IGF 2021 - Day 3 - WS #246 Construction of an institutional digital infrastructure

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.



>> MODERATOR: No problem for that.  We are live now, and it is us as has been said in the chat box.  And so should we give ourselves a few more minutes with your permission for people to -- or maybe for some of our speakers to come in.

     And also, as Joanna is in the room there, we would like to ask if you have seen Michel because Michel is -- (Speaking non-English language).

     >> MICHEL TCHONANG LINZE: Good morning, everyone.  Yeah, we are in Katowice, and I'm very pleased to hear you all and to be connected.  I'm so glad and really happy to say welcome to some of internet here is Mr. (?) is honored to be here and order of speaker who are here. 

     Let me say thanks to all of the technical people who are here.  They are willing to help us to make this meeting be successful.  (Speaking non-English language)

     >> MODERATOR: Merci, Michel.  God bless you.  And so thank you for that.  Thank you for the info to be there.  Thank you for taking, you know -- making all your toil and efforts to be there. 

     And I welcome Peter and Joanna and Rodrigue, our panelists who are already here.  And as Michel just said, we don't want to bother ourselves with too much protocols.  We will certainly make everything for our panel to be the best of it.

     And given the fact that we have already -- we are already online and live now, I will start by presenting our session and we -- when we were preparing this session we had so many topics at hand.

     And we were asking ourselves what can be the topic that is critical for especially for what context our continent.  And we finally and very -- in a participatory way and collaboratively decided to work on, you know, on the construction of infrastructure that would give, you know, meaningful internet access to all of the people in Africa, but especially those who are marginalized, those who are -- those who are clearly excluded as we know it, even though we don't usually say it. 

     It's something we need to put on the table.  And the IGF fortunately is also there for us to put this on the table and to be the voice of all those people who might not be here because of the challenges that we will talk about in this session.

     And also because, you know, we are finding that there are so many other issues that are not directly related to internet or internet governance or internet infrastructure itself, but also because of, you know, we have problem with electricity, we have problem with poverty. 

     Even when people have means to join the session they will be more interested in solving, you know, daily critical needs that are far from what we enjoy as those who consume internet every day.

     So the organizing committee of this session was formed by the Ministry of Telecommunication in Cameroon by CAPDA and presented here by Michel Tchonang Linze. 

     One of the prominent organization and then we have Christian Nzhie who we want to thank for all dedication and all its devotion to making all this session a success.

     So for our session we will have two moderators.  Michel is already there onsite and Charlie Martial Ngounou, myself, is here.  It is freaky to be presenting myself.  And then we will have several speakers.  And we are glad that many of you are already there online.  And we love it. 

     It shows clearly that the session, this session and this session topic is an interesting one and that all of us have understood clearly that we need to advocate.  We need to check out this and we need to show, to make clearly -- to make it understandable that infrastructure is critical for people to join this space that is the common noun sort of substantial and existential space for every human being today.

     And so we will have Joanna.  I will start with her.  It has nothing to do with the way, you know, with the ranking, with the speaking ranking here.  But I think she was one of the first to come in from the speaker list. 

     And so Joanna is a cybersecurity expert working in the intersection of human right, international law, privacy and is a member of the eastern European group.  And we will have -- I hope he comes, Eric Sindeu is from private sector.  And he is actually one of the very great promoter of internet infrastructure in our country.

     We also invited Gbenga Sesan of Civil Society.  We hope he find a way to come.

     >> GBENGA SESAN: I'm in the room.

     >> MODERATOR: Are you there?

     >> GBENGA SESAN: Yes, I have been here.

     >> MODERATOR: Sorry, Gbenga.  My screen doesn't show you.  As we call ourself, thank you, brother, that you are already there.  Thank you. 

     And so I need to present Gbenga, one of the foremost prominent civil society activists on these issues of internet governance.  And we are very glad to have you here.  He leads the paradigm.  The PanAfrican civil society organization, social enterprise.  Working on this, leading this topic in Africa and we are very glad to have you, Gbenga, thank you.  And sorry for missing your presence here.

     So we will also have Rodrigue Saoungoumi Sourpele.  He is the tech for our community and member of the African Group.  We also have Ferdinand Yves Mbarga who is also a tech of in community.  And working for the Cameroon network working group.  And we will have Brice Arsene Gbithicki Ndanga.  He is from government and also a member of this African Group.  And then last, but not the least, a senior policy advisor, Peter Koch, who works on the intersection of internet governance, public policy, government relations and so on. 

     And then we will have probably as also an expert of this domain.  This is the list of speakers and then we have two rapporteurs who are already here.  Lidia and then to lead reporting side of the session and we welcome all of you here and we would like now to start with our theme.

     How will we go with this?  We will just give the floor to panelists for panelists to express their views on -- in the way they feel it.  And as, you know, when we prepare this we decided to let you share freely your thoughts on this critical topic so that we don't restrict it to our own view because we believe the diversity of the panel is a great opportunity for us to capture very, you know, great points that we could put on the table of IGF lead, you know. 

     So that we can push together what we need to make -- to improve this infrastructure and then this internet governance in our continent and so to make it, you know, create some sort of equal.  So I will start with Gbenga. 

     Hi, Gbenga.  Could you please tell us all of your insight from the wonderful experience you built in this space concerning infrastructure, the challenges you have met and that you have seen people facing in the context not only of Nigeria but also of the continent given your Pan African position today.  Thank you, Gbenga.

     >> GBENGA SESAN: Thank you, Charlie.  Great to be here.  There is some echo.  I hope that doesn't affect what I'm saying. 

     Anyway, we -- when we talk about infrastructure, as you said, I'm not even looking at my own country Nigeria today and I'm not even limiting myself to the countries who are part of an initiative as physical offices but looking at the region as a whole. 

     I think one of the important opportunities that we have, yes,  this is a challenge of infrastructure.  But one great opportunity that we have right now is the fact that, you know, last year with the COVID-19 lockdown, I think it became very clear that we are unfortunately seeing a deepening of the digital divide.

     It means that when schools went online, we had no choice, we had to go online for schools.  Businesses had to work remotely.  When people literally had to communicate and do that online, what then began to happen was that we saw the wide gap between two categories of people. 

     There was one category, people who were connected, who can continue to learn, children who went online to continue to learn.  You know, adults who continued to work.  And all of that.

     But we had a second category of people.  We had children who not only couldn't learn but were forgetting what they were learning and that is a major problem.  Because what we then have a scenario where those who are not connected mostly because of infrastructure, and like Charlie said earlier, it is not even at times that there are no -- that there is no internet access, for example.  It is also the fact that the other infrastructure are problems like power. 

     You know, let me give you example of some of the countries that we work, and we had scenario with content to share with students, but some couldn't receive them not because there was no internet on the phone but because there was no power to charge them.  The battery was dead.

     The good news is that we saw the prioritization of digital infrastructure beginning from March last year many of the countries we have been talking to and saying to them you have to prioritize digital infrastructure began to see the need for it. 

     In a way, COVID is a bad thing, but it has put digital infrastructure on the map of many African countries.  And I think we need to make sure that as we now continue to have countries are now beginning to have post-pandemic plans that digital infrastructure must remain. 

     The challenge we have, for example, we can never build enough schools.  I always give the example of a country like Nigeria where you have over two million students writing exams to go into secondary institutions.  But all of the schools combined cannot take more than 620,000 students which means one-third of those who are writing exams are the only ones we have physical spaces for. 

     Thankfully with digital infrastructure we can extend our services, we can extend education, we can extend businesses and we can do a lot of that.

     This, by the way, is one of the reasons why the initiative, our major interest when it comes to digital inclusion is to prioritize three things.  Number one, that policy must work for the unconnected, for the disconnected.  And when I say unconnected and disconnected, I mean there are people who are not connected to the internet because maybe they live in rural areas or on the last mile. 

     But those that are disconnected.  Countries where the internet is shut down, but the reality is we must make internet work for them.  If students are in the region where the internet is shut down at a time when they are supposed to learn we have a major challenge, that is one.

     The second is as civil society actors we must begin to work with other stakeholder.  Civil society, government, businesses, we all work together to make sure that everyone who needs access to either health, education, have access to this through digital infrastructure that we prioritize. 

     And the last, but not the least, is the fact that across the continent many of our countries have what is called universal services phones.  And I think we must emphasize the need to deploy these resources towards extended digital infrastructure from Nigeria to Zimbabwe, every country we have resources put aside for this work.  And I think it is high time we begin to apply that towards that.  We can't come back as a continent and say once again we missed out on the fourth industrial revolution and all of the -- I mean we literally put, you know, our money where our mouth is.

     >> MODERATOR: Sorry.  Yes, I was muted.  Sorry.  Thank you, Gbenga.  Thank you for sharing this insight.  I would like to thank you also for keeping the time. 

     I would like to share that we have good news from your point of view that COVID-19 has provoked, I will use this, has been a sort of provocation for our States to prioritize digital infrastructure because we just saw how, you know, how far we as African countries we lag behind and we were unprepared to cope with the challenges of COVID-19.  So thank you for that. 

     And I also take the fact that you are advising us to work in sort of multi-stakeholder view taking in tech communities, legal stakeholders and you know, and social activists for sure and all those who are -- and given that what we are talking about is just some crossroads of many sciences and so on so thank you for that. 

     I will give the floor, if you allow me, in this instance to Eric that I see here.  So that Gbenga was talking about the prioritizing in digital infrastructure. 

     What do you think about this?  And then you can share your insight in five minutes.  Thanks.

     >> ERIC SINDEU: Thank you, Charlie.  Hello, everybody.  I'm thrilled to be here and share my experiences in my area experiences in terms of digital infrastructure.

     My predecessors said it best, you know, we need to tackle this opportunity.  We are in the digital age and the opportunity for underdeveloped country to bridge the gap and enrich development.

     So in terms of digital infrastructure, the main -- the main infrastructure that we know, it is -- you know, underground sea cables.  Every country to invest in getting access to those underground sea cables.  So that is the first issue.

     The second is managing that infrastructure.  By managing it, we need to deploy it across the whole country and put up policies for different actors to provide the activity to all of the areas in the countries.

     And it has been COVID that -- access and economic growth very close, very related.  For me, this is the first focus, access.

     Second one is education.  We need to move from the traditional education.  We know we have new trades now in the digital field and we need to teach our youth how to develop their digital skills in order to adapt to the future. 

     Actually, it is not the future, it is now already.  We have artificial intelligence, we have big data, robotics and so on.  So we need to transform the way we teach our children.

     The third is increase cybersecurity because with digital use there is also a lot of threats, so we need to invest into cybersecurity training, of course, stabilization and we need to make our countries more digital ready.  By that, I mean we need to draft policies in terms of data protections in terms of e-commerce and so on.  So that is my take on it. 

     And like the predecessor said, probably that has been a blessing in disguise for us to see how the future can be and how digital technology can help us achieve our visions and our dreams.  So thank you.

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you, Eric.  Thank you for reminding us the aspect that we need to, you know, to take into as priorities. 

     And you insisted on educating our young people and also you talk when it comes to infrastructure as it is our -- the call of our session, you talked of cybersecurity.  And I think this is also an issue where infrastructure is key and our phones or, you know, our networks, all of the switches and where all our cables land and we need to have cybersecurity embedded by default in all of those -- in all of the network and infrastructure.

     So I take it as a good point on this that we need not to forget. 

     But you also talk of the legal infrastructure that we need to build.  And so I move on to Peter who has opinion at the forefront of regulatory operations and projects in his context.  So we would like to know what our countries need to build as legal, legal instruments, you know, based on for sure based on international standards or maybe taking into account our own specificities.  We would like to know what you call advice in the view of building our digital infrastructure.  Peter?

     >> PETER KOCH: Thank you, Charlie, and thanks a lot for inviting me and for the opportunity to have this discussion and participate in the dialogue.  Very much appreciated.

     As you mentioned in the introduction, I am with DCCTOV and I'm also with the German ISOC chapter so at one point I might refer to some initiatives that the Internet Society has started to support, say community networks or something else.

     First let me say that the pandemic, of course, has reshuffled the card deck for all of the various parts of the world and this whole topic of meaningful access is very important but it is also complicated in its definitions because meaningful means different things to different people and different contexts.

     So it is something that you compare to your peers and it is important that people have a level playing field in terms of access.

     And that might mean different resources and different circumstances, but also there is obviously a baseline. 

     All of us are now having enough of infrastructure to participate in these Zoom calls and that is maybe a new baseline.  So when I mention reshuffling, it is that, of course, many people had access to the internet already and have it, but the internet meant big platforms maybe and having Facebook and Twitter until things changed when school kids needed to do a bit more like having interaction like we have right now or like being able to do their own research or take part in polls or take their own videos and things.  

     And that is a question of resource.  But I'm not an economist so I'm not talking about funding in this.  There is also education as previous speakers have mentioned, of training.

     And to go to the core of your question, to the, say, ability to experiment in a way so that the, say, legal or maybe liability frameworks around you enable experimentation, enable innovation while at the same time maybe exercising the protection that people and government expects in terms of -- so not this wild west approach, if that comparison is allowed.

     Cybersecurity and privacy was mentioned.  And one of the prime examples for privacy regulation or legislation is the General Data Protection in the European Union that has been an example for lots of countries in the world. 

     What we sometimes see is both topics, security and privacy are maybe used a bit as a barrier, as an excuse for not starting things.  They are important so they shouldn't be denied, I think, also not in the case of a pandemic.

     But we also see it doesn't make sense if the access to certain tools like this one that we use right now would be denied for various reasons of data protection.  So that is one thing.

     The other is this whole access, again, it's -- you compare -- everybody compares themselves to their neighbors.  So if my bandwidth is this and my neighbor has 10 times the bandwidth, I will ask why is that and what can we do?

     So oftentimes local initiatives cannot replace but support general infrastructure.  There are always areas that are maybe for reasons of geography that are less connected in terms of bandwidth than others and it might not be economically feasible for competing big telcos or others to go there. 

     And there are, of course, multiple regulatory approaches to that.  One could be that there is an obligation for service providers to support areas that are not necessarily economically attractive but to have this base level of access.

     And the other one is -- and that also happens in my country from time to time -- that local initiatives will say accelerate this whole thing by locally supporting infrastructure.  And I'm really talking about digging cables or doing other things on rare occasions. 

     But that might be an example where this is not replacing but accelerating or supporting bigger infrastructure initiatives.  And then, of course, there needs to be regulatory or say legal opportunities to actually do this without going risk of bankruptcy or without having unnecessary liability or high regulatory burdens if you are a, say, a cooperative of small and medium enterprises and you want to increase your bandwidth.  It would be sometimes very hard if you had to register as an ISP where all what you do is support local.

     That is something to keep in mind that maybe the regulatory world can be sharp but also can be devastating in the wrong hands or wrongly applied if that image is allowed.  Taming the big incumbents is one thing but at the same time local initiatives and small emerging initiatives should be on the radar and not be strangled by regulatory burdens.

     And I'm not saying regulation is bad in the first place, but level playing field means that the application of regulation to big entities, it needs to scale is what I'm trying to say, right.  It needs to address big entities in a way that they can cope with and maybe need some leeway for local initiatives. 

     And speaking of initiatives, how would one organize this.  Cooperatives are an interesting model all over the world oftentimes in farming and everything like that.  But as a registry, for example, we are also a cooperative and the cooperative members are the registrars and this also works for local initiatives in terms of having a small localized piece, so to speak. 

     It is not for profit.  It is self-governing.  And if the regulatory framework allows that, then this is probably an interesting nucleus for bigger things that you get together and you can have internet exchanges and the same model. 

     And this is where I would hand off and refer to what the Internet Society is doing in that direction so you have interconnections and so on and so forth. 

     That is a bit of a long stretch to respond to your question.  Happy to hear what others have to say.  Thanks for the opportunity.

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you, Peter.  As with your predecessors, great insights and you -- and I will pick some of the things that you talk about. 

     Local initiatives.  Once we think of infrastructure, you know, in our minds, we have big towers, we have big cables and submarine cables and all those things. 

     And you are right, there are places, areas in our countries, especially in our countries where many solutions from ISPs won't be economically feasible and that's clear.  And most of them have so great power that compared to our governments that, you know, they have negotiating power that we don't actually match, and we understand that.

     And I would say maybe things that come from what you said, cooperatives, I would maybe add providing for community networks, more community networks, maybe looking at mesh networks, things like that. 

     We need to look at all this, you know.  And especially when you talk of not for profit this makes also sense because it would fit in this community spirit that we are not here to make profit but just to serve the community.

     And then I would also take the fact that we need to make sure we don't take cybersecurity as an excuse not to do things.  And I agree with you personally that we need to look at internal connectivity or maybe internal infrastructure or internal governance in the sense of producing value for the society, not for absolutely in a defensive mode as we usually do.

