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.
>> BERNADETTE LEWIS: Thank you so much to our moderator. Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Bernadette Lewis, and I'm the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organization, the oldest and largest Commonwealth institution dedicated to communications, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to our second hard talk for action open forum session at the Global Internet Governance Forum in Ethiopia.
Today we will be addressing the subject "Connecting All People and Safeguarding Human Rights." And the challenge is how do we ensure that every person, wherever they may be in the world can connect to the Internet, are able to make effective use of its features and services, and at the same time, enjoy the human rights.
This morning, we're privileged to have three distinguished guests. Mr. Ajmal Anwar Awan. He's the chief of international corporation of the Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunication of the Federal Government of Pakistan. He is an accomplished change management agent who has built partnerships in the public and private sector over five continents and has led cloud and telecommunication businesses with global technology vendors and service providers.
Also we're pleased to have Mr. Lacina Koné, director general of SMART Africa and former adviser to the Prime Minister and adviser for public reform and digital transformation.
Last panelist is Dr. Rosa Persendt. She's an academic, anthropologist from the University of Namibia.
And these three panelists will be presenting their perspectives on different aspects of the subject. And finally, I'm introducing Dr. Emmanuel Manasseh. He's the Director of Industry Affairs for the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority.
And Dr. Manasseh, talking through, for not having universal broadband connectivity, for ensuring ‑‑ not protecting human rights, in an increasingly digital world.
So at the end of this session, we will have dispensed with the things that are really not effective, and we will have actionable solutions for these challenges.
So without further hesitation, I present Dr. Manasseh, our provocateur.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Thank you for all the effort you made in making this session today a reality. Also special thanks to the administration of Ethiopia for hosting Internet Governance 2022 IGF 2022.
We all know with the advancement of technology come evolution of needs. Today, access to Internet is widely recognized as an indispensable enabler of broad range of human rights safeguarding, become the essential key to human rights protection. How to connect human rights in a hyperconnected world? Political will for access to Internet.
So the panel is going to discuss this. But the discussion is well aligned with the global digital compact, the global digital compact is expected to outline shared principles of an open, free, secure digital future for all, which may include among others, issues related to connection of people to the Internet and safeguarding human rights.
The need, as I said, for political will to achieve access to the Internet is critical. I invite now Mr. Ajmal Anwar Awan, so that he could explain and demonstrate about to share the experience how Pakistan is (?) the political will to connect all citizens to the Internet. Welcome.
>> Ajmal Anwar Awan: Apologies for the delay. There are two videos?
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: It's OK. But we can hear you. You can proceed.
>> AJMAL ANWAR AWAN: Thanks again. First of all, apologies for our minister, he couldn't join in‑person because of the prior engagements, and he authorized me to represent the ministry and government for this auspicious moment and the event you're organizing here. The government has spent a lot of money in the political will to grow the revenue in the ICT sector, but also to have the connectivity in the country, in all the remote areas.
And also growing the ecosystem in the ICT sector. So not only having the fiber connectivity or the dark fiber, but on top of that, having the applications, like the application for e‑commerce, having the programs for women empowerment, having programs for startups.
So a lot of activities are happening. So the vision of the government was digital Pakistan vision. And the underpinning, there are five pillars. Connectivity was on top of that. And then the second pillar was the eGovernment, and then infrastructure, digital scaling, and the startup ecosystem.
You can get the political will from the fact that the revenue in the ICT sector has grown about 40 times in the last three years.
In fact, if I calculate the entire government's span, it will be close to 70‑person group in the ICT revenue.
So a lot of targets set for the coming years, and I can answer your questions if you have anything else to ask.
But connectivity and the meaningful connectivity is on the top of agenda for this comment. Now, if I give you examples, about 50 billion Pakistan Rupees have been spent since this government ‑‑ well, I would say, since this minister took over, and his party. And that was from 2018. So 50 billion. And in total, how much was spent on the connectivity, particularly under the, what we call, the USFDA organization that was set up in particular for serving the unserved and underserved areas of the country?
And that is universal service fund. That was established in 2006, 2007. Until today, they spent 89 billion Rupees. But for this government, or since our minister took over, they spent about 50 billion alone in the last four years.
So that is the will you can see, having the connectivity. And the minister usually uses the word, calls it meaningful connectivity.
So this connectivity we're talking about, it's on top of what the operators are working on. So telecom operators, like tier 1, tier 2. The telecom operators will be spending their own money from the private sector, and they will be connecting the main cities or tier 1 cities, where they see a business case. 160 kilometers of fiber was connected in the country.
Now, the areas where there is no strong business case for these operators, like the four mobile operators we have here, and all of them are big groups, like the Beyond Group, a company called Jazz. Another operator is Ufone, which is under the umbrella of the management, is under Pakistani Telecom. And China Mobile, zone. So they are working a lot, connecting the major cities.
But our government and the Ministry of Information Technology have set up universal service fund, to connect those areas where mobile operators do not connect. Or they don't ‑‑ doesn't make enough business case or business sense to them.
So the unserved and underserved areas. So the USF is the institution under this ministry.
Other governments or countries have similar setup of USF in Asia Pacific. But we have seen the reports from DSMA and a lot of other analysts, that the Pakistan's USF, universal service fund is one of the best performing USF fund, that is performing in the Asia Pacific, on top of all of it.
And until last year, I found out there were some funds when were unspent. But then they, under the direction of the federal minister, his excellency, and the CEO of USF, did a fantastic job. And they took the money out of the department, the one that was previously held there, not spent. They are now going to 100 percent utilization of the funds, making sure that the amount is well spent for connecting the unconnected, the remote areas.
And one more piece of information. Before this comment, or our minister came on board, the connectivity was close to, about ‑‑ well, I would say before ‑‑ sorry, not this government. I would say even when the USF was set up in 2006, and 2007, before having the USF, the connectivity was about 44% in the country.
And after the USF took over, like new institution established in 2006, 2007. 75% of the reach has been increased.
So it's a huge number. And when this comment came on board, I already mentioned. And our minister spent about 50 billion Rupees within the last four years. Which is more than the money that was spent between 2006‑2007, to 2018.
That was about, I would say 30 billion Rupees that was spent during that time. Like 10 or 11 years.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Thank you very much for demonstrating a really practical experience, and I can see that the political will there and you're walking the talk. Because you say the government has considered broadband as a public utility and invested on that. I really appreciate had experience and the Pakistan vision is realized because of the political and the government will to invest on that.
We'll come back to you later to talk about how you bridge the gap. Because I can see one of the challenges is the gap from coverage gap to adoption gap. But I'll come back to you during the discussion.
For now, I would like to ask Mr. Lacina Koné. Some years ago, the village, it's totally dark. They don't have connectivity. And later you see some strategies they come with it, that started to connect electricity and energy to the villages to have access. I would like to hear also from Lacina Koné, but the technologies for connectivity and the implications for image. Thank you.
>> LACINA KONÉ: Thank you very much, Dr. Emmanuel, and thank you for inviting me and talk about this subject.
Before I actually start, I think on the overall, I think the main point here we need to understand what happened to the telecom sector, it has to happen on the energy sector. I'm talking mainly about liberalization.
If you all remember, back in the beginning, mainly in Africa, or in general, everywhere. Around the world. But mainly in Africa. Most of the telecom company used to belong to the government. It was a state‑owned company, and the liberalization came, we started sometime around late 1990s.
Some of them even earlier than that. And when the liberalization start. And you know, private sector start coming in, and now we have the mobile network operator. That actually helped many countries to jump into the mobile technology instead of having the fixed phone.
The fixed phone line in the many cities and villages started dropping because people started going to mobile technology, because the liberalization came. And we see these examples in counties like Malaysia, and so on and so forth. Some of our African country did not go through a traditional development path.
Today we are a half billion mobile subscribers. More than a half billion mobile subscriber in Africa. What has caused that is because of the liberalizations of the telecom sector.
Again, today, when we talk about the digital economy, the developing country, we can leverage infrastructure and technological innovations to bridge the digital divide. That's what happened in telecom sector.
If we talk about the adoptions of the technology in our countries, if we want to leverage and capitalize on the success of the liberalization of the telecom sector, the image has to go through the same.
When we talk about access to energy, the fundamental thing, we need to have access to energy. If the energy sector is going through a struggle, why I'm saying struggle is because as you know most of our countries in Africa, particularly Africa, the energy countries still belong. The state is still government owned and state owned. It's not private sector owned.
That is the first fundamental thing that we need to do. Two: we need to diversify the sources of the energy. By sources of energy, Africa is where the sun is.
So generating electricity, source of the energy, of course, we do have hydraulic power. We have wind power. And we do have solar power. But where the solar, the energy is being generated, based on the private sector, or of course, some of the big giant private sector. And sold to the government, to be able to ‑‑ [Off mic]
What I'm trying to say is, today these situations in Africa, the progress we made in the telecom sector, we have not seen that happening in the energy sector. And it's really worrisome, because when we look at our continent today, we're only ‑‑ rate in terms of people who have Internet access in Africa, it's about 39‑40%. While the average around the world is about 63%. I believe the new report of the ITU shows 2.7 billion people still remain not connected. But Africa is still about 40%.
So, unless we take some of these necessary steps, I do not believe, that we'll be able to actually meet the SDG goal by 2030. And that's really hard to talk about that.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Thank you very much. And you have touched the liberalization, clean energy, also the issue of adoption. Now the fact that many people do not adopt broadband mobile, even when it is available. And that's called the closing of the digital divide.
Is not simply the matter of extending network capabilities. So you see that policymaker wishing for their people to realize the benefit of Internet connectivity, must understand other potential barriers to adoption, which you have mentioned.
So I'll come back to you later to discuss the issues related to affordable, universal communication access. Options that we have, and also further on the issue of adoption.
But now, I would like to go to Dr. Rosa. To give us experience and to discuss the issue of human rights in the Internet. As we bring everybody online, and we know that both offline and online should be protected. Welcome.
>> ROSA PERSENDT: Thank you very much, and thank you very much for this opportunity. I regard this conversation and discussion as a very serious and important discussion taking us forward.
And I would like to thank everyone for bringing me on board, especially the SG and thank you for the communication so far.
I would like to start this conversation just to say in general that 2020 came with the COVID. And that really had a huge impact on what we are discussing this morning. I just want to throw that ahead of this entire discussion, to say how important the protection of human rights is.
And I would like to go to say there is a general consensus that the access to information is indispensable for a functional democracy in general. It is for this reason that access to information has been recognized and guaranteed as a fundamental human right in various regional, international, and national instruments.
However, the impact of information communication technologies, as well as other new technologies in this new sphere and environment of freedoms. As actually ask that a new type of generation of human rights need to be discussed.
As we know, human rights have been around. Because, on the other hand, day by day, the consumption and the use of this unstoppable form of technology without control, is realizing grave violations of human rights, in all aspects of life.
In regards to the use of these electronic devices. Those of which have direct relation with liberty integrity, information, indemnity, and intangible, affecting especially our young people.
And how do we bring it about, my concern today, and discussion with regards to human rights, would definitely be how do we protect and guarantee this new form of technology.
Not to infringe on any person being young or old, being connected to an institutional. Thank you.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Thank you very much, Dr. Rosa. And maybe I can ask you to add more. The UN General Assembly declared access to the Internet a basic right, allowing individuals to exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression, emphasizing access to facilitate vast opportunity for affordable and inclusive education.
Additionally, the UN also stressed the importance of empowerment of all women and girls by enhancing their access to information and communication technologies. Can you say something about empowering this dimensioned group and what needs to be done to empower groups?
>> ROSA PERSENDT: I think the empowerment in terms of gender is very important. As you have alluded to your statement that you just made, women, especially women and young girls, are still not there where we are supposed to be.
Now these new technologies and new things, tampering as further, or bringing us back into this sphere. And I would dearly want to say, the fact that it was a statement that you just made bring us to the forefront to really come in and take part in all of these activities that are going on.
And not to take any [Off mic] back to where we are with the new technologies and information. And taking us forward and giving, allowing and giving us that space. But again, it's how we use the space, how we utilize the space. How it must not take us back, but taking us forward on this new road.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Thank you very much for that elaboration. Back to Ajmal. You mentioned about the investment that was done in Pakistan, which we really appreciate, and is a great job. It has been mentioned connectivity alone is not enough alone to wider adoption of broadband. Adoption of broadband is equally important to ensure the benefit that goes along with Internet use for everyone. That's why we're hearing, connecting the unconnected. Connecting all people.
