IGF 2022 Day 2 NRIs What do we do to achieve universal connectivity in the short term?

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF intervention. 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, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> MODERATOR: Some sessions are running late, so just -- we have people already online.  So please give us some five minutes for us to get started.  Thank you.


>> MODERATOR: Good afternoon.  As I said earlier on, we are here for the NRIs session on how do we do to achieve universal connectivity in the short term.  We will have speakers from Bolivia, from Georgia, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania.  And we shall be looking at a lot of things happening. 

Online we have Mr. Kosy from IGF rapporteuring.  We also have Ms. Hadji from Internews moderating.

Without much ado, I think I will get started soon and I will allow my panel of analysts introduce themselves before we start.  So, please introduce yourselves.  Starting with you.

>> ROBERTO ZAMBRANA: Thank you very much.  And good afternoon to everyone that is attending to this session.  My name is Roberto Zambrana from Bolivia, a third-year member.  And I am related with the coordination of our Internet Governance Forum in our country.

Most involvement with the academia and Technical Community in my country, and that's why we are so interested in expressing our position regarding -- well, for this internet -- universal internet and meaningful access.  Thank you very much.

>> MOHAMMAD ABDUL HAQUE: thank you.  Good afternoon, everyone.  This is Mohammed Abdul Haque Ono from Bangladesh.  I am Bangladesh Internet Governance Forum.  And also, we are organizing a large -- 1970, which organizing a school of internet governance, and last two years we are organizing -- governance for all and also youth IGF, women IGF, (?) IGF.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much.  If I have colleagues from NRIs, from Ghana, Tanzania, and Kenya online, please, can you introduce yourself?  Online Zoom operator, please, can you unmute them?

>> Sorry. 

(Muffled audio)

>> MODERATOR: Online Moderator, can you please unmute?  Do you have my colleagues from Kenya, Ghana, and Tanzania NRI?  Are they online?  Please, kindly, introduce yourself if you are online or if Barrack is here.  Please.  I can't see him anywhere.

>> Ghana is here so --

>> Remote.

>> MODERATOR: Okay.  Yes --

>> I'm with Undunko, and I'm the committee for Ghana IGF.  So pleased meeting all of you.

>> MODERATOR: Where is Barrack?  I will get started.

Achieving universal access in the short term is very important.  Access has become a key problem, not only today, but it has much more than emphasized during the COVID-19 shutdown.  We all rural communities in various parts of the world were not able to access various types of information, whether it relates to education, whether it relates to health, whether it relates to daily lives.

The NRIs, as you know, the National Regional Internet Governance Initiatives, are very key in promoting access and that is why we have various NRI country coordinators here for this session.

So, we want to start with Roberto.  What do you think in the short term -- and you come from South America.  What do you think in the short term can be done to achieve universal access working with all stakeholders?  Over to you, Roberto.

>> ROBERTO ZAMBRANA: Thank you very much.  And it's not the questions, it's the millionth question for this session, and not only for IGF, but I think it's the question for all of the last IGFs we have been attending to. 

And despite it was included, I mean, this concept was included in the Sustainable Development Goals, and as we all know, we already surpassed the first deadline that we have.  That was not deadline, but a placed expectation that we have to achieve this universal access for 2020.  We all know that we failed as a humanity to do that, particularly in the Global South.

So, I think it's really, really important not only to continue discussing about the subjects in all of the forests and including this one, of course.  I have to say it's a pity we combine two macro themes in our current IGF, which are human rights, which is, of course, very, very important, and the universal and meaningful connectivity.  Because somehow it diminishes the importance of this particular subject.  Because, of course, there are other important subjects regarding human rights and regarding some other aspects of digital literacy, access, et cetera.

But I will say that hopefully for the future version of the IGF, we continue giving this the high importance that we need to provide in order to achieve all the objectives that we have regarding this matter.

Otherwise, we will be waiting again for the new expectation which is established now for 2030.  As we all know, this is already a statement included in the roadmap for digital cooperation coming from the Secretary General.  And it's, again, the subject was put as the one, as the different subject recommended in the agenda for the summit of the future, including in the Digital Compact.  So, that's why it's really important to do it.  But that's what we want to achieve.

A different thing is to actually do concrete actions as all the different stakeholders to achieve this universal and meaningful access.

Now I will have to say, particularly in terms of my country, what things have been done during the last three or four years.  One of the major aspect that we were discussing in our local dialogues is related to the business models, in particular in telecommunications sector of internet services.  And the big problem is for our countries, particularly in the Global South, it's really, really difficult for our population to afford all the costs that mobile represent, mobile internet service represent.

And if we don't get the support from the telecommunication companies, if we don't get this kind of contribution for this sector it's going to be difficult.  We can't wait another two, three, five, 10 years to actually reach to the poor population, to the rural sector that actually need.

You mentioned before, the pandemic was a true example of what happened.  Most of our population, besides, you really want to listen in about the statistics all the time.  One-third of the population still to be connected, yeah.  But what really happens in our regions it's not that kind of statistics.  What we are really -- tells us that we are below the 50% of people that we reach.  And we realized about this situation when we had the pandemic.

Most of the people in the rural areas couldn't make it to go to classes.  Most of the people didn't have a chance to go -- to actually develop their work, their activities.  Due to the lack of internet.  And not coverage from the telecommunications coverage.  There is coverage.  The problem to the affordability of the services.

Not everything is but news.  When we starting to discuss about this mobiles back in 2017, 2018, and somehow we were looking like strange people when we propose it, we need to change the current business mobiles and we need to change something like very basic in internet services now that we are -- I remember them talking about back in 2018, '17 when we were already starting to talk about 5G, and what I was saying always is what can we think about 5G if we didn't already use it correctly 4G in mobile telecommunications and mobile internet?

And the problem was about the business models.  And we ask her to the sector, that at least have a basic level of service that we can afford as citizens without the traditional model of packages, of information packages.

Now, the good thing, is even it's a little bit expensive, but at least they released this new kind of package, which is continuous package, which not for a particular quarter, you pay a fee and then you have mobile services with the basic amount of information that at least can be not capped when the people are using it.  Just an example.  I would like to continue later but I want to express that when there's a will, there is a chance to actually change the political aspects and the in this example the business models that we have.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Roberto.  Sharing your experiences from Bolivia and your perspective, especially with the issue of 5G, when we still have a lot of problems rolling out in 4G in a lot of places in the Global South.

Moving over now to Mohamed from the Bangladesh NRI.  And Bangladesh is well known as a country for manufacturing of clothes that are all about props in Europe and all over the world.  And one of the main things that happens there also is that your whole supply chain system really depends on connectivity.

So, I will come back.  How is rural connectivity in the (?) what has been done with stakeholders, especially the government in Bangladesh to achieve its (muffled audio) because 2030 is not far and we have a lot of things going over.  Over to you, Mohamed.

>> MOSES ISMAIL: Thank you honorable (?), honorable speaker and honorable audience in room and around the world.  Good afternoon, everyone.  Myself from Southeast Asia country, Bangladesh.  Bangladesh's population is 160 million.  Connectivity is a multistakeholder process.  We need to involve all stakeholders for assuring connectivity.

We need to know exactly challenges, opportunity, progress and way forward regarding these matters.  In Bangladesh we are organizing every year Bangladesh Internet Governance Forum is Internet Governance Forum, youth internet governance form, women Internet Governance Forum and also Bangladesh school of internet governance.

Through this forum, we try to accountable stakeholder regarding connectivity issue.  Thank you, Moderator.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much.  That was very good.

I will hand over to my colleague now from Tanzania NRI, and NASA, give perspective of what in the short term achieving universal access.  NASA is responsible for the Tanzanian NRI.

>> NAZAR NICHOLAS: Thank you.  I apologize being a little late.  I was at the African forum organized by the African Union.

Thank you so much.  My name is Nazar Nicholas, and I am currently the manager for Tanzania digital inclusion programme.  And also we have so many titles.  Sometimes I forget.

Also the president of the ISOC Tanzanian chapter and the NRI coordinator.

Well, the issue of connecting people, I would like to start with the use case that we have done in Tanzania.  And it is an idea that, actually, started in 2018.  And we were discussing the room, debating about, you know, we have about 25,000 schools in Tanzania.  And probably less than 1% of these schools are connected to the internet.

So, as we discussed, we came up with this Tanzania Digital Inclusion Programme.  And the idea is to connect people, plus, you know, connecting the schools.  And we were fortunate to get a grant to implement the project.  And the model that we used is called community network innovation hub where we combine the issue of access or connectivity and innovation uptick in underserved areas and rural areas as well.

So, we started with one community network innovation hub called key online Go Neat.  In this project we were targeting to connect, you know, members who are willing to join our community network.  And so far we have managed to organize about 150 community members.  And what we have done in short term, because, you know, personally the issue of connectivity, you are talking about spectrum.  So spectrum can be a very daunting issue when you are dealing with it.  Because there is a lot of money involved in the certain village in Tanzania, even if it's the members were to unionize, maybe it will take almost a century to be able to pay the license fee for that.

So, what we did, we came around, put our efforts together, and we started by, you know, installing the fiber from the telecom operator to the termination where community center is -- it is a container.  We put an infrastructure there.  And each member, you know, would contribute.  So, that, you know, the package that we get from the telecom operator, we slice it in terms of the number of members that we have.

So, you will find you are able to access broadband internet and not a very affordable price.  Because, you know, it's like if you are alone and you do the fiber installation, it's very expensive.

But with the number of people saying, you know, you mobilize the number of people, the minimum model that we have used requires a minimum of 100 people to be able to get a reasonable package of connectivity from the fiber -- from the telecom operator.

So, we have added people who are enjoying community, you know, community broadband, if I may call it.  And with that we have been audible to connect, you know, around -- you know, we are going to 10 schools now.  And a health center we have been able to do that.

So, to answer your question, Poncelet, I think if you can be able to mobilize on short term as we wait, I think the Director General you was talking about, they are working in a way they can recognize the community network and also see a way they can be able to get a spectrum for connectivity.

So, I think on the short term, what we can do is, actually, engage the community members, mobilize, see what the problem is, and then once you do that, you are able to connect to the broadband internet.  Actually, I am one of those who enjoy broadband internet.  And sometimes when I get to the mobile internet, I get crazy.  Because you put a little band and within a short period of time you are unable to stay there meaningfully.

So, in the short term, I think we can engage because the communities there, they telecom operate as they have good infrastructure.  So the money that we put together, you can be able to get affordable broadband internet through that arrangement.

I'm very happy to see the CEO of Universal Communication Access Fund is in the room.  And I think she will get an opportunity to talk about how they are also using the basic internet equipment to connect as many schools as they can.  Thank you.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Nazar.  I will move over to Wisdom Donkor and go to my online Moderator.  Wisdom, Ghana is known to have the cheapest cost of internet in terms of data in Africa, about 6 to 1 cents are the current statistics.  But we have a lot of situations whereby rural communities, just by the cost is down in Ghana in terms of access for rural communities, broadband access is still very limited.  We want to get your perspective within the short term of achieving this access goal for all.

>> NAZAR NICHOLAS: Thank you very much, Poncelet.  Yes, I will touch on a few areas in my country.  My name is Wisdom Donkor for IGF and also IGF task force.

Yes, I will look at the first one, policy demands of a rural communities.  It looks like our government, as you see all of us, we don't understand the policy demands of our rural communities.  So, hence, we, kind of, push everything to them.  And if it doesn't work, we go back to the table.

So, I think we really have to look at this and see what are the actual needs of our rural communities.  The urban communities, do we have part of the urban communities that is poor, network is not there.  But gradually they are getting there.  But in rural communities, it's what we have to think of now and see how we can bring them up to speed.

We need to understand their economic situation based on the sectors that we have within our countries.  The first one is the aggregate sector.  Mostly if you go to the rural communities, they are mostly farmers.  So, if these communities are mostly farmers, then what we have to do for them in order for them to also leverage on their farming activities using the technology that we deploy for them.

The first one would be that at the end of every season, they have as their produce.  And this produce goes to waste.  They don't end up in the markets.  So, what can we do?  And what we can do is to look at those policies.  And the first one is the community network that we are all talking about.  And then if we get in a community network, on top of it, we also have to think about a content.  What content do they need to sell their produce?  We need to look at that.  And also the farmers themself.  They also need content.

Their first content is, let me say weather information.  They need the weather information to know when they produce their crops.

The other aspect is also have education.  And the most important is the entertainment.  In this they don't have form of entertainment.  They do their farm and all the farm works and get to the house and then there's nothing to entertain them.  The entertainment is what's maybe as you say, husband and wife, activities in the bedroom.  And when they are reducing content, that means we are producing more children.  And if they are producing more children, then that means that poverty will keep going up.

So, we need to look at all this and begin to address them, one of the areas.  Not just thinking of giving them the community network and then just now.  Yeah.  So I think for us these are the directions that we are thinking, looking at the sectors, what are the sectors that applies that we try to look at that and deploy the solutions for them.  Yes.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Thank you very much, Wisdom.  Thanks a lot.  That was a lot of giggling and laughing.  But what you said, you know, last statement on this bedroom entertainment, especially in rural -- most rural parts of the world is leads to a lot of population explosion and if it gets access there will be more things for them to do and that's the real solution, you know.

I will move over to my colleague, my online Moderator from the Ghana IGF.  If you have any questions online, we take them before I move to the diverse stakeholders we have here in this session on universal access within the short term.

Kosy.  Kosy, are you online?  I thought I saw you earlier online.  Is there any questions online, contributions?

>> NAZAR NICHOLAS: As we wait for him, I would like to add one important point.  The engagement does not only limit itself to the community members.  It is very important to engage the -- or the government because those are the voices that can put the legislation together.

So, that can also -- because if we frame our demand on what is it that we want to achieve.  Because, you know, kids are not only in town centers or in cities.  They are also in rural area.  Just imagine what would have happened if delegates was born somewhere in some village remote today?  I mean, would we have Microsoft Windows and all these other technologies?

So, I think we need to get into the senses of the technocrats, so they understand this side of the story.  And this one hand, you know, the citizens is not the same.  So citizens are not the same and we need to accommodate all of them to policy discrimination.  If I may.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Thank you very much, Nazar. 

Kosy, if you are not there, I will throw a caveat to the various stakeholders that we have here.  There's one thing that is very clear.  The telecos are the new oil in most parts of the world, you know.  And that new oil is found by data.  So you can see that data is the new detail, the catalyst for those data.  In most parts of the Global South, especially in Africa, we have the telecos.  Most of the social responsibility programmes are cog promotions for people to spend more on data.

But you go back to see that most they are profit making but at the end of the day we have a situation whereby the rural poll, not only in the Global South, even in western countries -- I will give you a story in (?).  Some years ago I was in Wales, in the outskirts of Wales in a small town.  Connectivity in the night, I had to climb a little hill.  And I couldn't believe that I was in the United Kingdom (?) to get connection on my phone to be able to communicate, you know.  But it's because it's a rural settlement of a population that was very minimal and telecom and all the other telecom providers they didn't look at this as important to have more cell towers there.  And that is the reality we face in many parts of the world.

And if we are in the short term, I think it's necessary for our stakeholders to come together.  And this is where I would like to put the floor open to hear models that you think we can use to achieve universal access.  Please, sir, introduce yourself and contribute.  Thank you.

>> JOSEF NOLL: Thanks a lot and thanks for this example of Wales that fits very well into the discussion which I had with (?) who is the head in the EU for connecting the --

>> MODERATOR: Introduce yourself.

>> JOSEF NOLL: Josef Noll, Oslo, and Secretary-General of the Basic Internet Foundation.

The comment I want to make is in Europe we have about 12% of the population which is underserved, where there is no fiber, no whatsoever.  And one of the models we discussed in Europe is, yes, we are building fiber around the highways and then we think about using 5G technology to bring the link from those fibers into the villages. 

And exactly that model is a model which also discussed here in Ethiopia with Safaricom.  And in Tanzania with Vodacom Foundation.  And those operators are very interested in piloting with us or at least setting up the project.

The point I wanted to make on the business model, what we have seen is the practical demands on the ground, when we connected 50 schools in Kenya, when we connected now 60 schools in Tanzania, scaling up to 300 schools, is that when we go together with the telecom operators, then they open up for new business models, like in Kenya, we now get a five megabits per second SIM card for $58.  And that is, of course, is a real game changer as compared to the $500 which we otherwise see.  It's currently only for the school connectivity.  And we try to extend that to what we call the community learning living labs, a C3L where we say we need to think about whether or not every community should have an empowerment center for those who can't go to school, who are left aside or who are not trained on digital.

Too much info.  Sorry.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Over to you from NRI and (?) business.

>> AUDIENCE: Thank you very much, Poncelet Ileleji.  My name is (?) from Niger.  And I go back to what has been said so far but as a recommendation.  We recently conducted a research with the work foundation regarding the investor service fund.  And my remark, my personal remark in most African countries, especially the conk o fund, is this fund added meaning the telecos, some of them 2%, some of them 1% of their revenue (?) connecting in the last mile investors your colleagues.  What we are discussing here today.  The problem is corruption and how those funds have been managed.

So, my recommendation was in that -- my recommendation was that instead of giving the members to the regulator or the government to be, it is very important to create independent entities where who are presented in the news of those funds.  Because we talking about digital literation, the last mile, talking about a lot of issues.  But the question is how it's been managed.  It is very important that they should have very well stretch of projects that have been accepted by all the stakeholders to connect those rural communities to train them because as someone said, giving them the internet is not enough.  We need to train them for it to be very useful for them, because the young especially in Africa and most countries in the world know the younger people are getting connected.

We have information that social media platforms today when you go to where they have access to internet, they only spend time on social media.  So it is very important that we, actually, you know, train them so that the universal access fund doesn't just bring the internet to them but also the digital literacy including into the curriculums or training.  So it's very important.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Thank you.  My colleague from the Australian NRI online.  Australia, as you know, is very vast on with a lot of remote (?) in the short term and access what is being done.  Please.  You can go unmute her.  Yeah.

Okay.  Thank you.

>> CHERYL LANGDON-ORR: Thank you.  Awesome, brilliant (?) because we call (?) (muffled audio) here we have a tyranny of distance issue being one last continent with a population and, of course, those dense populations in city spaces are very well served and have been both before our national broadband network rollout and, of course, starting off with the national beside network.  There are remote and rural communities, a little bit like the Welsh example are still struggling and very much needing to look at hybrid mechanisms.  We don't have high-speed coverage.  Very key.  Listening very closely to what I was just hearing at the moment the 5G coverage is overlapping in exactly the same way to the five densely population areas.

It's a matter of recognizing the universal -- universality, the requirements for many persons, I don't think an education as well as of course entertainment, for very good reasons, I hear.  That we do need to make so that networking is ubiquitous and it is cost-effective.  Our mobile connectivity is probably going to be the most likely in remote and rural areas because, you know, maybe in line bad to crop to putting in other systems.  But what we are finding and this has been shown in some areas but I think it will probably make a difference, is with the low orbiting satellite network.  (?) satellite connectivity for remote and rural.  But, unfortunately, as it's become more popular, its ability to serve at reliable and good speed and it is not particularly affordable, I will mention.

(?) considerably we are finding some people, myself included, using Leo, the low orbit satellite system.  Again, this is a point which is too high for many communities, in particular disadvantaged communities.  So, we are working with our government and our instrumentalities and, of course, our business interest to try and drop the cost and increase the coverage.  But it is a huge challenge but it's one we all have to make and, perhaps, learn from.

So, I am very keen to learn from other countries.  It is a topic that our net thing, internet governance in Australia is particularly keen on, because we have had (?) areas to find and the opportunities are unsurmountable.  I could go on, but I won't.  Thank you.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Thank you very much from our colleague in Australia.  I will call on our colleague Judith from the (?).  She is online I suppose.  Get her perspective to get perspective from various regions of the world.  Some people maybe in the U.S. and in the UK everything is okay.  So, Judith, over to you.

>> JUDITH HELLERSTEIN: This is Judith Hellerstein.  I wasn't planning on speaking because we have a USA representative there.  But we have a lot of issues in the indigenous communities in the U.S. and then in the low-income areas.  And we are also trying a bunch of community networks in urban areas to reach out to these low-income areas.  We are building -- ISOC DC is building one -- a couple in the Baltimore region and we are also trying to do some work with libraries in the region as well, and building, sort of, networks around them.  Because the -- and indigenous areas.

Most of these areas, there's been no access to internet in these areas.  So, there is -- it's a big effort to do that.  And there is recent legislation that has now, because of COVID, the congress, when a lot of kids couldn't go to school, there was a lot of movement to get funding for them, for the subsidies for the internet access.

People used to claim, oh, they had one phone per household.  Imagine trying everyone to use one phone when the parents are taking it off to work or something like that.  So, it's very difficult in some -- a lot of low-income areas for kids to get homework done and others.

So, in the U.S. we have a lot of issues also with internet access in the rural communities, in the urban communities.  One great example from ISOC New York, start of ISOC New York is the New York mesh which is an urban community network reaching out to the low-income areas and building all through volunteers a large community network but in the urban areas, in Brooklyn and others, to try to provide access to low-income communities at low cost or free.  And asking them to volunteer their services to train them to help expand the network.

So, I think that will be matrix.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Thank you very much.  I open the floor back now here for contributions on this topic.  Organizations (?) over to you, Madam, and then behind.

>> JUSTINA MASHIBA: Thank you very much.  My name is Justina Mashiba, the Chief Executive Officer of the IGF in Tanzania.  I am happy to be here, and I was just listening to different contribution from different people.  But what I can do -- what I can say from the topic, what do we do to achieve universal connectivity in a very short period.

The first one, I think that what we should do is engagement.  When you are talking of engagement of stakeholders, that one is very key.  Like if you want to maybe to go to the villages or rural area to do maybe internet connectivity, you should really engage the community around that particular place.  If you don't engage them, at the end of the day no one is going to use it.

Another thing that we should also make use of VTs, awareness.  Once you go and roll out or do internet connectivity in areas and no one is aware about it, why do I have to take my personally and buy band or internet instead of going and buying a piece of bread?  Awareness is very important as well in making sure that we connect everyone in rural population.

And the last one that I can really talk about is on affordability part of it.  We know the income of the rural population is not the same as the one in urban population.  So, once we take all these three items together, wherever that we are going to invest in rural areas, we should really take into consideration of those three items: Engagement, areas and affordability.

We have done a lot in Tanzania.  The guy from Togo saying -- I don't know, maybe you can come to Tanzania to learn about it.  We have done a lot.  We have done a lot and we have a lot of African countries coming to benchmark in Tanzania.  Last week we have dedication from Uganda.  We have a request from Sierra Leone at the moment.  So, we have done a lot.  And maybe I can also invite you to come and see what we can do.

And in our board of directors, we have private sector in our board of directors.  So, it is really, like, very transparent, the way we disperse the subsidy, all the plan that we want to do in terms of rolling out services, in terms of services in villages.  We really engage and agreed on how are we going to do that.  Thank you very much.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Over to you, sir.

>> AUDIENCE: Yeah.  Thank you.  My name is Aswalda Lawnquim from Dominican Republic.  We have been working with creating different schemes of universal access projects since more than 10 years ago, trying to invite different kind of stakeholders, like the ISPs, telecommunication sectors.  Many of those projects have failed because there is no transfer of knowledge to the villages where the projects have been made.  And that creates some kind of a short-term possibility.  They are using not only public telephones to transmit the wi-fi for that idea, but also trying to reach out with a network for the rural areas.

Recently, like, yeah, like 12 years ago, the government implemented a rural community projects.  It's like a small places where they have different computers that has evolved through time, digital innovation centers where peoples go to learn some digital literacy.  And also to adopt different new technologies, like robotics, like 3D printing and like that.  And they are very popular.  But they are not so much.  They are, like, 150 throughout the country, which is good.  But could be better.  Because of the opportunity it had.

And recently, the government has been working on a digital literacy project, reaching out to connecting the unconnected.  And there is a possible elicitation, the base on a pilot, using a Starlink as a point of transmission and connecting with different kind of integrated network, networks distribution throughout the population.

So, there are different opportunities to see Internet Society is participating.  We are trying to be part of elicitation to try to bring solutions to those in rural communities in an affordable way.  Also including a transfer of knowledge and to the creation of some -- a body of maintenance on the communities to ensure that it could be a long-term proposal.  Thank you.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Thank you, Dominican Republic.  I will take three more interventions as we are going into the hour.  And then I will allow my panelists, starting online, to round that out.  (?) take another one to look at it from not just the access spots, what's meaningful access.  Because there's one thing saying access in Gambia, I will give you, for example.  We have 99% coverage in terms of voice, on data.  They will tell you they have 90%.  But it's not really meaningful access.  Some places you are still in 2G and everything.

So, I would like to hear some interventions on short-term meaningful access, not just access.  Any contributions?  You are welcome to speak, please.

>> JOSEF NOLL: Thank you.  Josef, from the University of Oslo. 

The question of meaningful access is, actually, is the current internet model working as it should work or should we at the model of the road?  Yes, we need someone building the roads.  But once the roads are built, pedestrians and cyclists have free access on the road.  If we translate to the internet, we could ask ourselves what are the digital pedestrians and what are the digital cyclists?  Is that text in picture?  Because we all know the money is in the broadband.  The money is in the Bali wood, the Premier League and these kind of services.

Our internal regulations tell us that an internet light or the digital pedestrians cyclist, that's as little as 1.5 to 2% of the total bandwidth used in the mobile network.  That's still an additional text so I could play that back to you or any of the government representatives for is that the tax we imply.  But I would love us to think about it.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Thank you.  Yes, go ahead, sir.

>> AUDIENCE: Thank you very much.  My name is rally, I am from Afghanistan.  We have (?) I'm the former president for maintenance city chapter.  That's farmer because we don't have any chapters anymore.  So I am also the MDHF coordinator for Afghanistan.  We have been working initial ideas lessons since 2016 and as well as we have covered -- we have separately organized youth IGF and in 2019 and we have had women's summit in our initial IGFs as a parallel session as well as very important part of our national (?) was the academia, IGF for kids.

I do support the mindset awareness very important.  Like in Afghanistan and some areas, it's not just about the kids, not about the youth even.  Elders.  If you ask them about the internet, what it is, they think it's as a service, just using the offices for official works, for official communications.  And if you are some, the kids, they will name social media or they name a game, which they have used through internet.

So, I think besides the connectivity or meaningful access, awareness is very much important, that people should understand the value of internet, especially the time of COVID, that taught us a very good lesson, that how important connectivity is and it is not just for communication for official communications, but connecting families with digital.  Thank you.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Thank you.  I would like to draw a question to you because we all know right now what's going on, especially with women education in terms of being a woman is one of the worst place to live as a woman.  And access is needed.  Most of them not going to school or being stopped by the current Taliban region there.

How do you see women using, in terms of access in Afghanistan, what are you doing about it for them to be able to, if they are not able to go to conventional schools, being able to get access to be able to learn online at home?

>> AUDIENCE: Yeah, thank you for the question.  For those who -- I mean for those women who seek to learn online, so they also understand the internet, and they do access the internet.  But the problem is the financial crisis in Afghanistan right now.  They cannot -- like most of the people cannot afford even to pay for internet connectivity.  Like, if you get one gig data in on your mobile phone, it costs you almost three U.S. dollars.  And the unemployment rate is rising day by day.  The poverty is rising.

So, the main issue besides those other politics side is the financial crisis that most people, even if they have access, but they cannot afford to pay for it.

So, yeah, we wanted to do for them something like as we did in the last 20 years, but right now I don't -- I just does not broadcast I'm saying because I have to go back to Afghanistan.  So, like our hands are tied now.  Yeah.  You can't imagine how difficult it was for me to get out of Afghanistan to come here.  Because they don't know what is IGF.  I was saying that I am invited to participate in the IGF and it is a UN recognized event, platform.  They were asking me to show my badge, my UN badge.  They think I'm an employee to the UN.

It's very difficult to convince them that I do work for my people.  I do represent my people.  I am not representing any political party, not any group.  So, it was a nightmare.  They even canceled my ticket, my -- I had boarding pass.  And they didn't -- they wouldn't allow me to come here.

But I finally, kind of, begged to please let me go at, it's an important meeting for me.  I go there for my people, for Afghanistan.  So I finally got their permission to come here.  But before I was a bit low profile, they don't know who I am.  And I bet who I am, so I'm afraid going back, I might be questioned.  I might be -- I don't know what happens, what's the consequences.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Thank you very much.  The world is with you, the IGF community is with you.

I will hand over to Anya from the IGF Secretariat who runs the NRIs to say some few remarks before we go into our panelist to close the session.  Anya.

>> ANYA: thank you very much, very kind of you.  No.  Thank you for the hard work to all the other eyes who worked on this very important topic throughout the year.  And I think just your narratives that you are sharing here speaks about the complexity of the topic and of the fact that if we don't all work together across disciplines, across stakeholder groups, but especially across countries, particular value of the news, we will not reach the digital divide, but that's how complex it is.  And with that, I will sure continue tackling this project until we make progress.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Thank you.  Cheryl for the IGF, online, last words.  Then Judith.

