IGF 2021 – Day 0 – "Our Digital Future'' - Who is responsible for providing universal and affordable access to the Internet in LDCs? (Town Hall debate)

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> We all live in a digital world. We all need it to be open and safe. We all want to trust. 

>> And to be trusted. 

>> We all despise control. 

>> And desire freedom. 

>> We are all united. 


>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Hi, I'm Anriette. I'm here in the room. I hope you can see me. I'm here with one other person. Unfortunately, I don't have the link. So I cannot join on Zoom. If you can just quickly email me the schedule, I'll be joining the session on Zoom. Thank you. Looking forward to it. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Okay. Let me just do that now. I know one of our speakers will be in the room. Anriette, can you confirm you're in Ballroom A? 

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: I'm in Ballroom A. Our on‑site speaker has not arrived. Can you give me an idea of how many people are online remotely while I wait for the link? 

>> BEN WALLIS: Yeah. We have about 15 people. 

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Excellent. I'll be joining them soon. This is a case where virtual reality is more real than physical reality. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Yes. Of course. The session is being recorded. And streamed on YouTube. There might be people watching live and will be people who will be able to watch this after the fact on the recording. 

>> TRACY HACKSHAW: There's an issue with the links. The website is down. The Zoom situation is problematic of many. They'll be watching on YouTube. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Yeah. What we may have is a lot of our audience is after the fact. We know this is being recorded. People will be able to see it live as well as afterwards. 

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: More people are coming up. We have more people in the room with us, Ben. Please go ahead and we'll catch up. 

>> BEN WALLIS: All right. Thank you, Anriette. Why don't I start. It's three minutes past the hour. I'm going to welcome you today to Our Digital Future. This is a series of capacity‑building workshops co‑organized by Microsoft and the IGF Secretariat. This is the third session in the series. The previous ones have looked at the issues of cybersecurity and digital transformation. And in this third session taking place during the annual meeting, we decided to tie into one of this annual meeting's two main focus areas. That's universal access and meaningful connectivity. 

My colleague, Daniel, has been driving this to Microsoft. Unfortunately, he's unwell and unable to participate today. But we're pressing ahead. I think we even have someone called Lily who has agreed to step in as Rapporteur. I'll introduce her later. So this session today, we're thinking about this in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. And within SDG9, there's a specific target to provide universal and affordable access in least‑developed countries by 2020. This deadline has now obviously passed. I think that brings more urgency to understanding how we can tackle this issue. And the way that we hope the session will contribute is to provide a nuanced outline of the diverse roles that governments, regulators, the private sector, and other stakeholders need to play in order to deliver affordable universal Internet access. 

We have four great speakers who are going to provide these different perspectives in the discussion today. And we also want this to be interactive. After we hear from the speakers, we will open up for views from the audience. And we also have a poll we will run in a few minutes and again at the end of the session that will hopefully provide a sense of the impact we have with today's discussion. But first, to help set the scene for us, I'm very happy to be able to ask Microsoft's Vice President for UN Affairs, John Frank, to provide us with opening remarks. John, can I pass over to you? 

>> JOHN FRANK: Thank you, Ben. Thanks, everyone, for being with us today. I'm sorry Daniel is not with us today. But he is recovering and doing well. This session about capacity building I think is important. Because as we've worked through the pandemic, I think it's very clear that we need to increase our capacity to bring connectivity to people. And the opportunity to discuss a multi‑stakeholder set of roles is incredibly important. Because this is not going to be solved by any one group by themselves. The private sector, the invisible hand of Adam Smith and the Economics textbook is not going to solve this problem in any timeframe that we can be happy with. And so I think that we need to look at the current approaches that are taking place and recognize, A, they're not adequate. And, B, there's opportunities to improve them. 

We've worked with the UN office and the International Peace Institute. And we've had a variety of workshops over this past year talking about people‑centered connectivity. And what all's involved in that. Too often, discussions have been about infrastructure and equipment. And maps that show coverage. And not enough discussion of people. And measuring how many people are actually using the Internet in an intensive way. Not just connecting periodically, but getting the full benefits that those of us in the connected world enjoy. And so I think as we had these discussions, I think it's focused on a few things. One, we need better measurements of usage. We need intensity of usage. And we need gender information. And demographic information about usage. Secondly, when we launch these projects, we need to think about affordability and the purchasing power of the population. We shouldn't just be targeting the top 5% or 10% of the purchasing power of our country. 

We need to be thinking about the entire population and look for solutions that bring connectivity at an affordable price and affordable devices for the broad population. We also need to think a great deal about digital skilling. It's the capacity of people to enjoy the benefits of the Internet in a responsible way. And so thinking about capacity building and training of people, digital skills, and the employment opportunities that can be created, are very important. So there's a full range of skills from online literacy to professional development. We need to think about how we create services. Are we delivering health care? Are we enabling farmers to realize a higher income? Are we thinking about how education can be delivered online? These are the kind of questions that ought to be thought about to start with a project, not just at the end afterwards. 

So I think it is this kind of broad framework of a people‑defined Internet connectivity project that we're here to talk about. So it's great that we've got this opportunity to have a discussion. It's even better if we can follow‑up and effect real change. At the end, we'd like to be able to measure going forward the affordability, the breadth, and positive impacts the Internet can be having in least‑developed countries. It's a big project. But I think there's a unique moment now. The pandemic has given us all a broad sense that we need to do more. I'm pleased to see there are initiatives to increase funding for connecting least‑developed countries. 

We will be going to Doha we hope in January for the Least Developed Countries fifth conference the UN is sponsoring. Microsoft is leading the private sector forum. We think there we'll have an important session. We're hoping to bring together not just private sector but donor nations as well as international organisations and representatives from the senior political levels of least developed countries. One of the topics will certainly be how we can find new models of financing and partnering to bring greater connectivity for the people in the least developed countries. And so with that, I'm looking forward to this discussion. We have a wonderful group of people participating. And let's go to the discussion. Thank you. 

>> BEN WALLIS: John, thank you very much. That was a great way to set the scene for our discussion today. I appreciate you joining us. So, in fact, we're ready to start hearing from those speakers. I understand there's a technical issue with the poll. We are going to move directly through our four speakers. With the urgency of each stakeholder's role. The first person we're going to hear from is Robert Pepper, head of Connectivity and planning for NASA. A company that has amongst other things the apps Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. Pepper, let me hand it over to you. Tell us about the private sector. 

>> ROBERT PEPPER: Thanks, Ben. Thanks for organizing this. I couldn't agree more with John. You know, the issues that we're facing are extremely important. And it's going to take all of us to close the gaps. I'm going to talk about the role of the private sector broadly and what we need to do ‑‑ you know, and it is more than just the connectivity. Is the Internet available? The ITU just last week released the latest data from its indicators project and found there's huge progress, right, over the last even two years. The number of people using the Internet around the world has increased by over, you know, 17%. But nevertheless, there's still 2.9 billion people who are not using the Internet. If we look historically, looking at the connectivity layer. 

Just being able to connect. You know, the investments made to build that out, starting with telegraph, the telephone, the Internet, and broadband, has been predominantly financed by the private sector. The private sector does this because private companies make money. And so, you know, it's a business. But, you know, the business and the business models and the costs associated with building out the networks have over time left gaps. First with telephones and then with the migration to mobile broadband. Those gaps, actually, are closing significantly. Because the cost of the technologies is coming down significantly. And with trends like, you know, open disaggregated technologies. Probably the one people hear the most about is open RAN technology. Open Radio Access Networking technology. The cost of the technology is dropping and the ability to deploy is becoming easier. 

So the gaps that existed in the past because there was not a business model, those gaps are closing. Nevertheless, there are still places ‑‑ by the way, we now have new low‑earth orbit satellites. The LEOs. We have new constellations. So the technology is getting out there. Nevertheless, there will continue to be gaps. What we need are private/public partnerships making massive investments alongside others who can help close the gaps. Let me give you a couple very concrete examples. Policy. So, for example, in Peru, in rural Peru, the government tried for years to connect ‑‑ even get just a 2G connection out to rural Peru. They tried universal service. They tried satellite phones. 

They tried everything. Just nothing really, you know, got traction. Nothing really took hold. They have great coverage in the urban areas and the semi‑urban areas. But in the very rural areas of Peru, it's remote. There's mountains and so on. What they did about four, five, years ago is change the law to allow rural mobile infrastructure operators. And because of that change in policy, there was a new business model that became possible and Meta alongside Telefonica created a small wholesale operator. There was also partial funding from the Inter‑American Bank. No Peruvian money. 

There's a Radio Access Network built across Peru. Any mobile virtual operators are now connecting to. These are places that didn't even have 2G connection. They now have open RAN, 4G connections for mobile broadband. That was a partnership with government that recognized that a very small policy change could unleash private investment alongside investment from IADB, which is a very, very small part of that. You know, over the last, you know, number of years, Meta has through our investments have, you know, connected and enabled much better connections for over 300 million people. 

We're currently building over 150,000 kilometers of subsea systems. And, you know, the most notable, of course, is the Two Africa Project with seven other consortium members that's connecting over 30 countries with more than 41 landings. And it's the first cable to go all the way around Africa. It's going to connect up to Europe, the Middle East and eventually over to India. These are, again, fundamental, necessary, investments by the private sector. But it's not enough because there, nevertheless, will still be gaps. So it's really moving to a public/private partnership to fill those gaps. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Thanks very much, Pepper. I'd like to come back to you with just one question or clarification. So I, yeah, it's really important to get these new types of investments in the private sector. Are there any maybe looking at the example of Peru, were there any regulatory changes that would enable or facilitate these kind of new types of investment? 

>> ROBERT PEPPER: So an example is the Internet project in Peru, in addition to attract investments. We have several projects partnering on fiber backhaul in Africa. We have a network that's been up and running now for three years. 770 kilometer backhaul network in Uganda to allow Airtel and other operators to go from 2G to 4G that they didn't have the backhaul. We're doing similar kinds of partnering projects in the DRC. I do think that, you know, some very basic policies having to do with access to rights ‑‑ this is on the infrastructure side. 

I don't want to ignore the really important people‑centered things that John's talked about. In terms of skills and relevant content and so on. On the infrastructure side, we know that there are things that can facilitate competition with open cable landings. That facilitate subsea landings. That allow for Internet exchanges to be built on an open basis in countries that allow the exchange of traffic. And so some of the policy changes recognize the importance of shared networks, shared assets, while maintaining competition. So wanting open access to landing stations, Internet exchange points. 

Access to rights‑of‑way. Then, of course, what's essential for mobile broadband, whether it's mobile or other wireless technologies that Jane will talk about, I assume, in terms of community networks access to Spectrum, Spectrum that is unlicensed as well as licensed. There are community networks that are so essential for providing services into areas that don't have traditional operators. Those community networks can then evolve into partnerships with existing operators. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Thank you. You might not have seen it. There's a comment in chat from Jane. Public/private partnerships. 

>> ROBERT PEPPER: It's a multi‑stakeholder partnership. Move away from just governments or private sector ‑‑ IGF is built around the multi‑stakeholder, you know, environment, which is, you know, Civil Society, academics, the technical community. The private sector. Government. We all have a role to play. And that's essential. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Thank you. Thank you so much. We'll move on. I'm going to change the order of speakers slightly. Because just to allow for Wisdom who just arrive to get some breath. He's in the meeting room in person. I'm going to ask Tracy Hackshaw to talk. 

You can introduce yourself. Particularly interesting in the context of today's discussion is you're the co‑chair of the IGF's Dynamic Coalition of Small Island Developing States. And they have their own particular challenges, I think, sometimes in getting connectivity. So I wonder if you could talk to us about the role of financial communities. The investment community. In helping with these challenges. 

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Ben, Tracy, apologies. Just before, Tracy, you start, I just want to ask everyone who's in the room that if you wanted to follow the session and see the chat that's taking place, then you need to log into the Zoom room as well. If you've not done that already. But that will give you the full hybrid experience. Because people are using the chat as well. Back to you, Tracy and Ben. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Thanks. Tracy? 

>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thanks, Anriette. Thank you, Ben. Ben, I'm the co‑chair of the DC‑SIDS. I'm Trinidad Tobago which is currently an island. Currently doing work. In addition to the question that's been posed, I would say that with underserved communities, you know, so small islands, least developed countries, landlocked developed countries. Issues of access, affordability, inclusion, they're really in competition in those countries by governments and state actors. 

To a large extent in those regions, those countries, where we have these issues, they're still grappling with issues of basic infrastructure. I don't want to sound negative, but there are still issues of roads and access to water. Access to basic services. So when you talk about access to the Internet and how digital inclusion issues, you're effectively competing with those larger issues that the government has to deal with. The crime. And in my part of the world, we have issue with drug trafficking from South America to North America. And that creates a whole series of spinoff challenges. So when you're competing with these things, you have to realize that governments or states ‑‑ a state actor almost deprioritizes social inclusion over these larger issues which can fundamentally stabilize a country. So we have a heavily reliance in our part of the world on the work of international developmental agencies such as the World Bank, UNDP. 

The development banks that we ‑‑ Asia Development bank, Inter‑American Development Bank and so on and folks like the Commonwealth and so on who provide that sort of developmental funding. Even there, others, there's competition even within the development agencies for that funding. So funding to be provided for basic infrastructure needs. Water projects. Projects related to crime and infrastructure. Even there, if there's a digital space, you're competing now for what digital projects do we want, do we wish to fund. Do we fund access projects? Do we fund entrepreneur projects? Do we fund projects related to issues in terms of digital literacy in the first place? So how do you deal with these issues? Especially small states, I would suggest that traditional banking and finance in the investment community referred to are generally reluctant and resistant to providing financing, some capacity, building access and inclusion. 

While the countries, developed countries, find this gap can be filled by venture capital and investment, within other countries of that nature, they are very immature, very lean. Once again, even there you have competition for resources. So we talk about it in terms of access to financing. What's available. This prioritization I think has not been dealt with sufficiently in our discussions on this issue. Maybe one approach I could speak about in terms of being a positive spin, is that there's a way we can probably piggyback on existing projects that have funding capacity from the international development agencies. For example, the sector where they're building out initial access to services. Social services. 

Financial services. In doing that, the access needs to be built out in the first place. As you go out and build these access centers and physical facilities in rural, underserved areas within the countries, by definition, you can be building out access and building capacity within those countries. So I think that's one useful ‑‑ has been providing that sole support. And we can look at other agencies, nontraditional financial services agencies in the UN system and otherwise. ITU, for example. Have to provide that additional support without having to compete for these resources and projects. What I found, just to wrap this point up, is when you look at ‑‑ provide this digital support, many countries and many agencies do not look at the access issue. So there's an assumption that if they provide the financing that the access is already there. Because the narrative around the world is we've reached maybe a two‑thirds connectivity. 

You know, many reports are 77%, 75%, connectivity. As you know, meaningful access and affordable access. So just having the availability of 3G, 4G, even 5G networks. Having it available doesn't mean it's affordable to be used by people in certain areas. Even the quality of the access. Speed of the performance. The quality of service is challenged. And we have electricity needs. We talk about that with the Africa nations. Whether or not we can actually talk about the basic fundamental issues of electricity. Fiber. Hopefully the community will be able to address it by reprioritizing access and inclusion, being addressed by governments. Thanks. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Thank you, Tracy. That's really interesting because there's, obviously, a bit of a ‑‑ sometimes we think about connectivity as enabling the pursuit of these Sustainable Development Goals. It's the enabling SDG. And without it in place, it's hard to do the other things. It's a very good point that the access is often competing with really big societal issues. So that's a neat solution about piggybacking on existing projects. 

And getting the access is part of it. In fact, that's a really good segue to the next speaker because you're talking about other sectors of government which might have interest in financial services or tourism or education. And getting them to think about connectivity as part of achieving their own goals. That's really what we were hoping to hear about from our third speaker, Wisdom, who's with the Africa Open Data Research Foundation. Wisdom, are you in the room now and able to take the mic? 

>> WISDOM DONKOR: Yes, I'm in the room. 

>> BEN WALLIS: We can hear you. I'm not sure if we can see you. We can certainly hear you. Yeah. I wonder if you could talk to us about the need for whole‑of‑government approaches. Whole‑of‑government roadmaps. And how that can play into resolving the connectivity challenges we're discussing today. 

>> WISDOM DONKOR: I'm the President and CEO for Africa Open Data, a research foundation. Thank you for bringing me on this session. I'll say, I did work with government before from 2011 up to 2012. Before I assumed the role with Africa Open Data. So I'll try to outline one or two points. What government should do. First, you all know the roadmap, duration to the destination. Government, especially in the developing countries, have the priority areas. 

And sometimes we do have technology as one of the priority. But then you see a different direction when it comes to it. I'll be outlining that. So the first one that I would like to touch on is central government is key in planning all of these roadmaps. 

But the ultimate implementation should be by the local government in collaboration with local authorities and leaders. What we see in developing countries is government have the policies and all that. They tend to implement those policies themselves. And most times forgetting about the leaders in the communities. So when a programme is being implemented, you see it as a white elephant. Yes. So that's one area that we need to concentrate on and see how government can be held to policies toward their community and leaders. The developing world, incentives, transfer of technology, skills, finance, and all that. We also realize when it comes to implementing some of these technology projects, you know, government tries to partner with private organisations. 

And most times, these private organisations comes from our side of the country. And they bring them ‑‑ when those projects have been implemented, the transfer of knowledge is not there. That transfer of skills is not there. So when they hand over the project and they leave, and people who were not part on the project don't see the need to even ‑‑ when the project ‑‑ when the original implementers of those left. So we also have to look at this and make sure in the project, the locals should be involved from day one up to the last day. And when the contractors leave, we can have that continuity of those projects. And the third point, I'll talk about it. 

Enabling environment for private sectors to strive is key. But investment incentives have to be geared toward host countries. Skills transfer. Yes, this is another key point that we have to look at. Especially when it comes to local content. I'll give example with a Greek sector. Greek sector employs about, I should say almost 70% to 80% of the population within Africa. In my country, about 70% or 80%. And that applies to most of the other countries in Africa. 

