IGF 2021 WS #35 Building Capacities for Meaningful Access to the Internet

Wednesday, 8th December, 2021 (08:30 UTC) - Wednesday, 8th December, 2021 (10:00 UTC)
Conference Room 3

Organizer 1: Carlos Francisco Baca Feldman, Rhizomatica / CITSAC
Organizer 2: Lilian Chamorro Rojas, Colnodo
Organizer 3: Ndunge Kiundi, APC

Speaker 1: Rob McMahon, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Risper Nyambok, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Gustaff Harriman Iskandar, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Additional Speakers

Additional Speakers:

Ronda Železný-Green (Internet Society) <[email protected]>

Roxana Widmer-Iliescu (International Telecommunication Union <[email protected]>


Carlos Francisco Baca Feldman, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator

Lilian Chamorro Rojas, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Ndunge Kiundi, Civil Society, African Group


Round Table - Circle - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

Defining universal and meaningful access: What are the key elements that constitute universal and meaningful Internet access? How can it be measured? How is the concept evolving in time and what does this evolution mean for policy?
Practical locally-driven policy solutions: What lessons can be drawn (and how) from successful policy solutions to universal access and meaningful connectivity around the world, while taking into account local specificities and needs? In particular, what are the relevant practices implemented by local actors (local government, civil society, local providers and entrepreneurs) to advance universal and meaningful access?

What is meaningful access to technologies for rural communities and communities living on the margins of the centers of power and decision-making? The Internet and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have been designed and developed from the economic and power centers, where applications, software, standards, etc. have been created to suit the predominant development models. When we talk about communities outside these centers, it is necessary to review the contexts and see how these technologies contribute to their development models, which are based on a diversity of practices such as good living, agroecology, decentralization, community models, among others, which are also a response in different ways to the priorities established by the Sustainable Development Goals.

Therefore, it is necessary to carry out processes of reflection and exchange of knowledge and experiences, where the contexts, problems and projects of each community, their values and priorities are identified. This in order to establish appropriate indicators for monitoring the contribution of technologies for good living with the active and protagonist participation of the communities. This also requires a flexible approach both from the point of view of monitoring and public policies, which must respond to these other realities with varied economic, social and educational conditions. This process will result in regulations that help to organize the diversity of initiatives that can be generated from the territories, without conditioning these actions and practices of the communities themselves.


4. Quality Education
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Targets: This proposal is aligned with objective 4. Education, specifically with goals: 4.4 which refers to promoting technical and professional skills in youth and adults to access employment and entrepreneurship; 4.5 on eliminating gender disparities in education and equal access for vulnerable people and indigenous peoples; and 4.7 regarding education for sustainable development.The appropriation of community technologies requires spaces for exchange and training in the area of the Internet and information and communication technologies from a comprehensive, reflective and localized perspective. Furthermore, these capacity building processes should be based on the knowledge of each territory, the diversity of knowledge and experiences, as well as local development plans, which in many cases are linked to good living and sustainable development. On the other hand, Goal 9 on Infrastructure, and Target 9c, refer to increasing access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in least developed countries, which requires the active participation of local communities and the definition of appropriate models for these contexts. Finally, Goal 17 Partnerships to achieve the objectives, in target 17.8, seeks to promote ICT development and capacity building. For partnerships, it is essential to identify communities as key allies and central actors in their own development process.


In this panel we will reflect on the importance, challenges and achievements of experiences of training or capacity building programs linked to community networks. Based on a dialogue and presentation of good practices in this area, we want to highlight the importance of these processes so that people in the communities can acquire the knowledge, skills and abilities that will enable them to create and operate their own networks.

Community networks are initiatives that differ from other connectivity strategies for the unconnected because it is the communities themselves who install, operate, maintain and manage their network. For this to happen, for communities to develop their own networks and connectivity projects, it is necessary to create training and capacity building processes to exchange knowledge and experiences, that enable people in the communities to obtain the necessary knowledge and skills for the installation, maintenance and operation of their networks, in technical, organizational and administrative issues.

When those training processes are developed for the people of the communities itself, they used to respond to one of the main characteristics that define community networks: their diversity. These initiatives are diverse, because the type of communities in which they are inserted have different ways of life, organization, work, culture, economy, etc. However, although they are generated and implemented in very different territories, these programs tend to share some elements in their methodologies such as learning by doing through the solution of problems in real contexts, the creation of communities for exchange experiences and knowledges, or transforming the traditional and vertical teaching-learning process. They are also programs that not only transmit technical knowledge, but also address the economic, organizational, cultural and social issues that make the sustainability of community networks possible over time.

Some of the trigger questions that the speakers will address to encourage discussion will be: What are we talking about when referring to training/capacity building in and for CNs? How can we encourage more women and people of other genders to participate and lead the training processes? How can we generate pedagogical strategies that allow technical knowledge to be learned by people with no previous experience in these topics? How do digital technologies for distance education allow us to reinforce these learning processes or not? How can we articulate with other key actors, such as governments, universities or international organizations, to strengthen the training programs for community leaders and technicians? How can we follow up on the people who participate in the programs so that the projects they dream of can become a reality thanks to the participation of different key actors?

Expected Outcomes

The objective of the session is to strengthen and grow the community of knowledge and experience exchange that accompanies the creation and implementation of training programs aimed at community networks. To this end, it is expected to broaden the discussion on the need for training and capacity building aimed at reducing the digital divide to respond to the specific values, principles, ways of life and organization of the communities where connectivity projects are developed.

With this objective in mind, the following outputs are expected to be obtained:

1. A series of basic elements that public policies in this area should have, where the diversity of ways to develop these capacity building projects in the communities is also considered, and organizations that allow governments and civil society to support the efforts for the training programs developed by community organizations.

2. To nurture the exchange of knowledge, experiences and best practices among organizations that develop this type of training programs, sharing information related to the session on digital media developed by the movement of community networks in the world.

between the them and the participants (including with on-site participants)?

Various actions will be carried out to facilitate fluid participation in the session: 1. Community organizations and networks, and other key stakeholders, will be directly invited to join the session online and will be encouraged to share experiences and questions during the session. 2. During the session, in addition to the information given directly by the speakers, in the Zoom room chat the online moderator will share links and notes relevant to the information presented. 3. The form of participation of the speakers will be through trigger questions in which they are invited to answer according to their own experience. This will facilitate generating a discussion between the speakers and the other participants, rather than doing it through isolated presentations from each speaker. 4. These questions will also be placed in the description of the session so that other participants can prepare any intervention they wish to do. 5. Throughout the session, after the invited speakers respond to the triggering questions, the audience will be asked if they want to comment on it to do so. 6. To achieve all this, there will be a specific timing of each participation, both of the speakers and the rest of the participants.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool. Additional Tools proposed: We will use the tools already available on the Zoom platform for the interaction of speakers and participants.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Technology must be human-centered; adapted to the people, their requirements and interests - through finding the right approach to empower people through technology and not to cause them harm. This is why is important to involve the community in developing training models and to capacity build in a sustainable way together with the communities.

Training communities during the covid-19 pandemic has been a challenge; that has been managed by working in collaboration with communities and with different methodologies, like online workshops and mentorships.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

For developers and training providers, adopt a "mobile first" approach to ensure accessibility of courses and curricula to individuals and communities with access to cell phones (mobile learning).

For all stakeholders working on connectivity and access in community contexts, mapping out Community Networks, finding out their challenges and experiences to provide data that helped build participatory training curriculum or refine existing curriculum.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

Key Issues Raised:

  1. One of the main threads through the round table panel discussion and presentations was the need to involve the community in developing training models and to capacity build in a sustainable way together with the communities.
  2. Training communities during the covid-19 pandemic has been a challenge; that has been managed by working in collaboration with communities and with different methodologies, like online workshops and mentorships.
  3. Taking a mobile first approach towards ensuring course and curriculum accessibility for people and communities with mobile phone access (mobile learning).
  4. Moving from knowledge to community- based action.
  5. Technology must be human-centered; adapted to the people, their requirements and interest - through finding the right approach to empower people through technology and not to cause harm.
  6. Mapping out Community networks, finding out their challenges and experience to provide data that helped build participatory training curriculums or refine existing curriculums.

Presentation summary

  1. Capacity Sharing for Meaningful access in Northern CanadaDigitalNWT aims to support the foundation of community-based digital literacy in the Northwest Territories (NWT), Canada. With a ‘train the trainer’ approach, it equips community-based instructors to offer digital literacy training to participants through free, open access courses.  Workshops range from basics (how to use devices, browse the Internet, manage data, and stay secure online) to digital storytelling, data collection and community networks.
  2. Learning @ Internet Society - Moving from Knowledge to Community-Based ActionThe Internet Society supports and promotes the development of the internet as a global technical infrastructure, a resource to enrich people’s life, and a force for good. ISOC is focusing on accessible training to build skills needed to connect people, to also build practical skills that enhance employability, and keep communities connected.
  3. ITU - Meaningful access: A framework to track the components of connectivity that matters most for all users and help decision makers adopt the policies to help connect people to an internet that is useful and empowering. Is connectivity enough? The ITU training program has helped to enhance the lives of indigenous communities in Latinamerica. Working with these communities, and involving them by finding out their needs and knowledge has played a large role in the success of the training programmes. We must find the right approach to empower people, human-centered approach - adopted to the people, their requirement and interests.
  4. Internet Komunitas: School of Community Networks: Supporting Community-let approaches to address the digital divide challenges in Indonesia: Although in the past recent years there has been a significant growth in internet penetration in various regions in Indonesia, currently the digital divide still occurs among the public in general. These challenges primarily confronted with a number of issues, ranging from the absence of basic internet infrastructure, geographical challenges, large differences in bandwidth costs (outside and inside of Java island), unavailability of proper and affordable devices, inability to produce local content, which also include lack of digital skills and gender gap. The development, management, and utilization of community-based local internet infrastructure were initiated in the areas of the Kasepuhan Ciptagelar indigenous community region and Ciracap District. Both are located in Sukabumi Regency, particularly in the southern part of West Java Province.
  5. TunapandaNet: Supporting Community-led Approaches to Address the Digital Divide - Training and Mentoring: Mentorship is designed to strengthen Community Networks in Kenya through sharing learnings with the seven community networks in Kenya so as to elicit further input from others in the sector that can inform the training needs of CNs. Physical National School of Community Network is geared towards building a national movement and community of practice.

Participant Questions - Additions

  1. Seán Ó Siochrú - What do you think is needed to expand community networks into new communities? What actions could be taken to extend the networks into different areas?
  2. Wisdom - For CNs to succed we have to consider we have to look at the role of the central government, collaboration with local government and the communities. If outsiders come with all the expertise to implement, when they leave the project dies off.
  3. Uganda Remote Hub: There should be content in local languages to increase accessibility.