You talked about meaningful connectivity, which I really appreciate. And is very good statement. So while broadband may be available, broadband adoption refers to the extent which citizens subscribe and use broadband. What should be done to increase broadband adoption?
>> LACINA KONÉ: Thank you very much. That's a fantastic question. That's really great to have that vision and that understanding, because to connect ‑‑ technology is like you build a road to connect a village, but there are no cars to drive on those roads, then what is the point.
So we provide connectivity to the villages and remote areas. But then there's no utilization. Then what is the point?
So it's a great question. Now, so the government has really thought through and they build those programs where not only the prior connectivity, but have the utilization in terms of the applications, in terms of social activities for women, for youth, for persons with disabilities, so the government not only came up with the plans, but usually, there are different events, awareness programs, also, for women.
So there were computer labs set up in the country. 13 computer labs were set up under the universal service fund, which I mentioned, the USF. So that the girls in the remote areas, in the unserved and underserved areas in particular, with learn computer skills. The government also started something called diggy skills. If you go to ‑‑ by the government. That is for youth, for women, for young girls.
And even adults. They can use the skills, using this connectivity remotely, they can connect. There was also a program for persons with disabilities so that we can mainstream the persons with disabilities and hearing impairment and visual impairment. They can use the connectivity and use the computers and use the different websites and the marketing skills and entrepreneurship development.
The government also started a project with the support from ITU, international telecommunications union, a program was started called the smart village project.
And under the smart village project, we are doing initially, connectivity and making five villages smart villages. So not only do we connect the village, but on top of that we connect the school.
The basic health units. We are talking to cultural organization ‑‑ to have the agricultural ‑‑ the law and order, they can be connected. In remote areas, people can't drive sometimes or they don't have that much of facilities in terms of having cars of their own. Or if sometimes the public transport is not good.
But to provide them the facilities, what you do is on top of the connectivity, you provide facilities in their homes, at their doorsteps, and they can learn the e‑commerce skills. They can use Facebook marketing.
And that is what we do. That is what we do, as part of the ITU programs. We every year, we go for the girls in ICT program, and then we then start a number of trainings.
And we are going to do in the next ten days, by the way, UN officials will come to Pakistan. So we are again celebrating girls in ICD program. There will be training programs. There will be persons with disabilities programs. And we are also working on a child online protection program. One step more. So not only the connectivity consumption, but also we have thought through, the government has thought through, how to protect our kids from cyber‑bullying, harassment, identity theft, and not only utilize the broadband, but also reduce the negative impacts of the broadband and make it affordable, available, and meaningful for all the community members regardless of age, ethnicity, and regardless of which background they come from.
But there's more focus on underserved areas. The reason being in Pakistan and in some other developing countries, as you know a lot of people, they live in the rural areas. And the same is the case in Pakistan. More than 62% live in the rural areas. So there's more and more focus on the women empowerment and youth development for those areas in particular. Thank you.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Thank you very much for this intuitive information, getting what is done. And I'll come back to you on the issue of digital skills. I can see that you're working through the pillars that you just mentioned of digital Pakistan vision. And I'm really impressed by two things need further clarification. Digital skills and ‑‑
Let me go to Mr. Koné, Director General. You mentioned that majority of people in developing countries rely heavily on smartphone. The only access to the Internet. And this is true. It doesn't mean that we don't need to have computing there that thinks, but what you said is true, that most of these developing countries, especially in Africa, you see, smartphone, the only way that people get access to the Internet.
So what strategy can be used between smartphones and other smart devices?
>> LACINA KONÉ: Thank you. I hope I'm not muted. Thank you very much for these questions. In fact, I listen to the progress made in Pakistan. It's quite impressive. In fact, Pakistan is quite well known for the optimal use of the universal access funds. Which we're having some challenge with it of course, in most of the African country, because improper management of universal access funds is able ‑‑ proper access, is able to increase the broadband access.
