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IGF 2020 - Day 5 - NRI Access and digital inclusion

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the virtual Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), from 2 to 17 November 2020. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> JANE COFFIN: Thank you for joining us, we have an exciting panel, they are far more interesting than I am.  I'll just give you a quick overview of what to expect.  You can see the agenda on the homepage and this is about a very collaborative session from some of the wonderful national regional IGFs around the world and we're focusing on access and digital inclusion.  For those that know me, I'm Jane Coffin, I work at the Internet Society my whole life is dedicated pretty much to inclusion, connectivity and seeing the internet and connectivity grow.  This is a really near and dear to my heart, this access and digital inclusion part.

I'm not going to say much because my colleague is going to say a little bit more, Julian Casabuenas, later, and we will be remiss if we did not give a nod to Marilyn Cade who was just a good friend.

She helped create a lot of IGFs around the world and this is going to be a really great memorial to her as well.

I'm going to stop talking about that because it will make me sad.  She passed away on Tuesday, this is a memorial to us.  This is an important way to bring information to people, to talk about the importance of inclusion, internet growth, capacity development.  We are going to first have with us, very honored, to have in this session Mr. Cristian Tejada from Bolivia, the vice Minister for science and technology and we have the Gambia IGF and they'll talk a little bit more about what they're doing in their countries to promote the scientific, academic sectors.  So over to Cristian Tejada and Poncelet Ileliji and after that, we'll have the rest of our panelists speak.

>> CRISTIAN TEJADA: Good morning.  Thank you.  I don't speak English very well.

Thank you for the invitation.  My name is Cristian Tejada.  I am Minister of Science and Technology in Bolivia.  In our country we have implemented several learning methods.  (Poor audio quality).

Bolivia has difficulty in the educational system and even so we have the possibility of (poor audio quality).

>> MODERATOR: We appreciate you being here. 

Poncelet Ileliji, we're interested to hear from you on this side from Gambia.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Thank you. 

In terms of what we have been watching the pandemic, inasmuch as possible, the broadband connectivity, it is very expensive, one gigabyte of data is $5 and if you check the level of our GDP, we have a lot of the population living below that and our people have to prioritize their needs.  (Poor audio quality)..

What is very important now, all stakeholders within the ministry have realized the need for all stakeholders in our local internet governance system to come to know we have to develop frameworks that will be low cost and it is not really about connecting, but it is about cost.  What do I pay to be online?  During our national and internet governance forum for young people in provincial areas, we have had to provide them with data for them to be able to go to school.  If we could not provide them with data, they could not take part.  We're now trying to use the model that a lot of the Telecom companies use to get to public school, also to be able to get to (poor audio quality).

That's what I'll say for now and then I'll come back.

Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: I'm talking to myself.  Sorry for that.

Thank you to all that are just joining us.  I wanted to say you have just heard from Poncelet Ileliji from Gambia and Cristian Tejada, a vice Minister from Bolivia, two diverse regions coming to talk to us about access diversity.

Up next, we have two speaker, one from South Sudan that will introduce herself and we have Sindy Obed, they'll talk to you more about the critical challenges for societies regarding access and digital inclusion.  These are small case studies from South Sudan and Haiti, again, I'll turn it over to our fabulous speakers.

You have 3 minutes each.

>> NYADAK AJAWIN:  So excited for the IGF this year.

South Sudan IGF was started in 2019 so we had our first session around March of 2019.  It definitely has been a bit of a struggle because South Sudan as some of you may know, but maybe all of you know, we just gained independence in 2011.  It has been a bit of a journey to get through the issues that started at the beginning and fortunately we ended up in civil conflict, Civil War in 2019 and again in 2016, that's derailed a lot of the development and the infrastructure that we thought would be possible as we gained our independence.  With the start of the South Sudan IGF we have made a few achievements, and in 2019 when we had our first IGF one of the greatest achievements I would say is the Universal Access Fund which we presented on during that event, and we're glad to say that it was set up by the National Communication Authority and it is still not yet officially running but it has been set up and we're moving on from there.

In regards to access, we have two main communication giants in the country, the services are quite low, we have several areas that are still not connected, many blame the infrastructure, many blame the instability and it is definitely a mix of both, but we are working hard as the IGF and other in this case entities to ensure that we have at least a better solution or strategy and we'll ensure that these companies also come up to par so that more people are connected not just on the internet but communications in general.

We recently were able to connect ourselves to fiberoptic, which has helped increase internet access in the country.  We have new players that come in.  They're doing a great job in providing internet services, and at the same time as well we have to remember that affordability, it is key, and so we still have many people who are not able to afford the high rates that these new companies have come in with.  As we speak right now, unfortunately, we could not have our national IGF, the physical event this year, due to COVID, it was scheduled for March of this year, but then through that, we also have continued to focus with other in this case entities and the National Communication Authority who is the main telecommunication regulator in the country at the moment.

Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.  Sindy, over to you. 

>> SINDY OBED: 

Thank you hello, everyone.  Haiti is still considered as just 32% of the population using internet in 2018.  There are many, many challenges.  The fact that a good internet connection could cost around 80% of a user's monthly salary, so a major barrier in the country where 70% of the population is less than $2 a day, so that electricity coverage, it is ‑‑ we have only 15 in rural areas, so we have many, many challenges like we have the challenge of an economic problem, so the population, it is too low and the lack of internet infrastructure, it also is because of the internet connection and we spoke also about the speed, the low speed of the internet of various providers and so the poor quality of service provided, and this prevents them from taking advantage of the internet and we have, like I said below, most of the population, they do not have access and we have ‑‑ we can say that we have too little engagement also of a Civil Society and lack of competition, the absence of legal framework, we have many, many challenges, also lack of sector vision and so many don't care about the rural areas and where it comes to do business, to make some policies, so in one form, we have some recommendation like to establish resilience, infrastructure in all cities and with the internet connection it is more ‑‑ it ‑‑ we ‑‑ it is a small pocket, and we have to engage stakeholders to see how we have the companies and civil society with an aim ‑‑ with some NGO, we have last week good news on connectivity and we have the global ‑‑ we will have to invest to give ‑‑ to ‑‑ it is 60 million, 80 billion‑dollars for connectivity and this fund, it will be very useful to help within the local communities.  We have many, many challenge, like I said, so we hope this will be helpful for us and will increase access to broadband services and establish foundations of digital resilience to respond to health climate and economic shocks because like I said, the lack of affordable and available internet connectivity, it is not inclusive, so it is ‑‑ I hope that this is ‑‑

>> JANE COFFIN: Wonderful.  Merci!  You're doing a good job!.

It is good to hear from Haiti, a country grow, looking to make a better infrastructure.  Thank you.  You're right on time.

We'll turn over now and come back to all of you later in the other panel, but we're going to turn over now and talk about COVID‑19 and how people need to have access to the internet to work, communicate, doing all that we need to do to stay in touch with these difficult times and what's the effects on societies.  This is an experience that will be shared by IGF U.S.A., our colleague from the Dominican Republic could not join us, we have Anna Higgins with us.  Over to you.

>> ANNA HIGGINS: Thank you for giving me the floor.  My name is Anna Higgins, I'm a project coordinator at the Internet Society and I worked on putting total the access panel at the IGF U.S.A. this past July.  We discussed how COVID‑19 brought to the forefront issues in the United States, rural, remote, indigenous communities have always had problems with getting access to infrastructure and many urban communities also face a lot of problems with affordability.  We discussed that this exacerbated these problems creating tougher barriers for those that had barriers in the first place.

For example, we discussed that there are already students that could not do homework at home because they didn't have connectivity and other students that may not be able to even participate in school due to a lack of connectivity or unconnected students may go to school in person which can be a health risk to themselves and to their communities.  Many people also face obstacles in applying to jobs, even before COVID because they didn't have internet access and now it is even more difficult because so many jobs are remote.  If you done have access, you can't do the work.

There is also a huge risk to the dissemination of public health information, we discussed that many Americans rely on the internet to find the latest information on the COVID spread, local restrictions and finally, during COVID it has been so important to have the internet just to connect with one another, the internet allows for digital social interaction which is important to well‑being and many of us have used the internet to communicate with loved one, friends since March and for Americans without the internet, if they want to be with other people, that's a public health risk to meet in person.

We have discussed that in the U.S. we're having to take many short‑term solutions and make them sustainable for long‑term and a major issue that we're face, many of the short‑term solutions quite frankly will not work forever.