So when we think ‑‑ you can just imagine how many employment will be generated through technology, if we were to implement it very well. Example, you have a farmer who farm the in a rural community. The Internet is not reaching there. If Internet is reaching there, sometime that local content is not there. Local content ‑‑ for example, a farmer who wants to know weather patterns. A farmer to plant his produce. Or sometimes there's a particular disease that is being ‑‑ that is being affected by a plant. The farmer would like to know what kind of disease is that. If that local content is there, all a farmer needs to do is take the phone, the application is on it. 

The farmer should be able to transmit or take a photo of that disease. Once that photo has been transmitted into a central database, it analyzes the type of disease. Kind of a feedback report is being sent to the farmer in the local language. I think with this, we should be solving a problem. And then the fourth point, bridging the digital divide will be achieved from the grassroots, small towns, villages, marginalized, and are connected to Internet in a meaningful way. Yes, this is another point. We are talking about bridging the digital divide. So what roadmap does government need? We also have to look at this when it comes to connectivity. 

There is one major issue that is hindering the progress of Africa. That is spectrum allocation. Now, all the spectrum allocation that we have within Africa or developing countries are geared toward the big private organisations. And, you know, these organisations tend to look at areas where they'll yield profits. If they are supposed to go to a rural community that I think that will not benefit anything from there, they will not go. And sometimes they use their power to influence governments. Not even make an allocation for, let's say, small organisations that would like to go into those areas. So if you can critically look at spectrum allocation and say that, okay, government who say that, we are making this spectrum available for small NGOs. Can take this in areas that government or private sector wouldn't like to go. Then you see this small private organisation. 

NGOs. Picking up this. And going into those areas where Internet is not reaching. So we should be solving the problem. And then the last point I'll talk about is community networks. A key point to the fourth point I guess I spoke about. Often we supplied universal access fund will be key to this. We also have to look into funding of such projects. And I think I spoke about this already. So when it comes to funding, you know, government, if it is true government, you know, government has its plans already. They have their policy plans already. 

And sometime when we see policies to be more important to this Internet connectivity or Internet infrastructure, they tend to divert some of this funding into other areas. For example, this COVID that we have, that government is looking for money every way. And I know that some funding from some of these areas were diverted into the COVID and all that. So it becomes difficult. And to implement. And then one other trend that we are noticing is that now government is now moving toward a position. That means I don't know if they're now realizing that the Internet or technology is another area that is ‑‑ so they are trying to veer toward that direction. 

And now beginning to tax some of the very things that the government is saying we should use or we should ‑‑ all citizens should use. To their real communities. Is now taxing the same people. And we are seeing a retrogression from people using some of this platform. So I think Anriette is here. We need to start looking at this tax issue very well. I see how we can help raise this. Because in my country, for example, this is a trend now. The percentage the governments are putting on this technology is so high. If we're not careful, we might go back to the days where you see people not using technology. That is the trend that we are seeing. Thank you very much. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Thank you so much. One particular thing that stood out for me, the content as, you know, being in languages which are relevant to local populations. I think it was really interesting to take that example of agriculture and think of it as weather forecasts and crop diseases that are relevant. It's not just entertainment, but it's real practical information that can help with local economies. So that was a really interesting example of where local content is relevant and why it's important. I'm going to pass to our last speaker before we open the floor. It's great to see there are already some questions in the chat. Jane Coffin is one of the many strengths. 

She's a member of the IGF's policy network on meaningful access. Has a working group. A multi‑stakeholder working group. She's one of the members of that working group. And so that's another way in which we're tying in this issue is relevant to the IGF. Not just because it's an issue of this meeting but an issue looked at by the IGF policy network throughout the year. So things are tying together. So, Jane, let me pass it over to you to introduce yourself but also to talk to us about the role of regulators and policymakers. Thanks. 

>> JANE COFFIN: Thank you, Ben. Thank, you, everyone, for being here today. It's a pleasure to see everyone here and in the room. I should say on Zoom. The Policy Network for Meaningful Access have been looking at important issues of universal connectivity and meaningful connectivity and how a multi‑stakeholder support can use great case studies and information that's out there and circulating that information more widely. Also problem solving together. 

The theme of collaboration, every person who has spoken, from John to Pepper to Wisdom to Tracy, has hit upon collaboration. The importance of new hybrid and enabling approaches. I call them hybrid because we've seen some of these approaches work in other sectors from the micro‑finance perspective. We're looking at the challenge, again, from different lenses or eyes now of making sure that connectivity isn't a secondary consideration. We're seeing so many funders say well, of course, there's connectivity. Or they assume there's connectivity when they're looking at financing a project in some local areas. Philanthropy is contributing 1%. The private sector has been putting so much investment. Governments, of course, with their own human capital and their projects. 

Where there's government financing and major banks. If we're going to solve the connectivity problem and lower the cost of connectivity with new innovative solutions on the ground, we're going to have to work together in this new collaborative model from the multi‑stakeholder perspective. I think Wisdom, you, and Tracy, have said it's the local sustainability angle where digital skills need to be heightened and training has to be brought in. Wisdom, you made a point about projects where people would come into a country, work on a project then leave. I was in the field for five years. Working on projects. I thought, wait a second, this isn't about another philosophy coming into a country trying to replace the philosophy in a country. It should be about local philosophy. 

How things work in a local environment. And finding ways for sustainability at that local level. With knowledge and expertise that can be brought in. It must be a local, local solution. I've seen that with community networks. Pepper noted I'm with Internet Exchange Points. I've had a pleasure of being in almost all of your countries and working on issues like this to help with connectivity. It does take also the Civil Society and technical community approaches. 

Working together in that collaborative spirit. I'm going to highlight three or four different projects that I know of. I have included a government approach with Civil Society, the technical community, that have led to better connectivity. The chat questions alluded to, better price point for local people and users. It's those local price points are usually because there's an innovative model for connectivity on the ground. Or local content, as Ben had mentioned local content generation. But involves the local players. It's not just people coming in from other countries saying you should do this. It's been generated at that local level. Therefore, it's sustainable. 

