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.
>> AVRI DORIA: While we're waiting for the remote to start, it's going to start, Maarten, whenever you're ready.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Thank you very much. I understand the difficulties with the Zoom‑bombing that you need to prevent. And thank you for all you do. Also, deep thanks to the Polish Government for posting and for all the work done to make the IGF a success under exceptional circumstances. I'm Maarten Botterman Chairman of the ICANN Board and I am presenting the Open Forum session the building blocks to meaningful connectivity. I will be joined by a fellow colleague board member, Ishmael, and a colleague board member and also a former member of the MAG and Goran Marby, also a Board Member and also President and CEO of the organization of ICANN. In the room, we are assisted by Avri Doria, and for online participation, Laurent Ferrali will organize.
So, this session is really about how do we expound? This session will focus on building blocks to increase barriers to access and increase content with action line three, access to knowledge as well as action line 8, cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content. Through the promotion of universal acceptance and the use of internationalized names. So, this is scripts.
And we will take you through an overview of ICANN's work, and we can hear from the panelists to share local experiences with the Arabic script. So, with that, Goran. Would you be unmuted to speak next? And please keep me unmuted, your host.
>> GORAN MARBY: Thank you, Maarten. Let's take a step back for a second and think about why this is so important, especially in the world of meaningful connectivity. The internet is often referred to as a global phenomena, which it is, but it's actually quite local as well. And to be able to localize internet going forward, we have to be even better when it comes to making sure that people can use the internet, using their own keyboard, their own script, their own narrative. This is very much in line with the action line three, when we talked about to enable culture, diversity, identity, linguistic diversity and local content. And ICANN, together with our technical partners, has a very important role of doing this.
Today we have a real digital divide, between people who have access to internet and people who don't have access to internet. But one of the reasons why we have this digital divide is because a lot of people cannot use the internet, even if they had it, because of language. But it's not only ICANN and its partners with a role in this. This is a whole ecosystem that needs to come together. Manufacturers of software, how we work with web pages, manufacturers of equipment, we all have to work together to make this. And the good thing is that we are starting to do many things together, but we still have a long road to go.
Within ICANN and the ICANN community, we were working to raise awareness of this for a very long time. It's sort of a part of our DNA and one of the reasons why we believe the internet is important, because we see in a way, internet ‑‑ I mean, we often talk about the internet from a commercial effect, creates digital abilities for people. But it's actually a big equalizer as well. If we get people to be online, you give them the same kind of information, you give people, poor people, the access to the same kind of information as the rich always had a monopoly on. That's why this is so important that they also can use the internet with their own language, so they can really use that information.
For me, this has been an effort by ICANN Board as well, to support what we call IDNs, and more recently to work with what we call Universal Acceptance. We even have a dedicated Board IDN at Universal Acceptance Working Group, which meets three to four times a year.
And I think if we look at the next sort of generation of internet, where we are looking into what we call the next round or the localization of internet, the global localization of internet, this is going to be one of the biggest challenges we have, to have the ability to have more than just 1,600 identifiers, most of them in Latin script on the internet, to really be able to create an opportunity for everybody around the world to use their own keyboard and scripts. And I think this is our collective responsibility to make sure that the internet speaks more languages and that people use these languages.
Another way of saying it is the first generation of what we've done today with the internet is sort of make it interoperable for the machines, which is one of the great advantages of the internet. Maybe one way of saying this is what we're trying to do with Universal Acceptance and IDN is to make it for people instead, to make it interoperable for people, and that's a big challenge where we're going to need to work together.
The ITU ‑‑ I'm reading from the numbers here ‑‑ there's a strong global growth in internet use with the estimated number of people using the internet surging to almost 5 billion in 2021 from an estimated 4.1 in 2019, which is 800 million more users since 2019. But many of those comes from what I would call well‑off areas. They live in cities. They live in strong economies. And they rate the sort of ‑‑ they get the best out of use in technology. It's going to be harder to reach the others, the poor, those in poverty around the world who have to make real choices. And one of them I think is going to help them is to get access to local information in their local languages. So, I'm going to leave over to the rest of the panel to talk about it, but I think what we talk about here is meaningful connectivity seems to be a technical word. But if you look at the internet as an enabler and an equalizer, this is something that is important for us. Thank you.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Thanks, Goran, for that. What is ICANN doing to help provide access to internet in local languages? Can you unmute Goran, please? Can you unmute Goran? You're unmuted.
>> GORAN MARBY: I think I covered in my introduction what we do. But the way we work, when we often talk about the institutional action, we actually talk about a cooperation of people from all over the world who comes together to make what we call the IDN tables, to make sure we can test the different script so that we can put it into the system. It's making sure ‑‑ it's a very technical thing, to make sure the two scripts, for instance, doesn't compete with each other. So, for instance, the keyboard people use is connected to it.
But I think one of the most challenging things that we work together with the ICANN community ‑‑ these are volunteers who does this work ‑‑ is the action to broaden Universal Acceptance through contacts with manufacturers, suppliers, and others as well, so we understand how important it is. And as I mentioned also, the Board has since a couple of years set up a special task group because of this importance.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Thank you for that, Goran. And we can always talk more about it when a question comes up, or when it comes up. Next, can I ask you, Manal, to share more about your local experiences in Egypt? Manal Ismail, please. Yes, please. You're unmuted, Manal.
>> MANAL ISMAIL: Thank you very much, Maarten, Goran, and everyone. As Goran mentioned, I would like to start by the statistics as well. So, the world's population is 7.9 million, according to the most recent statistics by the UN as of October 2021. And given the latest estimates by the ITU as well as the 4.9 billion users are now online, accounting for around 62%‑63% of the world's population, which indicates that we have something like 37% to 38% still offline accounting to around 3 billion. And this means that their needs haven't yet been met.
And the global pandemic, as well, has also exposed and amplified the need for having meaningful connectivity or meaningful access for everyone in order not to risk being cut off from critical online services or deprived from vital information. And to bring these 3 billion online, we should address their real needs, which obviously are needs different from those who are currently connected.
And also, we shouldn't expect the next billions to master a foreign language. They are expected to come from the developing world, and language barriers would certainly be one of their barriers to be online.
I have to say that the introduction of IDNs was a great achievement in that respect, providing the needed flexibility regarding the script of the registered domain, but we have to admit that the full benefits of IDNs won't be attained without the wide deployment of Universal Acceptance, in order to avoid frustrated user and to ensure seamless, end‑to‑end, multilingual experience, which is key to enabling those who have a language barrier.
And taking Arabic language as an example here. So, the Arabic in principle is written right to left and not even left to right, with a very different set of characters. So, unless we have a seamless experience end to end, meaning that all systems and applications need to be able to accept, validate, process, store, and display local scripts, because sometimes only the first step is accommodated, being that the application, for example, accepts the local scripts. But when using the reverse and displaying it again, it is displayed in the XN‑‑for example, coding. So, the ultimate objective is having, as I said, a seamless, end‑to‑end, multilingual experience, which would enable a full multilingual experience end to end to the end user.
One more thing we witnessed when talking about the Arabic domain names is also everyone asking about email addresses in Arabic. So, it's also critically important that email addresses also work seamlessly. I have to say that this is an existing demand, an existing demand from the community in Egypt. So, to complete the multilingual experience of the end user, as I always say, we need to have three pillars in place: The IDNs, Universal Acceptance, and the content. So, not having the content within our scope at ICANN and having already IDNs in place, I think we need to focus our efforts now on promoting the Universal Acceptance and making sure it is deployed as widely as needed to get started and to bear its fruits.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Thank you very much for that comprehensive overview. Also, it sounds to me like that requires multiple stakeholders as well. Which stakeholders would you need around the table? Dear host, please unmute Manal again. Yes, you're unmuted.