>> CHERYL LANGDON-ORR: Thank you.  I'm Cheryl, again, from Australia.  I was literally just typing.  I think from me we have heard very similar themes from many of us so there's some globally applicable issues, the degree of talent might be different.  But the actual topics are very much the same and it comes down to that accessible being affordable and effective.  So, I think, perhaps, working together as well as learning from each other may be the only way forward, but it has to be in partnership with both the decisionmakers and those making the investments and that, of course, is industry and, perhaps, working as a three between governments important question for many of us in the NRIs.  Thank you.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Thank you, Cheryl.  Judith, last words.

>> JUDITH: Thanks again for the allowing the U.S. IGF to make comments.  I echo everyone's view.  We need to work more with the communities and try to find innovative solutions to how to bring access to the low-income communities, indigenous groups, persons with disabilities, a range of different groups.  So, we will look towards community networks, other Leos, other projects, working with local libraries to try to gain free access to it.

So, I look forward to future IGFs and hopefully we will be on site the next one.  Bye.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Thank you, Judith, from the U.S. IGF.

And Roberto.

>> ROBERTO ZAMBRANA: Thank you, Poncelet.  I think there are a lot of things to do.  We can improve the role for governments.  We will continue listening the demands from the private sector in our countries to the government as, for instance, to lower the fees for spectrum.  And I think there are a space for the local regulations, particular in the case of my country, I can be sure that there is a way for the government to actually make particular agreements with the private sector, with the telecommunications companies in order to make this treatment different.  But, of course, with the condition.  The condition should be that they have to do this effort to lower prices, to implement infrastructure in places when, of course, those are not attractive for the sector, but the need for communications is really critical.

I think there is too much to improve and hopefully we will do during the following years.  Thank you, Poncelet.


Mohamed from Bangladesh.

>> MOHAMMAD ABDUL HAQUE: Thank you, Speaker.  I particularly especially focused in the meaningful access our country, is connectivity is everything okay.  But problem is meaningful access.  When we are going to rural area, in mobile connectivity but other connectivity we don't have.  Mobile connectivity short 2G but mobile operators say we are providing 4G.  Same problem also in the city also.  We are in the city one connected (muffled audio) capital city, (?) mention is the 4G.  When I am going to (muffled audio) unless they are showing the 2G maybe connectivity.  This is the meaningful connectivity is very important in our country right now.  Thank you.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Bangladesh, I like that word meaningful connectivity.


>> NAZAR NICHOLAS: Thank you.  I have got the appeal if I were to borrow from Martin Luther King, he say be not afraid, we shall overcome.  And the issue is that we are having the challenges for connectivity.  First of all, these challenges, there is no challenge in this worldwide in which the human ingenuity cannot rise above it.  So I believe let us roll up our sleeves in this room and see ways we can be able to connect our communities where we are.  The guy said, do what you have -- do what you can with what you have, where you are.

So, I believe as we live in this room, we can be able to start organizing, you can start engaging our policymakers.  In the end, we can give the next generation of Africa, the young men and women in Africa, a story that they can participate effectively on the digital economy through meaningful and affordable internet access.  And there I think until next time.  Thank you so much for listening to us.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Thank you, Nazar. 

Wisdom, last words, IGF.

>> WISDOM DONKOR: Yes.  My last word will be that, we have to look at -- look at ownership, community ownership of this innovations that we are talking about.  Mostly you see that government will deploy some of the solutions to rural communities.  But then those communities are not directly involved.  And I want to finish and end at least, the project becomes white elephant.  So it has to be a way that the community have to own that facility through their leaders and in order that we can sustain whatever projects that we are talking about.

>> PONCELET ILELEJI: Close this session with my last words.  The Rapporteur here, please -- all the Rapporteurs please coordinated with him.  We have a Rapporteur here for this session.  I want to thank you all, especially our online audience, what we spoke, it was good, we had two from Australia, from Judith for the U.S. IGF speak because I was a little bit very uncomfortable that all the speakers in person were all male speakers, you know.  So I am very happy we had views from those and we have views from different continents of the world.  It's important we keep the conversation going within our communities and above all, we collaborate.  That is the only way we can achieve meaningful access.  And I'm Poncelet from the IGF and chair of the African (?) for the UNC, closing this session.  God bless you, and have a nice day.