It's also a little more agile. There's no innovation going into the technologies and networks themselves. Whether you're looking at a Wi‑Fi mobile fixed network that's been put in by a community. We've seen that in Spain. They trenched fiber. They put in mobile bay stations. And they have Wi‑Fi. Then APC members. Association for Progressive Communications. The group that Anriette comes from. The Internet Society has done so much as well in this space. Working with local government, local people, local experts and international experts for those local solutions. The 6 gigahertz for spectrum. Pepper, you mentioned spectrum. It used to be a word that people were so terrified. 

Civil Society and the technical community would use. The fabulous thing about spectrum now is people are looking for innovative approaches for deploying and allocating and assigning spectrum. It means small operators like the network, Rhizomatica's network in Mexico. It was a brand‑new license. They had facilities licensing, spectrum licensing, and service. They could operate in a cheaper, better, faster way, with innovative use of spectrum. But at that local level. Local experts were trained on how to set up a network. Run the networks. And some cheaper pricing was brought in. 

Peter Bloom and Eric, two key people working on those along with APC and others at that local level. But the Brazilian 6 gigahertz liberalization was huge. The whole band was liberalized. You can look at open‑source issues and open standards. So more people can connect to networks. The Brazilian chapter with APC and the development arm of the British government, working with the Brazilian government on local solutions and Internet service provider association. That was a huge victory recently. Kudos to Brazil for also bringing in the concept for communities of 5,000 and under where traditional on racers don't get the return on investment. Allowing these community or municipal‑based networks to thrive and to be authorized. Not a heavy regulatory environment. I want to stress that. I've been a regulator. I was also in ministry. You really have to look at what works. 

Whether you're forbearing on regulation in partnership with your other actors. Or you're coming in with a super light touch. Super light turn has recently been implemented in Georgia, the Republic of Georgia. The ministry, regulator, ISP association, who's there with you in Katowice, who is a member of the MAG, was one of the key champions on the ground championing a community network which has turned into multiple regions in Georgia, deploying community networks, with everyone from the World Bank, USAID, Czech Development Agency, local ISP association, Economic Development Agency, in the region. That was with $4,000 of ISOC startup funding at that time. $40,000. 

Very micro if you're looking at what goes into the tables and LEOs systems. It can work. That's grown and grown. Ucho can tell you more and more. If you look at his Facebook page. Horses take up the towers. This is real connectivity being built with the help of the local government. The local authorities. International vendors. Also Civil Society and the technical community. Kenya just changed their licensing regulations. That was a huge effort with APC, FCBO. 

Some local support with Internet Society there in Kenya. Changes taking place. This isn't hard. It takes effort, of course. There are good models out there that we can follow. Papua New Guinea, John mentioned USF. Universal Service. The USF funding in Papua New Guinea will go to the community network. I'm also advocating strongly for USF to be changed in many countries. Not a wild radical change. Enough of a change so that it's financing the small startup Internet exchange points. Divide them up. And the community networks. Papua New Guinea is leading the way. People might not know that. Again, that's a collaborative approach, right, with lots of different stakeholders. In the DRC, the third Internet exchange point was launched about two months ago. With Facebook's help, the ministry's help, regulators, and local experts. On the ground there, with Matuki and some others. 

That's real connectivity where there's extreme competition. Internet exchange points in and of themselves are an open platform. No operator. Whether big operator or small. They all come together equally. It's that equal open access that's been so critical. And bottom‑up governance. It's the community, itself, coming together. By community, some people say, Jane, you're talking about a big group hug. I'm like no, no, we're talking about real businesspeople coming together that run networks who problem solve together with the technical community. And there's constant learning. Constant capacity development. This is critical. And there's investment coming in from big actors and small. This is really, really important. It's a hybrid approach.

I'll stop and say when Tracy was speaking about the Caribbean and infrastructure problems there, and we all know if you don't take a holistic approach to infrastructure development, you won't get the rollout of all the networks together. This means government has to work across different sectors. So it's not just Ministry of Communications. Or the Federal Communications Commission. Or the regulatory bodies. It has to be an all‑of‑government approach. Because if you're looking at better education, you have to have the Education Ministry authorities working with the Communications authorities for that rollout. It really is about the public/private partnership Pepper was talking about but a new type where the public is also the local and Civil Society and the technical community. Working together. And I think one of the key things that I've seen over time the last 10, 15, years, we have to get the stories out there. We've done this in ITU development sector and study groups where we brought in case studies from across different societal sectors. And government. 

To show other government actors that this is not a scary thing to do. Changing the way you finance, regulate, license, allocate spectrum. It all can be done. And it's being done. I think really, Ben, one of the key things for us as a takeaway, we can enable better connectivity at better prices if we're being a bit more innovative, agile, and looking at some things that exist, figuring out how to adopt it and adopt it in country. So it's not always a cookie cutter or same way in every country. That's one of the important things. I think I would close with it's super important to listen. To listen to local people, to local government, to local actors. 

And to those that have seen the type of challenge before and that can come in and help. And, again, it's help but not a for but a with. It has to be with the local communities. And the local financiers. And I think we're going to see a shift soon in that meta financing. Sorry, I don't mean Meta, Pepper, the company. When you look at meta financing, you can come in at a local level with smaller amounts of money. It takes effort. We have really smart humans working on the solution. We've seen what small amounts can lead to with greater financing. I'll stop there, Ben, and turn it over to you and Anriette. I want to put a pitch in for this model in terms of thinking. Ways to unblock this. And unblock the bottlenecks, per se. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Thank you so much. There were so many exciting specific examples you gave. It was almost hard to keep track. But it's a great example, as you said at the end, of getting stories out there to show that these kind of new approaches can make a significant change. And are worth exploring and are not scary. So that was really interesting. And I appreciate the way that you tied in with what the other speakers have said as well. So I think we're starting to see some threads coming through that tie in what everybody's saying. We're now at the part of the meeting where we can open up for discussion. And I know there were a couple of questions in the chat. Anriette, I wonder whether you have any questions in the room or whether you'd like to look at some of those questions in the chat? 

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Thank you, Ben. First of all, I want to ask people in the room to put their hands up. You might not be aware, we're having challenges accessing the IGF website and links from here in Katowice. People will be physically putting up their hands. I've got one speaker in the room. Let me, Ben, if it's okay, if we can ask that speaker to ask their question and then I'll pick up on a few in the chat. And everyone else remotely, use Zoom to put up your hand. And we'll come to you. And those of you here with us, just you can physically raise your hands, if you can't do that on Zoom. So I have a person here across from me. Please introduce yourself before you ask your question. Go ahead. 

>> NAZA: Okay. Can you hear me, guys? 

>> Yes. 

>> NAZA: Okay. My name is Naza Nicholas from Tanzania IGF. I also lead the Internet Society chapter. Nice to see you, Jane Coffin. Talking about the work you've done for many years. I think the issue of the local content and the solutions, you know, that work on the ground is very critical. In terms of bridging the digital gaps. And I know sometimes on the ground, things may appear to be very difficult to be able to do. But I am driven by the idea that when people were seeing ‑‑ people said you can't go to the moon in the United States years ago, people went to the moon. 

I believe when there are challenges, especially when you talk about the spectrum allocation that Wisdom was talking about, it is a big issue which I think together with a lot of creativity and solutions, that actually work. We can be able to connect to everyone. So I believe that if we are able to get the importance of local content and the importance of having Internet for everyone, that given what the pandemic ‑‑ the COVID‑19 pandemic has taught us ‑‑ that Internet is no longer a luxury that used to be in some of these nations. That we need to make Internet be a public good. 

Sort of highway where everybody that has a car can be able to purchase without paying too much toll fees to be able to access it. I think if we are able to get our love of content and be able to drive things from the local perspectives, we will be able to accomplish a lot in this area of bridging the digital divide. So that Internet really becomes the driver, not only of the economy, but also of things like solutions for areas in the climate change and all that. So it is my feeling that if we are able to collaborate, if you're from whatever planet, if you are able to collaborate and help ourselves, you know, solve the real problems on the ground, and use Internet to be able to solve that, I think we'll be able to address a lot of the challenges. Thank you so much. 

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Thank you very much. Ben, we have two, maybe three people, in the room who want to contribute. There are also some comments in the chat and some questions. I think I should read these. Then we can ask our speakers to respond. Then those of you who are here with us, we'll come back to you. Just, everyone, be brief so we can give as many people as possible a chance. So earlier, there was a question from Ahmed in Northern Nigeria talking about the volatility in the access market. That there are multiple players, particularly, I think in the virtual mobile market. 

And you never know how many, you know, there still are and if they're still around. How do we deal with that volatility? And unreliability in the access market? Then there was a question from Phyo Thiri in Myanmar saying he'd like to hear our opinions on how the international community can respond and/or should respond to the problem of rising processes in Internet packages. Which used to be affordable but now seem to be unaffordable because of policies from both the telecom's regulators as well as from individual service providers. 

And then there was another community from Mark Carvell in the UK saying that often a problem is different parts of government, different ministries, particularly in the economic sectors like agriculture and health, do not coordinate by getting round the same table to strategize policy and funding for digital transformation. And for all regions of the country. And that reminds me of Wisdom's remark about how policies that are planning to take place centrally is one thing. But if you have the same ‑‑ to implement it, you know, at the local level without local ownership and participation, it doesn't work. This challenge of intergovernmental, inter‑sectoral collaboration, being insufficient is very important. 

Then I think that is it in terms of questions. And just there's some good examples being shared in the chat by Jane who as she said with her remarks, she's sharing lots of good cases. Where we have seen solutions that actually work. She's mentioning the examples of Georgia, in particular. And saying we should all find ‑‑ or should I say Tory. He's not in the room, but I can introduce you to him. About Georgia. Ben, do you want to go back to the panel now or do you want to take questions from the room? I don't see any hands up in the Zoom room. But there are hands up in the physical room. 

>> BEN WALLIS: I wonder if it makes sense, we've got a couple more people in the room. Then we do a round of kind of closing remarks to each of the speakers which can respond to the questions that you just read out and the ones we'll hear from now? 

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Let's do that. First we're going to go to Judith over here. Then we have Roberto in the back. Am I right? Anyone else whose hands are up? That's it. Lily, you're fine. Please, everyone, for the record, in our hybrid IGF, do introduce yourself. Say who you are, where you're from, when you ask your question. Judith, over to you. 

>> JUDITH: It's Judith, for the record. Thanks so much. It was a great panel. I really much like also to talk about what Jane was talking about and others about the importance of revising the universal access policy. And getting both the ministry and the regulator as well as other Civil Society to comment and to work on it. What is really important is connectivity issues. We need connectivity in the rural areas. And the past methods have not been working out. 

So you really need to figure out community network is one way. Other spectrum flexibilities are another way. You need to work on all avenues to try to figure out how are we going to change the focus. I experience ‑‑ because they keep the traffic local and a lot of the main expenses are not when traffic is not local. The same comments ‑‑ with some of the comments were saying with why prices are rising. And they say it's because of policies. It's not really policies doing it. It's more in a sense of, like, operators are not following through on how we can work and bring connectivity. How we come up with creative solutions. 

That's why the need for changing of policies to make sure that connectivity is the main focus and make sure that ISPs are looking ‑‑ different ways are looking at how we can create local operators who are community based to build up from the bottom and take care of their communities. I think that's ‑‑ I think working with government to change policies is a really good action to take. Thanks so much to Papua New Guinea working on new universal access policy. 

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Thanks, Judith. Our next speaker is about to take the floor. 

>> ROBERTO: Thank you very much, Anriette. Thank you to everyone who came here today. I just want to share some reflections with this panel and, of course, the people that are following this session. One good thing ‑‑ yes. Sorry. My name is Roberto. I'm a second‑year MAG member. Also coming from our Bolivian IGF. The fourth IGF last November, the last week of November. That's what I wanted to reflect on. I think it's fantastic that for the last three years, we took, again, the issue of universal access, which after the pandemic we all agreed that it's very, very important to solve. That issue, of course. But the important thing is that the work that we do in our countries also to be reflected in the local policy in a way to go to the broader and the global policy. 