Now what can we do? Let's be very clear in what I'm going to say in the next few minutes. Increasing the Internet connectivity in any given country, it is not magic. Because today, what we have today in terms of supply of the satellite capacity around the planet. If you combine it with the supply of the fiber optic or fiber submarine cable around our continent and around the world. You combine it together with what we call the fiber cable in the cities and the villages.
When you cover all the supply together it covers 96% of the world population. So why the planet itself is only at about 62‑63% connected, according to recent report by the ITU?
If you look at that average, it translated into close to 40% of 41, 42% in Africa. It has to do with the regulations. It does not have to do with the access to funds. Because the private sector is out there to do the right investments. If the right regulatory environment is conducted in those countries to make those countries attractive for the investor.
Like the telecom operator to come and cover areas which are the coverage area. Talking about a coverage gap. Coverage gap, which mean the area not covered by the telecom infrastructure, according to the World Bank statistic, Africa need from now to 2030, about $103 billion, U.S. dollars to close the financing gap for the activity.
Be careful. Don't make a mistake. If we have today about 40% of people connected, we have something called also, usage gap. What does that actually mean? It represents on the continent, about another 30% on the overall continent, 30%. It means connectivity is available, but it is not being used for four reasons.
One, affordability. Two, content. It means give our mothers and our sisters a reason to use the Internet. Not just social media. Three, access to smart devices. You just mentioned.
No matter what we do, as long as an average price of a smart device either is the smartphone or is the computer, as long as it's below certain median, the median revenue for our population, it will not take up.
And number four, if the security is basically a confident of the population using the technology will have been scared. And will need some time to stabilize security.
If these four conditions are not met we're still missing about 30%. Potentially if we're able to work on this affordability, access to devices the context and the local context, as well as the cybersecurity, we have an opportunity from now to 2025, to get about 30% more connected people. Which will bring Africa to about 70% or 75% by 2025.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Thank you very much. And you should remember that most of the policymakers are logging in and they're hearing what you're saying. So we really appreciate ‑‑
>> LACINA KONÉ: This is a hard topic.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Proper regulatory framework.
>> LACINA KONÉ: Yes.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Feed for proper regulatory framework. Mobility ‑‑
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Could you please explain more. What should be done from the regulatory framework to drive affordability of the services?
>> LACINA KONÉ: OK. This is a hard talk.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Yep.
>> LACINA KONÉ: OK. The Internet grows in Africa the past seven years precisely between 2015‑2019, is the compounded annual growth rate of 45%. Why the Internet is still the most expensive in our continent in Africa?
There's no magic bullet. What I'm trying to say, if the decision makers are listening, the roles of our government are to create a conducive environment to increase the competition and stressing how do we work on the affordability? The affordability, most operators will tell you it's related to the cost of extending from the submarine landing point to the (?) access. And also we have a minimal access.
When I say we need to look at the regulation, policy. Why I am saying this. That's why we delayed most of our investment, is because what does it do for our policymaker to make an attractive policy in terms of pricing, two, to say, "OK, I have an area of next three to five years, I would like to get from the coverage of 60%‑90%." I am giving first opportunity for our operators to extend the connectivity in those areas on the risk of ‑‑ the condition. Tax exemption mechanism, spectrum pricing.
Because exactly as Pakistan representative of the minister said, there are some areas which would never be lucrative in terms of profitability for operators. So what are we doing in terms of regulation?
And instead of doing a regulation for development, we have a ridged regulation, which is ‑‑ rigid regulation which is the regulation for collecting taxes.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Thank you very much. I think Madame Lewis, it's a hard talk and pressure for ‑‑ legal regulatory framework accelerates Internet access. Before I proceed, maybe go to Dr. Rosa. As you mentioned that Internet is human rights.
And you know that is one of the challenges that has been discussed. That we see is there's different categories that need to be protected in the Internet. My question to you is what category of the population seems to lag behind in broadband adoption, even when it is available?
Some people mentioned persons with disabilities, girls and women. What can be done to make sure that this group is not left behind?
>> ROSA PERSENDT: Thank you very much for this question. And it is a very important question. I think the older generations, some of the statistically and according to research, that are still left behind.
And I would like to say the adoption of ‑‑ firstly, I would like to say the adoption of human rights approach to access of information by all countries, cannot be overemphasized. Cannot be emphasized enough.
