/digital capacity. Specific questions will be developed via email consultation with a number of experts and those interested in the Day 0 event, and these will be published as the suggested discussion topics for the breakout sessions. The output of each group will be reported into the larger session. Remote participants will have the ability to participate through chat with a Remote Moderator in each of the two sessions, so that their comments can be included. The larger group will then distill the recommendations into a set of principles and action items/recommendations as a "working document". Participants will be invited to suggest ways to advance the outcomes document and any recommendations into other fora that they consider relevant.

Proposed Additional Tools: facebook and twitter will also be use to reachout to the larger virtual audience.

SDGs: 

GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals