IGF 2020 NRIs Collaborative Session: Access and digital inclusion

Friday, 6th November, 2020 (14:50 UTC) - Friday, 6th November, 2020 (15:50 UTC)
Room 1
About this Session

Relevance to Theme and Internet Governance: 

People’s growing dependence on digital technologies and digital services calls for accessibility and affordability of the mere Internet access for all. The 2020 pandemic COVID-19 underlined this argument by societies being forced to transform to online schooling, working remotely and communication via online tools. The fact that close to half of the total population remains unconnected or disconnected is alarming. In addition, segregation and discrimination across gender, age or ability, is present in many cultures.  

The states and regulatory institutions and the multi-stakeholder model are making decisions to guarantee the so-called digital transformation, but there is a reality and that is that half the world is not connected or not connected to the productive broadband internet that allows talking about medicine, health, electronic commerce, etc., which means that the great revolution has not reached every corner of society. There is a great concern and great challenge in decision-making on internet governance and this panel is therefore encouraged to help identify the challenges that arise.

This session will look at the specific challenges the local communities face regarding access and digital inclusion. It will learn from concrete good or bad practices coming from the IGFs of Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, USA, South Sudan.


This session will focus on understanding what are the priorities and good practices on local levels related to access and digital inclusion. It will specifically look at the examples coming from the national IGFs of Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Haiti, USA, South Sudan.

The discussion will develop around good practices for connecting the unconnected and, such are specific initiatives for accessing the tech spectrum in Haiti, Colombia; establishing regional cooperation (‘CLARA’) that Bolivia and its neighbouring countries are doing, to some decision-makers discussion to recognise the Internet as a public utility all people should have access to.  Speakers will reflect the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on their communities and how that worked in favour of increasing access and digital inclusion.

Policy Questions:

  • What are the contemporary challenges for our societies regarding access and digital inclusion?
  • What are some of the local good practices on connecting the unconnected and developing digital literacy?
  • How did the COVID-19 pandemic positively impact digital societies?
  • What actions and tools should be used to accelerate the task of connecting the unconnected?
  • What programs or technologies are being used in the world for the purpose of connecting the unconnected?
  • What aspects are facilitators to connect the unconnected?

Co-organizers and delegated speakers:

  • Colombia IGF: Ms. Julian Casasbuenas, Colombia IGF
  • Dominican Republic IGF‎: ‎Mr. Osvaldo Larancuent
  • Bolivia IGF: Mr. Cristian Tejada, Viceminister of Science and Technology of Bolivia 
  • ‎Haiti IGF: Mr. Sindy Obed‎
  • South Sudan IGF‎: Mr. Kennedy Bullen
  • IGF-USA: Mr. Dustin Loup

Format of the Session: 

60-minutes interactive roundtable discussion with introductory remarks and open floor for questions and answers.

14:50-14:55 ‎UTC

Moderator introduces the topic, organizers and speakers

  • Ms. Jane Coffin, The Internet Society
14:55-15:20 ‎UTC

(up to 3 min each speaker)

What are the critical challenges for our societies regarding access and digital inclusion? Looking at the case of South Sudan and Haiti

  • Mr. Kennedy Bullen, South Sudan IGF
  • Mr. Sindy Obed, Haiti IGF

Digital inclusion in scientific and academic sector: learning from Bolivia IGF and The Gambia IGF

  • Mr. Cristian Tejada, Bolivia IGF | Viceminister of Science and Technology of Bolivia
  • Mr. Poncelet Ileleji, The Gambia IGF

The COVID-19 proved that people need to have access to the Internet in order to continue learning, working, communicating etc. Lack of it affects all aspects of societies. Experience shared by Dominican Republic IGF and IGF-USA

  • Mr. Osvaldo Larancuent, Dominican Republic IGF
  • Mr. Dustin Loup, IGF-USA

Do we wait for others to bring up solutions or we can start from ourselves and contribute to bridging digital divide? Colombia IGF sharing good practices

  • Ms. Julian Casasbuenas, Colombia IGF
15:20-15:40 ‎UTC

Open discussion with participants.

15:40-15:50 UTC

(up to 1 min each speaker)

Achieving universal connectivity and leaving no one behind: what needs to be done in Colombia, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Haiti, South Sudan, USA?

