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.
>> KWAKU ANTWI: Good morning, welcome to the session today, session 162. The theme of the session, it is community networks. Rural community networks, electricity and digital inclusion. We are looking at the case of the rural underserved areas with emphasis on impoverished communities in the developing countries.
My name is Kwaku Antwi, I'm with the African Open Data and Internet Foundation. We're proud to host this workshop in conjunction with the University and on my panel today, I will have ISOC from Tanzania, we will have Lee McKnight, from Syracuse University, we also have Ms. Smith and also others.
What we aim to do today, it to have an interactive session and we ‑‑ we're not just going to have an interactive session in helping connect people in the rural communities, but we plan to also give you a real demonstration of what is possible, what we have done, and also the potential of how we can also get people connected.
Most of the important things we're talking about here is in the name of what we're here, the Internet. There are various initiatives by both government, private sector, other policy and regulations. Usually what we find out is that a lot more communities are not connected because of the lack of investment of infrastructure. This happens in rural communities, and these are left at the mercy of either our Universal Access Funds to be able to provide infrastructure, but also this infrastructure, it is with the cost, the costs of the infrastructure, it also turns to have an effect on the end user and the ability to be able to connect to it. It is important that we are more realistic and more real about what is happening now because from the latest statistics from the ITU we see that a third of the world population is not connected.
When you go in real terms, we have in countries where people have more than triple Internet connections whilst other parts of the country in rural communities, somebody doesn't even have Internet connectivity. It is important that we look at this holistically, we look at it realistically, and what is important here is the solutions and also policy and regulation which speaks to what we're doing and it is also very interactive.
Without much ado, I would move on to our ‑‑ I think what I'm going to do is initially we can just have a brief opening remarks from Professor Daniel Smith and then we can continue.
>> DANIEL SMITH: Thank you. Good morning, good evening to all.
First I will begin by expressing appreciation for the speakers and the panelists today and to the IGF organizers for giving us this forum to share our work.
I am a sociologists at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. Our research which we will discuss today focuses on providing Internet connectivity in remote, underserved regions globally and that's partially implemented through a deployment of the Internet backpack.
With that context, I would like to open the floor for our panel discussions and we will begin with my colleague at Syracuse University, Dr. Lee McKnight.
>> LEE McKNIGHT: Thank you, Professor Smith. Thank you, all, for being here in the room, online. Again, my appreciation to everyone for their time and attention.
We're speaking of a Community Connectivity for rural areas, but often it is forgotten that you need power, energy, all right to connect or sustain connectivity. We will talk about that as well in this panel. Furthermore, we don't always consider at the same time the affordability and financial for digital inclusion, what is realistically feasible for low‑income people in remote communities which is not the same as folks living in large cities or with higher incomes.
I want to start by saying we need to think about all these things together, finance, electricity, connectivity. Without all of them we're missing some of the challenges for both policymakers and for community members.
Down in front of me is on display something that we have been working on. I was carrying three laptops around in one backpack 18 years ago, I didn't realize that was the product until we started working on the Internet backpack until it has evolved to a Dunola Oladapo countries both in urban areas that are underserved as well as in remote communities, in multiple African nations and what our challenge was from the original research, it was to make it possible to connect no matter what.
That as a theoretical research question was quite interesting and challenging.
We think we have cracked the nut so to speak and have something that can make a difference because realistically this Internet backpack anywhere can be sort of opened up, turned on, people can be connected within minutes anywhere except the North and South Pole.
Furthermore, they can be connected indefinitely, sustainably, because when we get to the energy sector a little bit, it is also a micro grid, it is its own little energy system with a foldable solar panel and a battery and it can store enough energy to power all the devices that come in the pack. Overnight W some sunlight, everything can be recharged. Of course, if you can plug in, recharge the batteries from a larger grid, that's better, that's easier. This can sustain connectivity anywhere in 95% of the planet indefinitely.
Now that is not done through one mechanism because some places, it is possible to connect through wi‑fi and that's, of course, probably higher speed and that's great. Other places you can connect through the cell network and that could vary, right, depending on the location, whether it is 3G, 4G, 5G, and we can't control that but we can make it possible and we do to connect through the cell network.
If you're someplace that's very remote and you cannot reach ‑‑ I should note, when our cellphones get no bar, no signal, the Internet backpack has cradle point router in it and build‑in antenna so it can pick up a signal from a further distance and replicate it and boost it and create a local hot spot for that community for it to be shared by multiple people.
It's designed basically to extend connectivity, again to 95% of the planet, now we get to the one that makes it possible for me to make that outrageous claim. If nothing else works, there is a satellite Internet antenna in the pack which can connect, will connect, it is super expensive, not realistic for low‑income people to use much. It can connect. Beyond that, when we're at a level of technology in the pack to bring in, it is an off‑grid wireless mesh network. Say we're just trying to communicate in a region but we don't actually need to reach the Internet, that's also possible across the devices in the pack.
To summarize here ‑‑ this is like, okay, we have a micro grid, we have connectivity, and we have a community network bundled together that can be basically a standard package that can be adapted and adopted for different communities and different regions around the world. It has been to a certain extent already.
If we take that same thinking though, we talk about electricity, usually we think about the major, you know, utility operator, but we don't necessarily need that. We could have micro grids, we could have locally generated fuels and supplies that could make it possible to build a more powerful network, one that has more infrastructure this this little backpack. I'll just leave it there saying think modular, think connectivity, anywhere, think also for finance, think decentralized access to resources and that we'll touch on in the themes later.
For that I'll pause for now. Thank you.
>> KWAKU ANTWI: Thank you, Professor Lee. It is quite real for us.
I would like to acknowledge the presence of our honorable member of parliament from Ghana also who sits on the Communication Committee of parliament, Honorable Samuel Nartey George who has joined us on the panel and I would like to recognize Onica Makwakwa, who is also joining us later on the panel and also online is Dave from Mobile Coin, we recognize you, Dave, he will speak on finance.
Without much ado, I want to move to Spectrum issues in connectivity and then we'll go to the parliament of Ghana.
>> NEEMA LUGANGIRA: Thank you, Moderator.
Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, depending where you are. I'm from Tanzania. I also serve as the President of the Tanzania ISOC Chapter, also the coordinator for the IGF there.
If I use a simple language to describe Spectrum, I think everybody in the room came through some airport and there is that conveyer belt that you put your luggage and it is actually scanned. If Spectrum is the conveyer belt and the data, you know, it is the luggage which goes through the conveyer belt. The Spectrum allocation and the regulation, it has become if you may, the oil of the Digital World. You can't talk about connectivity without talking about Spectrum and Spectrum allocation.
You find the Spectrum allocation to telephone companies and those who are carrying data, it has become a very lucrative for governments that is where they get a lot of money, for example, last auction in Tanzania, they were sold for 10 million U.S. dollars. It is very expensive. When talking about the rural communities and underserved in terms of connecting them there is no, you know, segmentation of Spectrum which can assist, you know, the small time Internet server providers.
It will take ages for a certain village in Africa was to, you know, come together to pay for 10 million U.S. dollars Spectrum allocation so that they can have affordable and meaningful connectivity to their village.
In the whole of Africa, I think what we need to do to connect the rural communities is to make sure that we engage our policymakers, honorable member from Ghana I think will probably allude to this later. We need a policy which can recognize small time operators like community networks.
For example, if a village wants to associate, to put their own infrastructure, it must not be seen as a competition to the Telecom operators. Why? Because in most cases the data that we have is is that the Telecom operators shy away from investing in places which has less than 5,000 people. To them, it is not ‑‑ cannot return the investment. What our argument has been, even in Tanzania, it is that letters regulate, that's okay. But the regulations, they must recognize that we need to connect to all people. If we're to connect to all people, we have to discriminate, you know, to have the Spectrum for the big guys and the spectrum, allocation for the smaller time operators like the villages, like the cooperatives.
If you have a cooperative that wants, you know, to connect to the Internet, you know, let them, you know, be allocated a spectrum without, you know, making ‑‑ without them going through all this expensive affair of trying to use the current spectrum.
I don't know how much time I have. I think I'll end there. The most important points is that we need to connect to all people, including all schools. If we're to connect all people in the villages, in the Telecom areas, those areas that have less than 5,000 people, those are called ‑‑ if we ‑‑ we need to connect those people. We must make sure there is a policy and regulation that can actually recognize these Telecom dark areas and these small‑time operators so we can connect everybody.
Thank you so much.
>> KWAKU ANTWI: Thank you so much. I will hand over to the honorable member of parliament from Ghana.
>> SAMUEL NARTEY GEORGE: Thank you very much. I just need guidance specifically on what exactly you want ‑‑ you want me to talk about everything?
>> KWAKU ANTWI: We're talking about community networks and basically we're speaking on policy and spectrum management. We're looking at alternatives in terms of policies which speak to our small time operators like community networks and also non‑governmental organizations who want to be able to have their own networks which are not comparable to the big telcos and the ISPs.
>> SAMUEL NARTEY GEORGE: Thank you very much.
A very good morning to everyone in the room and to my fellow panelists.
I believe that spectrum is a finite national resource. Let me say here I speak to someone that's served in government, today I sit ‑‑ that's in the executive, today I sit in the legislature. So I have a view from both sides of the divide. Whilst in government, the President asked the communication specialist, working with the Ministry of communications in Ghana, the regulator in Ghana manages the spectrum, spectrum is seen as a national security asset which is finite. It is a matter of national security. You see governments, especially on the African continent see spectrum as a critical way of raising revenue.
Again, I will use a lot of examples from Ghana. The government I serve in had to comply with the ITU digital switchover, the DDT from analogue television transmission to digital television transmission. To finance that project, we basically had to sell licenses on spectrum, 4G spectrum and instead of the flow rate of 62.5 million U.S. dollars, only one could bid for it, the biggest network in Ghana today, at that time they had a 52% share of the market. For a whole year, they were the only ones running 4G and within a year, the market share grew from 52% to 73%, literally a monopoly. That's what the power of spectrum can do.
Now, with completion of the switchover, the digital switchover, you have then the digital dividend. You then expect the regulator to begin to use that to support community networks and support rural connectivity. We saw that clearly during COVID. When COVID hit, you had asked schools to shut down and decided to go digital and online. The question became, how did you get communities not connected to the Internet, communities that were quite rural and didn't have the traditional MNOs present to connect to the online classes. That's where we saw the failure of the system, because we could have simply deployed TV‑wide space and used that spectrum to transmit lectures. For the DTT rollout, you had to give them a set of boxes. On this set of boxes, you could have put a channel that the students could have learned on and used TV white spaces to send signals to all of the classrooms. That's something that the regulator is not interested in because it really is not a cash cow.
The reality is, as governments, as African, we need to begin to realize that we have a lot more communities in the rural area who are not connected and because we don't have that connectivity in the rural areas, it is going to be important for us to create that balancing act. You make money from the big telcos, the big ISPs, but you also give some back to the very same people you're serving by having this community networks and licensing them.
We have a challenge, and again I speak from both sides of the divide, you do have instances where we have given licenses in Ghana to non‑governmental organizations and community‑based organizations, and they say they'll basically use that to offer services in rural areas free of charge. When they go, deploy, they begin to charge the local communities there.
The regulator feels like we gave you the Spectrum for free.
If we give it to you for free, you will monetize it, it creates a disincentive to give more people that spectrum. We need to have that balancing act of us being honest and true with what our desires are and also governments need to have that policy decision to say we're going to improve our coverage of community networks.
When you look at Ghana, what we have done, we have a bureaucracy, the national IT agency, and it is supposed to have done a lot of these connectivities for both government agencies and to the rural communities and so you have the eastern corridor of fiber that basically is 708 kilometers of fiber for the fiber that was deployed across the eastern land of the country from one end to the end of the country. Then the issue then became last‑mile connectivity to the villages, this runs along the flank of the country. What happens to the last mile connectivity? You try to use the resources, it is a government agency with spectrum allocation which they're not necessarily using. It is supposed to be used for national security purpose, for ministries in deprived areas that are carrying out operations.
You can also put this to good use. The ministry started what we call the enhanced community centres where you basically put up this building and do last mile connectivity to it so it becomes more or less your digital hub in a village. Government has piped last‑mile connectivity from the main fiber link of the country to that community centre and you're supposed to have a trillion programmes going on there. A trillion programmes teaching skills, software development skills, hardware development skills in there, this is supposed to be centre where is kids can go ‑‑ basically a community Internet cafe if you call it that. You can have access to digital tools in this community information centres and because it is the government ran centre, there is no charge.
The idea of this, it was to have digital material put on government channels where students could go in, for example, you use the idea of master craftsman who come maybe once a week, twice every week on the channel dedicated in that centre, which that centre links up to and you want to learn to do something for example, you don't have to go to a major city, you could go to the community information centre and there is a schedule of classes, a master classmen, there is a session for a brick layer, a session for a Cook, whatever classes you wanted to pick up so that we could give people employable skills.
For me as a member of parliament today, I'm really not too interested in just having the connectivity. I'm more interested in what the connectivity does for my constituents. Sitting in the executive as a member of government, the priority was to get connectivity because then that was a campaign message as a politician, that's a campaign message. Connectivity with a number of communities. The real thing for me now having a constituency, it is how does that connectivity effect my constituent, how does it affect the ordinary person from Ghana, how does it change the economies of skill in that local economy in that area? How is it effecting the ability for them to learn employability liability skills. Those are real things we need to begin to move from. Looks like Africa is fixated on connectivity and we're not really looking at how the connectivity is going to transform the lives of our people.
Another critical issue we have to look at with connectivity, it is power. If people don't have access to the national grid, you give them connectivity, it is like giving someone who doesn't know how to drive a car. He can't drive it, he doesn't know what to put in the ignition, he has no devices ‑‑ first he has no car to put the devices in if he had them. We have to look at that.
A lesson we can learn from Ghana, positive and negative and deploy across the continent, Ghana has the lifeline electricity tariff. If you buy a certain amount of electricity every month and you are within a setting or in a bracket, you are given a special tariff, a lifeline tariff. Now, that's a fantastic initiative. You then have communities where individual households are to qualify for lifeline tariffs, but there is not enough meters to give to every household, then you have a cluster of households being put on one meter. You have so much usage, if one household uses 10 an hour for a month, the threshold, when you put three households on one meter, it reads it at 30 and the households no longer ‑‑ they no longer qualify to be called lifeline threshold people. That becomes a problem. You then realize that a good policy because deployment has not been done well, people that are supposed to be beneficiaries of it are not benefiting.
The last point, I see my time is literally up, it is again looking at the cost of devices. When we do connectivity, the communities in Ghana that have connections, but the people just couldn't afford the smart devices. They use the very analogue phone, you know, that you can really ‑‑ the only thing you can do is the USSD. Maybe that's okay for farmers that need to get weather information to, that's okay for people that need to check what trading rates for the produce is but we don't want to use them for educational material. People need devices, the cost of the devices are inhibited because the cost of a smartphone could be the actual cost of living for a whole month for a family in rural Africa. For them to take that to buy a smartphone for a kid or a tablet, that's a no brainer that. won't happen. We have to look at how to drop the prices. One way of doing that by governments is an initiative that we're pushing in Ghana, to take off all tariff, taxation on the importation of the devices that are going to target the rural poor. It is possible. If you run a registry of the equipment, you can tell whether W. that device is. If that device is brought in and you find it, you track it, you find that it is being used in an urban area, not in its traditional area, you can block that device. We need innovative initiatives ‑‑ forgive me, I sound very controversial here ‑‑ innovation must not be on how well we can rip the tax payer as African politicians. Innovation must be on how we can better the lives of the people we have chosen to serve.
>> KWAKU ANTWI: Thank you so much honorable member of parliament.
Before I hand it over to the moderator, is David coming online?
>> DAVE ACKERMAN: Yes, indeed.
>> KWAKU ANTWI: Do you want to give opening remarks before we go in the next session?
>> DAVE ACKERMAN: I feel almost at a disadvantage after going after two such honorable guests. I want to thank all of my fellow panelists and the Secretariat, and I'll apologize in advance for the size of my head on the screen behind you probably.
There are a couple of things to dovetail off from the honorable gentleman from Ghana just mentioned. I think it is something that we in the United States and just like my colleagues Dr. Smith, Dr. Lee McKnight, who are fellow New Yorkers like myself, there is always that question of so what? Right. How do we get people connected and just as the gentleman had just stated so, what? What is that next step? Part of this process, part of what we have to take out of the discussions that we have here today are let's start thinking about ways to combine a lot of these different initiatives to prove or answer questions that we may not necessarily have answers to.
For example, for the honorable gentleman from Tanzania was speaking about Spectrum allocation and regulation. Giving the national security implications, how this is a finite resource, how do we prove or how do we show that connectivity is going to support the constituent as the gentleman said and also support the national security implications and the finite resource and cash cow that a lot of our governments are facing right now.
This is where showing value, showing the answer to that question so what can be very powerful.
As Professor Lee McKnight had mentioned earlier, things like the Internet backpack are a tremendous resource. There's an opportunity there. By deploying that into some of these regions which may not necessarily be ripe for specific government use cases or specific government allocation of resources, we can show what getting connected actually means. What's this do for a community at smaller scales and at larger scales.
For example, I come from the finance world. I come from traditional finance. I'm an attorney in the United States and my background is in fighting fraud, financial crime, any terrorism financing, and if that's not interesting enough a lot of what I do is now being translated into the crypto currency industry. What my company is trying to do, we have proved to show that this technology can be used for good with refugee use cases, with people in rural communities, people of concern, we have been able to show that in areas of South America for example on the average of monthly volume of $250 million U.S. supporting 70,000 individuals who are going back and forth from different areas how digitally they can have a bank in their pocket. A bank that's connected to the Internet using crypto currency technology not as a scheme or not as a buzzword, a marketing ploy, but thinking about using crypto currency as an implementation detail. How we do it. Okay.
Let's put all of these things together, everything that we have just discussed, and how does that ‑‑ how does that make sense for what we talk about now. How does that increase connectivity and how does that answer so the what question. Right. What does connectivity do for my constituent as the honorable gentleman from Ghana mentioned before.
When you can deploy something like the Internet backpack, which gives instantaneous connectivity to a region, an area with power, as mentioned before, now all of a sudden, you have the connectivity, you can actually deploy a digital banking system that we have proven can be used by ‑‑ I mean, currently in the areas I have been talking about, it has been used by 27,000 merchants, plus or minus.
And when you combine those two technologies together, you can go into a rural area in Africa, in the Sudan, anywhere, deploy an Internet backpack, get people con next and to give them a digital economy just like that.
That's transformative. That allows for a lot of possibilities and it answers the question so what. How does this help my constituent? Why should we care? Why should we dedicate resources to this? What I would ‑‑ what I'm going to ask that each of us do when leaving this forum is to think about the lessons that we have learned, all of the different talks, all of the different technologies, all of the different questions that are being answered and start thinking about how do we connect them together. When does one plus one equal three? How do we answer the tough questions?
Forgetting people connected in the Telecom dark areas, I think it is more than how do we get them connected, how do we make their lives better with that connectivity? How do we get them educated? How do we get them additional resources.
One of the areas that we're seeing tremendous amounts of progress and tremendous amounts of promise, it is the idea of digital banking in your pocket in a smartphone.
It doesn't have to be particularly sophisticated.
I can definitely see I'm coming up on time a little bit. I want to make sure that I leave time for questions at the end. Again, just kind of putting a real exclamation point on this. We have shown that ‑‑ this is a very small deployment, we have shown that you can create a digital economy in areas of tremendous poverty, tremendous concern, tremendous migration because of not just people in rural communities but people of concern, refugees moving back and forth from dinner areas where you can safely and securely give them a digital banking system that merchants will automatically incorporate themselves into so long as that connectivity is there and using things like the Internet backpack, using questions, like Spectrum allocation, why is this valuable, how does this help? You can combine all of that together and have a truly provocative and profound use case with proof attached to it, not just theory.
>> KWAKU ANTWI: Thank you so much, Dave.
I would like to introduce our moderator for the next panel discussion. I will hand it over.
>> ZANIWE ASARE: Good morning, everyone, thank you so much for being here, thank you to our contributions, I will be opening up the discussion.
I'm going to ‑‑ we'll go straight to it, I'm going to ask Onica Makwakwa to join you from the floor and to give us her intakes on this topic.
>> ONICA MAKWAKWA: Good morning, everyone.
Onica Makwakwa with the Global Digital Inclusion Partnership, the team that was behind the Alliance for Affordable Internet.
Thank you so much for organizing this session. It is a very important issue of connectivity for areas, particularly community networks in rural areas as well as the issues around electricity.
Some of the work that we have done on affordability, it is really centred on this intersection of how do we get the kind of policies that enable affordability and later on we developed the matrix and the work around meaningful connectivity. One of the things we found in our research, it is that communities, rural communities that have community networks, they actually have a higher meaningful connectivity score.
Honorable George, you will be pleased to know that when it comes to our communities, it is not just about connecting communities. What we have actually seen, especially where there are community networks is that we see a rise in digital skills, a rise in literacy and we see a rise in people being ‑‑ using their connectivity for things that are able to help transform their live, such as education, accessing healthcare information and all of that.
A policy that I think we have been also pushing for, it is a lot of countries in Africa in general, they have rural electrification projects through the World Bank. There needs to be infrastructure sharing between these initiatives and making sure that we are getting access to the communities. The infrastructure doesn't necessarily have to be within one utility but that we can begin to look at policies that enable cross utility infrastructure sharing to speed up access to the rural communities.
On the issues of the spectrum, while we respect the fact that spectrum is a major national asset, can I just give you just a quick picture of just sometimes how prohibitive spectrum can be. South Africa just recently sold spectrum to 6 bidders, at the value of a billion U.S. dollars. Of course naturally, it is the big three, right, it is the MTNs, the Telecom, and those kinds of prices, it just really doesn't create the kind of ‑‑ on paper we have competition, you have the three operators. When it comes to consumer, you actually have a monopoly and in fact our consumer tribunal has ruled on this issue and said that they are indeed a monopoly. We have to think smartly around how we enable allocation of low‑cost spectrum to community networks. This, remember, the areas where the networks told us it is not Commission viable for them to operate. On principle I think it is really important for to us understand that.
I think what we forget also in not getting that, it is that rural areas, where we have an intersection of poverty and all these other social issues. We're not just saying provide this to rural areas, but actually the intersection of poverty with health, with education, all other social indexes, it actually lives in rural areas making community networks really an opportunity for us to bring disruptive technologies to ensure that we're connecting people there, but also it allows us to bring a different kind of economy. Disruptive financial model. We have to accept when it comes to rural areas, our financial models are violent at best, I hate to use that word violent, it a capitalist system that's violent to the poor and keeps them even more impoverished, we cannot use the same template that we have used everywhere to be able to get them out of there.
We're not as Africans not going to get ourselves out of poverty. It requires systematic intention for us to disrupt the system that holds us in poverty. Allocating local spectrum to community networks is one way, and also being open to different technology and a mix of technology but most importantly financial model.
I don't want to belabor this, I think ‑‑ I would like to invite you to read some of the reports we have written on meaningful connectivity and especially for rural areas, we have a specific paper we have done on that as well as a framework for rural broadband connectivity for rural areas. We absolutely have to agree that it is not business as usual when it comes to connecting the rural areas. We have a responsibility to connect everyone and make sure that we build an inclusive economy. If we don't do that, then our economy will continue to be quite violent to a majority of the citizens in this continent.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: Thank you so much. I was about to violently stop you there. Thank you for that. You did touch on really good points, the keyword here, it is meaningful connectivity, being the focal point, ensuring that this, you know, manifests into something tangible for, you know, people who are not connected, people who have not, you know, accepted the sweet juice of what being part of the global community means from I guess a revenue generation perspective and changing their own lives.
Going to ask us to just acknowledge Honorable Member Akinremi Peter Taiwo from Tanzania. I will ask Honorable Samuel Nartey George to give input in this discussion. I ask you to be brief or I'll violently step in. Yeah. We'll have the discussion. Thank you.
>> SAMUEL NARTEY GEORGE: It is good to hear what is tangible evidence of what connectivity can do in rural areas. Connectivity like we have already stated, it is critical. Those are the kinds of papers that governments need to begin to look at and see. At the end of the day, it comes to the bottom line.
When you look at these things from the perspective of governments and from the perspective of Civil Society as well, you get a better view of what it is that we're looking at. Civil Society has an interest in making sure that the communities that they serve get better community and access. Governments want to win elections, bottom line. The people that live in the rural areas are voters. If we can all find a point of convergence whereas the government ‑‑ as government, particle then tear Yan, we have legislation, government has policies that support the connectivity, affordable connectivity of rural communities and Civil Society has the leverages that they can use to impact the lives of the people positively, then it became as win/win for all of us.
Again, yesterday I sat through the session where I saw the backpack and what the backpack can do. This is a place I think that one of the takeaways from this session, it is that we must begin to individually ask our governments through the African Union Commission consider this backpack solution. The economies of scale will drop the price, we looked at the price yesterday, looking at about 15,000, but I believe that if the African Union was placing an order for that backpack based on requests from individual states and you have volumes, we can make a case for assembly on the African continent, we can make a case for reduction in the unit cost of it and then we can have faster deployments than what we're doing with the using of the Universal Access Funds.
The question is not that governments need to find new resources to do these purchase, because we ‑‑ almost all of the governments have the Universal Access Funds, we're using that to buy laptops and desktops in urban areas and not really dealing with the real challenges of why the funds were set up, serving underserved and unserved communities. If we pulled together resources as governments, channeled them in the right direction, there are solutions out there that could be a win/win for governments because if we have constituent, we have citizens who are getting a better livelihood, I mean, a kid who can now begin to in this world of COVID, working from home, get a job online where he stays in the community W a work schedule that he can earn some money from a company based even outside of his jurisdiction because he has access to the Internet, this is a life‑changing intervention we can make if we work together.
For me, I believe that ‑‑ you're about to violently interrupt me? Well, let me violently end here by saying that I believe it is important for us to look at workable solutions that are practical and use the leverages of Civil Society to engage with the members of parliament.
The African parliamentary network that's here doesn't have all of the numbers of members of parliaments across the African continent, but you as Civil Society organizations do. You can complement what we do speaking with your MPs and carrying out the sensitization of these things, because trust me, many of our colleagues who sits in parliament don't appreciate and understand what this really would do for their constituency, if you let them understand this, you have several champions that will force the hands of government and ultimately the African Union Commission to take serious step in connecting the underserved, unserved communities.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: Thank you so much for that honorable. I think just as we say that, we have looked at what's the why? What is ‑‑ what's the bottom line? Government, Civil Society, private sector, and really talking about what that sweet spot looks like from a triple P perspective.
Thank you so much for that input, really looking at that convergence and I think the point is well taken, the AU really being the body that could convene everybody, understanding this is a need and looking at bulk orders and, you know, looking at what's that sweet spot, how do we make that happen for us.
Dave, I know you're online, I hope you can hear me. I would like you to give your inputs on this particular topic. Please do keep it brief.
Please take the floor.
>> DAVE ACKERMAN: I will make sure that the violent stoppage is not necessary I assure you.
I want to dovetail off of what about the connectivity leading to amazing things that have been discussed and documented. Higher literacy rights and now taking that to the next step, you know, as the honorable gentleman from Ghana just mentioned, getting the champions behind these initiatives.
Interestingly enough, if you can show value and you have areas that you can target which for whatever the metric it is that you're using in order to target a particular rural area and you can show pre and post what deploying an Internet backpack would do, what deploying a digital economy in that area would do whereas they ‑‑ they wouldn't necessarily have a bank let alone a banking system, let alone an Internet banking system. Now all of a sudden, when you combine what was being said earlier about the results of this higher connectivity, the creator economy, it is not ‑‑ it is not secularized to any one particular geographic area. Once you're online, you're online.
If you have a particular skill set that you have been able to develop through all of these different initiatives, and now you're capable of being paid for it, you can offer that to anybody who is connected. There is plenty of different websites out there that are trying to bring new creators into the fold. You are combining what we already know and have proven that additional connectivity would bring, you are now creating a financial digital system that is not geographically restricted and once that money comes into the economy in those rural areas, it is more likely than not going to stay there. Right.
These individuals, they're going to be ‑‑ the purchasing of goods and services from their neighbors, their small businesses. That in turn will prove the so what for the constituent as the honorable gentleman from Ghana just mentioned. Now all of a sudden, you don't need that Internet backpack anymore because you have a real world data that you have a functioning economy that is digitally sufficient, increasing in things like literacy, increasing in things like digital understanding, and proving that now the government can put something more robust in place in terms of addressing that for the economy.
Then you take the Internet backpack and you move it to the next site. You do the exact same thing, over and over again. The interesting things, in the host communities, I genuinely believe and have seen this happen, where you will get economies of scale start to grow and that is then going to influence how regulation is designed around things like Spectrum allocation, around things like how do we determine where these flow of funds go?
I just want to kind of close in saying that aside from being absolutely astounded and just privileged to be able to hear all of my fellow panelists talk about these issues from their particular individual lanes, the amazing thing is, the more we talk, the more we understand, the more we realize, there is a tremendous amount of overlap here. This is something that can be operationalized, deployed, proven, then repeated again and again using the same resources. That has massive value.
I will turn it back over to you before I get stopped again. Thank you.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: I'm glad that this has been taken seriously.
Thank you so much for that, Dave.
I think definitely Onica Makwakwa did start well illustrating, you know, the high literacy level, how people's live cans be meaningful changed and also having the analysis of the pre and the post and showing how people's live cans be changed. A lot of times it is a theory and we don't see real people. It is almost like a fictitious place, but these are real people, real lives and real communities.
Also, you know, looking at economies of scale starting to grow and how when there is that shift, that evolution, you start seeing how policy also starts getting ‑‑ there is a shift in how policy is drafted, that evolution of policy itself, especially with, you know, the different sub sectors here, the ecosystem, looking at connectivity, how there are overlap, synergies, a bit of collaboration could go a long way.
I will open the floor now to Neema, could you please take the floor?
>> NEEMA LUGANGIRA: What specific area do you want me to talk about? We have been all over the place?
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: I would like your input really, you have done a lot of work with Internet Society and community networks and I think we have had a little bit on what it looks like from a tangible perspective, looking at meaningful connections. Maybe an input when you go in rural communities, I think I can even speak for myself, some of the work that we do, do you maybe ‑‑ if you say you're going to a rural community, what are the challenges you face from the people themselves? You know, a lot of the times they may be a bit of miscommunication with what you're doing going in, how do you get literacy programmes started? They say you won't know what you don't know. You want to act in accordance of that. As you go in as a Civil Society body, what are the engagements you have, how do you start the conversations? Be what are the challenges that you face?
>> NAZAS NICHOLAS: Thank you, Madam Moderator. I appreciate the question.
What we have been able to achieve in Tanzania, to create a community network in underserved area where people are complaining about the nature of the expensive of the data bands that they buy.
The challenge from the rural perspective, where we're trying to scale the project, we have been able to create one community network innovation hub which combines really the connectivity and innovation uptake, especially for young people.
The challenges, you go to the rural area, you find, you know, people want to connect but now the level of ‑‑ you know, they have to choose to buy food or to, you know, be part of the community network.
Like I said, if you open up this Spectrum, enable Spectrum allocation for them, it is easier to get rid of that heavy investment which we're talking about.
The issue for the rural community really is that first part of creating the infrastructure. If you get partners to be able to put the infrastructure, then the rest of the work is easy, you know, provided there is a technology that terminates to the centre or to the community network innovation hub centre. It makes it easier.
Really, what we have experienced, it is having the comparative way of doing things, just like in an African village, if you have ‑‑ if you want to ‑‑ if you have a problem of water, what do you do? You get together and try to see how ‑‑ what to do. You dig a hole, then you put your resources together, you dig the hole, you get water. The bore hole, you get water.
We use the same approach. Saying we come here, we're talking to you about making sure that your kids, your young people here, the schools, the office of the administration for the government has Internet access. What you're doing here, the kids, they're able to get a better future through digital opportunities that exist on the Internet like learning without going to the ‑‑ without doing the extracurricular courses, without even going to the classroom.
Basically I cannot ‑‑ just one minute ‑‑ basically, what we need to do, and my advice would be building a road to go to the village, you don't need actually to know who is going to walk on that road. You just build the road. People will use that road, you know, to better their lives. Building the road, it is making sure that we have ‑‑ that we connect people in the villages.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: Thank you so much for that.
I think that is quite apt, community‑based solutions, people coming together, really understanding that as much as we're speaking about this, there will be basic needs, survival needs that people will be considering, where do we use our money, not understanding that sort of not having that convergence and understanding of real life and the situational analysis.
I'm going to open the floor for Dr. Daniel T. Smith to give input on this topic.
>> DANIEL SMITH: Thank you.
As we continue the conversation from the theoretical signs of providing the Internet practicality of the real practical interventions, I can speak about our research project which was recently deployed in Costa Rica. Our research was funded by the Internet Society, the Internet Society Foundation. We had the opportunity to work with a local NGO in Costa Rica, a lab there, and before deployment of the Internet backpack we had training sessions, we met with local health practitioners in Costa Rica. This is all online virtually because of COVID.
By the time the backpacks were deployed in Costa Rica, we went to Costa Rica, we had a working relationship for more than a year. I want to speak about our visit in May of this year to Costa Rica to show the real life relevance of the application of the backpack and how effective it was in transforming lives.
When we got to Costa Rica, we traveled to a really remote community. It was during the rainy season, torrential rains, we were traveling over a bridge that literally was almost flooded. It was terrifying to have to travel to this very remote area that is really partially isolated because it is difficult to reach.
When we got to that community, we saw community members coming together to use the backpack which our research project was to deploy the backpack so that community members could have access to COVID related health information from local health practitioners in the area.
What we did not anticipate was that in addition to that initial objective, many of the community members, their children who were at University who are not able to attend classes in the city, these University students were coming to this community centre to use the backpack to do their class assignments and to actually go to classes online.
They said to us, this allowed them to continue their education and children in elementary school, younger kids, they were also going to the community centre to use the Internet backpack to get online.
After that visit to that community we met with local firefighters who had been trained to use the backpack for emergency use.
What they told us was that in that region there's see rear flooding and the backpack had allowed them to coordinate their efforts in rescuing people who were stranded in areas that government rescue operations were not able to meet.
So they were also using this community backpack, but they really emphasized to us the importance of having a backpack that they could use exclusively for emergency rescue missions.
After that visit, the final visit that I'll speak about was to another region that was ‑‑ we visited an elementary school in a mountainous region, another remote area.
It took two hours to get up the mountain and, again, it was terrifying because there were ‑‑ it was muddy, it ‑‑ yeah. It was very scary trying to drive to get to that region. Many people actually ‑‑ it is isolated because it's difficult to navigate, the terrain. When we got to the elementary school, it was a one‑room classroom with one teach who taught classes from first grade to sixth grade elementary school children, all in one classroom. We deployed the backpack outside in the courtyard. The children helped us operate the backpack. It is simple to operate, a sixth grader is able to figure out this as they did.
To end, in the classroom, these students, for the first time, they were able to access the governmental honorable member line curriculum for the first time using the Internet backpack to get access to the Internet and to access their courses and it was transformational for me.
I'll end there. Thank you.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: Thank you so much for that. That really painted such a vivid picture of the situation that you found on the ground.
I can only imagine, I think as Dave said, that comparative analysis, what before and after would look like, maybe after three years seeing how compared to their peers, you know, that development, that exposure, that that just sounds like something out of a movie literally.
You guys are doing amazing work.
I'm sure you all agree.
What I'm going to do I'll ask Honorable Neema to make some inputs. I know we're keeping you. Please take the floor.
>> NEEMA LUGANGIRA: Good morning, everyone.
I would like to say that I agree with everything my colleagues here on the panel have said. I want to bring in a different dimension of the importance of ensuring that the civil servants, particularly if we're talking about school connectivity, the teachers are then able to use the devices. Oftentimes we focus on making sure that there is connectivity and we focus on making sure that there is devices but then we forget about the most important people who need to be able to use those devices so that either the community, the students, the children are then able, also able to use similarly the devices.
My contribution here, it is to insist, to make sure that that goes hand in hand with digital literacy and digital skilling efforts, particularly for the last mile community who then will be responsible of passing on that knowledge to everybody else.
On this case, with regards to school connectivity I would like to make sure that we don't forget the teachers.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: Thank you for that. That was so concise so, relevant.
You know, a lot of the times we do forget, you know, all the members of the value chain.
I see that there is hand up for questions, that will come up shortly.
Just going to give two speakers very briefly the opportunity to speak and then we'll open up to you.
>> KWAKU ANTWI: Thank you so much.
I think most of the points we're making here about Spectrum, we have to take in cognizance of the regulatory processes and how our regulatory institutions work in tandem with international institutions like the ITU in which they're governed by international regulations for spectrum for example, radiocommunications, and one thing that we also need to recognize is that most of our big telcos hold a lot of spectrum, honorable members talked about in terms of digital dividends, stuff like that. I think whilst we speak about connectivity and the work that we also do with Africa open data in terms of enabling all people to be connected and as we have partnered with Syracuse here, I think it is important that across Africa we all face this problem in terms of our spectrum regulatory institutions, how the institutions, they're able to be one, to be a bit more quicker in terms of being responsive to what we do. Some are open to discussions in the work we do, we discuss with some of them. Even regulation itself, even agreeing, it take as long time, with the speed we have technology going on now, we want to appeal that we're quicker on what we're doing on ground. Our telco, the mobile operator, they're so much spectrum available to them to also let go. We're begging them, please give us some back also. If we have enough connectivity, if we're on the networks as backbone providers, we're not competitor, we're complementors, we're all in this for our purpose and everybody's purpose because we are also paying for service. It is not free. I appeal to the mobile operators here, let's open the discussion. This is not somebody stepping in on you, we're in this together, I hope that these discussions can go on.
>> YUSUF ADDUL‑QADIR: It is interesting, I'm the youngest of eight children, it is fitting that I'm the last one here today.
I just want to really try to pull all of this together. I think that what we're missing, perhaps, it is how are we going to actually implement Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063, and what is the role that technologies like the Internet backpack can do to help us really not just implement the agendas, meaningfully implement the agendas and creating and facilitating for the social, political integration of Africa. That's why I'm here, that's why I came to Ethiopia, that's why I'm passionate about the issues. Besides the gray hair, receding hairline, I'm probably one of the youngest on the panel. It is important for us to not lose sight of what this will mean for children, for millennial, for those who are coming after and what this transformation will be not just to ensure that they have had access to high‑quality education, not just to make sure that they have access to healthcare information and are able to understand and be inoculated from recognizing the types of issues that exist with fake information, misinformation, how do we allow our communities to really thrive? How do we allow our communities to become independent and self‑sufficient.
How do we allow our communities to no longer rely on donner states to ensure that the access to the Internet, access to resources is directly related to the relationship with these donors. How do we really truly enable ourselves to be independent and self‑sufficient? I'm a pandemic Africanist, I'm not going to be here to make you feel comfortable, I'm here to revolutionize us and to get the idea that what this backpack can do for us as a community, what it can do and the thought that was behind, okay, communities may not have access to power, let's put solar cells on it so that you can be able to empower this without having to connect when you're in a rural village and you don't have access to those. If you can get and afford access to the satellite, congratulations, but the backpack is to design to ensure that you can irrespective of where you are leverage your SIM card and connect to the broadband, to the cellular towers. All of these issues that have been thought through with respect to the backpack ‑‑ I want to add another layer ‑‑ Dave is here talking about crypto, the need for digital currency, how do we ensure that we use digital while it is to deploy access and funds to communities from a social welfare benefit and ensure that all of these things are comprehensively done? You know, as an afro futurist, I'm constantly thinking about what's the future for Africa from an African perspective, from a Pan African perspective, from an afro feminist perspective? What's this mean to ensure that we're thinking critically of how do we include and integrate women at the fore of the conversations? How do we make sure that now that we have the Internet we're thinking critically about what are the types of online abuse issues that will implicate women? It is not just enough for us to ensure we have access to the Internet. Everybody here has spoken quite eloquently about some challenges, pitfall, the nuances required, but really what we have to I think leave this conversation with is, in order for to us achieve the agendas and the aspirations that we all collectively agreed upon as a global community, as an African community, as part of the African community, in order to fulfill the realities we need transitional technologies to help get us there.
You know, I live in the U.S. You know, I think there is a concept that all of the U.S. is connected, there are many rural parts, there is no business case to ensure that rural parts of Alabama have access to Internet because just the infrastructure costs to build that out is too much. What this backpack can do is to be a transition. What this backpack can do is tomorrow you bring it to a village and now you're connected, now you're meaningfully connected, you have sustained connection and as part of an ecosystem of the types of resources to provide for really the resurgence of a new African era, I think that this backpack can play a role. I don't work for the company, I don't make any money off of talking about the backpack. I'm here truthfully and honestly because I think that this backpack will help us begin to transitional ourselves independently and in a meaningful way.
Lastly, because I know we want to make sure folks get an opportunity to ask questions, we have material below here that can explain to you about the details of how the backpack work, we have a booth, you can connect with us, we'll talk with you, but I think it is tremendously important for us to think aspirationaly about how this helps us to get the means of implementation for the agendas and how it creates the enabling environment.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: Thank you so much for that. Thank you.
I was going to say, if you don't feel the vibration, passion, you're not alive!
Thank you so much for putting that so aptly. I think that's exactly what this backpack is about. You know, connecting the nodes, so many different aspects to connectivity, being part of the cyberspace, you don't want to just throw this at people, but ensure there is a safety element, ensure there are guidance, ensure that you have literally that meaningful transformation that we're speaking about that's all encompassing. I'm glad that was put up in this discussion. You have really summed it up. What I'll do, I'll open up the floor. I saw that there are a few questions there.
I want to be fair, if you have questions online ‑‑ I have acknowledged you, sir, you will definitely, definitely be on my list.
Is that another one? Okay. We have two here, we have three.
Can I just start online.
Could you guide us online? My colleague will take us through that.
>> So far, there are no comments online. It is not a lot of questions online really. Just commenting it is a good panel, they love the conversation going on. That's all we have currently.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: Fantastic. Job well done.
The gentleman, we have made eye contact, please, if you could go first, if you could introduce yourself and the question quite briefly. Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you so much, Madam Moderator. I'm from KICTNet, a multistakeholder platform that deals with ICT policy. We have good experience here in community networks, we have many project, connecting community networks to learn together across the African continent.
I wanted to contribute to this debate on affordable Internet, the backpacks. In Kenya, some years back there was a debate to provide laptops to children. That process, it was actually extremely expensive because after the children were given the laptops, after several years some got lost, some broke down, some were stolen, and when that process was going on the advice given by the expert was what they need to do to the school, instead of giving children tablets, laptop, set up computer labs so that even if the children go away, they finish school, the next group that comes can use them. The most cost effective way.
