NRI Collaborative Session: Access and Existing Barriers on Regional and National Levels
21 December 2017 - A Other on in Geneve,Switzerland
>> MARILYN CADE: We will ask people to come up.
The most fun I've had all week is banging on this piece of wood. You can tell how good the week is going. I will open the space. My name is Marilyn Cade. I will be the emcee. I will ask everyone to move closer, using the fact that I'm extremely near sighted.
We will get started with this NRI‑to‑NRI collaborative session. I will be seated here for just a few minutes, and then we'll start with the questions and discussion from our panelists and I will be moderating from down here. So I will be here for setting the stage and then I will be moderating from here so I can see the audience and the panelist all.
So let me just open this by talking very briefly about why there are NRI‑to‑NRI collaborative sessions. The NRIs have become a network, sharing information and sharing best practices and ideas in just the last two years awful though they have existed since 2006. We have had significant growth in the NR I.s in the last two years.
In November of 2015, we had roughly 57 NRIs. We now have, counting the ten that are in formation ‑‑ in formation, we now have over 100. So that means we have a lot of new NRIs and there was a great interest on the part of the NRIs themselves to have a way to share information with each other, face‑to‑face, exchange on the issues that are highest prior to them.
We conducted a consultation among the NRIs to first of all select the topics that would be discussed in the NRI‑to‑NRI sessions and we asked NRIs to volunteer and pick their top priority and organize the session.
So I'm going to actually ask one of our co‑organizers ‑‑ one of the co‑organizers, others will be speaking, but I will ask one of the co‑organizers, Omar to share with us for two minutes. Omar, here. Here.
I'm going to ask Omar to share with us for two minutes the vision and then I will turn to Mary Uduma to share why this topic was the highest topic to be addressed. I would like you to help us set the stage.
>> OMAR MANSOOR ANSARI: Thank you so much, Marilyn. My name is Omar Mansoor Ansari, I'm from Afghanistan. We had our first IGFAfghanistan in March 2017. It was this year, three days event. 200 participants from all major stakeholders.
There were a number of sessions parallel, including main sessions on women in tech, kids academy, cybersecurity, and access in the relevant issues that were important for Afghanistan.
It was a great experience, but the reason we have proposed the session, the collaborative session on access was because access has been a major challenge for Afghanistan, and one of the major issues for access issues is the price of Internet. It's extremely expensive for everyone to get an Internet, especially fiber to home.
There are other technologies like WiMAX and 3G, 4G, and point to point, but all of these are extremely expensive. It's $150 at average for 1MB of connection. And if you get 100MB, that's going to be $15,000 to $16,000 US dollars.
So that's a major challenge.
And number two is the content, a local content and local technologies in Afghanistan, people do not see the benefits that the Internet provide because content is not in their language or it's not relevant to them.
So that has been a major issue and only 5% of the Afghan population approximately is connected to the Internet. We have a population of 30 million people in the country, the majority of them are not connected. So they do not have, due to lack of connectivity and access, they are not, you know, like benefited from the glories that the Internet and the connectivity will provide to them. And that includes education, healthcare, eBusiness, and so many other things.
>> MARILYN CADE: Thank you. And perhaps Mary, before I turn to you, I'm just going to make a brief comment myself.
Marilyn Cade as the emcee. Today in our world, we are facing the kind of revolution in technology and innovation that the world faced when we first introduces high‑speed communications, point‑to‑point and high‑speed computer processing. But we had so many fewer people to educate at that time because we had not yet moved to the truly distributed access to either communications or computing. Laptops didn't exist. It was a very centralized command and control approach, but we were moving into e‑commerce, and into what we saw in the future as an information age.
We have really moved so far that today ‑‑ and we are ready to leapfrog into an even further digitized world where not only these devices will get smarter and smarter and smaller and smaller, but our cars are going to talk back to us.
And we are going to see the growth of the use of artificial intelligence, bots, et cetera, in many cases doing really, really good things, perhaps helping with monitoring plants, water, et cetera, but we're also going to see that if you are left behind in terms of access or in terms of digital literacy, you are going to really be the equivalent of on an island with no boat or airplane to get you out.