In our case, for this time, we started a new format in our IGF in order to not only receive more active participation from the people and different stakeholders, but in our case, in one of the session related with the universal access, what we wanted to do this time was to prepare a document. So we prepared a draft previously to have our meeting. And we actually worked it in a session called Policy Proposal Workshop. The idea was to use the work of the ‑‑ this session, when all the participants base it on a draft document in order to provide concrete recommendations for our local government and other ‑‑ and some other stakeholders. 

So I think that is one of the important ways to have outcomes regarding policy. Because during the last three IGFs, we usually have the same ideas. The same proposals. The same recommendations. But we don't have strong voice, I think, in order for our governments to follow this kind of recommendation. That's why this time we are planning to prepare this in a public way. And make them ‑‑ make this document available for the government to hopefully have changes and adjustments in our policy. Thank you very much. 

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Thanks very much for that, Roberto. Ben, back to you. There's one more hand in the room. Let's have one more speaker then we'll be back to the virtual space. 

>> CATARINA: Hi, everybody, it's Catarina from Georgia. To empress how empowering it is to hear about the good example from Georgia. Tory in another room but present here. Give big thanks to Miss Jane Coffin for the nice words. I also wanted to express that I'm a representative of Georgia NLA. There are very good words about the organisation, leading and doing on all the nice work he's doing. We believe that participatory regulation is the thing to do nowadays. 

To gather the stakeholder. To listen to small and medium operators who are the best ones to some hope direct the attention of policymakers and regulators. What are the best direction. Best practical direction. Where to move from the policy point of hearing from the regulators' point of view. We're very much open also to hear about the best practices around the world. This is the best venue for that. Thank you so much. Thank you. 

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: Thank you very much. Ben, back to you. 

>> BEN WALLIS: It's great to see the participation from the people in the room and growing numbers you have there. At this stage, I'm going to go back to the four speakers and invite you to make some closing remarks. A couple of minutes of closing remarks based on what you've been hearing from others today. We'll follow the same order that we spoke in earlier. Pepper, if I could turn to you first. 

>> ROBERT PEPPER: This has been a great interactive discussion. I'm glad we have so many attendees especially on‑site in the room. I think that we ended up focusing a little bit more on the connectivity side. And didn't really address some of the issues that the John raised at the beginning on the non‑connectivity. The connectivity as, you know, we've been discussing is essential. Without that, nothing else happens. But it's not enough by itself. 

And I think that some of the issues ‑‑ the questions about affordability and the sustainability of local players is extremely important. That's why, you know, the ‑‑ I mentioned earlier the project in Peru which includes local players. This is not about, you know, consultants parachuting in and leaving. This is actually building local capacity in infrastructure with local operator. And, you know, in rural, rural Peru where nothing existed before, there are now 4.7 million people that now have access to really robust mobile broadband that they never had before. 

That was because of government making changes in policy. But also local participants and local investment, local operation, in creating this new wholesale operator. In addition to, you know, global companies like Meta and Telefonica participating. On affordability, I put in the chat because of the really great question, what does affordability mean? The Alliance for Affordable Internet, A4AI, created a benchmark adopted by the ITU and essentially everybody that at the moment it's at least 1 gigabyte of data per month. For less than 2% of a household income. 

It's adjusted for local income. And when you ‑‑ I'll put into the chat. We do a study every year with “The Economist” called The Inclusive Internet Index. Within there, we actually looked at that benchmark for 120 countries. The report released earlier this year. And what you can see is that the majority of countries in Sub‑Saharan Africa are way, way over their benchmark. As high as 15%, 20%, higher percentages of monthly income for just 1 gigabyte. That's why programmes such as we have something called Discover, which is a skinny Internet. A text based in between pop‑ups. Because you need the full access to the Internet. But programmes like Discover over the last number of years have enabled over 300 million people to be connected and remain connected. But that's not enough. That's why ‑‑ and I love it when we shifted and talked about redefining the partnership. I won't call it a public/private partnership. We need to come up with a better label. Because it's a multi‑stakeholder partnership. Right? So it's private sector. It's government. 

It's Civil Society. It's local communities. Absolutely. Because it has to be at the end of the day sustainable in the local communities for, you know, local business models, frankly, to support all the local activity. So I'll stop there. And by the way, Jane just put in the chat working with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union and we ‑‑ and Nigel is here I guess online. And, you know, Nigel, we did something with the CTU last week with something called the U.S. Telecommunications Training Institute. Looking at new technologies and deployments with open RAN, for example, in the Caribbean. And these are the types of programmes and projects that are locally based that are actually going to, you know, continue to close the gap. Last thing, we cannot, though, ignore the points that John made at the very open. That is there are all kinds of issues including affordability that are preventing total ‑‑ you know, genuine Internet inclusion where everybody can get on and benefit from being online. And many of those are the human‑factor issues on adoption and use of the Internet. So it goes beyond just networks. Although, that's the essential but not sufficient starting point. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Thank you very much, Pepper. And, yeah, let me just hand straight on to Tracy now. Tracy, do you have any closing remarks from you? What you've ‑‑ 

>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Yeah. I just wanted to be brief. But to tack on to what Pepper was saying about focusing on connectivity only. And I think we're trying to bring the idea of meaningful access parts of it and meaningful connectivity which is what I've been doing. I wanted to add to that not just the idea of what is meaningful in terms of type of quality of service and quality of access. But also the ability to use the Internet, itself. 

One of the biggest views we have in our part of the world is digital literacy, digital skills. We talk in its purest form and infrastructure and so on, many times we forget just plugging in the infrastructure and getting someone a device, providing access, even if it's relatively cheap, still doesn't give you what you need to get out of the connectivity or the access. That's a big issue. In many parts of the world, I'm sorry to say, the Internet equals social media. 

