IGF 2023 WS #486 Low-Tech Solutions Towards Sustainable Global Connectivity

Organizer 1: Catherine Kathini Kyalo, πŸ”’
Organizer 2: Nils Brock, πŸ”’
Organizer 3: Deborah Brown, πŸ”’

Speaker 1: Nils Brock, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Eric Nitschke, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 3: Kivuva Mwendwa, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 4: Sarbani Belur, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 5: Elizabeth Orembo, Civil Society, African Group


Catherine Kathini Kyalo, Civil Society, African Group

Online Moderator

Catherine Kathini Kyalo, Civil Society, African Group


Deborah Brown, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What national and international Policies can support access and use of low-tech solutions at the last mile?
2. What is the role of community networks and other local access providers in protecting users at the grassroots from pervasive technology?
3. What role can low-tech-solutions play in tackling sustainability of community based models such as environmental sustainability, social cohesion, economic participation, and financial sustainability.

What will participants gain from attending this session? An understanding of the community networks model, low-tech solutions versus high-tech solutions, the participatory use of low-tech solutions that promote social inclusion of the underserved communities, their benefits, and sustainability structure of each. The audience will learn the participatory component of low-tech solutions and how they feed into sustainability of connectivity at the grassroots level. With the recent emergence and use of AI enabled tools, the audience will get to participate in a conversation on pervasive technologies especially at the grassroots levels where they perpetuate demographic, racial, religious, economic and gender inequalities.


The journey to connecting the next billion requires low-tech solutions at the last mile, encompassing principles of affordability, simplicity, digital sobriety, accessibility, ease of maintenance, reuse and repair, transparency and social inclusion, which lead up to a sustainable digital future.

With the recent buzz around emerging digital technologies and more specifically AI technologies, the session will analyze the use of these high-tech solutions versus existing low-tech solutions, and tools shaped and actively customized by local communities, that power connectivity at the last mile. The panel will discuss these low-tech solutions and sustainable infrastructure towards connecting underserved communities; TV white space, open source tools, long-range Wi-Fi networks, wireless sensor networks, solar powered/ green data centers, recycling of hardware/circular economy, low-power end user devices etc.

In the past there have been applications of high-tech solutions like the google Loon internet balloon project which was Launched in 2013, to deal with the challenge of bringing internet access to people in underserved remote areas. The project failed after 2 years due to a lack of a sustainable business model. The lack of sustainability of these high tech solutions stem from the ecological,social and economic effects of high-tech solutions which the panel will discuss at length. Contrast to this, community networks support use of affordable and open source technology towards support of local economies and value addition services based on socio-economic activities of the community which contribute to their sustainability.

Community networks seek to implement participatory low-tech sustainable solutions that promote social inclusion and equality in aspects of race, gender, age, and economic status at the grassroots level. What is the role of community networks in protecting users at the grassroots from pervasive technology? What Policies at the national level can support access and use of low-tech at the last mile?

Expected Outcomes

An article will be written and published on the KICTANet and APC website. The conversation will also continue on a twitter space run by KICTANet on community networks and other community based connectivity models. KICTANet has a mailing list that will keep participants engaged after the session, where they can continue to share their thoughts on a thread. A post-session document with learning,
contributions, and resolutions will be shared with participants via email.

Hybrid Format: The online moderator will continously engage online speakers and participants throughout the session. The session will run for 45 minutes and allow 15 minutes for participants to ask questions and share their views. The session organizers will compile a document to be shared with participants. The
session will remain inclusive, encouraging participation from all attendees regardless of age, race, gender, language, ability, or location.