So access is an incredibly important, fundamental building block to being a living citizen today in our world, yet 4 billion people today are not connected or are under connected. And I would like us to keep thinking about this as a conjoined phrase, because there are people who have no access at all, and they are unconnected, and there are people who are counted as being connected, but they are only able to afford to connect once a day or once a week.
They are significantly under connected, or if they are connected, they don't have a device that actually enables them to reach all of the applications that they need, and we're seeing new barriers grow up. So we had been focused on the idea that we must deal with building out and making affordable access, and now we are seeing that for other reasons, state actors and others are taking steps to deny access, even in what many of us thought were, perhaps, emerging economies or even developed countries.
So Internet shutdowns are a significant new growing threat to being connected and being always on.
The other problem that I think we should acknowledge in access is that I was ‑‑ I moderated the Afghan open forum yesterday, a workshop on two networks that will create your future and we have decided that it's actually three networks that will create your future. That is, the communications network, the electric ‑‑ the power network, the electricity network and the financial network.
So as we think about the barriers and we're going to talk about them and then we'll talk about solutions, I want us to keep thinking about the fact that we have to continue to educate people, that it's not mere access we are talking about. We are talking about the kind of access and devices and digital literacy and applications and content that people can use to improve their health, to learn about how to improve the crops they raise or their jobs that create jobs in countries. And that's why I'm so excited about this particular session.
And Mary, I want to turn to you for comments from you as one of the co‑organizers about your vision.
>> MARY UDUMA: Thank you, Marilyn. My name is Mary Uduma. I am from Nigeria, but I do coordinate the West Africa IGF.
In this year, 2017, we held the West African IGF in Benin, and one of the outstanding issues that we discussed was access, and we have a lot of barriers. Not only do we have barriers in terms of technology, infrastructure, but in terms of policies, policies from our government, and our environment, in particular, wants the audience to know ‑‑ the environment, in particular, is moved by the government. The government is the highest spender. The government takes the lead. The government moves and shakes the environment. So for that reason, when they come up with the Internet, it impinges on the fundamental right of the individual to have access to healthcare, to financial ‑‑ to even the information from the government itself.
So we felt that it was wrong and it will impeach on a development if we continue to shut down on the Internet, because that's where the world is great. That's all we can do to continue to exist.
So the essence of this government shutdown Internet for whose interests? Whose interests are they shutting down on the Internet? You could say political, but the ordinary person on the street, that doesn't have electricity, that does not know how to type on computers, they still lack access.
So we also came up with the declaration that there should nobody time that there will be blackout of the Internet in our region.
Having said that, we have the infrastructure issues, not only the ICT infrastructure, but the adjacent infrastructures. So those are the things ‑‑ those are my motivation in today's ‑‑ this session, and I know that the panelists would do justice.
And we want to share experiences of what happened in other jurisdictions so we can take it back home and see how we can implement that in our own jurisdiction. Thank you very much.
>> MARILYN CADE: Thank you, Marilyn speaking as the emcee. So at the end, we will develop our core messages.
What are the agreed ‑‑ within this room ‑‑ ideas that we have so that we have ‑‑ we are able to deliver a concrete message about ‑‑ I think you were thinking about it as a unified declaration. That may be difficult to achieve in a short period of time, but we at least can come up with our ideas for recommendations for action. So let's get started.
I'm going to throw out the first question, and before I do that, I will ask each of to you just introduce yourselves very, very briefly, because we are going to do this relatively interactively. So I'm going to ask all the panelists to introduce themselves briefly. I will be referring to the speakers by the name of their NRI, but they will be using their name when speaking.
So I would like to ask our Sri Lanka NRI to introduce himself.
>> MAHEESHWARA KIRINDIGODA: Hello, I'm Maheeshwara. I'm secretary of the Sri Lanka network group. That's related to Internet and Internet Governance.
I work in the private sector.
>> MARILYN CADE: Thank you. And now I will go to Georgia.
