[Read more session reports and live updates from the 13th Internet Governance Forum]
Connectivity is becoming a huge challenge for the digital economy. The session aimed to share the different perspectives on how the public and private sectors can work together towards better Internet access on both a regional and an international level.
The moderator started the session by asking about the challenges faced by different regions in Internet access and Internet governance in general.
Mr Makane Faye, Senegal Internet Governance Forum (IGF) Representative, said that the number of Internet users has increased during recent years. He said that International Telecommunications Union (ITU) statistics show a 25% increase in connectivity in the last decade. He pointed to mobile telephones as a game-changer in doing business in Africa. Moreover, he noted the challenges of Internet offline, privacy, etc.
Mr Julian Casasbuenas, Colombia IGF Representative, started by explaining the challenges of rural access to the Internet, digital infrastructure, etc. He pointed to the difficulties of regulation of digital business in Colombia. He talked about the role of the Colombia IGF in bringing the Internet access in the rural areas.
Moreover, he emphasised the need for local content on the Internet in order to increase the quality of life of Colombians, and foster community and sustainability. He stressed the importance of Internet access for schools and universities. According to him, there is a need for digital infrastructure.
Mr Dustin Phillips, IGF United States of America (USA) Representative, noted the meetings between business leaders and government officials in order to tackle the access issue, digital literacy, and capacity development in communities about the US digital economy. Furthermore, he said that there are different approaches to solve the connectivity issue in services, schools, etc.
Ms Flávia Lefèvre Guimarães, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), IGF Brazil, started by explaining the issue of net neutrality in Latin America in general. She highlighted broadband infrastructure, the data protection issue and transparency as important issues for consideration. According to her, in Brazil, Internet access is frequently through mobile telephones.
Mr Roberto Zambrana, who joined remotely, commented on the role of the mobile apps in getting digital services. However, he said that the cost of digital services is still very high. The Internet has become the major tool in services, learning, communicating, etc.
Ms Jennifer Chung, Asia Pacific region IGF, started by explaining the challenges and opportunities of connectivity in the developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region. She said that Vanuatu has the challenges of Internet users who do not have high speed connections. She emphasised the infrastructure issues and asked the governments to play their role for more access, and meaningful capacity for the local communities.
Ms Mary Uduma, IGF Nigeria, highlighted the Women IGF in Nigeria organised by the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD). She talked about interconnection in the West African region and asked that international optical fibre be linked to the West African region. Moreover, she commented on the role of the Women IGF in Nigeria in order to empower women in the digital economy. She noted also the challenges of language and cultural barriers, digital skills, and the lack of power in the rural areas.
Mr Babu Ram Aryal, Nepal IGF, started by explaining the geographical problems in connecting people in his country, Nepal. He highlighted digital literacy, and the barrier of taxes on different services (telecommunications, financial transfers, etc). He also said that 85% of Nepalese are using the Internet through mobiles telephones.
Mr Frederico Links, Namibia IGF, stressed the importance of the policy process, and the community networks in the rural areas. He asked public officials to facilitate Internet access for young entrepreneurs.
By Gilles D. Bana