IGF 2021 WS #246 Construction of an institutional digital infrastructure

Time
Thursday, 9th December, 2021 (08:30 UTC) - Thursday, 9th December, 2021 (10:00 UTC)
Room
Conference Room 3

Organizer 1: Michel TCHONANG LINZE, CAPDA
Organizer 2: Christian Nzhie, CAPDA
Organizer 3: Cameroon IGF, IGF Cameroon

Speaker 1: brice arsene Gbithicki ndanga, Government, African Group
Speaker 2: Ferdinand Yves MBARGA, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 3: Concettina Cassa, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: SOURPELE Rodrigue SAOUNGOUMI, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 5: 'Gbenga Sesan, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 6: Eric SINDEU, Government, African Group

Additional Speakers
  • Joanna Kulesza
    Cybersecurity, human rights, international law, jurisdiction, privacy, freedom of expression
  • Serge ENGAMBA

Moderator

Michel TCHONANG LINZE, Civil Society, African Group

Online Moderator

Christian Nzhie, Civil Society, African Group

Rapporteur

Cameroon IGF, Government, African Group

Format

Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

Defining universal and meaningful access: What are the key elements that constitute universal and meaningful Internet access? How can it be measured? How is the concept evolving in time and what does this evolution mean for policy?
Barriers to universal and meaningful access: What are the main challenges that people face in obtaining and making full use of Internet access? To what extent are these the result of social, economic and cultural factors, and to what extent do they result from aspects of the digital environment? How can we use the responses to these questions to better understand the intersection between digital policies and other policy areas? Can this understanding help us to develop and implement more realistic Internet-related policy goals?

Regarding the issues and challenges the proposal will address, we can list the following: ◦ Digital response capability ◦ Accessibility and availability ◦ Affordability and significant cost in infrastructure based on the Internet model ◦ Economic development and promotion of the development of local content ◦ Implementation of community networks and community development ◦ Diversity and geographic inclusion ◦ Quality of infrastructure for ensuring total inclusion ◦ Real challenges and citizens' expectations due to the development of the internet and digital infrastructure

Based on the challenges listed above and in order to tackle effectively the policy questions, we intend to address elaborate more on the following: • Infrastructure Problem This problem should not be seen as only the public thing, let alone the one reserved for the private sector. This requires a global organization, the formation of community networks without even forgetting the consideration of a new way of thinking, a new model in this kind of project. • Broadband connection A new global 360-degree vision should be set up with regard to the financing of infrastructure, transport, etc. which should clearly allow costs to be reduced throughout. • The problem of infrastructure investment The effective deployment of fiber optic, broadband solutions. Consider different funding models. It would also be interesting to launch an African satellite which could greatly solve the access problem and thus serve remote areas. But this is only possible if African countries come together. • Financing Our Own Development - Can Africa Self-Finance the Infrastructure Sector: Involving the African Private Sector. The problem of financing infrastructure is very serious because it involves huge amounts of funds, which already excludes many actors in the African private sector. We need financing solutions because we already have the skills, deployment and training capabilities. It was also noted that our governments consider themselves owners of these infrastructures, finding them as a national heritage, which hinders the development of this sector. It would therefore be essential to improve its measures and regulations to allow the private sector to enter. Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and B2B should be encouraged in order to simulate an effective change in the field of telecommunications.

SDGs

4. Quality Education
5. Gender Equality
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities

Targets: In order to achieve our goals as set in the proposal, it will address various issues link SDG 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10. This selected SGD are directly connected to the focus points of our proposal as listed above such as : 1. Infrastructure Problems 2. Broadband connection 3. The problem of infrastructure investment 4. Financing Our Own Development - Can Africa Self-Finance the Infrastructure Sector: Involving the African Private Sector.

Description:

The different types of technologies deployed and used in our sub-regions and regions show that we need continental initiatives for the development of digital infrastructures (more submarine cables, optical fiber, etc.). Much remains to be done in this space, for example to have our own investment possibilities in order to support and build systems that can be used in our states and by our populations. The involvement of the private sector in general and the African private sector in particular in investments related to infrastructure and technological space in Africa is fundamental and paramount. • Infrastructure Problem This problem should not be seen as only the public thing, let alone the one reserved for the private sector. This requires a global organization, the formation of community networks without even forgetting the consideration of a new way of thinking, a new model in this kind of project. • Broadband connection A new global 360-degree vision should be set up with regard to the financing of infrastructure, transport, etc. which should clearly allow costs to be reduced throughout. • The problem of infrastructure investment The effective deployment of fiber optic, broadband solutions. Consider different funding models. It would also be interesting to launch an African satellite which could greatly solve the access problem and thus serve remote areas. But this is only possible if African countries come together. • Financing Our Own Development - Can Africa Self-Finance the Infrastructure Sector: Involving the African Private Sector. The problem of financing infrastructure is very serious because it involves huge amounts of funds, which already excludes many actors in the African private sector. We need financing solutions because we already have the skills, deployment and training capabilities. It was also noted that our governments consider themselves owners of these infrastructures, finding them as a national heritage, which hinders the development of this sector. It would therefore be essential to improve its measures and regulations to allow the private sector to enter. Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and B2B should be encouraged in order to simulate an effective change in the field of telecommunications.