Of course, the backpack, they're good for smaller and developing states, emergency services, the portability use cases. But this backpack cannot solve the problem of Connecting the Next Billion. You're going to Africa, you're in Africa actually, you go to the big cities, the way to connect communities is through what we know, wi‑fi, last‑mile connectivity, providing access points, where if people come with devices they can use from that central point. . We cannot be here trying to sell a product that is sort of either commercial or Patented as a solution to connect masses.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: Thank you so much for that input. I do apologize for cutting you short. I want to give the opportunity to all. Well noted. If I could have the gentleman ‑‑ I'll ask for the questions and then we'll have the colleagues shoot back.
Sir, do you still have a question in the front? If you can keep it as brief as possible, please introduce yourself.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you very much for this important panel. I'm from a university in France where I'm working on a project on global eBusiness for the ‑‑ for Africa actually, it is global but my focus is on Africa and it is looking for finding easy, efficient way to connect the people which goes in line with what you're doing, especially including the marginalized, the far, remote reach, whether it is in rural areas or even if within the suburban areas, within the marginalized areas, within urban settings, because of course the rural urban gap in Africa, it is huge. I can affirm that we need to have affirmative action to the excluded, especially the digitally excluded. I believe that such innovative solution will post and will be an added value to this community, especially if I want it in the local context. While I serve with the secretary in federal governments in the transitional Government of Sudan, where we brought a Prime Minister from this building, serving the global community and we brought him to Sudan to make the transformation happen. In my pipeline, I had a project, a donation from IDA, international development association, of $200 million, at the core of which there was a project of digital transformation for the rural ‑‑ for the far reaching, for the rural ‑‑
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: I do apologize. I have to stop you.
>> AUDIENCE: I want to just acknowledge this, but also to try from your partner to just focus on institutions to finance it, rural communities themselves can finance themselves, not to be depending on the big institutions. At the end of the day, they will have the issues of lack of resources as a project.
I acknowledge also ‑‑
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: I apologize. I do encourage you to please just stay after the session. I really do have to give the floor to other members. Your inputs are well noted if you could join us afterwards.
>> AUDIENCE: Always we're just discriminatoried with this timeframes, when we come to important issues to be discussed.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: I understand that sir. If I could moderate the session, please. I would like to give other member, we have a time limit, there are other sessions going on. If I could open the floor to another member. We could discuss this afterwards.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you. I will go and discuss further.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE: With the professors.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Go ahead, sir.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you very much.
I work for Nigerian satellite industry with over 20 years’ experience in connectivity across Africa.
I just wanted to share and for us to look at on the issue of the backpack, it is for us to look inwards, to ensure that we have, you know, what I call the five As of ICT from domestic indicated technologies in Africa, and the five As, not just availability, accessibility, affordability, but, you know, adaptation, adoption, all is inclusive.
A simple example, the experience we have in trying to ‑‑ when you talk about eEducation, eHealth, it boils down to power, you can't do this without power. Most of the equipments we use, 98% of the devices, actual devices we use, it comes from outside of the shores of Africa. Take for instance a rural community to power telemedicine and the modem, you only have solar energy, you want to just do this from the truck, but you have to go around this, you have ‑‑ what we're say, there should be a way of designing some of these devices to use the current to bring down costs of using this. At the end of the day, the device, you have here the solar, then to what, the inverter, costing over $2,000, then again to the PC. I want to appeal to the designers of hardwares in the ICT, the backpack solution, to be able to, like, give us simplified solution, tropicalized solutions that will allow the devices to be powered directly to solar.
5As matter. That's all. That's all I want to talk about. Thank you.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: Thank you for that input.
I do apologize.
I'm going to take one more. If you could please keep it brief. The gentleman over there.
I apologize. I will personally come take down your question and liaise. Please take the floor, Madam, please keep it brief and introduce yourself.
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you so much.
I'm from the University of Cape Town. My question, it is what are some of the sustainable funding models that we can adapt in rural communities when it comes to supporting community wireless networks to help with community wireless network resilience within the community? Thank you.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: Thank you for that.
I do apologize, we have a session happening afterwards. I will keep brief. I can't take any more questions from the floor. I'm going to let Kwaku Antwi take some of the questions and address it quite briefly.
>> KWAKU ANTWI: Thank you.
I'll be brief.
I want to appeal to our brothers and our sister, our collaborators, we're very open. The backpack solution, it is complementary. We are not Messiahs saying we'll solve all of the problem, we're seeing this issue of the connectivity issue we're trying to solve, we're not trying to get anybody's ‑‑ listen, connectivity needs to be complementary with various network, we need to be collaborative and open. We need to be connecting with each other. Whatever solutions are available, they're good. We have another solution to connect the rural areas and even the urban poor too.
Please, let's be open, let's talk, let's collaborate with the African open data, we're open, we have collaborated with Syracuse University. Let's do that.
I think, Lee McKnight, you can answer to that satellite stuff.
>> LEE McKNIGHT: Thank you.
I note on here as a ‑‑ I'm not on here as a professor, I'm ‑‑ nobody from the company is here in Ethiopia trying to sell you anything. First I want to note that the world's leading software expert that designed that is in the democratic Republic of Congo, the backpack exists because of the demand of Africans for it to exist. It was a research project that I was asked to present to UNICEF event in case of emergency, this observatory heard about it and they started bothering me until I turn it had from a research project into something we could ship there where even the shipment into a conflict zone was challenging. We're not here, there is no magic. I'm an old professor with gray hair, I have been around longer than the IGF has existed. I have been involved in different areas of policy, we're here to help things work through, so we're here to try to help make a change but it is up to Africans to make changes for themselves and I'll end on that note. Thank you.
>> YUSAF ADDUL‑QADIR: Just five seconds, the brother here, thank you very much for your comment. The backpack actually does do what you're looking for. We can catch up afterwards.
The issues about the electricity, the solar, it connects directly to a battery pack that charges that. It is being deployed as he said in DRC in 2017, being done in Ghana right now, being deployed in Costa Rica and I think that the thought process is to make sure that we're thinking through those issues.
>> ZANYIWE ASARE: Thank you so much to our panel. Africa open data and Internet research foundation. I do encourage each and every one of you to go to the booth, to ask questions, and I do apologize that, you know, there were questions on the floor to my brother there in the front.
Thank you so much for your inputs. I think they're quite invaluable, without this collaboration, without getting really these gems from experienced people in our ecosystem we definitely won't get anywhere. Thank you. If we can give the panel a round of applause. We can exit this venue because we're short on time.