>> Thank you, Marilyn. My name is ‑‑ I work for part of the local chapter board member.
>> MARILYN CADE: And now I will go to West Africa.
>> Good morning. Good morning, my name is Salumensara, I'm from Sierra Leone.
>> Thank you.
>> MARILYN CADE: And now I will go to Colombia.
>> JULIAN CASABUENAS G.: My name is Julian Casasbuenas, and I will speak on behalf of the Colombian IGF. I'm working in civil society sector and this is one of the topics that we have been discussing for the last IGF.
>> MARILYN CADE: Thank you. And ‑‑
>> Thank you, Marilyn.
>> KEVON SWIFT: My name is Kevin swift and I'm from Trinidad and Tobago and I work for LACNIC. LACNIC is the Secretariat to the LACIGF and I'm here representing the steering committee of the LACIGF that guides its activities throughout the year.
>> MARILYN CADE: Thank you. I'm going to get started with the first question.
>> Your mic.
>> MARILYN CADE: There it is. I will get started with the first question and I would like you to keep your answers to around two minutes because we are going to try to do a number of rounds of questions and we are going to ‑‑ we are going to come back on another round.
If you see a microphone at your table that's lit, would you turn it off? Thank you.
First of all, we have heard comments about the importance of public policy. So let me ask each of you to say a few words, first of all, about why do you think we need to connect? Who is not connected in your country or in your region? Are there specific categories or sectors that are particularly affected by lack of access, such as children or tribal groups or rural people with disabilities?
And then after you talk about that, would you talk about your perspective on the state of public policy that supports connectivity and access in your country? So it's kind of a two‑part question and I would like to turn to Sri Lanka first, and then we'll just keep going.
>> MAHEESHWARA KIRINDIGODA: Sri Lanka is a country. It's an island so we have 20 million people who is 6 million is connected. So there are about 15 million connected. So there are a lot of people to be connected. We have people in the rural areas such as the provinces which will affect the areas and also some part of the ‑‑ well, the affected areas also are connected.
And under connection is another problem in our country. And so what we have to do, we have to improve the access. We have to improve the access because all the services and the facilities are going and turning into the Internet data. Because of this, some people who do not get the access or who are under connected will not get the equal preferences for the services and these facilities that they are going to have.
So especially thinking. Students in the rural area, where teachers are not willing to go and to these schools don't have Internet, and people with disabilities ‑‑ and especially we need to think of it, them. There are a lot of people in Sri Lanka with various kinds of disabilities. We need to discuss separate problem in Sri Lanka.
And, again, when it comes to the access, the services like help and agriculture, now turning into ‑‑ into Internet services, especially for the last two years back, there was a policy to sign a form, an eform for every ‑‑ for farmers to get their fertilizers. And so this was a decision that the government took, which is ‑‑ actually these users ‑‑ even though they have the access they do not have the literacy to use these electronic forms.
So if government and other people out of the country are looking, these kind of implementation, the access is a real problem. This is identified by IGF sir lank A. It's the discussion first used in the next billion users where the participants from government and all other stakeholders where they took this initiative as prosperous as this discussion went on with arguments and so on.
We have our government, we many two things tried out. One is free Internet, free hotspot around the country to cover ‑‑ cover the working for 100 mega bites per user.
But then another attempt was there to create the first Google connected country, but this failed. All the project gave to ‑‑ it approached from top to bottom. It's not the approach from bottom to top. It is needed, the multistakeholder. They need to create these kind of policies. And so Sri Lanka, they stand there to make it happen anyway even though it's challenging. Thank you.
>> MARILYN CADE: Okay. Next.
>> WEST AFRICA: We happen to be one of the most impoverished areas in the world, and a major barrier is obviously infrastructure and also there are political situations which presently are getting better because we are at least got rid of almost all but one of the dead spots. But thankfully, the issue of shut down has happened before, but there are now moves to ensure that within the region it is made illegal by the regional body.
But the major factor is literacy. The technology that we have in terms of the use of the Internet doesn't help in terms of a major disability, the disability of people to read. It's not just people who can see, but I think to read and be able to write is also a disability. And most technological providers, the Facebooks, the Twitters, do not look at that disability. If they can look at that disability of people, who cannot read and write, perhaps we can make technology work for those who do not have access.
>> MARILYN CADE: That's a ‑‑ Marilyn speaking.
That's a very interesting and unique idea that I'm going to capture as one of the things we may want to talk about as a key message.
May I please? Colombia?
>> JULIAN CASABUENAS G.: Thank you, Marion. My name is Julian Casasbuenas, speaking on behalf of the Colombian IGF. Since the first meeting of Colombian IGF, access has been included in the agenda of the national forums, including different approaches, not only access to infrastructure but also to different topics of interest, like access to information, Internet for poverty reduction, access for inclusion and development and this year, it was focused on infrastructure.
And we aim all stakeholders from private sector, government, academia, civil society groups and technical community to discuss and to contribute meaningfully to facilitate the discussions about these issues in our country.
And during the last IGF, it was presented all the policies and projects that the government is implementing to reach most of them municipalities, using fiber optic and broad band access.
However when we go to rural areas in Colombia, very close to these municipalities, there is not access at all or there are a lot of people who are under connected.
Sometimes we have access, but very limited. And not useful for training online, for instance, or for video, or the full benefits of the Internet. So despite these advances presented in our meetings, some questions were responded as well. So what is missing so people can start using Internet a more productive way, how to create a proper environment so operators can play their networks, how to make people take more ownership of the Internet, and how to ‑‑ how to reach distance communities and if it's Colombia ready or not to face the challenges of infrastructure.
And there was a statement that came out that there is a high inequality of use and access to the Internet that's related to low levels of education and income.
And many reasons why many Colombians do not have Internet connections, connectivity is related to Ohio costs. The belief that useless, the lack of coverage in rural areas and/or do not know how to use it at all.
So to face the challenges of infrastructure, there are aspects of inequality, must be taken into account.
At the global level, we believe there's a great challenge in connecting the following 1 billion users and so there's a need to solve and overcome many barriers such as the one we discussed and so we acknowledged that government initiatives or positive but there's also a concern regarding how to keep them sustainable in the long term. There are a lot of proposals of free access to Internet, but then there's not a strategy that how we will keep these running. So sometimes governments come with good proposals but then they don't last and we have to start all over again.
>> MARILYN CADE: Thank you very much, and now I'm going to turn to Georgia and we will just keep going down the line.
>> GEORGIA: Thank you, I'm from Georgia IGF. I want to continue to talk about problems related to success and this was hard topic last three IGFs, national IGFs also in my country. First of all, it's related to this population from rural areas and lack of infrastructure, lack of Internet. The lack of competitions is creating these barriers for Internet. And I want to place these initiatives and how to teal with these issues from my country.
First of all, the initiatives with governments and with civil society and it was started on IGF platform because in our executive committee, all of these guys are in the same level and it's a good chance to discuss and to launch the interesting side of IGF platform.
And one of them is related ‑‑ there was an infrastructure development. It's a project to create real good backbone fiber optic infrastructure on third areas and ‑‑ and it's less than 2,000 householders.
And another one is related to arising and we support the bank to give training. It's more than 50 US dollar per household but it's unique for installation, I think it's enough, for beginning and also it was supported with trainings from governments and the civil society, the small and medium enterprises and other stakeholders.
And last one, I want to share with you is related to ‑‑ the ISOC project which was done just a few months ago, I mean to the project and for my services, it's like a case study for community networks. This owner of this network is a local society of networks and they understand the importance of this, and the price is quite low for access, up to 5 mega bit per second. It's a little bit more than 10 US dollar per month.
And capital expenses was give friend ISOC and it had to be covered by themselves by society.
>> MARILYN CADE: I'm hearing some interesting ideas already that I think we can capture and put into our ‑‑ the lessons that we can learn from each other. And now I would like to turn to Afghanistan.
>> AFGHANISTAN: Thank you, Marilyn, again. I'm representing IGF Afghanistan. The access problems that we currently have in Afghanistan is mainly being an analog countries and being under developed countries and this is really restricting Afghanistan automatically.
What happened currently is ‑‑ it's a land locked country, we buy from our neighboring countries, Pakistan, mainly. So we are connected through fiber with Pakistan and we have a fiber ring that has run across the country which is connecting the major cities, really, and then all ever those smaller cities are connected to the fiber ring, through the major cities.
5% of the overall population, which is 30 million, is connected. So that makes it 1.5 million of users being really connected online. And to 28.5 million of users being unconnected, and literacy rates being 25%, that makes it 7.5 million of people being able to read and write, but that only means that they are able to read and write in the local languages, but not in English. And that makes it 22.5 million of the population not being able to read and write at all, English or even the local languages.
So those two are really restricting access automatically because even if we had incident connectivity, even if we are able to give them access and, you know, connect them, but ‑‑ to connect them for work because they cannot even use the Internet because of the literacy ‑‑ the literacy rates. If I was to categorize the connected users and unconnected users, I will put them in a different context.
We have users out of the 1.5 million that are connected, they are really connected to use Facebook and to use fiber. They don't use Internet for research purposes and they don't use it for eservices. They have don't use it for health services or they don't use it for collaboration. So it's mainly Facebook, browsing and wire browsing.
We have average use hers, normal people who can read and write in English and they have access to Internet and they do collaboration. They ‑‑ you know, they do educational research process and they use it for research and development purposes and these kind of, you know, categories of people. And ‑‑ okay.
And then the other problem to access or connectivity would be the lack of local contents.
So as I said earlier, that we have 1.5 million who are connected and then we have 28.5 million who are unconnected.
So the 1.5 million who are connected, and if they were to go online and search for, you know ‑‑ and do research on specific topic, they wouldn't be able to find local contents and it's going to be mainly in English. So that, you know, creates another access kind of a problem. They have access, you know, they do some sort of a research in order to build their knowledge and the capacity, but then again they are not able to find, you know, local contents in their own local language that they can read and write in.
Eservices, there's not much of eservices going on.
If we connect those people and provide the eservices, you know, eBusiness and e‑Government, or eCommerce kind of transactions, that's ‑‑ you know, that's another major problem. So going to the second part, which is the government policy part, Internet Society Afghanistan, we are working closely with the government in order to build capacity of the local citizens. So what kind of projects can we actually work on and collaboratively between the Internet Society and the government in order to build capacity and train just normal usage of computers and normal usage of Internet?
Internet Society of Palestine is working on that with communications and IT and access is one of the top priorities of Internet society Afghanistan currently.
>> MARILYN CADE: Marilyn speaking.
When I was in Afghanistan, Omar had organized a kids academy, and I am ‑‑ my idea at the moment, is that we need to have the kids train the elders. Because, boy, was I impressed by the kids ages 6 through 12 that I helped the kids academy with.
That may be my nomination for one of the takeaways because it's such a challenge when the user is looking at this device, and the only way you know how to use it is if you can read.
Thank you so much for those comments, and let me go to LACIGF.
>> KEVON SWIFT: Thank you, Marilyn. Kevon Swift for LACIGF. First of all, I think it's important to understand a bit more about the LAC region and it's a very diverse one. It's one which has one of the highest concentrations of small island developing states, the states which are primarily in the Caribbean. It's one with countries with large populations such as Brazil and Mexico, both of which have more than 100 million people.
So this level of diversity, it shows that the question of access is very heterogeneous across the region. If we look at some of the high level indicators as it currently stands, it's roughly 56% of our population that use the Internet.
But one of the things that even within that figure, we could see there are cases of extremes. So, for example, Aruba, which is a small Caribbean island has more than 93% of its population that uses the Internet. Whereas we also have the case of Haiti, which comes down to about 12% of their population using the Internet.
So it's a lot of extremes that you fine in the Latin American and Caribbean space.
So at LACIGF, we had the ability, the opportunity to really disaggregate all of these indicators and get to some key issues and some key details about what the nature of our connectivity and access issues are.
And among those, one of the things that we have been discussing at LACIGF, we have gone past the question of just basic connectivity and we speak about meaningful access, and by meaningful access, we are referring to the availability of skills and capacities to really be able to leverage what the Internet has to offer in terms of social experiences and in terms of economic opportunities.
And we see that some of the typical barriers that still exist include a lack of local content and local languages. So, for instance, 7% of all articles on Wikipedia are in Spanish, versus 30% in English and it's important to note that we have a large Spanish speaking component to Latin America and the Caribbean.
We see that there's also the exclusion of indigenous communities. There's still the questions of affordability and beyond just affordability, of Internet access, questions of speed and quality are also very problematic. The Internet experience, as you go from country to country in lass inn America is quite diverse, quite distinct.
Within there as well, there is the issue of about digital literacy and general awareness about the Internet and, of course if there's irrelevant local content, people don't have a driving force to use Internet in a productive way. And in general, what we have discussed at LACIGF, from the policy standpoint, policy and legislative frameworks seem to be inadequate to really fully address questions of connecting the unconnected and really being able to create competitive environment where we will be able to have more digital innovation and a lot more economic opportunities via the Internet.
So that legal framework, the policy framework is somewhat inadequate, and one of the benefits that I would say has come from the series of LACIGFs is that we are really getting governments to understand the importance of multi‑stakeholder approaches to really get information from these marginalized groups that we are attempting to reach out to.
So you get voices coming from the youth, you get voices coming from indigenous peoples and it's a true approach that governments know and understand how to create more effective regulation, to meet and address access questions.
>> MARILYN CADE: Thank you. One of the comments that you made, particularly struck me as interesting. Marilyn speaking as the emcee. And that is the extreme diversity of size of the countries and also the one thing you didn't mention that I will mention because I'm very aware of it, as you are, and that is that many of the islands in the Caribbean are harshly buffeted by the weather situation that they experience as we all know from ‑‑ what happened to Puerto Rico and to the damage done on many of the other islands. Than is a recurring thing for them, where their infrastructure are ‑‑ the islands are beautiful and people want to live there, but their infrastructure, their home, but also all other infrastructure, including air transportation, et cetera, can be just blown away. I guess that would be right word, right?
And one thing that people don't understand what that means in terms of the impact on life and health, without the kind of infrastructure and the kind of communications that is needed, it is ‑‑ people die because first responders cannot be dispatched to the right places, and it's a recurring problem.
So when we talk about using the Internet or communications for health, I think we also need to think about how it is such an essential facilities to be able to respond in time of emergency and in these cases very massive emergency.
I'm going to ask ‑‑ everyone gets one minute on this question. And I want you to be direct about it. So of the following issues or topics, how do you see the impact on the interest of the citizens or the interest of the government to move forward more aggressively?
How is culture or fear? So do you ‑‑ do you see a problem, a barrier for certain segments of society, women, for instance, do you see fear of being harassed online or do you see cultural barriers? Do you see those kind of concerns about being in a ‑‑ in an online world? Do you see that as a barrier because if we are going to take steps to make the Internet more available, then we have to also understand what the human nature side or the social side of the barriers are.
So we have identified literacy. Pure literacy. We identified digital skills, right? We have identified affordability and what is the implication of the social and cultural.
I will give you a personal example. I'm 70 years old. I grew up in Missouri, without a telephone, without running water, without an inside toilet. My parents would not allow the television in our home, because they were extremely religious. Fundamental Protestants.
The barrier to me, for not having access to news, to information, even to entertainment. So that's an old example, but are there social and cultural barriers that would prevent people in your country from taking the step themselves if we're able to solve these other problems?
And I'm going to start with Sri Lanka.
>> MAHEESHWARA KIRINDIGODA: Yes, we do have that cultural barrier. And also, digital divide. And there are some other safety issues because of this access. And people are ‑‑ some parents are worrying about their children as it goes on, if they use Internet too much, will it be a barrier for their life, and they don't want to change. It interchanges, but people want to not to change in the cultural society like Sri Lanka.