Expected Outcomes

At the end of this session, we would like to do the following: • Press release • Publication • Government recommendation • Subsequent Workshops for ensure follow up on the outcome of the topic discussed • Regional Follow up events

Well, This year IGF is very special. First, we intend to have an online and onsite moderators who will ensure coordination online moderator: to ensure all is fine online onsite: to ensure coordination on site and online is synchronize Second, We intend to have do more adverts in the days preceding the event in order to have more participation Third, The proposal has been prepared by stakeholders since January so, we intend to encourage cross organizations participation, collaboration and share of experience. It will be more like cross sharing and participation in order to better resolve major challenges we face with infrastructure in our regions and even globally. Fourth, we intend to have hubs in the country Cameroon so in order to encourage people and community to participate in the process.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)
Covid 19 has enabled African policies to prioritise the massive development of connectivity infrastructure to connect the unconnected to an increasingly digital world. This calls on all actors, including politicians, academics, civil society, technicians, the private sector and regulators, to work in synergy to commit to catching up and not to use the significant cybersecurity problems encountered by Africa as an excuse for not deploying infrastr

The financing of this infrastructure, especially to connect communities, should be done through the universal telecommunications fund made available in each country, and the management of these funds should be controlled and coordinated with the stakeholders. But also encourage and frame private financing through national and regional partnerships while preserving the interests of each country and the operators involved.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Regulators should lower the cost of licences and facilitate negotiations with large content producers (GAFAs) to help operators continue to invest in large telecoms infrastructure.

Encourage African countries to migrate to IPV6 to prepare for 5G and its exploitation

Session Report (* deadline Monday 20 December) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

The focus of this session was to reflect on how African countries should deploy Internet infrastructures in order to give a meaningful Internet access to those that are marginalized, excluded or that faced connectivity challenges during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. The critical issues raised were : what are the various infrastructural challenges in Africa, what is needed to build these infrastructures, how can it be done and where do we start?

 

Gbenga Sesan emphasized on the fact that despite the health consequences of COVID-19, it had a positive effect on the digital transformation of the world and particularly of Africa.  The lockdowns further deepened the digital divide in most African regions, creating two categories of people, those that could continue communicating online and those that couldn’t due to either lack of infrastructure and access or for other challenges such as lack of electricity or financial strength. This critical humanitarian situation actually brought also good news which is the need for the prioritization of digital infrastructures in order to extend education, health and other crucial public services to those that can not be taken in the classical system. He  proposed that the priorities should be given to this 3 areas:

  • making policies work for the unconnected and for the disconnected (countries facing shutdowns)
  • making sure that all the stakeholders involved in the issue of digital inclusion start to work together in order to provide access through digital infrastructures to all those that are in need of it or lack it.
  • Using the existing resources of the Universal Service Fund available in most of our countries to build sustainable digital infrastructure in all our African countries.

 

Eric Sindeu proposed that Africa should tackle this opportunity given by the COVID-19 to bridge the gap to reach development. broadband access and economic growth being closely linked, the key infrastructure that African countries should invest in as a priority and manage well are the underground sea cables that need to be deployed around the continent. But also, appropriate and updated policies and regulatory frameworks should accompany this deployment to facilitate access to these submarine cables for all operators.To ensure that our continent is digitally ready, he advised that Africa should invest in trainings and awareness on cyber security and digital rights issues, and also it is necessary to move from traditional education to digital education by teaching our children to develop their digital skills for them to be able to meet the digital challenges of the new era.

 

Peter Koch spoke of two main things: 

  • Security and privacy legislation, despite they are very crucial issues to be well addressed, should not be used as a barrier or an excuse to stop us from making Internet access available for everyone.
  • It is necessary to adapt infrastructural and regulatory solutions to the realities on the ground. Most of the time local initiatives cannot replace but support general infrastructures and there are some areas where a region might be difficult or less connected for some reasons (can be geographical, not economically feasible for operators to go there) and multiple regulatory feasible solutions could be used to provide this support without facing the risk of bankruptcy or without having unnecessary high regulatory burdens. Some initiatives are not locally feasible but a particular legal environment  can enable the local initiatives to thrive in this space and provide community solutions.

 

Rodrigue Saoungoumi gave an insight of what a state university in Africa and especially in Cameroon faces as challenges when it comes to the issues related to the access and infrastructures of Internet; by sharing the experience of the Ngaoundere University, in the northern part of Cameroon, concerning the evolution and management of its internet resources from 2010 to 2021 and the difficulties they faced during Covid-19 pandemic.

Johanna kulesza emphasized on the fact that the framework is already in place with an international law regime that clearly regulates the internet space. The best way to approach these challenges from different African perspectives is to facilitate meetings like IGFs, ICANN where we address problems, we name them and build capacity, to make our voices be heard for a change to occur. But we also need to advance our involvement and ensure that our governments and regulators step in these spaces for African interests and views on internet issues to be known.

We also had on our session Mr. Louis Pouzin, one of the pioneers of Internet governance who shared his experience on the history of the internet.

online participants raised some views and concerns that were discussed in the session.

As a summary of this session, we can say that the kind of leadership existing in African countries determines how Africa gets involved in the discussions that are taking place now in order to shape the digital future of the world. and if they cannot be there, then other experts stakeholders have the responsibility to emphasize unseasonably on these issues drawing attention until they understand the need to be where the future is to be drafted.