IGF 2022 WS #242 Lessons Learned from Capacity Building in the Global South

Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (08:15 UTC) - Wednesday, 30th November, 2022 (09:45 UTC)

Organizer 1: Carlos Francisco Baca Feldman, Rhizomatica / CITSAC / LocNet Initiative
Organizer 2: Daniela Bello Lopez, REDES A.C.
Organizer 3: Josephine Miliza, Kenya ICT Network

Speaker 1: Harira Abdulraman Wakili, Civil Society, African Group

Speaker 2: Adriane Panduro Gama, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Speaker 3: Risper Arose, Civil Society, African Group

Speaker 4: Neo Mangoro, Civil Society, African Group

Speaker 5: Gustaff H. Iskandar, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Speaker 6: Alessandra Lustrati, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG) 

Additional Speakers




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

Online Moderator

Josephine Miliza, Civil Society, African Group


Daniela Bello Lopez, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

How important is training and capacity building of people in rural and disadvantaged communities for meaningful and universal access to telecommunication services? What lessons can we learn from experiences that have designed and implemented training strategies for community technicians for the design of public policies? What are the relevant aspects for the design of public policies to enable the environment for the development of relevant and contextualized capacity building programs for community technicians? How can the projects generated by the participants of these programs be followed up to turn them into real and sustainable solutions after the end of the training? How is meaningful access understood in rural and disadvantaged communities and how does training strengthen this understanding? What mechanisms are needed to strengthen the national, regional and international networks of community technicians that have been created through these programs?

Connection with previous Messages: The "Building Capacities for Meaningful Access to the Internet" workshop held at the IGF 2021 is closely related to the one proposed this year. Both are part of a broad strategy to strengthen a network of stakeholders that seeks to lay the foundations for an enabling environment for building capacities for meaningful access in rural and disadvantaged communities. The first panel brought together organizations and initiatives from different parts of the world to share diverse training experiences with different objectives and levels of consolidation. We have seen that this panel helped to strengthen the links between those who participated in it, but also with actors who resonated with what was shared there. In the panel we propose for the IGF 2022 we will focus on one of the processes that is developing most strongly in the last two years, the first National Schools of Community Networks in the Global South. With the aim of not only strengthening the learning community among these schools, but also seeking to resonate in other territories to replicate the model, as well as on the stakeholders who are key to the consolidation of an environment favorable to the development of these training spaces.


1. No Poverty
4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
17. Partnerships for the Goals
Targets: This proposal is aligned with several Sustainable Development Goals: On one hand, we consider it important to highlight the objective 1. No Poverty: 1.4 and 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth: 8.5, because the development of these community telecommunication projects allow people who live in the communities to develop initiatives that strengthen the local economy, because the resources generated by the community telecommunication projects that are launched stay in the communities, and are reinvested in it. For this to happen, training and capacity-building programs for people in the communities themselves are key. In the same vein, these types of projects ensure that men and women from rural and remote areas have access to internet and telephone services, and that they can appropriate the use of new technologies, which allow them to develop study skills, employment and entrepreneurship. In addition, the contents covered in the National Schools and other training programs of this nature enable participants to gain knowledge and skills in other areas of professional life, such as leadership, teamwork, project design, resource mobilization, etc. On the other hand, objective 4. Quality Education: 4.5, which seeks to eliminate gender disparities in education and guarantee equal access to all levels of education and professional training, including that of indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations. Most of the people that are presenting their experiences in the panel represent communities from the Global South and developing countries. Also we highlight objective 5. Gender Equality: 5.b to promote the empowerment of women in the use of ICTs, since having a majority of women on the panel, it is inspiring for girls and young people who decide to approach technology without fear and without stigma. Likewise, objective 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: 9.b and 9.c is also important, since the training we promote focuses on the development of telecommunication projects, but from a critical view of technology and sustainable use of them (solar panels or bamboo towers, for example), which improves the conditions to have access to connectivity in remote areas of developing countries, in a universal and affordable way. Finally, objective 17 Alliances to achieve the objective: 17.8, seeks to promote the development of technology and the creation of capacities, through alliances between countries, organizations, academia and donors, which can develop and transfer work and training methodologies, and knowledge about new technologies, putting communities at the center as main actors in the development and sustainability telecom projects.

In this panel we will share experiences and reflections on integral capacity building processes for the creation and management of local solutions for meaningful access in the Global South. The overall objective of this panel is to serve as a further mechanism in the consolidation of a network of stakeholders that make up an international network of organizations, entities and individuals that promote strategies for meaningful access to telecommunication services through the design and implementation of community training programs. In particular, the organizations that have generated since 2020 the first National Schools of Community Networks in Brazil, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Indonesia will participate. These initiatives have been promoted by the Association for Progressive Communications and Rhizomatica Communications with the support of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). All the Schools share the use of Participatory Action Research (PAR) in the design of the programs and have as their antecedent Techio Comunitario, training program for community technicians developed in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for Latin America. This panel is linked directly to this year's IGF theme: Connecting All People and Safeguarding Human Rights. This is because training people in disconnected communities allows connectivity and access projects to be meaningful and sustainable over time because they are managed by people who know firsthand the needs, dreams and characteristics of the communities where last mile communication networks are developed. This kind of training processes also require different learning models that respond to the ways of knowing and learning of each of the territories where they are developed. This has implied very varied pedagogical modalities, contents and curricular structures, making each School different from the others. Being able to reflect on the experiences allows us to learn from each one of them and to put into practice contextualized and relevant capacity building methodologies with a view to creating local solutions to the problems of full access to telecommunication services. In addition, these collective processes in the design of training programs have strengthened the dialogue and linkage between stakeholders at the national level. In each of the Schools, an Advisory Committee was formed to establish the bases and characteristics of the programs. Representatives of regulators, industry, academia, civil society and the grassroots organizations targeted by the schools participated in these working groups.

Expected Outcomes

As a result of this panel we hope to achieve: 1. A compilation of fundamental elements to continue working in public policies for the generation of appropriate environments for meaningful access solutions for the communities themselves. And, specifically, for the creation of training programs of this nature in different countries of the Global South. 2. Strengthening of the international learning community that has been created among the organizations and individuals linked to the National Community Networking Schools. 3. Inputs for a research article about the National Schools and the re-edition of the guide "Technological autonomy as a constellation of experiences: A guide to collective creation and development of training programs for technical community promoters" to include a chapter on these experiences. 4. Creation of a blog or social networks posts of the main results of the panel, which will be shared in the social networks and spaces of the organizations that will participate in the session.

Hybrid Format: 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. Prior to the panel, all online speakers will be invited to a pre-panel session to check that they all know how to use the platform. 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. These questions will also be placed in the description of the session so that other participants can prepare any intervention they wish to do. 4. During the session, in addition to the information given directly by the speakers, in the Zoom room chat (or the chat in the platform on which the session takes place) the online moderator will share links and notes relevant to the information presented. 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.


Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Training programs and capacity building for the deployment of community networks in rural and remote areas has to be aligned with the needs of the territories, based on local knowledge, language and culture, supported by a multi stakeholders approach based on collaboration between different actors to exchange good practices and make them sustainable in long term.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

To gain meaningful connectivity in remote places and equal access for women, a deeper collaboration and understanding from governments, institutions and social organizations about the communities they work with has to be achieved for the development of community networks, considering these community projects as lifelong learning processes and local-based.

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

Key Issues Raised

1. When people from rural and remote communities are trained to develop their technical skills that allows them to generate and operate local solutions for connectivity, as the community networks, the chances for those projects to be sustainable long-term increases.

2. The project of the National Schools of Community Networks was launched in 2020 and the main objective was to develop training processes to allow capacity building for the development of Community Networks in 5 countries of the global South: Brasil, Indonesia, Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.

3. Each of these schools has their own program and different ways to execute it, and also different pedagogical methods.

4. Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology is a research method that has successfully been employed for the development in the projects of the National Schools of Community Networks. Also other popular education tools to train people have good results to bring closer technology to people with no previous knowledge.

5. To help for the implementation of every school, a guide where PAR methodology was explained in a guide that was launched with the objective of create contextualized programs: https://www.apc.org/sites/default/files/FINAL_Technological_autonomy_as…


6. Training programs and capacity building for the deployment of community networks and other local solutions for meaningful connectivity have to be aligned with the needs of each territory based on local knowledge, ways of learning, language and culture.

7. Efforts and specific strategies need to be done in terms of increasing the participation of women in these training programs.

8. The development of these training programs has to be supported by a multi stakeholders approach based on collaboration between different actors to exchange good practices and make them sustainable in the long term.

9. Inclusive, responsible and sustainable digital transformation needs to be impulsed by policy strategies and regulatory frameworks, and also for the investing in some initiatives and projects that impulses local capacity such as the National Schools of Community Networks.


Presentation summary

1. Carlos Baca Feldman, LocNet project (Mexico): the initial setting for the development of the National Schools of Community Networks was the publication of a guide where it explained the Participatory Action Research methodology. This methodology was employed in the design of Techio
Comunitario, a training program developed in Mexico, that was the origin of the development of the design and implementation of the project of the National Schools of Community Networks in 5 countries of Global South: Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.
One of the goals of this project was the development of an online repository in order to strengthen and develop community networks by the exchange of materials that can help people and organizations to develop skills and knowledge.
2. Alessandra Lustrati, FCDO (UK): UK Digital Access Programme (DAP) is focused on catalyzing, inclusive, safe and secure digital transformation in 5 countries like Brasil, Indonesia, Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria. So supporting digital connectivity and skills development in cyber security, digital entrepreneurship and innovation are key to the development of alternative models of local solutions. There are real value following the next main three principles:

  • First principle - scalability vs replicability: Relatively small investments but really well targeted, context-specific and fully focused on building capacity, can be very significant in terms of impact. Once the model is demonstrated, in terms of adaptability to local conditions both the technological and organizational knowledge, can be disseminated effectively through the method of the National Schools of Community Networks, considered as positive proliferation of meaningful connectivity solutions on the ground.
  • Second principle - local ownership: As the model needs to be fit for context and well embedded in the local reality, it needs to take into account local needs and preferences, and what is viable or not in a particular location.
  • Third principle - sustainability: strengthening local capacity is essential for sustainability. The community became autonomous in terms of know-how in establishing and managing their own telecoms networks, understanding the interaction with a broader market or what it is considered the connectivity value chain: developing a business and organizational model that enables communities to access and appropriate technological services, in an efficient and affordable way.

3. Neo Magoro, Zenzeleni (South Africa): many rural areas do not have access to Internet, the cost for rural areas is higher than in the cities, there is a high level of employment rate and gender-based violence, and Internet data costs in South Africa are the highest in the world. For the development of the school, the organization Zenzeleni developed a curriculum made by experts who understood the needs and the realities of each community based on four pillars: personal, social, technical and business development. A Learning Management System (LMS) was created, and all the participants of the school were provided with cell phones to access the contents. Because of the diversity of participants, the idea of using home languages was reinforced, and some translators were employed. Another challenge faced was developing interest in interacting with technological devices for the female
participants, because at the beginning of the training was waiting for men to start using the devices. So peer-to-peer learning was encouraged and working into smaller groups led them to relax and share their own knowledge.

4. Harira Wakili, CITAD (Nigeria): Connectivity issues are a challenge for Nigeria, lack of access to digital education is a problem in most of the communities. To bridge the gender lack of access to education, CITAD worked on developing awareness of the importance of being connected and to develop community networks and also, for the women to participate. To create the curriculum of the school, they looked for experts, focusing on Technology and Sustainability skills development. Also, volunteer mentors were invited to support the participants, because of their knowledge on the relevant issues happening in the communities. For the first school that was developed, there was not much participation from women, so for the second school a different strategy was taken to focus on women and elders from the community, so was successful with 50% of participation this time. To improve the participation a group of women were created, because they felt intimidated by men, so bringing a feminist approach to the Internet encouraged them to speak for themselves.

5. Akinyi Arose, Tunapanda Net (Kenya): Connectivity built by and for the community were emphasized and the focal areas of the contents of the school were connectivity, using human centered design approach, providing meaningful access to community. The guide that was provided, and PAR methodology at the building scenario helped them to delimited the training needs, as a co- creation process with the community networks members that really speaks to their needs. For the next stage of development, a series of conversations and a survey were conducted to analyze and curate the training. Also mapped out the experts were important to provide information and training services, the key areas that became the development of some Community of Practices: to design and deploy community networks; sustainability; and local content creation. Different stakeholders were invited to participate in the process to understand how to work collaboratively. Peer exchanges, virtual mentorship and bringing the concept of community to the training allow them to work with different grounds or levels of development of the community networks from starting projects to more consolidated ones, and what they are doing on ground.
Another challenge that the communities face after training, are related to access to infrastructure and equipment to deploy the networks, so one of the strategies followed was to figure out ways of resource mobilization, especially for emerging ones. Regarding volunteer and sustainability of knowledge, how to maintain the knowledge delivered by the training.

6. Adriane Gama, PSA (Brazil): a co-created curriculum based on social and digital aspects, gender and youth concerns, working with methodologies focused on the perspective of Paulo Freire of popular education and ludic were developed. The challenges faced were related to the pandemic and the
impossibility to travel, and also the lack of connectivity in the territories of the Amazon, where PSA bases its work. It was important to look for partners to strengthen the community networks and access to fundings to work, based on a sustainable economy and according to local needs, where the local women participation to be strengthened.

7. Gustaff H. Iskanda, Common Room (Indonesia): the pandemic outbreak revealed a huge gap in different areas, not only in the digital divide but also in the development gap. In Indonesia the challenge of digital divide comes with a number of problems from very huge geographical challenges like in Amazon, and lack of electrical supplies devices. A prototype in indigenous communities of National Schools of Community Networks was developed, based on Common Room´s own experience and also following the guide was developed with APC. An Advisory Committee and a curriculum was deployed focusing on software and hardware with the integration of policy and regulation, technical capacity building and meaningful connectivity. Also, a training of trainers programme was launched and a handbook was published, to make the contents easier and more accessible for the people. In Common Room they work with an approach called 5L: low tech, low energy, low maintenance, low learning and local support. The nature of Community Networks is context-specific, it can be different from one another, so their implementation needs to be focused on research and observation on the needs and the rights of the community. Meaningful access celebrates multiplicity in microscale. Local communities have to find their own way to deploy and learn what is a community network that is relevant for daily
life. A multi-stakeholder approach was developed, especially policy and advocacy with specific needs for long-term capacity building, digital literacy, special license for Community Network deployment, including tax incentive, because most of them are non-profit. Community Network´s strong foundation
is on the network of people, open knowledge and technology.

8. Josephine, Kenya ICT Network: There are a lot of similarities on the challenges the schools have faced as access to technologies, language, devices as well as women participation. Also how the schools have been adaptable and flexible, and learning together with the communities, collaboration between different territories, development of open source technologies.


Participant Questions - Additions

Said from Public University of Debre - Ethiopia : 1. What are the target groups for your local capacity building? are public schools or private companies or institutions?
2. The Internet is becoming a place for violence or abuse especially for women and children. What is your effort to mitigate this problem and safeguard the connected community? 3. To Indonesia, to ensure infrastructure accessibility most of countries from global South have a problem of ensuring accessibility, especially in Telecom or Internet infrastructure, because most of the telecom companies are not willing to go to rural areas , so what is your government effort or institutions like you in your
country to ensure infrastructure such that Internet is accessible to all communities?

Talant Sultanov Internet Society Kyrgyzstan chapter: there are some Community Networks in Kyrgyzstan and we learned that local communities can do capacity building. The first thing that people did when they had the Internet was send messages to the central government to say “We have no roads, no electricity”. The second thing that people started using the Internet for was e-commerce to promote some local products from farmers. Also, local WiFi hotspots became safe areas for girls. The Community Networks Learning Repository mentioned by Carlos would be a really useful instrument.

Ashapur Rahman from Bangladesh School of Internet Governance: more cooperation is needed in the continent. But for the capacity building if we cannot connect the whole globe maybe we cannot achieve our goal.


Reflection on Gender Issues

a. The number of participants in your session (or an estimate)
There were approximately 45 participants in Addis Ababa, the CR3 was almost full. Even though we proposed a hybrid format, just 4 people joined us in Zoom. The panel itself was gender balanced, with the moderator, the rapporteur and four panelists were women, of a total of 8 participants.
b. An estimate on the percentage of women and gender-diverse people that
attended the session, to the extent possible

More than 50% of the assistants were women.
c. Whether the session engaged with gender as a topic. If so, please explain in
a short paragraph.

Even though the main topic of the session was not gender equality, many of the contents mentioned women participation and the challenges faced related to this topic, because the project of the National Schools of Community Networks have this issue as one of the main subjects to work for. Also, the number of participants were mostly women.