High-level policy session 8: Inclusiveness, access to information and knowledge for all

9 Apr 2019 18:00h - 18:45h

Event report


Ms Zoraima Cuello (Vice Minister of the Presidency of the Dominican Republic) addressed the question of working on governmental initiatives guaranteeing the access to information and digital knowledge. Cuello stressed the importance of digital society and co-operation of academia, industry, civil society and government. As successful examples of governmental strategies, Cuello described the 911 emergency calling project, and city security surveillance programmes. She further stressed the importance of cybersecurity, data protection and privacy. She outlined the importance of education in the Republica Digital programme by citing examples of digitalisation of public schools an all levels, creating access to the Internet in the community centres, and establishing Wi-Fi access points.

Ms Maria-Manuela Catrina (State Secretary, Ministry of Communications and Information Society, Romania) spoke about the impacts of technology on inclusiveness. Catrina included the access to information services, skills, security, regional language content, and the need to have everyone on board. She cited the example of AI developed by the University of Nis aiding spatial orientation for the visually impaired, and AI used for teaching mandatory computer classes in elementary schools.

Dr Norah Mulira (Commissioner, Uganda Communication Commission) addressed the greater impacts of collaborations and partnerships in access to information. Mulira described the 2040 Vision aiming at expanding broadband connectivity in rural communities. The inclusiveness, he noted, means to include everybody in the solutions, such as the refugee communities and young people. Mulira stressed the importance of affordability and education in digital literacy. He cited solutions via participation of the private sector and targeted interventions with the UNHCR to help the refugee population.

Addressing the question of increasing access and digital literacy in unserved and underserved communities, Dr Gift Kallisto Machengete (Director General, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe) quoted the goal 9C of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). He stated that elevating poverty and promoting literacy is essential, as well as regulatory intervention to promote investment, guarantee affordability and provide content in local languages. Machengete emphasised the issue of electrification in rural communities.

Mr João Miguel Coelho (Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors, ANACOM) explained the view of the regulator in Portugal as the enabler for access and inclusion. He stressed the need to bring networks and services to the users by promoting investment in infrastructure in fixed communication networks by loosening administrative restrictions and providing state incentives to private investments. Coelho stressed the need for affordability and quality of the connections to provide equal access, as well the need to increase digital literacy and rights of users related to the media.

Dr Rita Forsi (Director-General of Institute for Communications and Information Technologies, Ministry of Economic Development, Labour and Social Policies of Italy) addressed the tools to grant access to information. She described technical infrastructure as the prerequisite to access, stating that the information must be easy to read, open and clear. Forsi gave an overview of the national strategy to expand the broadband connection to provide 85% of people with connectivity, including public spaces, as well as the promotion of free access to Wi-Fi connections. She cited cybersecurity as one of the concerns to be addressed.

Speaking about the access to information and its relevance in delivering public services on the state level was Mr Sanjay K. Thade (Principal Secretary, Backward Classes Welfare & Tribal Department Divisional Commissioner, Medinipur Division, Government of Bengal). He emphasised the issue of last mile accessibility in rural areas in order to deliver public services to large groups of population. Thade spoke about the need for transparency, accessibility and affordability. He cited the example of bicycle distribution to students and its impact on educational inclusiveness.

Representing the private sector, Mr Yonathan Parienti (CEO of Horyou SA) addressed the role of social network in accelerating access to information. He stressed the need for all stakeholders to work on finding solutions to reach the 2030 Agenda by connecting 180 countries and 2000 nonprofits. Parienti introduced digital currency as a tool for inclusion and funding.

Mr Cliff Schmidt (CEO of Amplio Network) spoke about the need to reach the furthest behind in order to provide access and knowledge for all. He cited an example of UNESCO work with rural communities to prevent child marriages to demonstrate the need for communication with rural communities both ways and learn about their needs.

Mr Bilel Jamoussi (WSIS Action Line Facilitator ITU) summarised the discussion and concluded this session.


By Pavlina Ittelson