IGF 2023 WS #541 Unlocking Rural African - Diaspora Cooperation


Digital Divides & Inclusion
Affordable Access
Digital, Media, and Information Literacy
Gender Digital Divide
Skills Building for Basic and Advanced Technologies (Meaningful Access)

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

Speaker 1: Danielle Smith, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Taiwo Peter Akinremi, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Jane Asantewaa Appiah-Okyere , Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 4: Wisdom Kwasi Donkor, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 5: Kwaku Antwi, Civil Society, African Group


Danielle Smith, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Jane Asantewaa Appiah-Okyere , Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Yusuf Abdul-Qadir, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1) How can policy reforms facilitate rural African communities and the African diaspora virtually unite to achieve SDGs?
2) Are their policy barriers and obstacles that must be addressed to facilitate remote volunteer work to support affordable community Internet access in rural and peri-urban African communities?
3) What policy measures are needed to leverage the achievement of affordable Internet and energy access in rural African areas with diaspora engagement, to also advance progress towards achieving gender equality, education, health and other SDGs?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Participants will gain new knowledge through dialogue, collaboration and knowledge sharing on Africa-led innovation in affordable community Internet shared service models and technologies. Participants will learn of new technologies for affordable Internet access to achieve UN SDGs.
Communication amongst African and African Diaspora stakeholders and other multistakeholders about strategies to filling digital policy gaps for rural and disadvantaged urban impoverished communities. Participants will learn about a new tool, the Internet Backpack and its use as as a shared community Internet, with Internet Backpack Operators acting essentially as one-person rural ISPs - backstopped by the Diaspora and others living beyond their rural and peri-urban African communities - will be introduced.


Hundreds of millions of people residing in African rural and peri-urban communities are left out of internet governance discussions and policy debate on Internet affordability and access. At the same time, many Africans, and African diaspora residing elsewhere, have adopted remote work practices of necessity and by preference. This roundtable brings together speakers onsite and in their home regions from across continents and communities to discuss how affordable Internet can be made available to many of those left behind, through active engagement and cooperative deployment, operation, management and use of innovative, affordable, edge connectivity solutions that have been incubated by Africans, for Africans, on and off the continent. Community Internet, or community networks, are increasingly recognized as part of the solution needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. But without reliable, sustainable, and affordable energy, remote communities cannot maintain affordable connectivity. Building on the collaborative work and successful launch of the Africa Community Internet Program by the Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation at UN IGF 2022, with support of UNECA and the African Union, this roundtable will both share information on progress and highlight the ways in which the African Diaspora has mobilized and is contributing to Africa's Digital Transformation. Roundtable participants will be participants in the African Community Internet Program, for which discussions with 11 African nations governments, several NGOs and UN agencies, guided by the priorities and perspectives of residents in African rural areas. The achievement of affordable Internet access without the need to absorb the cost of new fixed infrastructure because of decentralized, modular community Internet (with mini-solar-powered microgrid) approach made possible by the adoption and innovation of the Internet Backpack by Africans for Africans, will be highlighted. The benefits of unlocking rural African - diaspora cooperation for digital transformation will be both discussed, and demonstrated.

Expected Outcomes

The roundtable session outcomes will contribute to revisions of the Africa Community Internet Program White Paper 1.0: Digtallizing the Grassroots, which was completed through intersession work in collaboration by Syracuse University, Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation, and other stakeholders, and shared with African Union, African Telecommunications Union, UNICEF-Ethiopia, NGOs, and 11 African governments as well as parliamentarians and other multi-stakeholders.
The work will support new foundation proposals, new academic journal articles, and new national and international program planning.

Hybrid Format: Workshop organizers have experience leading successful distributed events and have learned what not to do. Ensuring remote participants feel and are included equally in the discussion, and not treated merely as passive viewers of the proceedings, is key. Onsite and remote moderators will have equal authority managing the Roundtable. We will invite residents of rural African communities to speak for themselves during the roundtable, to raise issues others may overlook without their experience and perspective. Specifically, one or more schoolteachers, librarians, and technologists now with affordable Internet, in several African nations, as well as additional speakers from the African Diaspora, will be asked to plan to join the roundtable, if approved. The specific complementary online tools/platforms we will use to increase participation by roundtable participants onsite and remote for interaction during the session will be selected from those available to Syracuse University that work also for remote community residents.