>> MANAL ISMAIL: Okay. Thank you. So, regarding the stakeholders, I think all stakeholders are equally important in that respect. And without collaborative and coordinated efforts, the wide deployment of Universal Acceptance will take much longer, if not forever.
Governments are key and can provide proof of concept for the market to follow and serve as a role model in that respect for obvious strategic reasons, including the use of the official language of the country, of course, and having online communication in local languages when getting to use governmental services, also reaching citizens nationwide, irrespective whether they master a foreign language or not, preserving the local culture and identity of the country by protecting local languages and encouraging their use on and off the internet, acquiring future‑proof systems and applications, which is important for governments being when they use public money. And of course, ultimately, this serves in bridging the digital divide, facilitating social inclusion, paving the way for a digital transformation by increasing the internet penetration and promoting meaningful access.
Private sector is also a critical stakeholder, being the supply side providing the service, and they should also be keen to allow for Universal Acceptance, as it provides an edge to their business, implies market growth, and is an opportunity for better customer satisfaction.
Also, end users are extremely important, constituting the demand side of the whole thing, and without them, the supply side wouldn't move. So, it's important to make the end users aware of the option in order to create demand and put some pressure on the supply side to act, and not only pressure, but confidence businesswise that it makes sense and there is a demand for whatever they are going to avail. So, they need to act for a better user experience, addressing the language barrier for new users, but also the frustration of current users when they make mistakes emerging from second guesses of spelling, translation, or transliteration of domain names. So, I think all stakeholders are equally important and synchronized efforts is essential. And collectively, we will be catering for the needs of the next billion and helping to achieve the UN SDGs and bridging the digital divide, so I see it a win‑win for everyone.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Thank you for that, indeed. As you say, it's a wide range of players. No player can do it alone. Thank you for sharing your experience. Danko, you're from Serbia. And Cyrillic is the script that I've seen you use before. So, how does that work on the internet in IDNs, et cetera? Please.
>> DANKO JEVTOVIC: Yes. Thank you, Maarten. And thank you to the host for unmuting me. My name is Danko Jevtovic. I'm from Serbia, as Maarten said. After Goran's perspective and also Manal's perspective, I would like to tell a little story about how we have the situation in Serbia. Cyrillic script is our primary script, but we are using that and Latin script in the day‑to‑day work. So, in my primary school, the language I learned was called Serbo-Croatian Language, and half of my whole works were in Cyrillic and the other half in Latin script, so we used both. That's one of the reasons why Latin script dominated in the early days of the internet.
But people that are only now in coming to the internet, there is a lot of people who are not from the more urban areas and a lot of people who actually use Cyrillic in every day work, so it's very important. And we know that the domain names are enablers for services, and that way, we need Cyrillic script to enable people to use that fully in their internet approach. But there are complications. When I say Cyrillic, people often know it is one of the more successful scripts in the IDN space, but this is Russian Cyrillic, that is different from the Serbian. So, in a way, we have different character sets here in our language, so it's not unique to the Cyrillic. I understand, it's a bit of similarity also with the Arabic script that's used in Persian, so it's a more complicated situation.
The only (?) focused on the Serbian users is the Serbian country called registry. Of course, you can use Cyrillic in the other DODs that support wider character set. But what's the situation on the field? When .serbs started, one of the ideas was to create it as a lower‑cost option in order to enable people to get easier domain names, to reduce the costs of going to the internet. And in a way, it hasn't worked very well, because it also created this perception that there is a less value in that domain name, comparing, for example, to .rs, the same country code registry promoted. And as Manal said, another problem is that emails are not function. There are some solutions, but you cannot get ‑‑ I cannot get my .serbs domain name with a Gmail or Office 365, and that's a real problem.