I will give two examples of short‑term solutions that we discussed at the IGF U.S.A. and one is that on tribal lands, communities are building public wi‑fi stations and access points to education and these can be placed in libraries with public broadband access before COVID and this is not a perfect solution, students have to sit in cars, be spread out to properly social distance, but communities are working on developing long‑term solutions based on this infrastructure.

Second of all, we discussed that companies, non‑profits in schools are all working together to distribute wi‑fi hot spots for students to take home and on our panel we had a representative speak from a company called Comcast, internet essentials, and that's a company partnering with schools to get service at students' homes and to help subsidize service costs.

These are just a few of the short‑term solutions that communities are trying to figure out how to make last and how to make connectivity work moving forward.

That's all for me on that.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you.

For those just joining U this a great panel of the national regional IGFs from around the world.  We're talking about access and digital inclusion, we have been fortunate to hear from blister I can't, from Haiti, from South Sudan, from Gambia, from the U.S. and now we're over to Colombia where we will hear from a very fabulous colleague of ours that we work closely with, Julian Casabuenas and the topic that we'll look at, do we wait for others to bring up solutions or can we start ourselves and contribute to bridging the digital divide, the Colombia IGF will share good practices.

Over to you.  .

>> JULIAN CASASBUENAS: Thank you for the introduction, Jane.

I will speak on behalf of the Colombian IGF and we recognize the role that Marilyn Cade had in strengthening the country regional internet governance initiative, her work had a major influence to encourage the participation of the internet governance Colombia in the spaces of the global forum especially through collaborative sessions like we convene today and the main session of NRIs.  We will miss your presence, but we are sure that your enthusiasm will keep us active in this space of the global forum.

Thank you, Marilyn.

This participation gathered opinions from multiple stakeholders such a Civil Society, academia, private companies that are part of the Colombian internet governance forum.  In 2018 only 52% of Colombian households had an internet connection so that significant accessibility gap to online information and knowledge is evident.  Of these people with access, only 34% use it to access education and learning and 59% to obtain information which looks at the appropriation strategies for the better use.  For the first quarter of 2020, 14% were connected through fixed lines and 58% using mobile internet.  The demand for social isolation as a result of the pandemic and the virtualization of services that have accelerated in recent months has shown the great digital divide, and it is no longer about accessing knowledge and communication, but also the difficulties of inclusion and accessibility, the fundamental rights highlighting the need to attend to access to education, equal opportunities and due process.

High bodies of the justice branch in Colombia have recognized the situation in the wake of the pandemic, just as it has been recognized that internet access is a Human Rights and therefore worthy of protection as a public service that is for the advancements of human development, education, access to justice, technological process.  It has also recognized that the state cannot yet guarantee universal access, which is why mitigation actions must be directed to achieve the progressiveness of this right, and it is important to look at new alternatives not only those from the government guaranteeing internet access to the unconnected. 

In several countries different initiatives were developed from Civil Society to contribute to connecting the unconnected.  Communities manage their own connectivity through community networks, in Colombia, several community network projects have been developed that have demonstrated their technical viability and sustainability to bring connectivity especially to rural areas.  However, the number of this initiative is still very low, so the provision of benefits and sin actives for large companies to improve investment, it is not the only way to reduce the digital divide and the government should create programs to facilitate and empower communities with their own infrastructure solutions, eliminating legal barriers and avoiding costs to favor and promote solutions such as community networks.

The government must allocate as part of social abilities to support the deployment of the community networks in Colombia.  In Colombia, there is the communication funds, the function, it is to finance plans, program, projects to primary promote universal access to community in this case services in rural and urban areas, prioritizing the poor and vulnerable population.  It is also important to reform the regimes of obligations of the universal service, also regulation should be more flexible considering approach in the use of the Spectrum and deployment of a single open, shared network in rural areas to group the demand thus promoting deployment of a sustainable network managed by private companies.

Equally important to bring more investment in infrastructure must become a political priority of digital agendas and national regulation.  The government should address a multiple recommendations of international organizations such as ITU and CITEL and incorporate them into their connectivity and policy agendas to complement the strategies that in the short‑term will bring connectivity required by Colombian, especially rural areas.  We also consider that for there to be true inclusion, not only access is enough, but also it's the digital literacy necessary to facilitate an effective application of internet access as well as its use as it is not enough to provide connectivity but rather the way in which one interacts in the free access are aspects relating to inclusion and the exercise of rights.

Thank you.

>> JANE COFFIN: Thank you very much, Julian.  We heard from Julian Casabuenas from Colombia and we're on the topic of accessing digital inclusion and working and talking to great colleagues from around the world who are helping sustain, support, driving the work of national, regional IGFs.  We have heard from colleagues from Colombia, Bolivia, Gambia, Haiti, South Sudan and the U.S. this morning.

We're now going to have a discussion where each of the panelists and I'll give you the order so that everyone can hear who will be speaking, one minute to give us your thoughts on the following topic, if we're going to achieve a universal connectivity and leave no one behind, what needs to be done in your country?  What do we need to do to achieve universal access and connectivity and leave no one behind?  Give us your thoughts with an action‑oriented concluding message.  We have about 20, 30 more minutes.  I would like to hear from you in that, and then we'll have a more robust discussion after that.

Also actually I ‑‑ I have this out of order.

So my apologies.  We now have time to talk to people that are with us on this session and then we'll have the 1‑minute concluding.  So warming you up early on to give you your 1‑minute message!.

Sorry, we'll have an open discussion now with our participants and some of the people here with us.  Are there any questions coming from the audience so that we can have an interactive discussion.

Not seeing anything in the chat from the participants..

I will ask some questions..

Let me start Bolivia.

In Bolivia, you're working, you're a landlocked country, you're working hard to provide connectivity to citizens, what was one of the things that was most important to you as the vice Minister in your country while you have been there to try to promote more access.

>> CRISTIAN TEJADA: Thank you very much.

We found we all had to face difficult tasks with the pandemic.  In our case, not only with academic community but people in Bolivia are still not connected to the internet.  (Poor audio quality).  It is much important that government in all regions need to take more concrete action to overcome the lack of inclusion.  In Bolivia, we have to look for creative ways to provide these insights for our local telecommunication, combining an earn service, and this way telecommunication companies will be able to have more access and more important they will be able to access service.

>> JANE COFFIN: Thank you very much for that.

That's great words coming from someone in your position to focus on the importance of access and creating change in your country.

Poncelet Ileliji, I will move over to you.  You're coming to us from Gambia, from a country that has a small coastline.  I know you have submarine cable coming in.  What's the local IGF doing to try and encourage more change for access in the country?

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: I will say one of the things we have been trying to promote, we have a small coastline as you rightly said, our submarine cable, it is only 8 years old, it is the African coast to Europe submarine cable, it was launched in December, 2012 when we had a dictator in power.  That's really been a main crux of the matter that's slowed down connectivity in the country and just by the fact that they're not a bandwidth coming in, a lot, but an example from between March to present day, since the start of the pandemic, present date, there have been four disruptions due to the submarine cable either somewhere in France, somewhere in the coast of Africa, you know, and if you have one submarine cable only coming in the country and it is caught in the high sea, we're just depending on Senegal, on backup, so we have to ‑‑ the back up from Senegal, it is what the internet providers who are shareholders on the African coast submarine cable on the Gambia side, they are able to afford to pay.  They can only afford to pay for 30meg and stuff like that, when there is maintenance and the cable, they only prioritize the main customer, you know.  We have that going on.  A way that we have in our community tried to do this, it is to encourage the governments to be more liberal to allow more cables and to give tax privileges to the internet service providers, especially and also the telcos, for rural connectivity, most people in rural areas, they are still digitally ‑‑ they're ‑‑ it is not bus they can't get access, but largely because of cost.  As I said earlier on, we have paid for 1 gigabyte of data, $5, it lasts for three days and you have to feed your family and stuff like that and the priorities, it is totally different.  That's what we're looking at during our last internet governance forum that was held online at the end of August, we're still advocating for that and we're still trying to ‑‑ trying to work with other stakeholders to use the model of the Internet Society to develop community networks because we feel that working within the municipal, the council, the ISPs, that's a way to bridge the divide.  There is no ‑‑ there is no two ways.  We need the submarine cable in the country.  We had Facebook infrastructure, they're sending a submarine cable to Senegal, Senegal already has more than 2%, it is coming to Senegal, why not Gambia?  We're more ‑‑ it is just one country, just one is French, one is English.  So we hope as the word gets around that we're more open to having more companies to bring submarine cables to the country and hopefully it will bring down cost.  What we have currently, it is usually based on ‑‑ we're servicing the loan on this, so all of the ISP, they're leveraged, you have to pay back the loan, it is not easy, we totally understand.