     With the reserve that we understand clearly that security is a serious, serious matter. 

     So thank you for sharing this.  And I would end by also asking for our Rapporteur to stress the fact that we need a legal environment that give ways, you know, to local initiatives to strive in this space.  So thank you for that, Peter.

     And I will, as you just said, talking about this local initiatives, I will turn now to Rodrigue Saoungoumi Sourpele who is a member of the Cameroon network operator group.  And this is where we talk of operators, it is clear that they are the one trying to design, you know, solutions, you know, to reach the last miles as we usually say. 

     I will ask him what he can tell us for this in five minutes, and I see a few questions in the chat box.  Thank you for sharing.

     We will get back to those questions once we end with this first stage from the panelists here.  So, Rodrigue, you were telling us in the chat that you have slides.  I hope we can share those.  And I will try. 

     Christian, can you share Rodrigue's slides?  Is it possible to share your slides?  I don't know.  Can you share it from your screen?

     >> I'm asking the host to do that.

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you then.  Thank you.  And so -- it is okay.  Okay.  Perfect.  So Christian, you can share.

     >> CHRISTIAN NZHIE:  Rodrigue, maybe you could share if you have your slides.

     >> MODERATOR: Could you share, please.  All right.  Five minutes then.  We are grateful.  Thank you for being here.

     >> RODRIGUE SAOUNGOUMI SOURPELE:  Thank you very much.  My best language is French.  I can speak in French now.  Hello.

     >> MODERATOR: Yes, go ahead, you can speak in French. 

     >> RODRIGUE SAOUNGOUMI SOURPELE: (Speaking non-English language). 

     Management of all IT materials and also infrastructure.  I also have a building, a main building and also a special optic fiber with high bandwidth of getting to seven megabyte and building seven servers’ room where we have DNS and web server backup. 

     And we also have a bandwidth which is also linked, and we also have the domain name which is also in -- we also have MINESUP which Ministry of Higher Education that allowed us to have a public IP. 

     Unfortunately, it is IPv4 and to support, to be able to handle the loads were able to use and as some of the challenges that we faced, we had from the 2010 to 2018 the network was very unstable because it was not optic fiber network.

     And that was very unstable and based on that it allows us to move to another implementation.  And so that we moved out there, we moved from 2018, we moved to the optic fiber, fiber optic so that it allows us to move to have all that -- all of the required infrastructure. 

     We have also seen that some of the IP address that the higher authority has given us, it was not possible for us to really deploy our infrastructure, you know.

     And we were having only IP address and those addresses were not well used and sometimes were blacklisted when you were trying to use them online.  And the most of our services were not used.

     And so the IP address from our ministry weren't also working.  From 2018 to 2020, we have really been working on change our management therefore and we have renewed or refurbished our server room and we have added some of the servers and every server we are having we are able to have backup. 

     And we also changed the network.  We have also increased the bandwidth from seven to 21 megabyte.  And, of course, it is reality now from our site here bandwidth is not really high.  And we have also move, acquired internet the IPv6 resources from the original in Africa, which is AFRINIC, and we are currently working to route the IPv6 to the network. 

     And now in 2020, during COVID, by 2020 we had so many challenges.  We were obliged to review our digital infrastructure, you know, with the increase of bandwidth which moved from 21 megabytes to 100 during lockdown. 

     We also increased service to have the service dedicated service so they can be dedicated to the online training, you know, solely for that to ensure e-learning for students because they were no more coming to school, and we were obliged to go back to CAMTEL so they can speed up the IP address routing process because it was not easy for us to keep our coactivities working. 

     And our administration also have tried to acquire generator because we are also having electricity issues here.  The administration has also moved to acquire a solar energy in order to also support the electricity because without electricity we are not able to cope ourselves. 

     We also have resource, technical resource in our area with regard to the network management day to day IPv6 network management.  I am actually currently the only one who has received training from AFCINIQ how to handle the IPv6 network.  Naturally since 2021, the IPv6 routing is still in the process. 

     In closing, we can say that the University of Ngaoundere is able to handle the digital infrastructure.  We also realized throughout the year and the resources have drastically evolved. 

     For instance, as you can see on the schema, we have the pictures we have from 2010 to 2018.  In term of server we moved from 7 to 10 and actually we are 18 servers.  In terms of bandwidth, we move from 7 to hundred megabyte, and we still have routing problem that is still pending from our national entity that is enabling, that is in charge of that problem. 

     We also have our inspection because we have a project that is undergoing and the university that would allow to extend and provide each university with a bandwidth of one gigabyte. 

     And this is our perspective activities, and we believe that when that new facilities will be available, and we will -- it will allow us to get to the one gigabyte bandwidth that we will increase our infrastructure.

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you, thank you.  Thank you for giving the description of what state university, you know, in charge of training, of training students in Cameroon and even central Africa is actually -- this is interesting because it is -- you know, it brings us back to what we said through Gbenga and Peter and Rodrigue that there are so many challenges that we need to take on. 

     And we see clearly that you are a state university, and you face the challenges that are actually the same.  And it shows clearly the kind of acute challenge that those who have resources might face in rural areas where you might have communities who are not even aware of how they can just enjoy internet. 

     And you also talk of your bandwidth.  You know, moving from 7 megabyte to 21 and then now to 100.  And this can tell us you seem to think like it is not even enough.  If we can just link our communities we will see that we are probably still struggling and swimming kilobytes and just to get back to the things we said here, given the fact that we are now in a state of, you know, using videos for, you know, in this COVID-19 time, if we want to educate our young people at school and so on, you see clearly what we have now at the level of the community, it's absolutely nothing. 

     Because, as you said, one of the panelists said when as we use Facebook and WhatsApp we might think we are actually enjoying the internet, but when you have the needs imposed by COVID-19 today, especially for the educational community you see clearly that we -- our session is absolutely justified.

     And that is why I would take here that you said something that was critical for this evolution at the level of our university. 

     A change of leadership.  You talk of the fact that when you had a change of the director of your university you also saw a tremendous improvement in, you know, in the capacity that you get -- that you enjoy now.

     So we also need to take this as a critical point that the kind of leadership that we have, leadership that is aware of the needs, you know, of the capacity needs of our institutions of our country, this leadership is serious point that we need to think about. 

     And if our leadership is not aware, we need -- and I will get back to what Gbenga said -- we need to make sure that they understand.  And this require us to work with them and tell them because they don't know what they don't know.  At times civil society coming into the sessions we know more than most of our leaders and our regulators.

     So this is what I take from your session.  And then I will give the floor to Joanna to, you know, from her vast experience to sum up this and tell us what we should do.  You know, what we should do now as we have gathered all of this insight.  The floor is yours, Joanna.

     >> JOANNA KULESZA: A, that is a huge challenge.  Thank you for putting it on my shoulders.  And B, I would never trust myself to make recommendations to such significant challenges. 

     This has been a fascinating discussion.  Thank you so much for having me onboard.  I particularly appreciated the last presentation.  Working at a university, some of these challenges seem very similar.  I think that's my personal takeaway from this session.

     Regardless where you are, simple things like ensuring your kids right to education online in COVID times is universal and having reliable access that is based on principles that reflect societal values is something we all strive for.

     As you rightfully noted, I work at a university here in Poland in Lodz and I work on international law and internet governance.  So the research scope is quite broad.  It spans from cybersecurity all the way to human rights. 

     And I did note in our conversations a call for a sustainable framework that countries which are now just building their infrastructures or expanding their infrastructure could fall back on.

     I heard underwater cables being mentioned, I heard human rights, I appreciated Peter putting emphasis on privacy with GDPR. 

     My takeaway from this session is that to some extent the fact that many African nations and States, and I have had the opportunity to participate in quite a few workshops during this IGF that focused on different regions of this vast and rich continent and highlighted individual challenges.

     Now my takeaway is that we can, indeed, offer solutions that work, better or worse, in different regions.  When you are facing the challenge other regions have faced before you can pick and choose a solution that you think feasible.  You can look at the example of privacy and GDPR.  Europe put forward a proposal with the GDPR to protect individual privacy in a specific manner.

     You will witness our friends and colleagues in the U.S. approaching this topic in a very different manner where data is a commodity.  You will see Chinese infrastructure being introduced into various regions in Africa without the human rights mandate that Europe usually proposes.

     So from that point of view the African states have a relative freedom of choice to decide which principles and norms they wish to adapt.  Being a European lawyer, I'm going to say that the framework is already in place.  We do have an international law regime that clearly regulates, for example, access to internet. 

     For example, sustainable development.  We have discussed during this IGF how best to approach this challenge from different African perspectives.

     My major takeaway is to facilitate meetings like this one where we address the problems, we name them, we build capacity around them, but we also advance involvement.

     The discussions that you are having in your regional fora are universal ones.  They are happening at the IGF and that's wonderful, but they are also happening at the ITU.  Peter just briefly mentioned ISOC.  ISOC is doing a wonderful job also in Africa targeting individual projects, funding them, supporting them through community networks that will facilitate both building the infrastructure but also building the capacity to make best use of it.

     I would say we do have in place a norms-based order that is there to protect the unprotected, the unconnected as one of our panelists have said.  We need to design the network in such a way that it is friendly to the end user, it protects their rights and interests. 

     How do we do that, however?  You will see increasing involvement of governments within the UN and IGF is in itself a UN forum and also other multi-stakeholder forums.  I had the opportunity to meet some of the panelists and the organizers within the ICANN community.  That is a standard setting body built on the multi-stakeholder model. 

     Active involvement there will ensure that local values are presented in this international dialogue.  That is something I struggle with myself also locally, the awareness of how these global debates impact individual end users is relatively low.

     There is this debate going on, for example, around satellite access to internet.  Seems very distant when you are struggling to provide more than the average speed of access as we could just see on the slides.  When you are struggling to ensure power, satellite access to internet seems so remote and so unimportant, but these frameworks are being built right now. 

     If you want to make sure that your interests are reflected in the way that these networks will work, the time to act is now. 

     So I welcome all of these concerns and I identify with these.  I have kids at school and when we are all online the internet just stops, and they can't use their right to education.  It is an African problem.  It is a regional problem.  But we repeat that problem universally. 

     If we want to make sure that the internet remains open and accessible, we just need to make our voices here.  I will stop here.  I'm happy to elaborate on international law, privacy, freedom of expression, you just need to ask a question and I will go on. 

     That is my takeaway from the session, we need to make our voices heard.  And the problems that you will find with others are very similar to your own.  Thank you for having me.  This has been a very interesting and fruitful discussion.

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you, Joanna.  Thank you for reminding us something that Gbenga talked about at the beginning of this, and it is good to be closing this panel part of the session talking of this, multi-stakeholder space that we need to invite. 

     Because if countries are not there, if you are not there, your voice won't be there.  And if your voice is not there you won't be heard.  And then your interests won't be on the table.  I think is very important especially when we talk of this topic of this session, building infrastructures.

     Because most of the norms and principles that you just reminded us about has to do with the future of what internet will become.  We have internet of things looming.  We have this access.  We have issues of submarines cable and who manages what.  Who governs what on this -- when it comes to infrastructure. 

     And most of the time our countries are so much struggling with lockdown problems with so many lockdown problems that -- local problems, with so many local problems that the multi-stakeholders global spaces are not our place.  We don't get there because we have so many issues to solve at home here.

     And so we -- it is good to remind us for especially for some of us here who are Africans who lives here to understand that we need to have, you know, to use our eyes, all of our eyes, the right and the left one so that we look at what is happening up there and then we also without neglecting what is going on here. 

     And for this, it's clear that our regulators, our leaders clearly need -- and it is good that you remind us this -- needs to care about the type of principles and norms we adhere to.  Because we can't just be taking in every type of infrastructure as solutions.

     Because most of the time they can just be, you know, you know, just kind of tool to hook us as you say it in geopolitics that you just named. 

     And you talk of China, but it is true that in this competitive world we can't be thinking that there are people out there thinking for African interests even when it comes for infrastructures. 

     The truth is that there are so many things going on there, there are data, data, the digital and data economy requires, you know, some sort of data.  And Africa now, data in Africa is absolutely a free space.  You can come here and have it through your infrastructure and then you build your artificial intelligence strategy from our own, from our own data.

     And while doing this, you can also work to exclude African people as we see in the AI solution designed so far.  We see currently there are biases everywhere when it comes to those solutions. 

     Thank you for reminding us that we need to step into those spaces, ICANN, ISOC and IGF and making sure clearly that our voices are there, and we are there for our own interests, not to repeat what has been said.  Because what has been said there are the interests of the people saying it.

     So thank you for this.  And it is interesting that we have few time left and then we can consider what is -- what has been said in the chat box by our participants so that no one is left behind here. 

     I will start with, if you allow me, I will start with Raquel that was just asking us Kenya just approved a regulation for community network and this is going in the line of what we just said. 

     Do you think it will favor the deployment of last mile connectivity or there are other infrastructures issue to be tackled.  First, so this could happen in rural community.

     I will get back to Gbenga to ask him, please, what do you think about these two questions?  It seems like they are searching for you.

     >> GBENGA SESAN: Thank you, Charlie.  Good question there. 

     Of course, what we need is a multiplicity of solutions and I said earlier, and I think it is important to say this because right now we have got, you know, Facebook, Google and many other companies who are players in their own interests bringing infrastructure projects. 

     And many of our governments are jumping at them, which is okay, like I said, it has to be multiplicity of solutions and that is why I mentioned earlier the need to focus on some of the funds that have been deliberately targeted as last mile solutions. 

     When businesses and telecom companies set up infrastructure, they focus on where they can make money.  This is when the wireless have all of the service obligations.  The beauty of community networks are three key things.  Number one, it is community owned.  It is the fact that they know the problem.  It is a lived -- it is lived experience.  So they know that these are the specific problems we are trying to solve.  Either in education or health or various areas. 

     The second is that unlike big businesses that are looking for the -- looking at the bottom line, community network interventions are mostly focused on solution and not on the profit.

     And that is really important.  I think that maybe one of the most important is the opportunity to scale the solutions.  We can have community network solutions focused particularly in small communities and then we can have them scale and learn from all of those. 

     So I think absolutely what Kenya has done is an example that countries across the continent can learn from.  I know there are countries and we have been having conversations with them making sure that community networks are possible and there are legal frameworks around that to support and also to inspire that.  And I think we need a lot of that.

     Like I said, it is a multiplicity of solutions and community networks play a major role in making sure that we get access to the last mile.  To be honest, our problem is not landing cables.  In all of the cables that landed across, you know, the undersea cables that landed across the coast of various countries in the continent actually bring a lot of bandwidth. 

     The real challenge is the last mile and that is where community networks play and that is why I think it is an important addition to this.  And, of course, it is not new.  It has been done across various places and we can learn from the experiences there.  Thank you.

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you, Gbenga, thank you.  Once you speak, you are already summarizing everything, so I won't re-summarize.  Thank you for this. 

     And Eric said in 2006 the fifth international conference founded new processes while organized in Poland.  One presentation was the scope of presentation of paper and designing and control of these processes in real time.  Similar technical conferences can now be held online.

     I would like Peter to comment this problem because it is actually talking of the need of conferences that address these topics, you know, from infrastructure standpoint of view.  From processes.  From procedures.  You know, to be held online. 

     So what do you think of this comment?  It was not a question, it was a comment, but I would like you to comment it, thank you.

     >> PETER KOCH: Thanks, Charlie, for posing that question.

     So let me go back to the question.  If I get the comment correctly, it is an example of making access to information and to international cooperation easier by online access.  And I think that is also what we currently experience in terms of accessibility of all of these conferences.  One of these paradoxes of the internet working is that despite me talking about networks all the time, we are also keeping on traveling.

     With the disruptive pandemic that prevents that and actually it has its downsides in terms of face-to-face communication, but it also kind of creates a level playing field for many new entrants.  And it also changes the way the discussions are held as opposed to having face-to-face or hybrid meetings.

     So I think the comment was not so much about the content of the conference, but the change from present to going online.  I think that is a good example of what happened, say, in an unforeseen or disruptive way.  And this also works, of course, for -- say, at a national level.

     Many of -- many of the conferences that we could talk about national IGFs, for example, will be in the capital right, in normal times.  And depending on the size of the country and depending on how many centers you actually have, it is probably now much easier to involve different perspectives from different regions within a country.  And that is probably not so much different between the different continents.  It will happen everywhere.

     So from that perspective, I think that is something that we should take advantage of and maybe preserve when we go back to, say, hybrid or face-to-face meetings. 

     It is important that the additional actors that we see enter the State that we don't lose them but encourage even more people to continue bringing their perspective and taking part or participating in the discussion.  Yeah.  I hope that makes sense.  Thank you.

