IGF 2023 WS #198 All hands on deck to connect the next billions

Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (05:45 UTC) - Wednesday, 11th October, 2023 (06:15 UTC)
WS 5 – Room B-2

Organizer 1: Timea Suto, 🔒International Chamber of Commerce
Organizer 2: Rose Payne, International Chamber of Commerce

Speaker 1: Barrionuevo Pablo, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Onica Makwakwa
Speaker 3: Atsuko Okuda, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 4: Motohisa Takashi, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 5: Giacomo Persi Paoli
Speaker 6: Mwangi Michuki, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 7: Joe Welch



Timea Suto, Private Sector, Eastern European Group

Online Moderator

Rose Payne, Private Sector, Intergovernmental Organization


Meni ANASTASIADOU, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

How can a holistic ecosystem approach support universal meaningful connectivity and what is the role of the public and private sectors in that regard? How can investment in all types of technologies accelerate the delivery of universal meaningful connectivity and bridge the digital divide? What are the elements needed for the creation of an enabling environment that not only promotes, but effectively enables such investment?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Participants will gain an understanding of the various technical, economic and regulatory barriers to delivering universal meaningful connectivity and discuss innovative solutions to surmount these barriers. Through real-life case studies, participants will also be able to gain a good grip on the decision-making process behind public and private investments in connectivity projects and discuss policy solutions that enable such investment.


  1. Mr Pablo Barrionuevo, Public and Corporate Affairs Manager, Telefonica
  2. Ms Onica Makwakwa, Co-Executive Director, Global Digital Inclusion Partnership (GDIP)
  3. Mr Takashi Motohisa, Private Sector, Manager, International Regulatory Affairs, Project Kuiper, Amazon
  4. Mr Michuki Mwangi, Distinguished Technologist, Internet Growth, Internet Society 
  5. Ms Atsuko Okuda, Regional Director, ITU Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
  6. Mr Giacomo Persi Paoli, Head of the Security and Technology Programme, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)
  7. Mr Joe Welch, Vice President Global Public Policy, Asia Pacific, The Walt Disney Company

Reference projects and documents


Meaningful connectivity is a formidable engine of innovation, competitiveness, and sustainable economic growth, charting a path towards a digital future that works for everyone, everywhere. While there are numerous private ventures, intergovernmental agreements and multistakeholder commitments to advance universal meaningful connectivity, 2.7 billion of the world’s population remains unconnected. The connectivity gap and its causes are not uniform. The unconnected are either ‘uncovered’ or ‘covered but not connected.’ Although there continue to be significant increases in Internet adoption, inequalities persist and will do, unless both the coverage and usage gaps are addressed. For this, dedicated and effective actions are needed across the entire ICT ecosystem of (i) accessible and affordable infrastructure and devices, (ii) relevant applications, services and content built upon the infrastructure, and (iii) user ability to understand and engage with these devices and services. To effectively bridge persisting gaps in connectivity, we need to look beyond traditional economic, technological and regulatory approaches and encourage innovation, cooperation and partnerships to find solutions flexible enough to respond to specific local circumstances and enable continued investments in connectivity. This workshop will bring together policy and technology experts that work on delivering universal connectivity through varied technologies, economic and business models as well as policy and regulatory approaches. The session aims to take stock of their experiences and discuss concrete approaches that can be transposed or scaled up to enable non-traditional and innovative solutions to ensure meaningful connectivity to everyone, everywhere. The session will also take stock of the policy environment required to enable investment and cross-sector partnerships, specifically between the private and public sectors while unlocking and harnessing the potential of all types of technologies.

Expected Outcomes

In line with the premise that the vision to bring meaningful connectivity to all depends on a multistakeholder collaboration model, alias on technological, financial and regulatory support, the session will demonstrate real-life case studies, and highlight how innovative technologies, regulatory frameworks, financial and investment approaches or business models can help address these barriers. In turn, the session will also identify concrete policy solutions that can be transposed or scaled up to empower relevant stakeholders to achieve universal meaningful connectivity and bridge the digital divide.

Hybrid Format: Prior to the session: to ensure speakers and attendees get the most out of the session, regardless of their chosen way of participation, organizers will make use of the session’s page on the IGF website and social media channels to share preparatory material and kick-start a dialogue. A preparation call will be organised for all speakers, moderators and co-organisers so that everyone has the chance to meet and prepare for the session. During the session: the moderators are experienced in animating multistakeholder discussions and will complement each other in merging onsite and online speakers and attendees to the optimum. Onsite participants will be encouraged to connect to the online platform to stay informed and engage with discussions in the chat. Following the session: moderators will encourage participants to make use of the IGF website and social media channels to share further comments and contribute to the session’s report.