IGF 2022 Day 1 Lightning Talk #6 5G and Africa's GenZ

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: In five minutes we'll begin.

>> MODERATOR: Good evening, everybody. And thank you so much for joining our session. This is quite a personal session for me. My first project in university was about seeing how emerging technologies as an African could liberate us in new frontiers. Happy to be joined by the professor who has quite an interesting viewpoint what 5G could do for us. Let me start by saying what 5G means to me. The new fifth generation technology is something that can open up into connected reasoning and shared data. We're in a data economy and empowered by date A that's how we understand ourselves. Data is society and it is the community. Without taking much time, I'd like to welcome the professor to continue his presentation. Big clap for the professor.

[ Applause ]

>> Thank you so much. I have this old saying of the last time I was connected by wire was at birth. And then someone cut the wire and then my life has been wireless. So I really have the pleasure of growing up in the telecoms sphere. And I move to University. And once we get the presentation up and running, I just want to tell you a bit. We're here. I'm at Norway where I'm working at the University of Oslo towards Ethiopia and Kenya. Just to give you an idea of where we are standing. When it comes to 5G is really like how can we use 5G for empowering the society?

Next one please.

So the background is really that I have the pleasure of kicking this guy out of his office. This guy is Pal Spilling. He was one of the God fathers with Vin Cerf. In this old picture from 1972, they had we had the session picture. It says Europe. That was actually the connection towards our building Keller connected in June 1973. That was long before Kathrin was born and probably also some of you others were born. That was when the internet came to Norway and then we connected London later on.

And so Pal Spilling is here. And 1994 about 20 years later, my colleagues built Opera software with the mini browser. They made it to build Opera. And another 20 years later about, we decided that the world needs that everyone joins us on the digital agenda. So I don't want the agenda where 5G is only for the top. Next slide please. So what we were working on is to see how can we get everyone connected?

And like this picture was from June where I had the pleasure of meeting ITU secretary general, Houlin Zhao. And my dear friend Meillin Fung. Built people‑centered internet. And Houlin came to me and said asked me long time ago, how can we connect everyone in this world?

And he said you promised to do that by 2020. You failed. Can you give me a new date?

Can we say by 2030 we have connected everyone? And he asked me what is your take here? And then I said forget about it. As long as you run your business model of just being out after premiere league and this kind of entertainment where we consumers or we are handled as consumers. And the internet isn't focusing on bringing empowerment to each and every one of us. We won't succeed. So next one please.

And then, we did this comparison between what is happening on CO2 emissions and what is happening in the digital world. And what you see here is that the 10% contribute to 49% of the CO2 emissions. And the poorest 50% only contribute to like 10%. And when I heard this numbers and when I got comparative numbers here that only 3% have 4G speeds, only 15% of the people own a smart phone. And everyone is talking about 5G and 6G. I'm asking myself this doesn't work together. So a lot of the question which we are asking is how can we use 5G?

And what are our demands for 6G to actually make connectivity happen?

In my saying, all the odd numbers of services, the 1G, 3G, 5G are all failures. The real numbers that changed the world are the 2G and the 4G. Like in Norway, we switched off 3G a long time ago. We only have 2G and 4G. And we are now talking about switching 2G off 2025. And the reason why I'm saying that is with 5G, the operators try to make money. Next slide please.

So the reason why I bring that up is we have some people who have been at University. And from the universities, I don't know what your experience, have you been at University?

What is your experience?

Are we doing practical work?

>> AUDIENCE:  I think so, yeah.

>> MODERATOR: Great. Quite often universities teach you quite a lot of stuff. You have to learn this and that. Do we teach connectivity? Do we teach what is the next generation?

Are we really involved in what are the needs I have to get every school connected?

And that is the point where we bring in the aspect of the national research and education networks. Where we actually say that, you know, this NRENs which is like the Ubuntunet Alliance and so on and so forth are there for connecting the universities. Can't we use them to actually connect schools?

And when connecting schools, can't we also use them to connect communities?

So that the entry point is that students really learn something which is useful and can use that to bring it further. Next slide please.

I want to leave some slides for thought. So back in the times as I told you in the Nordics, we really have this advantage of having this inclusive societies. The societies where we try to lift up everyone. As a result of this inclusive societies, lots of the internet protocol like pH P from Denmark. The whole open source movement, Linux, SKYPE and Spotify are all coming from the Nordics, the 2G standard was a standard developed in Norway. And then from there on reaching out to the world. I think this is from 2013 when I had a dinner with Vint and his wife Sigrid. Take the next one.

So what we'd like to plant into your mind when you go to your University, demand them to actually say help us in connecting the schools, the young generation so that we really make the move towards the digital world where everyone is part of it. And I give you here an example which I deepen a bit later on. Is we have in Europe 20 research intensive universities under the Guild. And we have here African research universities alliance, ARUA. And these two organizations work together already. We haven't really built in digital agenda as one of the main drivers. So that's one of the reasons for me being here to see how can we do research for the digital society?

How can we build at every University the regional competence center so the universities can help us to establish the centers. And Kathrin, would you please stand up?

And come here. Kathrin is really our number one example. Kathrin went around in Tanzania not only helping us in connecting the schools but really came up and said, Joseph, we need to build this regional competence centers. She helped in convincing University of technology. USM. Tell us about it.

>> AUDIENCE:  So few minutes. I don't want to take your spotlight. So with what we are doing with competent centers. It's how are we harnessing from the knowledge untapped in this universities. The knowledge the students have and the lecturers in terms of researching for new ways to stay connected. And how we are building capacity and assisting in practicing what they are learning in the schools. So we have the students going with us into the field and connecting them, conducting training to villages. And then we conduct different research studies with lecturers in terms of how do we come up with innovative ideas when it comes to connectivity? That's the whole idea behind digital competent centers. We're coming to universities that can join the movement and together seeing how we can build or connect as a joint force.

>> MODERATOR: Thanks. And the example underneath is the example of 5G. 5G has a brilliant technology which is called MIMO. Stands for multiple input multiple output. And it allows you to not spread your word but focus. And multi‑MIMO means from one 5G base station, you can say I connect this school and that school and that school and that school. So I'm not spoiling my energy all across a sector. But I'm just concentrating where my energy needs to go. And that multi‑MIMO technology is used in the Nordics to replace all the copper installations for broadband connectivity to the home. And Norway is a high‑price country. But although it's high price, the connectivity of 100 megabits per second costs $79. The connectivity of 500 megabits per second costs $129 based on the 4G 5G connectivity. The demand want to bring further is you say, hey, we need all the schools connected.

And we need either the spectrum from the MTMs or the government needs to reserve 20 megahertz to connect schools. And that is the discussion we are currently doing with UDSM. We want to install a 5G station to connect schools. That is one of the application areas. One more next slide please. At the end of the day, probably when you've been around here, you heard a lot about GovStack and digital public goods. Who has heard of this?

Digital public goods. Is that known?

It really means that we have to ‑‑ we really have a job to do. GovStack is an initiative by Asonia dial Germany and pushing the digital government. One of the big discussions we have is well, it's nice to have government and services but what if nobody has access to these services?

So what we are bringing to the table is the access to governmental services. And the digital public goods is like a repository of information on whether on education material like Wikipedia and other things which should be, again, available for each and everyone. Reality is it's not available because ‑‑ it's only available for those who have money to pay for the excess. And not available for everyone. So how can we turn that picture around?

How could we in this picture before, how could we actually bring the universities to make knowledge center where these digital public goods are available and spread by the 5G networks to the schools or even make a subset of these ones and bring them out to the schools. So one of the ideas is instead of always needed to access to the cloud is rather to think about the new internet as the decentralized internet where the big video packages are available at the schools. Next slide please.

So the reality which we have faced and lots of community networks are facing are prices which are extra ordinary. When we tried to connect the ‑‑ $100 per megabit per second. Plus $240 for the co‑location of the antennas. That was like what are you talking about?

And then compare these numbers. Maybe it's a bit less these days. When we talk to Steven in Ghana. He said Joseph, it's still $500 for the five megabits per second. Luckily, we have a donor who takes that. These prices kilobase I cannily every business model. If you compare that to the prices which we have in Norway where we get 100 megabits per second for $79, then it's really the demand which we can bring across. We can do much more connectivity. And the good example is Safaricom in Kenya is offering five megabits per second sim card for $58 for connecting schools. And that is really a game changer which I would like to bring to every other of the 54 African countries so that we are able to bring the prices down for connectivity to schools. And then to what we call community learning living labs. I'll come back to that later on. Next one please.

So the work all started back in, when was that?

2019. Antonio Guterrez set up high level panel for government corporation. With Jack Mar and Melinda Gates to foster the tape up. They had recommendations and we recommend by 2030 that everyone has affordable access to digital networks. And then I'm really asking if Africa is so big, remember this first slide, how can we build affordable infrastructure?

Probably we can't because the affordable infrastructure is costly. You can't put fiber to every base station simply because the distances are so big.

So what if we think new in the internet and say we built local knowledge and leave the local knowledge there so everyone has the free access to this local knowledge. If you want to see Bollywood and premiere league, pay for it. Pay your dollar for the soccer match or whatever that is. Take the next one please.

So sorry, now I teach you some German. Kathrin tells me you really have to learn Swahili. And I said ‑‑ I'm really not that good at language. It's we instead of me. And we said the we stands for well use inclusivity and resilience. What we experience in rural Africa is that our power networks are not stable. Our electricity varies. So we can't simply has the lifestyle of Joseph here in Addis enjoying life. Because we have enough people who still need to get trust and confidence. It's easier to bring the trust and confidence locally to the community itself. Next one.

So the second statement I want to bring across. The first one was 5G for school connectivity. Use the multi‑mimo. Get the universities to go together with the tailor coms. The second one I want to bring across is really the thinking of the model of the road transferred to the internet. Yes, we need someone building the roads. Whether the roads are built or the internet is built by the national research and education network, by the telecom operators, by ISPs, by Setcom. Star link. Or whether someone else builds the networks, fair enough. Pedestrians and cyclists can use the roads for free. Isn't that a model for the internet? We define what is digital pedestrian and what is a digital cyclist? Which is like text and pictures. And we demand a standard in Africa for Africa where we say the access to text and pictures on the internet is free of charge. It's no magic because Google has already introduced standard like AMP for accelerated mobile pages which can give us this text and picture web sites without videos. Without nonsense Java script singing and dancing and make every web page become a 3 megabyte big endeavor which you can download anywhere. We called it internet lite.

And back in 2019, we build together with Tilnor we can use the 5G network slicing. 5G is a technology called network slicing so you can actually have subnetworks and with different qualities. And we said why don't you build a network slice which only has text and pictures. Free access to information. We demonstrated it. No problem. But, of course, someone has to demand that to the telecoms. And I have the last slide. Can you have a look?

Yes. So in the history, my first real meeting was out in Serangeti. I don't remember his name. I asked him where are your weapons? You are here. He said my mobile phone is so much better. You have a smart phone but don't have a network here. He says that's true. But once in a week, once in a week, I find a spot where I can lift my mobile phone and sync all my WhatsApps.  Once in a week. And then, Kathrin, sorry, this is the photo when you are young. Still pretty but not that younger. And this one was really my eye opener. We came in Kenya in the area of Kisumu. Connected 45 schools and gave a tablet to the children of the schools. Showed them how to make pictures and how to search the internet. An hour later I came back and said what was it you have searched for? And the answer was Mount Kenya. And it really showed me it's not about entertainment. It's about my cultural heritage. It's to be proud to be an Ethiopian. Proud to be Tanzanian. Proud to necessity my country. That is what at the end of the day giving us values.

I want to stop here. I hope we can all say in some years from now we, the generation set, are proud to have established connectivity for each and every single person in our countries. Thanks a lot.

[ Applause ]

>> MODERATOR: Brilliant to have so much wisdom from academia. We all use roads and roads are bumpy when it breaks, we always move. Some take away we should have here is that we will be the pedestrians who actually build. When we come back to IGF next time, we said we actually created a connectivity that's meaningful that could search something that have a purpose. So, again, thank you very much. Anybody has questions?


You are welcome. No questions?

Then that's great. This was quite short and sweet. You have a question?

Please come.

>> AUDIENCE:  Hello, everyone. I'm from Zambia. And I'm the current chair of the affordable internet access at ISOC. Thank you very much. It's a pleasure. My question is around the DSS which is data spectrum sharing. What is your take on dynamic spectrum sharing in order to advance connectivity, for example, in areas where 5G will not reach in time where they have 3G or 4G?

>> MODERATOR: I find the whole policy discussion. At the end of the day, dynamic spectrum sharing is also the question about what are the policies if 3G and 4G licenses are not used. That is actually where I then say if you don't use the licenses, why don't you give that spectrum to us so we can help in connecting. And once everyone is empowered, we'll find other ways. Then we get the fiber and more connectivity.

So from the technology side, I'd rather see same with TV wide space. I see much more of technology enables us. But we also need to work on the policies to get that done. Is that in agreement of what you see?

>> Yes. And thank you. You also mentioned about TV white space. In terms of how spectrum is allocated and shared. To my knowledge, TV white space is not allowed in many countries due to the different policies that are around there. So according to you, as a professor, just two minutes. Don't you think we should have a centralized policy to allow TV wide space to have open in order to advance the implementations more especially in rural areas?

>> MODERATOR: If you ask me how much time the European union needs to coordinate interest between 27 countries. And if you now think about 54 African countries. The harmonization always needs good examples from countries where things are working and where things are happening.

So what I would love much more is to say that where are the good examples from Kenya, from Zimbabwe we can use and tell them as examples for our governments. Because I think that's the faster way than waiting for a harmonization between 54 African countries. When you talk about that, our calculations say that text and pictures as compared to broadband is only about one and‑a‑half to 2% of the band width. When we asked for the whole spectrum, why don't we say 1.5 or 2% of the band width are reserved for empowerment of people?

>> You've given me an idea. Next time when I come to IGF.

>> The best conversations happen at last. Thank you very much and let's give a big round of applause to the professor. We'll be sharing all the slides for the ones on the zoom. Thank you so much and thank you for coming.