IGF 2023 WS #115 Rural and Urban Poor Community Network and Electricity


Digital Divides & Inclusion
Affordable Access
Skills Building for Basic and Advanced Technologies (Meaningful Access)

Organizer 1: Wisdom Kwasi Donkor, Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation
Organizer 2: Lee McKnight, 🔒Syracuse University
Organizer 3: Danielle Smith, Syracuse University
Organizer 4: Kwaku Antwi, 🔒
Organizer 5: Jane Asantewaa Appiah-Okyere , 🔒
Organizer 6: Zanyiwe Asare, 🔒
Organizer 7: Taiwo Peter Akinremi, 🔒
Organizer 8: Stephen Mawutor Donkor, 🔒

Speaker 1: Lee McKnight, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Onica Makwakwa, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Hon. Neema Lugangira, Government, African Group
Speaker 4: Samuel George, Government, African Group


Zanyiwe Asare, Civil Society, African Group

Online Moderator

Thokozile Precious Miya, Intergovernmental Organization, African Group


Taiwo Peter Akinremi, Civil Society, African Group


Panel - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What are possibilities of considering self-help connectivity technologies for Africa’s unservedand unconnected grassroots?
3. Spectrum: e.g. should regulators enable a pro-rural pro-poor Regulatory framework that proactively enables “special treatment” such as licensed exempt spectrum for NGOs, technologies – e.g. tv White spaces, community networks; dynamic spectrum re- allocation of un-used or under used spectrum to connect the unconnected.
4. What Recommendations would you make that would expedite the digital promise for connecting the rural and underserved urban impoverished communities. What changes are needed to ensure that language and disability are no longer barriers to access in developing countries?

What will participants gain from attending this session? 1. Understand the policy dimensions of rural electricity and community networks.
2. Understand what digitalization mean for ordinary African farmers, small traders and those involved in the informal agricultural trade, health, and education in rural areas
2. Understand what parameters can digital connectivity contribute to helping Africa's transformation as envisaged under UN SDGs and AU Agenda 2063
3. Understand what possibilities of considering self-help connectivity technologies for Africa’s unserved and unconnected grassroots
4. What are ongoing initiatives that have the potential to enhance Africa’s digital structural transformation in agriculture, health, education, and disaster recovery


Internet connectivity is an enabling mechanism for diverse industries and trades, education, healthcare, agriculture, and other governmental services, which impact community well-being and development around the world. There continues to be robust discussions as to how to bridge persistent digital divides. There are no simple solutions to the challenges of connecting the unconnected and under-connected, as solutions include consideration of not only access to the Internet, but also access to affordable energy sources. Internet access must include access to meaningful content and the capacity to develop digital skills which are relevant in the 21st century. Questions remain as to how long it will take to connect rural and remote, and other unserved and underserved communities, and when will the world fully include these communities.

An important benefit of connected communities is support of national development agendas; yet there remain significant gaps in national level governmental public policies towards rural and underserved communities, especially in regulatory and legislative frameworks that support last mile and rural connectivity. This is often compounded by inadequate core infrastructure such as rural power sources, tower infrastructure and back-haul, with commercial operators focused on more lucrative and more affluent urban areas.

Remote and rural community residents across Africa creating and operating their own decentralized Internet services is a reality in a growing number of African communities once considered beyond the reach of traditional telecommunications and energy infrastructure. This workshop will present and discuss an evidence-based vision and Universal Service strategy for communities to sustainably operate their own community Internet, in cooperation with the Africa Community Internet Program (ACIP), launched at IGF 2022 Ethiopia by the Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation and Syracuse University, with support of the UN ECA.

This workshop will discuss technical, social, legal, regulatory, policy, market, and standards aspects of the Internet.

Expected Outcomes

1. Identify the most critical gaps hindering the adoption and deployment of community networks in the developing countries.
2. Identify key issues on funding, resources and capacity at the national level.
3. Identify the most critical gaps hindering the adoption and deployment of community networks in the developing countries
4. What does digitalization mean for ordinary African agriculture farmers, small traders and those involved in the informal agricultural trade, health and education in rural areas?
5. What digital connectivity elements should be considered in the future: capacity building and skills upgrading for all stakeholders; the role of the private sector through Public Private Partnership? What can be done internationally to support Africa’s current efforts and initiatives?

Hybrid Format: This workshop will serve as a focal point for coordinated and constructive discussions about the different but interrelated aspects of Internet governance as described above. The workshop will benefit from the inclusion of all stakeholder groups, who shall be able to share in the knowledge and experience of key insight on the accessibility, digital inclusion and clean energy that is necessary for the Internet to entrench human rights for and well-being of all the outline chosen to serve that purpose comprises the gathering of specialists to initiate a panel conversation as well as a hybrid open mic in order to incorporate the broader views of the audience both onsite and online. The workshop will be structured around three core component, with each component organized around specific policy questions that examine the respective topic, plus a concluding closing remark as describe in the agenda below: