IGF 2023 WS #354 Underconnected: meaningful connectivity in the Global South


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

Organizer 1: Fabio Storino, 🔒
Organizer 2: Ana Laura Martinez, 🔒
Organizer 3: Fabio Senne, 🔒
Organizer 4: Alexandre Barbosa, 🔒

Speaker 1: Fabio Senne, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Ellen Helsper, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Nagwa El Shenawy, Government, African Group
Speaker 4: Raúl Echeberría, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 5: Sonia Jorge, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Nathalia Foditsch, Private Sector, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator

Ana Laura Martinez, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Fabio Storino, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Panel - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

A. Who are the "underconnected" in emerging economies of the Global South?
B. How to bridge the connectivity gap among those already connected?
C. How can we assess progress towards universal and meaningful connectivity?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Participants will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the specific challenges faced by emerging economies of the Global South for closing the meaningful connectivity gap; to reflect upon lessons learned and shared experiences from the experts from diverse backgrounds that can be applied in other settings; to explore collaborative opportunities and establish partnerships with different stakeholders, fostering multistakeholder initiatives to address this issue; to discover actionable insights and expand the range of possible solutions to bridge this gap; and to contribute to a global dialogue on meaningful connectivity and its impact. Their participation and engagement will help shape discussions and contribute to the collective efforts towards a universal and meaningful connectivity.


Internet access has become increasingly crucial for economic development, social inclusion, and overall human progress. But while achieving universal Internet access remains a crucial goal, the focus has shifted towards ensuring that this connectivity is meaningful, giving individuals and communities access to the tangible outcomes it can bring about. In emerging economies of the Global South in particular, large portions of existing Internet users remain excluded from the benefits of a meaningful connectivity, lacking appropriate connected device and digital skills, and having a connection with inadequate speed or not enough data to carry out online activities.
This session will explore the barriers to a meaningful connectivity faced by the "underconnected" in emerging economies from three regions of the Global South, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa, presenting strategies to bridge this gap from a multistakeholder perspective, helping us to envision a future where no one is left behind.
Finally, monitoring is critical for allowing policymakers, researchers, and stakeholders to track progress, identify gaps, and evaluate the effectiveness of initiatives towards this goal. However, defining a universally applicable framework to measure meaningful connectivity is a complex task, not least due to the multidimensional and technology- and context-dependent nature of the concept. The session will discuss the currently availability of indicators and country-level data for monitoring progress on this issue, how to improve on existing ICT indicators, and whether there is a need for the development of new indicators.

Expected Outcomes

The first outcome would be the raised awareness among participants of the concrete ways in which the lack of a meaningful connectivity impacts the outcomes of Internet use of underserved communities, even as nations close the access gap between rich and poor. This is an essential step towards changing the narrative of digital inclusion worldwide to include equity concerns.
The second outcome is the exchange of initiatives and lessons learned, understanding replicable and context-specific aspects of past efforts, and thus widening the scope of policy alternatives for countries facing similar challenges.
Finally, we intend to compile the discussion on meaningful connectivity indicators into a report that can help improve how countries think and assess progress towards this goal. Selected country cases explored during this session will be included to illustrate specific points of the report.

Hybrid Format: The teamwork between the online and onsite moderators is key for the engagement and interaction between onsite and online speakers and attendees, and both onsite and online moderators were selected with this in mind. To welcome the contribution of attendees who are willing but shy, we intend to use the Mentimeter (https://www.mentimeter.com/) online tool to receive written questions and comments. If feasible, we are also open to receiving them written on paper.