Thank you.

>> JANE COFFIN: Thank you very much.  That's great to hear from the work you're doing in Gambia.  I'm going to carry over to Sindy in Haiti.  You are part of an island nation, an island that has two nations on it.  Sindy, what are you doing ‑‑ I will ask each of the remaining panelist, Sindy, other, we would like your thoughts in 2 minutes on what you're doing through your IGF or your community to support access or digital inclusion.

In Haiti, if you can tell news 2 minutes some of the work that you're doing on the ground there in capacity development or infrastructure development?  I know you have some things that you're working on u.

>> SINDY OBED: Thank you.

In Haiti, we have ‑‑ we work on developing capacity, so we need technical skills, as our colleague has said earlier.  We need the community networks.  The private sector, we ‑‑ we do not want to invest in access in community, internet access in rural areas because they need more of a return on investment.  We have to promote community networks to help with solid partnership with all stakeholders to underline together the leap on community networks, we're already on some professional networks and they are a businessman, they are an employee, they are employers, so they do not ‑‑ they do not understand before something about the community networks, and the community networks, the community networks, they do not ‑‑ we do not have many more money like a traditional antenna, so all of the efforts, that the company, in the private sector, they provide to citizens.  We have developed capacity building on access and inclusion and we have developed the sector on digital capacity, and we need ‑‑ we need a population, we would know about internet and its benefit from ‑‑ the benefit of ‑‑ the benefit opportunity like creating content for the benefit of the population.

Thank you.

>> JANE COFFIN: Thank you very much.

It is great to hear how you're thinking about how you can help in Haiti.

Next up, I just want to make sure I'm keeping track, we have Nyadak up next.

>> NAYADAK AJAWIN:  We're just starting from scratch, it is different from other countries that have had the experience, establishing the IGF has been really great, it allows people to realize the policies we don't have and the ones we need.  As the IGF, we're able to bring the stakeholders together, it has been able ‑‑ creating a platform for us to understand each and every entity's problems and then also ensure that we have the local citizens to be able to take stage in ensuring that they also are pushing the policies that they need implemented.  As I said, earlier, we're directly engaged in the Ministry of Telecommunication, information and postal services, which, of course, also has the regional authorities and we're talking directly to them, saying that these are the issues that people have and these are our solutions that we have.

Like I said, in 2019 we brought up the Universal Access Fund which has been established, we have young people that have learned how to do it manually and we want to see how to increase the capacity to make those bigger and kind of national rise them and to also push ISPs to understand, you know, that we need telecommunications to reach as far as they can and the government is to put pressure on them and also to allow a space for other companies to come in.  When there is competition, that's when ‑‑ that's when several organizations are coming in order.

We are doing capacity building and we're going to continue to do advocacy, we have several meetings outside of the national IGFs so we just don't waiter wait for the conference, we bring different stakeholders together, we're ensuring that we are supporting digital in regards to the gender divide, that's a big challenge that we face, we have now organizations such as Go Girls, advocating for young girls to learn coding and basic knowledge for IT and IGT has played a large role in policy and advocacy and we're pushing for recent institution, that's something that we lack so that we would be able to keep track of the data of different things and now we're able to push up on that.

I think we're on a good track and we're hopeful that the ministry, all other entities will continue to collaborate with us.

Thank you.

>> JANE COFFIN: Thank you.  It is exciting to have you here from South Sudan.  I know you're a new country but it is great you have an IGF focus there and that you're working at the national level.

Julian Casabuenas, I'll change it up a little bit, I'll ask to you look at the question that's been put in the chat.  It is something that I know that your organization is working on in digital inclusion and it is a question about whether or not some of the ISPs are actively engaged in making sure that there is more of a digital presence, a digital being, digital literacy, it is important as we know for taking to the next level after you have connectivity.  Do you think, in your country, that the ISPs are addressing that digital literacy issue, is there a way to work through community networks and others and organizations like yours to promote more digital literacy?  Give us an idea of what you think about is going on in Colombia and what more could be done.