The other thing is that early internet adopters, as Goran indicated, started using internet with English language, and with Latin script, that is used in Serbia. So, it kind of created this digital divide where people who are longer time on the internet kind of don't see the need to use Cyrillic script in general use on the internet, but there are good developments. First of all, Cyrillic script is a Serbian cultural identity, so we use it more and more also in marketing, in day‑to‑day communications, some newspapers are now printed in Cyrillic, so it's getting better.
The second problem was keyboards. When you get a personal computer, you get a notebook, usually international brands and the keyboard is in Serbian Latin script. So, you have softer keyboards now and this is getting better.
So, in order to improve the situation, the Registry did a local education campaign to explain how it is easy to use Cyrillic in general, but we kind of need more of a multi‑stakeholder approach to that. One of the key points is governments and businesses, so governments need to put a request for Universal Acceptance in their tenders in procurement of the systems. Businesses are recognizing the importance of Cyrillic script in their web identity, but also they're using now more and more of the Cyrillic IDNs. But currently, the situation that most of them are using only redirects to the main Latin domain names. So, it's a problem.
The local community is active there. For example, Serbia has given the chairs of ICANNs both Cyrillic and Latin generation panel, so people from this region are active in the broader global move that we are trying to do, and we are also active in ICANN's Universal Acceptance Steering Group. So, in my opinion, coming from this local story, it's a long‑term effort. We are doing our best, but we have to keep doing it. And we need to gather vendors, governments, end users, of course, the ICANN from its coordinating role, and to build the environment that will enable that next billion or billions users to really come online, not only in small Serbia, but globally.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Thank you very much. Very clear. And together, you've drawn a clear picture where it's clear that ICANN have, of course, an enabling role with making domain names available in IDNs, but that doesn't stop there. It's also needed at browsers, at email addresses, and, eventually, even the content. So, is this something we can only achieve to serve the next billion users together. And to do that, it's important we understand that there are the technical underpinnings of the internet that make these things work, how things hang together, how things come forward. So, thank you for your clarity on that.
I have a question to all panelists, then I'd like to go to the audience. It's what recommendations or advice can you share with policymakers, if those policymakers engaged here at the IGF and beyond, that want to serve their population with better usability of the internet locally? Can I ask you first, Goran? Can you unmute Goran Marby, please, Secretariat? Yes, thank you.
>> GORAN MARBY: Thank you. It's a very good question with a complicated answer. I will start by saying, by not trading internet as it's done, we have a tendency in many of the discussions today to see that internet is what it is, and everybody goes on a platform, and that's not really true. One of the important things in many of the interactions we have, and I have, especially in the development projects we're talking about in Africa, is the recognition that ‑‑ the recognition, the importance for also the sort of local economy, because it's really ‑‑ a country could really ‑‑ when a country can really benefit from the development of using internet is when knowledge, businesses always stay in the country. If it goes outside, it goes in the platform, it goes outside, the country doesn't really benefit from it. So, I think that the recognition of the potential is very important.
The other thing is that the internet is a fantastic technology, in a sense. I learned a couple of weeks ago that the identifier system, together, ICANN together with its technical partner, the root cell operators, they have actually been able to maintain the system without a flaw for 35 years. And we've seen also, including also the resolver operators. It's fantastic that this technology has been able to grow from no one to so many people in such a short period of time, and often, sort of developed is the users ‑‑ it's not a committee or a telecom company that came up with the notion of this.
But also recognize that there are things that is bad on the internet. Everybody knows that. And when you look at policies setting up for this part of the world, look, make sure that you ‑‑ let me use something I've said a couple of times this week ‑‑ the road to hell can be paved with very good intentions. So, you don't do policies that actually can contradict the ability of using internet by having legislation that disconnect users from the internet or creates an alternative internet, because then you won't have those benefits. And making sure that the internet users in the country, in the region, have this diversity of possibilities which the internet actually provides.
So, lastly, I would say it is pleasing with us in the Technical Community as well. We will not tell you what your policy is because we are not politicians, we are not interested in policy work, but we are interested in helping you connect more people on a diverse and open, interoperable internet. So, take those things into account. And many of us in the Technical Community are there to help and discuss. Thank you.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Thank you very much, Goran. And Manal, I mean, from being very close to policymakers in your place, what could you recommend to those in other countries? What advice would you give them?
>> MANAL ISMAIL: Thank you, Maarten, for the question and the host for unmuting me. So, I think I would make sure to, again, reiterate the important strategic reasons I already highlighted earlier. I will not go through them again one by one again. But if I'm talking to policymakers, I'll make sure to highlight the strategic reasons for why governments should be keen to have Universal Acceptance in place.
Sometimes people either don't know the benefit or are reluctant to change that may seem unneeded. So, it is important to highlight the need and make sure they understand the reasons and the strategic reasons behind this and how it's going to be beneficial.
I would definitely stress the discussions around social inclusion, around digital transformation, and around the example that is being provided by the current situation of the global pandemic and how we need to reach everyone and make sure everyone is online, everything moved online, whether health, education, or even day‑to‑day activities. So, we need to make sure everyone is left behind. And maybe also draw some analogy with the IPV6 experience and how this also took some time to convince everyone to include. So, maybe around the same lines, governments could include the need for universal acceptance in their tenders or purchase orders or anything they would like to purchase. On one hand, it gives the signal that this is an important criteria that the government will be looking at.
And also, particularly for like the Ministry of Communication Information Technology, for example, sometimes they are the IT arm for other parts of the government, so also making sure to have this accommodated by other parts of the government. And I really see potential in having the government playing a role model here for everyone to follow.
One more thing before handing you the floor back, Maarten, is best practices. And here I would recall the Government of India and great progress they have in place and they are continuing to have, so it could serve as a good example for other governments to follow as well. Thank you.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Thanks. Thanks for mentioning that. I mean, we have over 22 official languages in one country and nine different scripts. It's amazing to see the effort that has gone in there to make the scripts, at least, available, and it's first step on the longer path of making it all fully usable. That's clearly recognized. Indeed, I think there is now a ministerial‑level Working Group on Universal Acceptance, so that is, indeed, an excellent example. Thanks for sharing that.
Danko, from your experience, what advice would you have to policymakers? What does effective collaboration look like?
>> DANKO JEVTOVIC: Well, first, I would like to give my contribution from the point of view I discussed from the point of view of small country. I believe sometimes in smaller countries it's difficult to get involved in these global discussions, but in this case, we are discussing something that is critically important for creating local internet. And the point of the internet is to have a lot of content, a lot of knowledge, and to create a lot of value in the country. So, it is critically important to have this ability to use the language and the script that is really, really present in the country.
So, I believe it's important for people who are creating policies and deciding on activities in such countries to recognize the importance of internet identifiers in creating this infrastructure of the internet in the local content. So, even if it's a small country, it needs to be part of this global movement and global connection. Otherwise, countries can be in danger of being left behind and sort of a digital curtain to create a division between countries that have this full internet experience and are able to connect, not only in the physical sense, but in a real content and real, you know, participation sense, to connect their citizens to the internet.
So, I would say that no language, no script should be left behind. We should all get together and do everything we can. The internet is really one internet, really global and accessible to everyone.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Thank you. It makes a lot of sense. And it's good to hear from practice, from your personal experiences with that.
For all participants in the room, please raise your hand, maybe indicate your question in the chat, if you can, and we will give you the floor. Obviously, with the finger on the button that it's a justified contribution. And of course, there's much more information on this and all this on the website of the Universal Acceptance Study Group, the UASG, and on the ICANN website and elsewhere.
In the meanwhile, we are ready to answer your questions. Question to the panel again. So, what should be happening next? What would be the next steps that you would feel is most important? You've indicated the need for the balance between content, the scripts being available and the acceptance of those scripts. So, that is obviously key. I also heard Manal mention that, look back at the IP Version 6 experience. We needed to be ready, and we were well ready to serve IP Version 6 before the big take‑up time. And also, from the panel, we have heard some people are now available the domain names. But it doesn't always resolve in the email browser. Disappointments lead to setbacks and things like that. How do we break this cycle? Any suggestions, raise your hand and the host will unmute you, no doubt. Goran, please.
>> GORAN MARBY: I want to come back to something I talked about a little bit earlier, and that is the work we're doing internally in ICANN, which we call the next round of sub pro, which is really our next big ability to create the ability for people to have identifiers in their own local script language, whatever you want to call it.
Today we have about 1,600 top‑level domains in total for, what is it, 5 billion internet users. That number has been stable for a very long time. And when we did a first round of this, naturally, many of the top‑level domains became Latin script or even English, to some extent French and Spanish, sort of oriented. And I think that with the hard work from the ICANN community, what they've done, trying to go to the face to try to operate, is it's really an opportunity to try to create those local top‑level domains in local scripts. And I actually think that that will also show a demand.
And I might not be the best businessman in the world, but I think there is usually a demand when someone wants to sell something. And by having this ability to create the demand, and I think working together with manufacturers and governments and other ones, we can help to fulfill that, but it's going to be a really big thing, and we have to make sure all of the hard work we're doing with Universal Acceptance and also IDNs is something that's going to bear fruit there. So, I'm actually quite positive in the sense that I believe this will create sort of the next wave who will bring things together and making sure that the internet becomes much more local in the future.
I got a comment on the side of this, what I mean by that. Think about this. Often, many of the interactions we actually do on the internet is very local, and often in our own language. You're checking your children's schools. You're booking a place for a vaccination, you know. You're booking, you know, interactions with people. I often interact with my kids over the internet, besides the fact they sit in the next room.
So, we have really to make sure that we create that ability. And that I think will create a demand, and that will sort of take us to the next step. Thank you.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Thanks for that. And yeah, again, feel free to raise your hand. I must say, in capacity‑building workshops I've seen for locally how to make best use of the internet, which standards to adhere, et cetera. Also, Universal Acceptance has been discussion. And it's a great pleasure if we could also see that the big players, like Apple, et cetera, also contribute to the work there. Embracing it we are not alone either, and we need more people to engage with us to work together, to make it work. So, Manal, please?
>> MANAL ISMAIL: Thank you, Maarten. And thank you, Goran, as well, for your insights. So, I just feel that one main challenge is that people who need Universal Acceptance most are not online, and we don't have a communication channel with them. So, this is one thing I was thinking about that people who needs the Universal Acceptance most are not online; they don't know it exists, and they don't know it could facilitate their experience. And again, this brings me back to the need to convince the supply and demand at the same time, which is also a challenge, because the supply side don't want to move unless there is a need and a demand, and the demand side is not really aware of the universal acceptance and its benefits, so we really need to break this vicious cycle.
And the second thing is the need for the UA deployment. So, if your organization is Universal Acceptance ready, this is not enough, and everyone needs to have Universal Acceptance ready in order for the Universal Acceptance to bear its fruits. And I already see a queue is forming. I will stop here, and we definitely need to privatize other interventions. Thank you.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Yes. Thank you very much. Danko, short? Or should we have our other guests first?
>> DANKO JEVTOVIC: Just a brief information.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Please, please.
>> DANKO JEVTOVIC: Yeah. So, Universal Acceptance Steering Group has tested websites and found out about 11% of the top global websites would accept email address in different scripts. So, I just wanted also to point out, Manal has stated the importance of email addresses, but they're not only for communication; they're identifiers to logon to your bank account and different places. So, I would propose that we spoke about driving the demand from the governments, but also communities could do more. Communities could create, local websites could communicate with the Universal Acceptance Steering Group and test their local websites. Do they accept their email addresses, and how well the Universal Acceptance is supported there. So, that will, in a way, create awareness and help drive the demand. Thanks.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Yeah, thanks. Thanks for that. Can I ask Laurent Ferrali to be unmuted? Laurent?
>> LAURENT FERRALI: Thank you very much, Maarten. There is a question from Josef in the chat. He would like to ask Goran to comment about information spots in villages and how Keck invite people to contribute.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Josef is online, so we can ask for him to speak to that himself. Laurent is our online moderator. Thank you for that. Can you unmute Josef?
>> JOSEF NOLL: Yes. I'm on the microphone, as you can see. My background is I am a Professor for Digital Health at the Center for Global Health, and we deployed information spots in rural villages in Africa, focusing on English and Swahili in Tanzania on typical tropical diseases, like tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and we had up take from like 9% when we started with baseline to 57% after 12 months. And that really triggered me to say, hey, if we empower people through putting an information spot into the village and letting people participate, that is where we grow the local knowledge. And I wanted to hear the comments from Goran on that.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Goran, please. Can you unmute Goran Marby, please, host? Thanks.
>> GORAN MARBY: Thank you. I would like to learn more about that example so I can use that example, because it's actually exactly what we're talking about. The power of the internet for internet users is quite fantastic. And what we from the technical sort of community provide is the opportunity for people to do what you did and to see that usage going up and. And you pointed out that you can't only do it in English, but you have to do it in other scripts and languages as well.
On that, Manal mentioned this as well. One of the big barriers we have is actually information about what you can do with the system. And one of the things that we are looking into right now is how can we sort of break that wall? Because as Manal said, the people we're trying to reach is not on the internet today. The one who needs it is not on the internet today. So, how do we actually reach them and how do we work with, you know, anything from governments to telecom providers to content providers to create the surrounding, when it's actually possible to connect someone meaningfully on this? And that's going to take a lot of thinking. Because as in many things that we are dealing with, no one has done it before. Which is one of the amazing things doing what we're doing. Many of the things that we do has not been thought out in history before.
If you could, Josef, if you could send me an email and talk more about what you've actually done, because that sounds very interesting to me.
>> JOSEF NOLL: Sure, I will do. I will post my contacts in the chat, and those who are here physically, we have the booth just outside. But I post my contact data so that we can follow up.
>> GORAN MARBY: Thank you. You also actually have a board member in the room, Avri.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Yeah, just provide it to Avri Doria, so only those who need to get your email address get it, and you don't get other messages. Thank you. Thank you for your comment. Thank you for your input.
Last but not least for today, Fred Kwadwo Aazore. Please, can you unmute Fred? Fred, you're unmuted.
>> FRED KWADWO AAZORE: Hello, everyone. Thank you for giving me the opportunity. My name is Fred Kwadwo Aazore, speaking from Ghana. I am one of the 2021 Youth Ambassadors.
So, the context that is being discussed, I wanted to bring in a preamble which Manal indirectly commented on; that is, the people we are trying to reach, the people we are trying to provide connectivity to are actually not online.
And so, as part of my submission to be selected as an IGF Youth Ambassador, I was looking at Internet Governance, the unconnected perspective. And so, I tried to ask a few questions. And I realized that most people find it very difficult to even understand what the internet, itself, is before, let's say before they can think of getting to know how to get connected to the internet.
And so, I think Goran mentioned that it's very difficult for us to actually look at the different perspectives and how we are going to get those that are not online to be able to come online. One of the things that I would say as a suggestion is that, first of all, from the part of the world that, we realize that a lot of people do not even have access to computers or even regular ICT knowledge. And so, with this, it is very difficult to get these people online, even if you provide them with the infrastructure, even if you provide them with connectivity. It would be very difficult for them to come online without the literacy attached to it. And so, we can start at some levels, depending on the locations or the geographic areas. So, at some geographical areas, we would be looking at providing basic ICT knowledge to those people within those localities, whilst we try to provide infrastructure to people who already have some basic ICT knowledge.