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you, Peter.  Thank you for reminding us that we need to keep, you know, this trend.  And it is a good trend because it can give to those who cannot afford to be in Katowice, to be in Katowice really as we see it now.  So thank you for that.

     Another question was one of our greatest activists here in the country and he was asking talking about infrastructure.  I will give this question to Eric if he doesn't mind. 

     Are we satisfied how the external exchange is actually implemented in the field in our African countries?  And then do we really have a change in the life of internet users?  I guess people here would guess the answer to this.  But Eric will tell us the truth on this.  Eric?

     >> ERIC SINDEU: Thank you, Charlie.  Thank you, thank you.  Actually, it's funny because I have the same question and that's a question that I ask to local -- when we had our local IGF, I think last month.

     So what I know is we had a project to deploy our IXP and now I don't know if they are operational.  So I cannot provide the answer.  I'm looking for the answer myself.

     And it's -- and it's very important because it is part of the national digital infrastructure that we need to set in place in order for us to go forward.  So I wish I had the answer, but unfortunately, I don't.  But it is a very pertinent question.

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you.  Thank you, Eric.  So I will -- Michel is removing his -- and I was trying to give the floor to Michel for this specific question because I think it is a -- Michel, would you mind giving something on this question?

     >> MICHEL TCHONANG LINZE: In Cameroon, as I have already, I think the government of Cameroon and its actors has tried to put in place internet access point. 

     And we have the only one in Douala and the problem is how to manage the point.  In fact, the consortium of internet access point is one of the entity that are in that domain.

     And I do think that we still need more clarification from the management of that exchange point.  And when we had our IGF in Cameroon, we had how to make sure we bring all of the entity onboard to have them manage data, the internet exchange point.

     And that is -- that one is also we know that we have an exchange point in Gabon and Cameroon.

     But we have not yet seen the normal impact on our region, that is what I can say.  Generally our subregion is having a major problem which is coordinating management problem which are sometimes linked to some of our situation, we can just see some of the issues we have now to finalize the Malibu Convention.  You know, these are some of the things we can see. 

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you, Michel, to remind us.  I thought you might have point on that because usually you talk about it, the internet exchange points. 

     Now I will turn to Joanna to asking -- this is my own question -- to asking how are we going as African countries to relate to what you advise? 

     When it comes to budget allocation, we don't actually allocate enough, you know, enough budget or financial resources to this transversal solution that internet governance provides.  Because internet and internet governance in the country is now a transversal issue and crosses everything now.

     So we need to -- how can African countries succeed in applying what you said when we see clearly that they don't allocate enough resources for that in their budget, in their yearly budget or in their middle term budget.

     >> JOANNA KULESZA: Thank you, Charlie.  I understand that your question focuses largely on the role of States, right?  Governments who manage public funding.

     Now, that is just one part of the puzzle, right.  Internet governance is three groups of stakeholders acting in the respective roles.  So before I try to focus on the role of the States, please let me highlight that within the multi-stakeholder environment, as broad as it is, including IGF -- and we meet here today and including ICANN where I had the opportunity to meet some of the panel members including ISOC, including ITF, African leaders from various parts of the continent are very active. 

     I love the work that I do at the university.  I spend, as many of panelists do, far too much time at ICANN meetings which do not come with the university mandate. 

     I do because I feel it is important.  I'm not sure I'm right, but I do it because I feel it is.  In Africa, you have wonderful community leaders from the tech industry and civil society who do it just because they care. 

     I do understand where your question is coming from.  We look at the States as leaders of the policies and meet at the IGF which is a UN event and United Nations is an intergovernmental organization. 

     So let's go back to the role of the State putting civil society, technical community businesses aside.  They have their own funding and reasons, some of us, the most idealistic ones for participating.

     When we look at the government, their role largely is to facilitate consensus building and this can take on different forms.  This could be building a platform where we can talk together.  Again, African countries have been the leaders of NRIs, the National Regional Initiatives around the IGF where it often has been the government that facilitated a platform to build consensus and to move forward.

     I would argue there are good practice examples to follow.  I'm not sure I'm the most competent person to ask how you guys do it.  I look in awe and I say great job, I don't know how you do, it but it works in many African countries. 

     I'm not sure there is in European countries, in Poland, a dedicated internet governance feed of funding.  Well, the IGF is a wonderful endeavor but do kindly know this is the Prime Minister who is managing all of the work going on.

     I heard some of the African leaders here at the IGF say well, maybe it should be at the highest level of government where internet governance related to the decisions are made.  So I don't feel competent to tell you who should make the call.  How much money should go into supporting internet governance.  That is something that every country decides for themselves.

     But I can highlight why it is worth doing.  And the examples we have already put on the table with kids being at school and national voices being heard and protecting the unaware, the unprotected and unconnected because the government has obligation. 

     If we look at the human rights to protect individuals and also their human rights.  If I was trying to give you a narrative why the government is obliged to act, I would say well, we have elected them or we have put them there because we want them to foster our best interests even if we don't know what those are, right?

     And how they do it, effectively impacting internet governance processes like those satellites I mentioned that will be flying over Africa in a few years.  And again, it might be too late to intervene there.  So I would leave it to regional and national leaders to decide how they split the money. 

     I'm just a Polish academic.  I wouldn't trust myself to tell you how to do it, but I would point to good examples in Africa where you support local community leaders, and you are doing a great job.  That's my answer, Charlie.  I will not go further.

     >> MODERATOR: Thank you.  Oh, Anna.  You said it.  They need to do it and make sure that they show interest for this issue because internet has become, what, a very seriously big monster and we need to not to tame it, but to be friend with it. 

