IGF 2020 WS #277 Actions for an inclusive digital future for all


Organizer 1: Technical Community, Intergovernmental Organization
Organizer 2: Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Organizer 3: Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Speaker 1: Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Boutheina Guermazi, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 3: Bocar BA, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group Speaker 4: Francois Coupienne, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization


Round Table - Circle - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

- What strategies could be developed to promote (better) Internet access for women and girls, older people, people living with disabilities, refugees and other disadvantaged groups? - What factors should be considered when seeking to understand and tackle affordability issues, and how might improvements be made?

o ‎8% of the world population lacks access to the internet. An estimated $100 billion is ‎needed in Africa to realize universal coverage. How do we ensure continued investment in ‎network expansion?‎ o ‎3.3 billion people do not use the internet, while having access to a network. How do we ‎overcome barriers of affordability and digital skills to ensure more people can go online?‎ o The gender gap persists worldwide: 20% less women than men use the internet, this is ‎‎51% in South Asia and 37% in Sub Saharan Africa‎ o Persons with disabilities are less likely to own a phone than non-disabled persons. The ‎vast majority of persons with disabilities (70%) own devices without accessibility features, ‎limiting the potential to use mobile as an assistive technology and the possibilities to ‎access the internet. How can we ensure that technology serves persons with disabilities?‎


GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities


This session provides a platform for a diverse set of stakeholders to discuss actions to accelerate digital inclusion, paying particular attention to disadvantaged groups such as women and persons with disabilities. Internet adoption has rapidly increased, with the mobile industry connecting an additional 1 billion people over the last five years , bringing the total number of internet users to 4.1 billion . The Internet is used more widely once adopted, which is reflected by the fast growth of monthly data consumption. Across the world, data use is set to increase fourfold, from 7.5 GB per person in 2019 to 28 GB in 2025. Sub Saharan Africa is expected to see the largest increase, from 0.8 GB to almost 7GB, spurred by increased smartphone adoption and improvements in network infrastructure. Unfortunately, however, billions of individuals are not benefiting yet. Despite the spectacular expansion of internet access and use, there is still a ‘coverage gap’ of 600 million people without access to the internet. There is an even bigger ‘usage gap’ of 3.3 billion people who are covered by a network but not using the internet. Significant disparities in mobile internet coverage and use remain across regions and different segments of the population, especially for women and persons with disabilities (PwD). Although 50 percent of women are online, they are 20 per cent less likely to use the mobile internet than men . Significant inequalities are also observed in terms of internet use for persons with disabilities, a user group that is often overlooked. PwD are reporting lower internet usage, and most not using any accessibility features to help them operate a digital device . As societies turn increasingly digital and the spread of Covid-19 has increased our collective dependency on technology, we cannot afford to leave anyone behind. Advancing coverage and internet use for all requires pragmatic discussions around enabling investments and innovations for infrastructure expansion in rural and remote areas, as well as addressing the barriers to internet use. The factors beyond infrastructure holding back the adoption of the internet include affordability, the availability of locally relevant content and services, literacy and digital skills, trust and security as well as accessibility for disadvantaged groups. It is increasingly urgent that effective, tangible and measurable action is taken to overcome the usage and coverage gaps, as the persistent digital divide will have long term ramifications for socio-economic development, the ability of societies to absorb the impact of Covid-19 and progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. While there have been efforts to address the digital divide, more is required and it is critical that we take action which enables us to take significant strides to advance internet adoption and use by all. This interactive panel will bring together high level panellists from different regions and stakeholders to explore how we can deliver at scale and address the digital divide, paying special attention to the gender gap and persons with disabilities. Panellists will explore this issue followed by contributions from the audience. Join us to discuss how we can accelerate digital inclusion for all and ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to benefit from an increasingly digital society. Additional Reference Document Links: https://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/GS…-‎Mobile-Internet-Connectivity-Report-2019.pdf GSMA (2019): The State of Mobile Internet ‎Connectivity 2019 https://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/GS…-‎Gender-Gap-Report-2020.pdf GSMA (2020): The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020‎ https://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/GS…-‎Mobilehttps:/broadbandcommission.org/Documents/working-‎groups/DigitalMoonshotforAfrica_Report.pdf-Gender-Gap-Report-2020.pdf UN Broadband ‎Commission (2019): Connecting Africa Through Broadband - A strategy for doubling connectivity by ‎‎2021 and reaching universal access by 2030‎ https://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/GS…-‎operators-are-driving-inclusion-of-persons-with-disabilities_Accessible.pdf GSMA (2019): How ‎mobile operators are driving inclusion of persons with disabilities

Expected Outcomes

The session will seek new insights on policy recommendations to expand internet access ‎and use through a multi-stakeholder approach. The IGF platform will facilitate a deeper ‎understanding of the policy options to address a lack of digital skills and promote ‎affordability and inclusive design of digital services, while exploring potential actions that ‎can be taken by the different stakeholders in the digital ecosystem.‎

We are hoping to use Slido to get real-time audience feedback and interaction if this is a possibility.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The challenge of digital inclusion and bridging digital divides requires a holistic approach, ‎bringing together different stakeholders to build on each other’s strengths while being ‎sensitive to each other’s limitations so that we collectively ensure everyone has an equal ‎opportunity to benefit from increasingly digital societies.‎

Relevance to Theme: This session will address specific barriers to digital inclusion, and goes to the heart of the ‎thematic track, covering policy questions related to expanding internet access, digital ‎skills, affordability, gender equality and digital inclusion of persons with disabilities.‎

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool.