IGF 2023 WS #343 UA and how it bridges the digital divide for our future


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

Organizer 1: Amina Ramallan, 🔒Nigerian Communications Commission
Organizer 2: Cliff Agaba Mutegeki, 🔒Internet Society Uganda Chapter
Organizer 3: Shradha Pandey, 🔒

Speaker 1: Mark Datysgeld, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Seda Akbulut, Private Sector, Eastern European Group
Speaker 3: (Malick) Koupam ALASSANE, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 4: Hossein Mirzapour, Government, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 5: Sathees Babu Chellikattuveli Sivanandan, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Amina Ramallan, Government, African Group

Online Moderator

Shradha Pandey, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Cliff Agaba Mutegeki, Civil Society, African Group


Panel - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What role does each stakeholder group have to play in driving the adoption of the UA agenda in marginalized communities? For instance, What impact will including UA to school curricula have?
2. How can youths use their voices to further the adoption of the UA agenda, taking into consideration marginalized communities?
3. How should governments of marginalized communities that are just starting the UA agenda implementation proceed with including the initiative in policy discussions?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Participants will hear perspectives from members of marginalized communities on how they are hindered from achieving UA readiness due to lack of global recognition for non-English (or non-ASCII) scripts.

Participants from different stakeholder groups, preferably in managerial positions will learn how they can directly or indirectly make an impact in ensuring UA readiness in marginalized communities.


Universal Acceptance (UA) is the bedrock for an internet that is multilingual and inclusive while digital divide is a term that refers to the gap between demographics and regions with access to modern information and communications technology and those without it. It ensures that all domain names and email addresses are accepted by all internet enabled devices despite their length or character script.

When it comes to UA discussions, marginalized communities are often left behind as there is very limited support for non-English (or non-ASCII) scripts, which are more predominant in languages used within these communities, such as urdu, arabic, Igbo Yoruba etc. Thus, achieving UA readiness will take these communities one step closer to bringing more people online, bridging the digital divide and achieving digital inclusion. The rapid growth of the Internet has affected marginalized communities, that they are always playing catch up when it comes to global digital inclusion, causing them to lack access to modern information and communication technologies in real time.

This session aims to provide a platform for perspectives to be heard from members of marginalized communities on how they are hindered from achieving UA readiness due to lack of global recognition for non-English (or non-ASCII) scripts.

This session also aims to target policy makers, stakeholder groups preferably in managerial positions of technical community and members of the general public that are able to make a change directly or indirectly in ensuring UA readiness.

Ultimately the session aims to promote multilingual Internet accessibility by all, with a focus on digital literacy and skills development. This will be achieved by ensuring non-English (or non-ASCII) scripts are put into consideration when developing standards and guidelines, so that all domain names and email addresses are accepted, validated, stored, processed, and displayed correctly and consistently.

Expected Outcomes

1. Pledges from different stakeholders across various regions of the continent to support UA adoption in marginalized communities.
2. Action items for the youth community members. What can young people do to improve digital inclusion in marginalized communities through UA?
3. Inclusion of more women in the realm of UA. Currently, there are only a limited number of female Leaders / Ambassadors in the UA Steering Group.
4. An increase in the awareness of UA importance to bridging the digital divide and achieving digital inclusion, especially in marginalized communities.

Hybrid Format: There will be one online moderator and one onsite moderator
The session and interaction with speakers has been divided among moderators so online and onsite moderators all engage with participants and speakers
There will also be one rapporteur for the session
All speakers have confirmed to be in person
There will be a roaming microphone to capture onsite participants' questions/comments. Also, onsite and online participants can raise their hands for questions or comments at any time during the session
The moderators will raise a maximum of two questions accordingly, one online and one onsite at the end of each policy question response.
The leftover questions will then be presented during the Q&A session after all policy questions have been responded to.
The Q&A session will also feature comments that were not addressed during the session.