NRIs collaborative session: Digital competences to harness technologies for sustainable development – cases and approaches

18 Dec 2017 10:45h - 12:15h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 12th Internet Governance Forum]

Mr Carlos A. Afonso, Expert, moderator, started by explaining the dynamics of the session, and delivering a keynote speech in which he highlighted the challenges individuals face: without our knowledge, our computers may be used to mine bitcoins; profiles are being built based on our data footprint; automation will create unemployment; algorithms will be used in black box decision-making processes. Afonso assessed that we are at a crossroads, because algorithms are under the control of a very exclusive group, reducing our self-determination, and creating a ‘Feudalism 2.0’.

Ms Federica Tortorella, IGF Dominican Republic, emphasised the importance of the IGF in discussing several IG topics from a multistakeholder perspective. NRIs should use the democratic channels in their countries or regions, such as the right to public initiative, to introduce suggestions to policymakers and legislators. 

Mr Henrique Faulhaber, IGF Brazil, addressed the need to improve digital competences, especially in the context of automation. He mentioned the example of Brazil’s anti-spam initiative. Brazil was once on the list of the global top-five spammers, but the country was not the origin of spam, it was just a hub for re-distribution. Through a collaboration between government, the telecommunications agency, ANATEL, and the private sector, an effective management of port 25 was put in place. This project is an example of the importance of education and awareness. (the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee) is raising awareness on cybersecurity through CERT and several booklets and publications.   

Mr Marcien Mackaya, IGF Gabon, started by making an overview of ICT development in central Africa and Gabon, and the progress made in recent years when it comes to Internet access. He also gave an overview of indicators on ICT skills. Digital skills development is key to social inclusion, including technical competencies. Policymakers need to stimulate enrolment in the education system and introduce ICT training in schools. In Gabon, the main needs of citizens are related to the training of women, disabled people, parents, and the promotion of professional training in digital skills.

Mr Michel Tchonang, IGF Central Africa, classified digital competencies in three groups: technical, collaborative, and cognitive skills. He gave examples of areas in which TICs can be used for achieving SDGs, such as reducing CO2 emissions, fostering teleworking, women’s economic empowerment, and rational management of transportation. He highlighted some positive outcomes from the IGF Cameroun, such as a better understanding of the importance of adopting IPv6. He made some suggestions of policies and good practices that could foster SDGs, such as the creation of research centres to foster the development of TICs in developing countries.

Ms Ana Neves, IGF Portugal, mentioned that Portugal is a dual track country where there are still considerable gaps in terms of access, but high-skilled technology penetration is also significant. The Prime Minister launched the Portugal 2030 initiative, with the support of six ministers. This initiative offers advanced specialisation, re-qualification, and research for the creation of new knowledge using emerging technologies. Other stakeholders are also involved in the implementation of these pillars, which is key to achieving effective policies and social change.

Ms Marta Dias spoke about the Movement for Active Digital Use (MUDA.PT), which brings on board non-governmental actors and the government. The movement has several pillars of action, such as access, trade, communication, legislation, health, security, and freedom.

Questions were then asked from the floor, including: how the discussion on digital competencies for achieving SDGs is being integrated into the programme of national and regional IGFs; how NRIs can collaborate more among themselves to harness digital competencies for sustainable development; and how to kick-start multistakeholder Internet governance discussions at the national level.

Henrique Faulhaber mentioned that there were two sessions about digital capacities in the last Brazilian national IGF, but more should be done to give this topic more prominence in the meeting programme. Marta Dias assessed that one of the goals of this session was to create opportunities for NRI collaboration on digital competences. Carlos Afonso mentioned that APC has recently launched a book on the history of the creation of national IGFs which might be of help to those wishing to start a national process.

By Marilia Maciel