IGF 2020 WS #37 Community Network, Electricity and Digital Inclusion

Monday, 9th November, 2020 (07:40 UTC) - Monday, 9th November, 2020 (09:10 UTC)
Room 2
About this Session
The objectives of this workshop session is to bring together key stakeholders to discuss this important topic within the Covid-19 context and how we can fully develop and improve community networks and showcase best practices and innovative solution within the global digital frameworks.

Organizer 1: Intergovernmental Organization, African Group
Organizer 2: Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Organizer 3: ,
Organizer 4: Civil Society, African Group
Organizer 5: Technical Community, African Group

Speaker 1: Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Zeina Bou Harb, ,
Speaker 3: Carlos Rey Moreno, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 4: Kwaku Antwi, Civil Society, African Group

Additional Speakers

Propose speakers

  • Fuatai Gisa Purcell: - Chief Executive Officer, Office of the Regulator, Government of Samoa
  • Andre Laperriere, Executive Director, Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), Montreal, Canada
  • Carlos Rey-Moreno, Community Network Specialist, Association for Progressive Communications (APC), South Africa
  • Michuki Mwangi, Senior Director, Internet Technology and Development. Internet Society (ISOC)
  • Onica Nonhlanhla Makwakwa, A4AI Coordinator, Africa
  • Hon. Samuel Nartey George, Member of Parliament, Ghana
  • Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro, Legal Practitioner / Former UN IGF MAG Member
  • Stephanie Pariel, ICANN GNSO Council Member
  • Stanley Kwakye Dankyira, Co-Founder / Director, Maxim Nyansa (NGO)

Panel - Auditorium - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. The growth and diversity of users requires development of relevant content and enabling users to benefit from being connected. Are new approaches, including public policies to encourage digital skills and digital literacy for inclusion in the increasingly digitized world? And are there similarities in priorities when it comes to access to, and the role of electricity as a basic building block for addressing digital inclusion in the under-serve communities?

2. Role of Spectrum: e.g. should regulators enable a pro-rural pro-poor Regulatory framework that proactively enables “special treatment” such as licensed exempt spectrum for Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) technologies – e.g. tv White spaces, community networks; dynamic spectrum re-allocation of un-used or under used spectrum to connect the unconnected and What recommendations would you make that would expedite the digital promise for connecting the locals. What changes are needed to ensure that language and disability are no longer barriers to access in developing countries?

3. Africa (Developing Countries) have gone through a mobile revolution, which has transformed this continent to some extent access to communication in the last 20 years. However, 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 dis-empowered 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. What is your opinion on this?

4. 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 infrastructure and development. Telecommunications has been overlooked as a sector to which transparency principles and Open Data policies might be applied. What should we do differently in order to have last mile data release to the public in an open format? 5. Within the evolving digital economy, how can we get the most contribution from the different actors of the internet ecosystem, particularly strong players, in order to tackle Internet affordability without closing opportunity for different business models and preserving Internet openness?

The concept of community networks dates back to the start of wide spread use of the Internet in the US and Europe, when groups of people set up ways to share resources or Internet connections across local networks. At heart, community networks rely on the active participation of individuals and local communities, are owned by the community, and operated in a democratic fashion. Community networks are operationalised through a whole variety of local stakeholders, NGOs, private sector entities, and or public administrations, who are involved in the designing, developing, implementing, maintaining and governing community networks. While the world slowly closes the access gap with 50% of the world's population now connected, the challenge associated with connecting and enabling the remaining 50% has not diminished. The workshop seek to thoroughly discuss the issues of community network, electricity, digital skills and digital inclusion within the context of the developing countries and recommend possible solution in addressing the gaps that might exist.


GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-Being
GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals


The last 20 years has seen some measure of progress. The question remains how long it will take to connect the next billion, and when it will take the earth to fully include the remaining underserved communities. While many reports and studies note the benefit of connected communities to support development and meeting the UN SDGs; yet there remain significant gaps in national level governmental public policies, especially in regulatory and legislative frameworks that support last mile and rural connectivity. This is often compounded by inadequate core infrastructure such as rural power sources, tower infrastructure and back-haul, with a commercial operators’ focus on the more lucrative urban rather than rural connectivity. Internet access is not feasible without affordable, reliable and sustainable energy sources. Energy and digital connectivity are enabling mechanisms for diverse industries, education, health care, trade which impacts communities globally. Whilst there has been substantive discussion in the past on bridging the divide, the reality remains that there is no simple answer to the remaining challenges of connecting those who are not connected, or who are under connected – e.g limited access, lack of digital skills, lack of useful content, lack of affordable power sources. Silo approaches, by regulators and Ministries in healthcare, agriculture, education, finance and economic development, need to be removed, and new technologies and innovation encouraged. There needs to be a multi-faceted approach of changing how electricity can be more broadly distributed, how community networks can augment and co-exist with existing communications and Internet Service Providers, and building skills through partnerships with NGOs and others to help to bring the rest of world into the digital age, regardless of whether they are in Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, MENA, SIDS or in indigenous communities tangible support to bridge the divide in the developing countries.

Expected Outcomes

The workshop will start with discussions on creating a road map process to better understand what needs to be done in the short and long term. The following are the expected outcome:

1. An overarching map of regional policy initiatives that impact the Internet environment in relation to digital inclusion and accessibility in developing countries.