Then, at some point, we are able to come back to the people who had no ICT knowledge at all, and we're able to provide them with the basic internet infrastructure or connectivity, mobile connectivity infrastructure. And we can be doing all these things, probably also having an inference on the fact that community networks is becoming very common these days. And so, there are various aspects of the solutions that can be done. But I think the speaker who is on site made mention of the information systems that they deployed in Tanzania and other African communities. And these systems, I believe, allows them to be able to understand what is going on locally. So, when you plan ahead and want to deliver a solution to such a community, because of the engagement and because the information that you already have, it becomes much easier. And so, the gap is continually getting wider and wider as we are not able to get to the offline people. Thank you.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Okay, thank you, Fred, for your excellent remarks. Goran, do you want to react on this? And please, there's also a question from Michael Palage in the chat. Maybe you can answer that, too? And then we'll round off. Dear host, can you please unmute Goran? Thanks.
>> GORAN MARBY: Thank you. Thank you, Fred. I think what you said is so important. And I think that there's a growing realization that there is no business model that can put all those people online. It's much more than that. And that's why I think it's ‑‑ and I go back to what Manal said ‑‑ we have to work together from the Technical Community, with the policymakers and the government. We have to work with teachers. We have to do this so differently. If it was so easy that there's money to be made, someone would come there, but I don't think it will. I think we have to really think and go back to what the internet is all about, by connecting people. So, I agree with you, everything you said. It was like, yeah, I agree, that's the problem. Yes, I agree.
And the good thing is that that realization is starting to spread, especially in Africa. There are several initiatives I know about, that we actually started to talk about, to come together to see what we can do.
I'd also take the opportunity to answer Michael's question in the chat about what we think ‑‑ yes! We are in the process, as you know, to start looking into how we can enhance the possibility for other regions to be online. And I think that one of the mistakes ‑‑ not mistakes ‑‑ it's not a mistake. One of the evolutions we need to do is to make sure that we have more IDNs Universal Acceptance so top‑level domains can be actually really used as well. So, I think that's why it goes so well. Universal Acceptance and IDNs is not only for the next round, but it's important together with the next round.
And in that, you know that the community had really interesting discussions about how to set up the systems for doing this from a money perspective. The world has moved on a lot. We have much more back‑end providers. We can probably do things differently. And that's a conversation that I noted at the ICANN Community needs to have. But I feel, from what I understand from the ICANN Community, this is really something that is on top of our mind, which I'm really grateful for. So, I hope I answered all questions. Now over to you, Maarten.
>> MAARTEN BOTTERMAN: Okay. Thank you very much, Goran. And thank you, everybody. And sorry, the hour has flown by. I think it's been very useful to hear about all these concepts. And of course, the internet isn't about IDNs alone and Universal Acceptance alone. As Josef clearly indicated, it's also about connectivity, as several governments already indicated. It's about making locals, getting access to information in their own scripts. It's also clearly about security. The internet, as soon as you are connected, you're part of that bigger thing where you need to take care of yourself as well.
But Universal Acceptance is a key thing and a key step. I would love to end this hour with asking all providers to please make your systems UA‑ready. And there are standards for that on the internet. Join UA Working Groups, help progress it. And for you all, also, you can initiate, take local action, set up local regional working groups to understand what UA can do for you and why it's important to get into it, because as Manal said, demand and offer, and it only can start to grow demand to become some kind of more interesting business case, if people understand why they should ask for it, why it's so worthwhile. So, on all these fronts: Make it ready, raise awareness, and get active. That is the call to you.
Thank you all for your participation. Deep respect for the hosts who do their work under difficult circumstances, as well, and thank you for hosting us so well at your best ability. And all those in the room with Avri, thank you. Avri, thank you. And all those online, thank you for listening. And dear panel, you've been very, very clear. And I think this message will go a long way. So, thank you very much. This session is over.
(Session concluded at 1806 CET)