And therefore, I feel (background noise) the access to all is important. But still, the elderly and other groups are left behind.
And I think we really need to work on that, to bring them in the sphere of information. Because information and communication are important to all.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Thank you. For those who are following us. This is a hard talk, and if you have a question you can put it in the chat. And our speakers will directly address it. So if you have anything you want to ask the speaker, you can write it in the chat.
Thank you. I go back to Anwar from Pakistan. You mentioned about digital readiness or literacy. And you say it plays an important role. Digital readiness, the skills ability to use hardware and software to communicate, manage information and navigate the Internet, and identify threats. These are key issues to the access and increasing is this connectivity.
So my question is digital skills that enable users to take advantage of the connectivity and effectively work in an increasingly digital economy. What are your views regarding skills development that enables and drive such adoption?
And what is ‑‑ you can give us a practical experience of Pakistan. Which is well known in handling those issues. Welcome.
>> LACINA KONÉ: Thank you very much. I would say you are putting me on the spot. It's a really hard discussion.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Hard talk.
>> LACINA KONÉ: It is a hard talk. But really good question. So first, connectivity. Now how we're using our digital skills to make sure there's an outcome. That's what you want to understand? Skills are for the sake of skills. It's not like a degree, handed over to someone, hey, you got a degree. There should be an outcome, a growth in people's lives. So that's what we've thought through.
What the government has done, is we've set up another, a department, or you can say a research fund. And there was a startup fund. And the organization is called Ignite. So what we thought, that under the Ignite, we set up incubation centers in the country. And we are providing startup mentorship, and we are providing some skills, like the real-life experience.
Because practical skills, they can learn through the digital skills program and there are other programs we run from time to frame for up‑skilling and literacy for the youth.
But the need to translate that skill into something tangible, monetize it. And that's why the incubation centers are the best placed centers. Where we can incubate our startups. And we are growing that, the incubation center's network.
So we had initially five incubation centers. They were in the main cities. They were in the capital of the country. And then they were in the main cities of every state or province.
One in the capital city, one in Karachi. That's the main city or the capital city of the province Cyn (phonetic). And then we have another incubation center, in shower, which is the capital city for the province PRPK.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Thank you. That's really appealing. In the interest of time, really sharing the most important thing, the incubation. There are some questions in the room. And Mr. Caleb, could you please invite some to ask questions so the speaker can address?
>> It's a very rewarding moderation that you've done, and we've engaged in questions. So we have Daniel who is our first question from the room. So Daniel, over to you.
>> DANIEL: Thank you. Looking at, we're going harder this time. As private sector or private institutions, it's very difficult to be able to drive investment, where my return on investment is going to be low. So in order to set up this infrastructure, I need to come up with how I'm going to be able to mitigate the operational experts of setting up this infrastructure. Let's look at power bills, let's look at communication expenses, which even streams down to the capacity of the people in locale, to be able to consume this technology. So if we say that the government is going to focus on creating policies, but these policies do not impact the drive for investment in a specific region.
Then I think there is need to kind of revisit these strategies. So if you speak about regulation, and then you speak about investment in this critical infrastructure of connectivity, then let's find ways of how to be able to bridge the gap.
Who offsets the operational expenses? That is some food for thought. Thank you.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Thank you very much, I really appreciate. And actually, Mr. Kohn was pushing that we need agile, fit, framework. If there's any questions in the floor because in the interest of time, we would like to hear some questions from the room. We have only two or three minutes.
>> Do we have any questions from the room? Anyone interested in making an intervention or asking questions?
So it looks like we don't have any, except this one from Daniel. So over to you, Emmanuel, to coordinate and then wrap up the session.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Thank you very much. And really appreciate the contribution that was given in the hard talk. Time is always limited. We have five minutes, and I would like to invite, again, our coordinator and SG who arranged everything and made this a big reality, to give her closing remark on this. Because we have only five minutes. Thank you.
>> BERNADETTE LEWIS: Thank you, Mr. Provocateur, for an excellent job and coming out of the discussions and your probing questions. I could just ‑‑ I have just listed. I'm just going to read them off.
The political will, the importance of planning and setting targets. Right?
The need for the commitment of the budgets. Making effective use of the universal service fund is absolutely important for expanding the coverage. Then we spoke about, Pakistan spoke about the issue of local content. Literacy programs for targeting the groups. Incubation centers for startups. And expanding that network.
Dr. Persendt spoke about a new generation of human rights that recognizes there is a life inside the space. And that seniors should not left behind.
Spoke about the need for liberalizing the power. You cannot have the ICT without the power. Very important point.
And the other important point is the need for Agile regulations. And a new regulatory philosophy that encourages investment and competition. And these are things that would bring down the prices, not just for connectivity, but even devices.
So this has been a very rich, educational session. And I want to thank our guests from Pakistan. Mr. Ajmal Anwar Awan, from SMART Africa. Mr. Koné from Namibia.
And of course, our provocateur, Dr. Manasseh. This has been a very helpful session. We will be crystallizing the things that we understand have to be done to advance our full agenda for ensuring that all people are connected and that the human rights are safeguarded.
These are things that are very important, not just to the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organization, but to our panelists, and the countries of the commonwealth and beyond.
And we will be continuing our discussion with the panelists, because there was so much information that we could make use of. And we will be issuing a report. So I thank you all. I thank my panelists. I thank the provocateur, and I thank the audience. Those who joined us this morning, and stayed the course with us, and asked questions that have us thinking.
And also for the rich discussion. It has been a great morning. And I thank you all for your participation. I don't know if there are a couple more minutes. Any closing remarks? I think we have maybe two minutes before we are terminated.
Any closing remarks from our panelists? Yes, I see ‑‑ go ahead.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Raising a hand.
>> BERNADETTE LEWIS: Yes, go ahead, please.
>> LACINA KONÉ: Thank you very much. It was a fantastic program, and the hard talk. Really good questions. Provocative questions, but really good questions. Putting us on the spot. And presenting what we're doing in our country.
I would recommend, really, we should continue this on a regular basis. Because that not only shows the commitment from the CTO as an organization. The commonwealth telecom organization, which the Secretary General, your excellency, you're heading it. That shows the commitment that you want to have the insights of what the countries are working on, but also that will give you some tools and some food for thought, how you can help these countries.
And the countries who have done something great, you can use their lessons and their experiences to help the other countries, so they can talk to each other and assist each other.
I would say in Pakistan, something I mentioned even before, one, I would say, the thing which I usually promote in our meetings with big investors. Whether they're in Saudi Arabia or China or the United States, and other countries. What we have in Pakistan is a great skill.
The fifth largest populated country of the world. And we have a lot of skills. IT professionals. They speak good English. And they can develop good applications. So we have manpower. Our median age in this country is under 30 years.
And for population. Over 220 million. We can support the world. However, on the other side, there are countries, like rich countries that have finances. They can invest in Pakistan. They can utilize our manpower, and they can build the innovation centers. The software development centers. Gaming centers. So we are open to business for all the world and for commonwealth countries. Thank you.
>> BERNADETTE LEWIS: Great. Thank you very much. Quickly, please. I think ‑‑
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Very limited time.
>> LACINA KONÉ: The only thing I have ‑‑ really would like to thank the commonwealth, communication organization under your leadership. Secretary General, and also thank the provocateur. I wish I had more time to deep dive to see why I do believe that, we need to be moving into Agile policy regulation, instead of just regulation for development, instead of regular regulation, conventional regulation, back in 60's or '70s, because if you see where Pakistan came from to where they are today it has to do with the Agile policy adaptation. Sustainability on the long run, depends on innovation, and innovation can only contribute to our social economic ‑‑ if there's an adaptive regulatory environment. Innovation is never rigid. That's my last word. Thank you very much, and thank you to the organizers for inviting me. Thank you, Dr. Rosa?
>> ROSA PERSENDT: Thank you very much for the opportunity. This was very, very enlightening with everything that came out. I just want to say in terms of human rights, the information is always, any information. It's all about protection, protection of human rights. And thank you for this opportunity.
>> BERNADETTE LEWIS: Great. Thank you very much. With that, we end our session. Thank you for joining us. Thank you.
>> EMMANUEL MANASSEH: Thank you.