IGF 2018 NRI Session on Access beyond Mere Connectivity

Salle VIII

IGF 2018 NRIs Access Session Long Report

Pre-Session Synthesis Due: 2 November 2018

Short Report Due: Within 12 hours of when session is held

Long Report Due: 23 November 2018


- Session Type (Workshop, Open Forum, etc.): NRI Collaborative Session

- Title: Access Beyond Mere Connectivity

- Date & Time: Tuesday, 13 November, 2018 - 10:10 to 11:10

- Organizer(s): Asia Pacific regional IGF (APrIGF); Bangladesh IGF; Bolivia IGF; Brazil IGF; France IGF; IGF-USA; Nigeria IGF; West Africa IGF; Tunisia IGF; Colombia IGF; Nepal IGF; African IGF.

- Chair/Moderator: Mr Vinicius W. O. Santos (Brazil IGF)

- Rapporteur/Notetaker: Ms Nathalia Sautchuk Patrício (Brazil IGF)

- List of speakers and their institutional affiliations (Indicate male/female/ transgender male/ transgender female/gender variant/prefer not to answer):

Mr. Babu Ram Aryal - Nepal IGF, Male

Mr. Dustin Philips - IGF-USA, Male

Mr. Faye Makane - West Africa IGF, Male

Ms. Flavia Lefévre - Brazil IGF, Female

Ms. Jennifer Chung - Asia Pacific regional IGF (APrIGF), Female

Mr. Julian Casabuenas - Colombia IGF, Male

Ms. Mary Uduma - Nigeria IGF, Female

Mr. Roberto Zambrana - Bolivia IGF, Male (remote)

- Theme (as listed here): Digital Inclusion & Accessibility

- Subtheme (as listed here): Access & Connectivity

- Please state no more than three (3) key messages of the discussion. [150 words or less]

  1. Connectivity and the access to adequate Internet infrastructure is still a persistent problem throughout the world, even for developed countries and especially for big countries with huge dimensions;
  2. Rural areas must be a big focus of work for many countries, due to the need of specific types of tools and different amounts of investments, so as to be appropriately connected and able to benefit from Internet goods broadly;
  3. To have access to infrastructure and being connected to the Internet is only a first step that must be followed by different projects, programs and activities, capacity building, public and private investments, and all the means to tool up the people and make them capable of make the utmost use of what information society makes available.

- Please elaborate on the discussion held, specifically on areas of agreement and divergence. [300 words]

The workshop was quite important to reaffirm the problem of connectivity and show that it is a persistent problem throughout the globe, given that it was mentioned as a huge bottleneck by almost all the countries present at the session. There is no doubt about the need to engage public and private sector to improve connectivity policies in different countries, especially the bigger countries like USA and Brazil. It was also a very echoed voice the need for better attention to rural areas in many countries, as stated, for example, by Colombia, which made an extensive presentation drawing the axes of connectivity problems in the country. It was also very clear, drawing on presentations like the ones made by Brazil, Nigeria and West Africa IGF, that when we frame access issues we must look beyond the infrastructure and turn to practices, capacity building programs and even to laws and regulation that could impact in this environment. As an alternate view, Nepal brought a different framing to the spot describing the problems of connectivity that derive from geography, taxes and mobile communications. Nigeria and Asia-Pacific IGF also brought on the issue of cultural practices that could impact in Internet development and spread, and this was well followed by a comment made by a colleague from the Namibia IGF that was in the audience participating in workshop.

Reiterating the “Access beyond mere connectivity” title of the workshop, the participants also featured discussions from another perspective, pointing out specific problems, practices and solutions that are related to Internet connectivity, but transcending infrastructure problems. There were some discussions focused on regulatory problems, the need for better laws worldwide and also a better way of overseeing all that. Network neutrality and especially zero rating - very well known issues in Internet Governance discussion arenas - were mentioned as fundamental issues that must be debated as they have direct impact in Internet practices and the ways users interact, bearing in mind, for example, the different ways of taxing users by data usage and how that interfere with people’s choices on the Internet. Capacity building was also a central topic presented as a demanding issue from the perspective of different countries, and especially developing countries, given the specific needs related to education and socioeconomic development. In general, those issues were also raised as part of growing demands for more collaboration among countries and initiatives, and especially south-to-south collaboration.

- Please describe any policy recommendations or suggestions regarding the way forward/potential next steps. [200 words]

There was no explicit collective recommendation, but it was clear that presentations were pointing out to the need for more concrete policies focused, at least, in two main areas: rural connectivity and capacity building. It’s also possible to infer that there was some policy recommendations related to regulations, urging countries to improve them attached to connectivity policies, and also invest more time and human resources on analyzing other regulations that impact Internet uses, like those related to zero rating and data usage.

- What ideas surfaced in the discussion with respect to how the IGF ecosystem might make progress on this issue? [150 words]

When it comes to the IGF community and ecosystem, it’s clear that participants in general were claiming for more collaboration so as to find common solutions that could be replicated, especially in this case that involves the NRIs, which have focus mainly on local and regional problems. The intersessional work tracks under the IGF could be strategic nodes to articulate and mobilize such collaboration.

- Please estimate the total number of participants: 34 on site participants + 5 remote participants

- Please estimate the total number of women and gender-variant individuals present: 23 women on site + 1 remote

- To what extent did the session discuss gender issues, and if to any extent, what was the discussion? [100 words]

It was not an explicit focus of the session, but some participants indeed mentioned specific digital capacity building programs for women within their countries.

Session Time