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

3. Enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology,including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology 4. Identify the most critical gaps hindering the adoption and deployment of community networks in the developing countries.

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

6. Identify key issues on funding, resources and capacity at the under service communities.

7. Identify key data gaps hindering the penetration of Internet to the undeserved communities in the developing countries.

8. Recommendations and conclusions which will show the way forward to outreach and networking to develop ideas generated during this session.

9. Identity and promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services.

This workshop will serve as a focal point for coordinated and constructive discussions about the different but interrelated aspects of Internet governance as described above. The workshop will benefit from the inclusion of all stakeholder groups, who shall be able to share in the knowledge and experience of key insight on the accessibility, digital inclusion and clean energy that is necessary for the Internet to entrench human rights for and well-being of all. The outline chosen to serve that purpose comprises the gathering of specialists to initiate a panel conversation as well as a traditional open mic in order to incorporate the broader views of the audience. The workshop will be structured around two core segments, with each segment organized around specific policy questions that examine the respective topic, plus a concluding closing remark:

  1. Session introduction, welcome / opening remark.
  2. Segment 1: Community Network, Electricity and Digital Inclusion,
  3. Segment 2: Spectrum and the Regulatory Environment
  4. Discussants and Q&A: There will be three(3) discussants in the room and they will share their own perspective, based on their experiences and the lessons they’ve learnt developing and implementing various policies and initiatives with regards to the topics been discussed. The three(3) discussants will be carefully selected to response to the speaker’s submissions.
  5. Closing remarks

The initial two segments will follow the same discussion structure. Speakers will be invited on a panel to response to relevant policy question, followed by a response from the discussants.To speed up the engagement with participants, a unique approach will be used to gather questions in the chat. The questions will be read out alongside discussants for the panel to respond.

Organisers / Facilitators:

1. Wisdom Donkor (Former MAG Member), Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation

2. Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro (Former MAG Member), Legal Practitioner / Former UN IGF MAG Member

3. Zeina BOU HARB (Former MAG Member), Head of International Cooperation at OGERO Telecom, Lebanon Onsite Moderators: Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro (Former MAG Member)

4. Kwaku Antwi, Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation Remote

Relevance to Internet Governance: The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) ‘Policy Options for Connecting and Enabling the Next Billions’ process is a bottom-up, community-driven intersessional work process that seeks to produce a collaborative document to identify ways to connect the next billions. Since 2015, this process has identified key barriers to connecting the next billions, made policy suggestions at the international and regional and local levels, and identified tangible linkages between grassroots ICT projects and the sustainable development goals. The output document of the compilation of the fourth phase of the process focus on case studies that aid in the attainment of four Sustainable Development Goals ​namely SDG 7 (Clean and Affordable Energy), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth),​SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) and SDG 17 (Partnerships to Achieve the Goals). This work workshop will access and try to access the impact levels of community network and inclusion at the community level of the developing world (Africa)

Relevance to Theme: These Policy Options and concrete examples are already serving as tangible and useful resources for policymakers and other stakeholders, but also symbolize the IGF community’s conviction that the need for multistakeholder collaboration towards expanding meaningful Internet access is a shared goal that remains at the core of Internet governance. The objective for this workshop is to collect concrete stories showcasing how connecting the next billion(s) helps achieve broader Sustainable Development Goals such as: SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (particular linkage with Internet access), SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: We plan to use other social media platform: Facebook, tweeter, Instagram etc.



07:35 – 7:40 +00:              Zoom login / Networking

07:40 – 07:50 +00:            EMCEE / Moderator: Lily Edinam Botsyoe, Ghana Youth IGF Cordinator 

Welcome Message (3mins): Wisdom Donkor, Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation 

Opening Remark (5mins): Fuatai Gisa Purcell: - Chief Executive Officer, Office of the Regulator, Government of Samoa.

07:50 – 08:25 +00    Segment 1: Theme: Community Networks, Electricity and Digital Inclusion

Moderator: Kwaku Antwi, Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation 


1. Onica Nonhlanhla Makwakwa, A4AI Coordinator, Africa

2. Andre Laperriere, Executive Director, Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition                (GODAN), Montreal, Canada

3. Michuki Mwangi, Senior Director, Internet Technology and Development, Internet Society

4. Stanley Kwakye Dankyira, Co-Founder / Director, Maxim Nyansa (NGO)

08:25– 08:30+00       Memory Refresh: Musical Interlude by Wiyala

08:30 – 09:00 +00     Segment 2: Spectrum and the Regulatory Environment

Moderator: Kwaku Antwi, Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation


  1.  Hon. Samuel Nartey George, Member of Parliament, Ghana
  2. Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro, Legal Practitioner / Former UN IGF MAG Member
  3. Stephanie Pariel, ICANN GNSO Council Member 
  4. Moctar Yedaly, Head of Information Society Division, Africa Union (AU)

09:00 - 09:15 +00   Discussants: Segment 1 and 2:  
We do have some discussants in the room and they will share their own perspective, based on their experiences and the lessons they’ve learnt developing and implementing various policies and initiatives with regards to the topics been disscussed.

1. Carlos Rey-Moreno, Community Network Specialist, Association for Progressive Communications (APC), South Africa

09:15:  Closing remarks: Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro, Legal Practitioner / Former UN IGF MAG Membe