>> JULIAN CASASBUENAS: Thank you, Jane.

I think digital literacy has been implemented in Columbo I can't by the government from different strategies from online government and the Ministry of ICTs and also through the Ministry of Education.  Civil Society with projects like community networks have been also providing support to the communities, our focus is not only connectivity but connectivity for improving the quality of life, connectivity for improved opportunities, access to information and so on.

I believe there are good examples in Colombia of how we are responding to that issue.

ISPs, they're more focused in our case on connectivity itself.  It is not a matter that they are taking that role here in Colombia.  I would like to mention also that the pandemic created an environment of acceleration of the digitalization process, it should serve to make a better diagnosis of the disconnected, and of the very different forms of the disconnection that selves to make more target policies, especially for those who are in the last mile and will be more complicated to achieve minimum connection.  From Civil Society, we believe in Colombia the recognition of community networks is very important, like has been done in countries like Argentina, also coming from recommendations from international organizations like the ITU and CITEL, having that recognition will allow us to access, for instance, the in this case fund to support these models and technologies to help to reduce the digital divide.

Also, these recognitions, we believe it is also important to be accompanied by development of regulations for community networks that defines its community nature, non‑for profit, the contribution to the objectives of connectivity, to the exercise of fundamental rights through ICTs and contribution to the appropriation of ICT by the community.

Also looking to the answer, we believe that it is important that we don't focus only on connectivity but also in appropriation of ICTs.

The state must seek for the empowerment of the communities creating initiatives for them to identify needs and priorities in access to the technology and moreover reduce regulatory and legal barriers that prevent the processes from taking place because they are some barriers that doesn't allow to implement these kind of initiative, in the only in Colombia but in the region of Latin America to promote the implementation of these initiatives.

Also I would like to mention the access to infrastructure, to fiberoptic, for instance, in Colombia, we have the large fiber optic network deployed but it is in some area, in rural area, the cost per megabyte is around $32 per megabyte and in the city, we're paying like 25 cents per megabyte.  We have to change this.

Also to reduce the cost of taxes that currently are implemented for internet access and data and to exempt them from taxes, it also will contribute to facilitate the deployment of this kind of initiatives.

>> JANE COFFIN: Just doing a time check.

>> I think you have 4 ‑‑ 6 more minutes.

>> JANE COFFIN: 6 more minutes.  Okay.  Do they cut us off at 10 of?  They're flexible, you can go over a few minutes.  Not more than 5 probably.

We have 6 wonderful panelist, we'll do one minute each speed round and I'll just ask you to wrap it in your final comments there, Anna, what would you say from the work you have been doing, what are your final concluding comments on achieving universal are connectivity and leaving no one behind in your country?  What's your action oriented concluding message for us.

We'll start with Anna and go to Cristian Tejada after Anna.

>> ANNA HIGGINS: Thank you.

So there are a few action items that we discussed at the IGF U.S.A. that would be beneficial to Americans as we continue to deal with COVID and continue to deal with this third wave, first of all, we discussed that it is important to make resources easier to access for communities, for example, before federal communication, tribes were trying to get rights over their land and we discuss the practices like this, they should be way more commonplace.

Second, we talked about how we should focus on capacity building and training communities to openly sustain networks to echo a lot of the points made today when communities have the necessary technical skills they can keep their own networks up and running.  Finally, we discussed that we need to push more funding, there should be resources on rural, tribal lands spent, for small, locally owned provider, echoing how important the community networks are here, and we need more stimulus and infrastructure funding, we had one stimulus bill in March, it has been several months since then and we need more funding from the federal government.

>> JANE COFFIN: Thank you. 

1 minute each.  Thank you for keeping to that.

Next up, just to make sure that I have my order here correct, Cristian Tejada, any final thoughts?  A minute left.

>> CRISTIAN TEJADA: Sorry, I have to move to a meeting now.  Roberto, over to you.  Give a one‑minute wrap up on what needs to be done.

>> ROBERTO ZAMBRANA: Thank you very much. 

