IGF 2022 Open Forum #16 Commonwealth Hard Talk for Action

Time
Thursday, 1st December, 2022 (07:45 UTC) - Thursday, 1st December, 2022 (08:45 UTC)
Room
Caucus Room 11

Panel - Auditorium - 60 Min

Description

Article 19 of the the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.” This statement speaks to the right of every individual to communicate and in this regard, it is incumbent on Governments to ensure that the means for communication are available to all. Communication is an essential part of the development process. Technology-driven development can only reach its full potential if all citizens, urban and rural and remote populations are able to exercise their right to communicate, are informed and engaged in their communities. Information and communication and technologies (ICT) not only provide the means for citizens to communicate but can play a significant role in overcoming the barriers that hinder development such as illiteracy, cultural differences, and physical isolation, and addressing challenges that hinder development. More importantly, ICT have the potential to connect communities and its most pervasive manifestation, the Internet, to connect individuals, foster human relations, provide access to the information, to facilitate collaboration, the exchange of ideas. Connectivity to ICT is the starting point for digital democracies, the realisation of human rights and are a significant enabler for the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030. Governments must therefore commit to facilitating access to ICT for all citizens, whether they live in urban, rural, or remote or are persons with disabilities, women and other vulnerable groups to ensure that no one is left behind. Inclusive access to connectivity has a tremendous possibility to increase countries’ potential to achieve the various Sustainable Development Goals and agenda 2030. Human rights are at the centre of a society's well-being and must be protected. The United Nations human rights revolve around peace, mutual respect and dignity. ICT facilitates the realisation of many human rights such as freedom of expression, the participation in democratic and political processes, the ability for all people to be educated, to access information without fear or discrimination. Concurrently, ICT facilitate the violation of many of these human rights resulting for example in child exploitation, human trafficking bullying and fraudulent activities, In an interconnected digital environment, measures must also be taken to assure these rights are enjoyed by all. Making broadband affordable is a critical step in achieving meaningful universal connectivity. One of the seven Advocacy Targets of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission is to ensure that by 2025, entry-level broadband services are made affordable in low- and middle-income countries at less than 2% of monthly Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. While over the last decade there has been a trend of declining prices, affordability gaps have persisted or widened over the past years. As societies become more reliant on technology for everyday tasks, care must be taken to assure citizens’ human rights are assured and protected. It is therefore necessary to create an enabling environment of policies, legislation and regulations is essential for attaining the goal of affordable universal access for fostering development while protecting human rights.

Will facilitate both online and onsite through moderators. Balance interaction of both onsite and online with question and answers and responces to speakers remarks. The IGF tools and social media platforms like Youtube, Facebook among others.

Organizers

Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation
 

Speakers

1. Ms. Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General - Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation

2. Mr. Ajmal Anwar Awan, Member (Chief) Internation Cooperation - Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunication - Federal Government of Pakistan

3. Mr. Lacina Kone, Director General - SMART Africa Secretariat

4. Dr. Rosa Persendt, Senior Lecturer: Contemporary Social Issues - University of Namibia 

5. Dr. Emmanuel C. Manasseh, Director Industry Affairs - Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA)

 

Onsite Moderator

Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation

Online Moderator

Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation

Rapporteur

Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation

SDGs

5. Gender Equality
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Targets: Communication is an essential part of the development process. Technology-driven development can only reach its full potential if all citizens, urban and rural and remote populations are able to exercise their right to communicate, are informed and engaged in their communities. Information and communication and technologies (ICT) not only provide the means for citizens to communicate but can play a significant role in overcoming the barriers that hinder development such as illiteracy, cultural differences, and physical isolation, and addressing challenges that hinder development. More importantly, ICT have the potential to connect communities and its most pervasive manifestation, the Internet, to connect individuals, foster human relations, provide access to the information, to facilitate collaboration, the exchange of ideas. Connectivity to ICT is the starting point for digital democracies, the realisation of human rights and are a significant enabler for the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

The importance of political will from the governments to ensure connectivity and access in all areas of the country. The government should look at internet as a public utility.

Energy is a crucial factor to ensure technology access and bridging digital divide. Its is worthy to diversify sources of energy to power technology in rural and hard to reach areas. Alternative energy sources like solar, wind and other renewable source can play a significant role.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

Fit for purpose regulatory frmawork that can attract investment into ICT. The governments should be regulating for development and not for tax collection. It is crucial in this era to ensure that the policies and regulations create an enabling environment to spur investment into ICT to bridge the digital divide.

Protection and guarantee to human rightsin the use of modern technology should not only be the work of policy makers in Government but also the ICT industry service providers. The government should ensure adequate regulations for protection online especially for childeren, PWD and girl.

Session Report (* deadline 16 December) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

The session started on time with welcome remarks from the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO). She welcomed the participant and gave a quick update on CTO’s work in meaningful connectivity to enhance digital transformation. She reiterated that meaningful connectivity encompasses affordable and availability of appropriate content to advance citizens lives. The SG noted that universal affordable access to broadband networks and devices, the ability to use the network facilities and devices safely, and the availability of appropriate content, applications and services are the essential components of meaningful connectivity. She also underscored the importance of human rights as a must-have for online access that contributes to the wellbeing of societies.

The provocateur introduced speakers who discussed the need for political will to provide affordable universal broadband connectivity, leveraging infrastructure and technological innovation while addressing energy requirements for connectivity. The speakers also discussed the need to protect human rights in the digital environment and how to deal with online harm such as cyberbullying, privacy issues, cybercrimes and negative effects of social media.

The panel was composed of 5 speakers of which 2 were ladies.

Key points of discussion included: 

  1. The need for political will to realise universal broadband connectivity. Importance of Governments to plan, set targets and allocate budgets for connectivity nation-wide.
  2. Governments should view Internet as a public utility and increase access through proper use of universal service and access fund to cover rural and hard to reach areas.
  3. There is an urgent need for a new generation of human rights activist to address the online harm and protect human rights in the same was way as offline.
  4. Availability of connectivity does not equal adoption, to increase adoption it is essential to:
  • Focus on digital skills development
  • Local content promotion
  • Provision of devices for use
  • Develop specific programmes that focuses on the vulnerable groups (PWD, girl & women)
  • Enhance connectivity through community projects like smart villages and digital centre
  • Increase market competition to bring about affordability
  1. Energy goes hand in hand with connectivity and it can impede access. Therefore, it is crucial to diversify sources of energy, incorporating renewable source to facilitate access to the digital economy.
  2. There was a call for a new regulatory philosophy to drive investment and bring about affordability.
Session Type
OF