Action-oriented concluding messages from key discussants

  • Ms. Julian Casasbuenas, Colombia IGF
  • Mr. Osvaldo Larancuent, Dominican Republic IGF
  • Mr. Poncelet Ileleji, The Gambia IGF
  • Mr. Cristian Tejada, Viceminister of Science and Technology of Bolivia | Bolivia IGF
  • Mr. Sindy Obed, Haiti IGF
  • Mr. Kennedy Bullen, South Sudan IGF
  • Mr. Dustin Loup, IGF-USA
15:50 UTC

Conclusion by the moderator and final key discussed concepts presented by a rapporteur

Expected Outcomes:  

Understanding specific challenges and examples of good practices on local levels.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The moderator will follow the agreed set of policy and will allow for introductory, case study remarks by the NRIs speakers. This will be followed by engaging other present participants into developing an interactive discussion.

Online participation: 

A dedicated support moderator will be placed next to the session moderator to support engagement of participants through chat. All participants will be using the online speaking queue to be treated equally in their requests for interventions. All input presentations will be made available at the IGF website and links will be shared via the online tool.

Moderator: Ms. Jane Coffin, The Internet Society

Rapporteur: Ms. Anja Gengo, IGF Secretariat

Connection to SDGs:

GOAL 1: No Poverty

GOAL 4: Quality Education

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality


ANNEX: Substantive inputs from the co-organizers:

Haiti IGF

September 13, 2018: in the first edition of Haiti IGF aims to identify the problems related to access to the Internet and the opportunities offered by this tool to everyone. It will be a question of working for digital inclusion, to draw up plans to solve concrete problems on how to connect more Haitians by using community internet networks while taking in the most vulnerable. Initiatives have been taken in various places with a pilot project (PIC) to allow even those who cannot read to enjoy the benefits of the internet. The focus is still on the fact that the internet must allow users to generate profits for their personal and community development.

 In Haiti, there are only 5 active ISPs, 6.5 million mobile phone users and 1.2 million smartphones. 15% penetration, 5 users per household. The disconnected are mainly characterized by low income, expensive internet, a poor quality network, very little high-level application, investments in the field of telecommunication made only in metropolitan areas, low capacity of the organ regulator to facilitate the development of another network.Less than 20% of Haiti's municipalities actually have internet because telecom operators give the internet in major cities and neglect the rest. The lack of electricity plays an important role in the deepening of the divide hence the importance of basic education to the internet.

Bolivia IGF

Bolivia is one of few countries not connected with Red CLARA in the region, unfortunately, it has also failed to establish its National Scientific Academic Network. Since 2002, various attempts have been aimed at organizing and institutionalizing a Bolivian network that links more than 50 universities in the country, representing a community of more than 500,000 students, 20,000 teachers and researchers. Most of the universities that host this Bolivian scientific and academic community do not have affordable Internet services, so the connection channels are insufficient. In this scenario, between the years 2018 and 2019, ISOC Chapter Bolivia, has developed a project that allows overcoming this situation, interconnecting the Universities through an academic IXP. This project is in the final stage of implementation, aiming to articulate at least 4 of the country's largest universities with a presence in three major cities and connect them through this Academic IXP. Among the achievements, MoU has been signed with Red Clara, an Agreement with the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, to host the IXP of the city of La Paz and another with the Bolivian Telecommunications Regulator to support this initiative. In addition, a new Agreement is being revised with the Military School of Engineering, to house the nodes of the academic IXP, in the cities of Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.

Dominican Republic IGF

Despite the increase and substantial improvement of the amount of connected homes, internet traffic and new internet users, Dominican Republic internet access still suffers the side effects of depending to the international communication infrastructure.  Even the statistics reflect a huge increase of about 103% of home internet access from 2010 to 2016, some studies recently determined that in our country a very small group has basic computer skills (like sending an email). In 2019, a GB of internet cost about 7.90 USD, and if we consider that the higher minimum wage in the country is barely 316 dollars, we can identify that we are facing an issue regarding affordability. In this context, the government has created a program called “República Digital” (Digital Republic) to promote the development of infrastructures and the universal access to technologies and internet in general, our local Chapter has been invited to sign an agreement in order to get involved in this plan. Also, the ISOC Dom. Rep. Chapter is actually encouraging different projects related to access and inclusion, like the creation of a round table with different stakeholder to promote the implementation of a local IXP and is considering to keep implementing programs to connect the unconnected, like the one we could develop thanks to the Chapterton 2019 funds.

1. Key Policy Questions and Expectations

Policy Questions:

  • TBC
2. Summary of Issues Discussed


3. Policy Recommendations or Suggestions for the Way Forward


4. Other Initiatives Addressing the Session Issues


5. Making Progress for Tackled Issues


6. Estimated Participation


7. Reflection to Gender Issues


8. Session Outputs