We know that inclusion has several dimensions, but one common aspect discussed in the panel, most regions are covered with service, that have particularly mobile internet service, but the bad thing, it is that we're not reaching even half of the populations in our different regions and I think the main reason is because of the prices of this service.  There's a lot of effort to do in our countries, particularly in the government side.  As the vice Minister said before, the government, they need to provide very big incentives to all of the operators and I'm hoping through that kind of actions they'll be able to provide really, really affordable service for the citizens and hopefully that will help to reduce this big hole that we have.

Thank you very much.

>> JANE COFFIN: Perfect.  1 minute exactly.

Over to you.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Bringing down cost.  One way is to bring down costs.  We saw how the world changed with SIM cards, if we look at the countries now, there is times in Africa that the SIM card, it was 20, how do we get it down to 0?  We'll be able to bring down the costs of the internet, you cannot do it without ‑‑ without ‑‑ with our telco, because most ‑‑ most parts of the world, essentially in Sub‑Saharan Africa, the mobile telco, they have the data and we have to encourage our governments, we have to continuously massage them more to realize that in order to build the digital economy, they want to see, our leaders want to see, they want the cost to come down, the average month, they can afford it, look at it, as they look at transferring of the funds.

That's the last point.    thank you.

>> JULIAN CASASBUENAS: Over to you, Sindy, a minute for final thoughts.

>> SINDY OBED: Okay.  Thank you.

I will add that the community networks is for digital inclusion, so as someone said, digital inclusion, the access to the internet and the access to content, access to educational content, digital literacy, that content, so there are many challenges, all of the stakeholders on the table, we ‑‑ the solution, we cannot ‑‑ we need a sustainable slugs to achieve the digital connectivity.

Infrastructure, it is basic for digital connectivity.  Thank you so much.

>> JANE COFFIN: Perfect.

Now, I think we're over to you, what's your wrap up?

>> NYADAK AJAWIN:  Government‑driven strategies are important, when they rally all of the action, people are going to follow-through and we also suggest for more national driven companies, more than on an international basis because then they're regulated locally and we're able to, you know, advertise or to be able to reach them on a national level.

Also just prioritization, telecommunication structure, the majority of the money, they need to invest in education, invest in telecommunication service, because they're the key.  COVID has shown people that we need technology, we condition run away from it, we really need the government intervention to come through.

>> JULIAN CASASBUENAS: You're brilliant!  Fast there!  Thank you very much!.

Coming to you from South Sudan!  Thank you!  All right, you'll wrap it up with us, your thoughts, and I'll do 30 seconds to close.  I have been typing some things in the chat.

The final concluding remarks.

>> JULIAN CASASBUENAS: I have been mentioning a lot of recommendations from different stakeholders and I would highlight others, like the importance of opensource software, free and opensourced software and free and opensourced hardware that is reducing the costs and facilitates network maintenance, see specially by the community network initiatives.

Understanding that connected 50% is connected requires a collaborative environment, not competition where everyone condition tributes and works so that the communities are strengthened and empowered, achieving the autonomy in the installation and the maintenance of infrastructure, network development has been historically been a function that only operators have exercised, however there are initiatives in which other actors of the digital ecosystem are investing in this deployment and this is a good alternative to ensure a faster deployment, especially rural areas with only the capabilities of the large operators to take even longer.  The telecommunication sector has multiple obligations in terms of quality of service, however due to the geographies of rural areas it is difficult to meet these indicators due to the service or establishment times.  In that sense, the flexibility of the processes, they will facilitate more operators to have a presence in rural areas.

Thank you.

>> JANE COFFIN: Brilliant.  Thank you so much.

Thank you, everyone, for the comments, for the speed round, for being here today and thank you for what you're doing at the national, regional, local levels, the local IGFs are very, very important, whether it is a national, regional, even a community IGF, it is really great to see what you're doing to provide more access and inclusion and it is just exciting to see all of you participating here today because it gives us energy to keep doing what we're doing and to keep pressing on whether we're Civil Society, technical community, community network, working with government and others.  Thank you again for all of your efforts.  Thank you for your time, and thank you most of all for participating today and for your great thoughts and comments.

I think we're at time.  We want to just thank everybody for being so thoughtful.  It is really helpful and thank you for what you're doing.  Keep it up. 

 

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