     If we don't, we certainly have problems.  At this time, we have a few minutes left.  Michel is our lead for this session.  And at this point of time, I will be very sad if I don't give the floor to leave the last mile as we talk of this last mile here, to leave the last mile of this session and probably given the speakers that he has in the room. 

     So Michel, this is my last word.  Thank you for giving me the floor and the opportunity to lead this from here.  Thank you.

     >> MICHEL TCHONANG LINZE: Thank you very much.  So because we have now -- we are running late in time, we have a couple of minutes left.  Allow me to say thank you to those who are here in Katowice. 

     I would like to -- I would like to have the honor to invite the Director General is having few question.  And as closing remark we would like to give the floor to, we have one of the internet premier in Europe here.  I would like to give the floor to him who is having few question and contribution. 

     >> AUDIENCE: Thank you very much.  I would like to say just ask my question.  And maybe clarify one or two points for the floor.

     As you know, to connect the maximum of people or maximum internet of objects and with the 5G coming on and everything that is smart, you know, smart building, smart city as well.  And the network operators should almost invest and with the high huge amount in order to allow people to have a good bandwidth, you know, so that you can have speed high bandwidth so that they can therefore invest highly. 

     And with the current business model as you know, we have the government who are also taking -- we have those who are also taking the market and 5G and the other thing what they are seeing is to take the place.

     I mean and it is -- now it is no more like before and, you know, the operators has to invest so that they can use to invest and have the fiber optic. 

     And on the other side we also have less revenue because of the government that are also bringing more up that are also a big challenge.  And I would say that therefore these operators has to be helped and maybe we should do a specific recommendation, a recommendation to operators in our countries to basically reduce the cost of the license, the license cost for instance, the 5G license, the cost is very high. 

     If you reduce it and maybe have discounts and also collectively or at the regional level come together and maybe do -- maybe an agreement, come to an agreement or whatever so that the big consumers so that they can come to an agreement and to sharing, for instance, or something like that and maybe create the local content development. 

     And you also have spoken to action point and maybe increase the action point not only locally but also region, on the regional basis.  Maybe why not two country or the continent level.

     Or why not and for many group at the African skill, you know, that is with the speed of the bandwidth at international level, and it is very -- it has a cost maybe including the local content development and also the data center, I mean the value added services and as the second point the user of the IPv6, you know, to at a continental level.  We need to encourage to use that. 

     If you look at the map, the IP services map, I do think that you can really see that.  And the ranking of our country is very low.  We don't have the data infrastructure, we don't have a good ranking at that level.  We should encourage our countries to deploy the IPv6 infrastructure to cope with the 5G and to cope to prepare. 

     Thank you very much.  I would like the give the floor to give the final words.

     >> AUDIENCE: Thank you.  I'm French.  I was born in 1931 so now if you make a little regulation and confirm about my age now.  When I was born there was no informatics and no computer science.  That happens after the second world war. 

     The Germans had some advanced -- because he had pushed with the invasion of the Europe by Hitler.  They had acquired a number of technologies that were available in Europe, especially in Germany.

     And also in England.  And that was easier because the English were speaking English and the Europeans most over time didn't speak much English.  When I started learning languages, I learned German because we had German Army everywhere in France. 

     But we didn't learn speaking German, we were learning a little bit able to learn the newspapers.  So practically the age in which the period we live in at the moment has been created with the extraordinary development of computing, and that was part of some countries in the 1960's. 

     Like the British probably had already acquired a minimum level of experience.  In France, it was more like 1970's.  And the rest of the world, of course, including all of the African countries were much behind because they didn't have the opportunity to learn English.

     Which was the minimum level of knowledge that was necessary to understand what was going on.

     But after that, Europe thinks we keep changing but they have an advantage because they had started in let's say in the 1960's and between the 1960's and the year 2000, there are 60 years or more. 

     So they had -- so Europe could go faster, not faster but they could go by steps and require a certain level of not necessarily independence but knowledge about the computer age takes time. 

     Not only learning the language but also traveling because you have to meet people who are already trained and you can learn from the neighbors for your people, you know, in other countries.

     But that takes a long time.  And the difficulty for countries like Africa is that technically they have many more years to catch up since it started to be well known in countries like Europe and that, of course, means that countries who -- which start learning the computer age now have to go much faster than the European have done. 

     That means it's -- it requires from the new countries a tremendous amount of, let's say, legislation, training, money of course, education and so on.  So it takes -- it takes many more years to reach the point which have been reached by the Europeans.

     And China, for example, was much behind but now they are about the same level as the European or sometimes even more.  So I mean the computer age now is a -- is a sort of contest who goes faster.  And this is how to make quick progress now not just because you are more intelligent, but you have to know what is going on in the world. 

     It would be impossible to do a computing issue if you don't have a minimum of education in English.  And if you know the American and I would say now you have to know the Chinese, too.  So you have to catch up.  There are generations of people in -- you have to catch up to the generations of people in order to be, let's say, valuable in terms of creator and researchers and in terms of life also in terms of way of life. 

     Because these new technologies require new buildings, new ways of doing business and traveling and so on.  And again, that doesn't occur instantly. 

     First you have to copy what is being done someplace else.  But that takes money, that takes education.  It is not something you have to look at screens.  You have to start integrating in your life what other kind of countries have been doing to reach that point.

     So I think that's much more difficult.  And in a way sometimes I would say desperating but sometimes it looks it is not realistic to be able to reach what has been reached in other countries.

     (Scheduled captioning time will end in a minute)

     I think the human man are so fantastic capacity to learn it doesn't mean that they have to read books or talk to other people, have to be in -- in a situation starting from the young age and then to get education.

     (Speaking non-English language)