That's never a good thing. If the Internet only equals social media, then much of what connectivity provides is not useful. We haven't gotten to the stage of productivity and entrepreneurship and, you know, what skills can you build on that. All parts of the world. In developing states, in particular. We would like to build services on top of the Internet that we can sell to the world. Foreign exchange. Build income. New forms of revenue. If we don't focus on those aspects and look at connectivity and access and inclusion from that standpoint, a literacy standpoint, and skills standpoint, and the products we build out don't have those elements in it, we're checking boxes. Using figures. We're connected at this percent. The figures are saying we're at this level. What do you really mean by that? I think that's one of the things I wanted to bring out and I think we need to focus on that as well. Beyond the raw numbers and raw figures. What meaningful really means. Thanks. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Thank you, Tracy. Wisdom, turning to you in the room. Do you have any closing remarks for us? 

>> WISDOM DONKOR: Yes, of course, I do. Thank you very much. A lot has been said already. And for my closing remark, I think we should begin to link the various Internet activities to the various sectors of our economy. In that way, we will be solving a lot of problems in developing countries, specifically when it comes to youth. We are realizing that the youth unemployment has doubled. COVID coming through. We have our youth, unemployment issues increasing. So we need to seriously look at Internet and begin to link all these things to the various sectors. We have the health sector. 

We have the industry where we're beginning to see a lot of landing relations and all that. And so if we do this, I think we should be solving the Sustainable Development Goals as well. Where a farmer goes on to the Internet and contents that the farmer needs is there. Farmer produces their produce and then with the help of the Internet, the farmer should be able to locate a buyer to come and buy his produce. I think this is what the development countries are lacking. This is what we need. We really need to help bridge the gap. Thank you. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Thank you, Wisdom. Let me pass to our last speaker, Jane. 

>> JANE COFFIN: I'll be brief because so much great data has been given and a good wrap‑up. We know that connectivity equals better economic health and better socioeconomic development. And we know that connectivity relies on humans. The networks don't work by themselves. The human nets are driving the network nets. And if this is the case, as everyone here has said, and John mentioned in the beginning, we've got to invest in people and capacity building in order to develop more networks. Some of the networks are in abandoned markets. We need to revitalize those markets with more innovative approaches at that local level. It means enabling policies. 

New tech investment. With great partners. But bringing in that local, local philosophy and know‑how and knowledge and increasing it. I'll leave you with that and just say it is the human that builds the nets no matter how you're building them. That can be done with capacity building and a more holistic approach. Not just one government agency as typed in the chat. But government agencies need to get together. Connectivity can't be an afterthought. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Thank you, Jane. That's a really good wrapping up. And so I'm going to ‑‑ we're right at the end now. Less than five minutes left. Lily Botsyoe, I don't know if she's in the room. She agreed to step in with the wrap‑up. She might have been late arriving in the room. Lily, is there any kind of summary that you'd like to share from the room? 

>> LILY BOTSYOE: Yes. Hi, everyone. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, depending on where in the world you've been listening. A very important point raised. I'm going to do a summary quickly. Just so ‑‑ just as a buildup toward the report that will be coming up. So the conversation started with the move of the focus of the session on LDCs from past years. Things happening. To now evolve. You mentioned two main areas. You said universal access and meaningful connectivity. Especially hinging on SDG9 and specific target for affordable access for LDCs by 2020. And the session essentially provided a nuanced ‑‑ from different angles to contribute to universal access. 

And the thing that stood out in the session would morph from the issue of capacity building. What resources, are we creating opportunities to solve them. To ensure that the resources, that this capacity to really tap into resources and to make them available and continue for community usage and whatnot. And I want to move on to talk about the things that stood out when it comes to new tech solutions, especially hinging on local initiatives. How projects are funded and also partnerships. Diversifying of the partnerships. And also the move from just saying public/private partnerships to multi‑stakeholder partnership which involves everybody. The local Civil Society community, and the private and public sectors that exist. And then we also did the priority areas that sometimes government will probably leave the technology parts out. Usually a one‑size‑fits‑all for everything. We mentioned here that that doesn't really work for what we want to do when it comes to advancing technology in communities. Especially in LDCs. And there was a mention also of the transfer of skills. 

Especially when people are brought in to work on projects. And creating it in an environment so the opportunity to continue beyond ‑‑ the ability to maintain them and also to have this going on and on. And also the importance of making available local content, especially in languages, and to bridge data gap and development and communication gaps with especially grassroots. Then I'm going to end with the point on focusing on the holistic approach to universal access, which involves accessibility, affordability, connectivity, and literacy. And looking at the structural barriers to all three of these. Essentially, the matter today and the reports will be made available in due time. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Thank you so much, Lily. That's great. I have a lot of confidence in your reporting. And I look forward to reading your report. So Anriette, let me see if you have closing remarks and we're pretty much at time. 

>> ANRIETTE ESTERHUYSEN: I think we're out of time. I think it's been an excellent session. I think we learned we need to start with people. Not with access. We need to look at local context in a holistic way. And our solutions need to respond to these local contexts. We need to look at access as an ecosystem that involves more than connectivity. It's about people. It's about local control and power and agency. And it's about content and sustainability. 

And I think our speakers have actually covered everything. We know we need to do policy and regulation collaboratively and need to diversify the business models and the partnerships. Ben, I think perhaps the only thing that hasn't been said is we really need data and need data that's not driven by large operators. I think the one thing I felt that was not said, is often our regulators are fearful of the large on raters. They're fearful, actually, of diversifying their licensing frameworks. Because they're dealing with these large companies with lots of lawyers. 

I think we heard about spectrum. Wisdom talked about that. I think what we need to recognize and build on the models of the Caribbean regulators, which I think are beginning to really do this. Regulators need to be supported. And they need to be encouraged to really give an activity toward local needs and not toward the power of big large multinational mobile operators. That's it from me, Ben. Back to you. 

>> BEN WALLIS: Thank you, Anriette. We look forward to providing a written report from this session. Thanks, everyone, for taking part from Katowice and the Zoom room here. Thanks a lot. 

>> ROBERT PEPPER: Thank you. 

>> JANE COFFIN: Thanks. Thanks for moderating, Ben. 

>> Bye, everybody. Bye from Katowice.