IGF 2019 WS #400 Investing in Access: Innovative Strategies to Advance Digita

Organizer 1: Teddy Woodhouse, World Wide Web Foundation
Organizer 2: Eleanor Sarpong , Alliance for Affordable Internet (Webfoundation)

Speaker 1: Funke Opeke, Private Sector, African Group
Speaker 2: Steve Song, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Ben Bartlett, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

1. How does public investment in internet access, either through wholesale open access networks or through public access points, affect internet affordability?
2. Which actors in the above process are crucial in ensuring users are offered the opportunity to connect
3. How does market competition in a well-regulated market affect internet affordability?
4. What are the latest strategies in public-private partnerships within the ICT sector in low- and middle-income countries to boost digital inclusion, and what lessons can we learn from it?

Relevance to Theme: 50% of the world’s population remains unconnected. At the current pace of policy reform and change, the world will be unable to meet the SDG 9c target of achieving universal, affordable Internet access in least developed countries by 2020. It’s imperative to step up conversations for key stakeholders to see the urgency to follow on new strategies to connect those excluded This session will address digital inclusion by focusing on the dynamics for affordability of internet access, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, and how the aforementioned policy issues affect the conditions under which someone is able to connect to the internet and participate online. We will focus on recent innovations in public investment, such as wholesale open access networks and public access points as well as the policy and regulatory approaches to support market competition.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The session will focus on the policy elements that affect public investment, public-private partnerships, and regulatory environments to boost digital inclusion. The governance of these issues influences who is able to access the internet.


Panel - Auditorium - 90 Min

Description: The session will build on from the latest edition of the A4AI Affordability Report (forthcoming October 2019), focused on market competition and market composition, and present research findings from that report. Of particular focus for this report, we hope to look at the impacts of wholesale open access networks from submarine cables to the last mile and end user and of public access points as part of the network architecture in extending access and bringing more communities and people online. As we study these topics further, we hope to offer continually refined and effective policy insights on building regulatory environments that ensure equitable and adequate public investments in internet access.

Expected Outcomes: Attendees should leave with an updated and informed insight on the current debates around expanding internet access in low- and middle-income countries through either public investment or public-private partnerships. The session will end with policy recommendations based around the report’s conclusions and the panelists’ discussion.

Onsite Moderator: 

Teddy Woodhouse, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator: 

Eleanor Sarpong , Civil Society, African Group


Teddy Woodhouse, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Discussion Facilitation: 

The session will include an open Q&A session to the panel, focusing around setting a policy agenda for the near future on expanding internet access.

Online Participation: 

Through the online moderator/rapporteur, we will facilitate questions from online into the broader discussion.


GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals