Digital Divides & Inclusion
Skills Building for Basic and Advanced Technologies (Meaningful Access)
Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation
Wisdom Donkor, Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation, Civil society /NGO, Africa Group Prof. Lee McKnight, Syracuse University, USA, Academia Prof. Danielle Smith, Syracuse University, USA, Academia Kwaku Antwi, Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation, Civil society /NGO, Africa Group Jane Asantewaa Appiah-Okyere, Syracuse University, USA, Academia Yusuf S Abdul-Qadir, Syracuse University, USA, Academia Akinremi Peter Taiwo, Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation, Civil society /NGO, Africa Group
Prof. Lee McKnight, Syracuse University, USA, Academia Hon. Neema Lugangira, Member of Parliament, Tanzania, Felicia Anthonio, Access Now, Civil Society Hon. Sanmuel George, Member of Parliament, Ghana
Akinremi Peter Taiwo
1) The session will start with a brief presentation by Prof. Lee McKnight (Syracuse University) on financing rural community networks. The panelist will be comprised of public, private sector, International organisation, civil society, NGOs representatives. 2) The moderator, will then introduce some specific prompts on rural community network financing, considering specific elements according to each panelist’s background, to start the discussion. 3) After the round of discussions, opportunity will be given to remote and in person audience to ask questions. 4) After the discussions the donation platform will be launch to the general public. 5) Closing remarks
The core premises of this initiative, community initiative and self-organization for connectivity, are based on prior work of the Internet Society on Community Networks, and related efforts of the UN IGF Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity. We also build upon evidence gathered over five years since the first deployment of an Internet Backpack, to reject the premise that some communities are beyond the reach of affordable Internet access. Communities can and do help themselves achieve and maintain sustainable connectivity through community networks. Governments and civil society may assist, but communities can and will lead themselves in their own grassroots digital transformation, if national laws, regulations, and policies do not prevent them from helping themselves. The core is to move beyond the false focus on individual connectivity in rural areas, and instead help communities build their own Community Internet solutions. Shared connectivity also implies shared costs and cost recovery. In many cases, once regulatory and policy barriers are removed, rural communities can sustainably manage to recover costs and maintain service. In all cases, the cost of the Community Internet service model proposed here can help nations achieve Universal Service objectives even in regions considered not economically viable by mobile carriers and other telecommunication infrastructure providers. Where available, national Universal Service Programs can facilitate and accelerate digital inclusion for their rural residents by contributing a fraction of the hardware and service costs of Internet Backpack operation. Depending on the specific national policy context, covering all or a fraction of the initial costs of the Internet Backpack’s deployment into a region can be sufficient for the community to then share the remaining costs collectively. In other cases, an ongoing public contribution of the data charge, and where necessary, satellite Internet costs may be required. In this regard, the Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation (AODIRF) and its stakeholders will launch a donation platform to support rural community networks in Africa and other part of the developing world.
It will support both in-person and remote participation. Participants can join the session remotely and in-person through social media channels.