IGF 2019 Connecting the Dots from Data to Policy Takeaways


Dynamic Coalition on Innovative Approaches to Connecting the Unconnected

Round Table - U-shape - 60 Min


This year's dynamic coalition session on innovative approaches to connecting the unconnected seeks to build on three previous years of active engagement at the Internet Governance Forum. In 2016, we introduced the first effort to systematically gather data on innovative approaches to connecting the unconnected. In 2017, we invited grassroots organizations to speak from their communities to provide a personal flavor to the nature of these projects, and understand at the grassroots, the challenges that exist. Last year, in 2018, we introduced cost data on a 100+ case studies, synthesizing them for data on cost per beneficiary per year, and providing key insights to policy makers and project implementers on the effectiveness of innovative approaches to connecting underserved communities. This data added to a robust community discussion on metrics and how governments view such data, and our session last year enabled perspectives from new governmental voices at the Internet governance forum including from Afghanistan and South Africa. This year, we seek to build on the momentum by introducing synthesis papers by domain (health, education, agriculture, financial inclusion) through community-driven work that we have been doing through in-depth interviews with multiple stakeholders. These studies seek to distill key takeaways for implementation Further, we seek to talk about the data available on new technologies on the supply side, especially fixed wireless work that has seen a recent emergence in the US and forms four of our more recent case studies. Finally, we hope to present regional synthesis papers for policy makers to engage in robust discussion on priorities in their regions. The session will trace the arc of the coalition's work, and yield concrete outputs to feed into ongoing work in different areas, including financing for connectivity, digital skills principles coordination, mhealth and ehealth practices, and internet connectivity for agricultural uses.


Christopher Yoo, Co-Convener, University of Pennsylvania Rajan Mathews, Co-Convener, Cellular Operators Association of India Michael Kende, Co-Convener, Graduate Institute, Geneva, Helani Galpaya, Co-Convener, LIRNEAsia Sharada Srinivasan, University of Pennsylvania Muge Haseki, University of Pennsylvania


We are still in discussion with speakers for participation in the session, so our speaker list is to be considered preliminary. As with last year, we are hoping to include new and diverse voices to a robust discussion. We are hoping to include speakers from: 1. The World Economic Forum's Digital Economy and Society initiative (Derek O' Halloran/Eric White) 2. The World Bank-led Digital Development Partnership (Samia Melhem/Doyle Gallegos) 3. GSMA (Dominique Lazanski/Belinda Exelby) 3. Government representatives (India/Nepal/Rwanda - we will additionally reach out to participants from countries that are engaged in policy implementation and experimentation in relation to access, to solicit their participation) 4. Grassroots projects (We have invited case study participants from Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Portugal to the IGF) 5. Additionally, we also hope to reach out to the ISOC and IEEE policy communities to solicit their participation in the session.


GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Reference Document: http://1worldconnected.org/

1. Key Policy Questions and Expectations
  • What is the cost of Internet deployment through innovative technologies? What are the implications for policy?
  • What are the current trends in the digital skills training programs? What are the implications for policy?
  • How can policy facilitate women’s Internet access and use?


2. Summary of Issues Discussed

Cost of Deployment:

  • Operating expenses vary widely and appear to be more important than capital expenses (esp. backhaul)
  • The average TV white spaces deployment costs more than the average Wi-Fi deployment
  • Fixed cost of TV white space spectrum (average USD 145,444) is higher than for Wi-Fi based deployments (average USD 98,872)
  • TV white space radios are generally more expensive than Wi-Fi equipment
  • Higher costs may reflect better service/greater reach (esp. for revenue generating projects)
  • Anchor institutions drive cost effectiveness
  • Local communities may not have the capacity to operate the most innovative technologies
  • Evaluation of costs should take into account differences in purchasing power parity


Digital Skills programs

  • Projects do not have a viable business model for long-term sustainability
  • There is a wide variance in curriculum and pedagogy, as well as on mode of delivery across projects
  • Projects do not report outcomes in terms of learning rigorously with no structured M&E


Women’s access

  • Women face unique challenges in access and use due to multiple, intersecting factors
  • Relaxing just one barrier may not improve women’s access and use
  • Addressing multiple barriers simultaneously can help to design more effective and sustainable interventions
3. Policy Recommendations or Suggestions for the Way Forward
  • Policy should encourage the collaborations between project deployments and anchor institutions to drive cost effectiveness
  • Policy should encourage a structured M&E to measure the learning outcomes of digital skills training programs   
  • Policy should address multiple barriers of women’s access simultaneously (e.g., infrastructure
4. Other Initiatives Addressing the Session Issues
  • Jane Coffin from Internet Society drew attention to the less costly community network model among deployment projects
  • Carlos Rey Moreno from APC mentioned that women only spaces can promote participation among women.
  • Claire Sibthorpe from GSMA mentioned that affordability is still a main barrier for women around the world based on their work at GSMA.   


5. Making Progress for Tackled Issues
  • It is imperative to bring different stakeholders together to promote discussion and devise strategies that engage a broader range of stakeholders for more impactful and sustainable interventions and policy. At IGF, we don’t often have the opportunity to speak with local practitioners and implementers on the ground, technology companies, or funding agencies. That prevents us from learning about their challenges and sharing our findings and learnings with them. For instance, our work shows that most of the demand-side projects are grant-funded or CSR funded but these funds are one-time solutions and do not ensure sustainability. Dynamic Coalitions should offer more opportunities to meet with private organizations and funding agencies to identify more effective ways to allocate funds so that they will have more impact. Therefore, we would like to see more tech companies, funding agencies (e.g., Gates Foundation, IDRC, Microsoft etc) at IGF to open up the space for discussion.
6. Estimated Participation

50 people total, half women

7. Reflection to Gender Issues
  • Women face unique challenges in access and use due to multiple, intersecting factors
  • Relaxing just one barrier may not improve women’s access and use (e.g., in geographies where the decision makers are not women and women live with gatekeepers, the intervention should also involve gatekeepers such as in South East Asia; or in geographies where HIV is prevalent among women, interventions should be sensitive to the privacy concerns for women)
  • Addressing multiple barriers simultaneously can help to design more effective and sustainable interventions