So these are the barriers that affect these kind of things and indigenous people in Sri Lanka, there are seven groups in different locations. Still they follow their traditional ways. So they do not use Internet. They do not use other things, but at the moment, they are using SmartPhones. Some of them ‑‑
>> MARILYN CADE: SmartPhones?
>> MAHEESHWARA KIRINDIGODA: Yes, some of them run a community radio, and they use the Internet as a tool. Even the leaders fear this can be a challenge for their community: So these are the barriers, some of the barriers. And safer issue is a big ‑‑ a big in our country.
The Internet, for the children and especially for the women, there are a lot of harassments. Last time for the last three months, there was around 4,000 inquiries for the research that came regarding the problems on social media. So that means it's high class and there are some other safety issues. I would suggest Internet addiction which has still not be addressed properly. A lot of people, even myself, have been considered Internet addicted, always connected to the Internet.
>> MARILYN CADE: Yes.
>> MAHEESHWARA KIRINDIGODA: So this is a matter that we have to think of when even though we are talking about the access, the access makes some problems and we have to create solutions for those things. Thank you.
>> MARILYN CADE: I'm going to ask you to speed it up. One minute, Colombia.
>> JULIAN CASABUENAS G.: Thank you, Marilyn. My name is Julian Casabuenas from Colombian IGF, well, I think that there are many barriers, but I think that we can also clang a bit like looking the other side. What's the solutions that we propose, as Colombian IGF. And one ever those is, for instance, the recognition of community networks, but also it's very important to know and understand the community. It's not a matter, at least in our experience, that a rich or bring some projects of connectivity but also get involved the people in this project, and they can contribute and they can be part of the solution.
We believe this is very important, and this can happen, as well, if we use open and free software and hardware. Free hardware as well. So the deployment of these new technologies are possible for community networks.
And also, it was recognized that governments ‑‑ and the gov in our case, must create a favorable environment for inversion in infrastructure for the private sector, recognize that too strict regulation generates more abstinence, distrust or discourages investments and also this is needed to improve Internet coverage, promote trust, develop digital literacy projects and cinema for all, for blind people and call centers for the deaf, among other projects that we are promoting Colombia.
It was discussed also that IPv6, its limitation, only 1% of ISPs are using IPv6 in the country, and it's feed more collaboration among service providers so we can tend to reduce the costs of access in our country, which is still very high.
>> MARILYN CADE: Thank you, but you have 20 seconds to answer my question. Are there cultural barriers or religious barriers that hold people back? You mentioned trust, but are there other kinds of barriers? And the reason I want to look at that ‑‑ and I agree with your answer that we need to customize the solutions to the needs of the people, but I would like to get a better sense of is it digital literacy, yes, we have identified that, but are there also social and cultural barriers, fear of the Internet, for instance?
There are places in the world where technology and the Internet are viewed as being western and therefore opposed just because of that concern. There are places where it is viewed as not as changing the culture and you can just give me a simple, yes, there are; no, I don't really see that.
>> JULIAN CASABUENAS G.: Well, the Internet is useless for them. They don't know what they can do but we believe that it's important that they get the information and realize what ‑‑ how this technology can change their live for good.
>> MARILYN CADE: Got it. Georgia, fear, anxiety, trepidation, cultural barriers. Quickly.
>> GEORGIA: Georgia IGF. No social or religious barriers. 70% of the Georgia are part of the social network, Facebook. But there are problems with trust and safety and literacy. We have the conduct to help our end users to promote them, what they have to do, and how they have the problems and challenges there and also another issue is high mountain areas. It's impossible to reach these areas because population so quite low.
So that's my question.
>> MARILYN CADE: I will go to LAC IGF and then come back to Afghanistan.
>> KEVON SWIFT: Thanks, Marilyn. I think that mic is on still. Yeah.
Thanks, Marilyn. There may be a lot of social, cultural barriers within the region, but one that I would particularly like to mention that I excluded when I was speaking before, is that one of the greatest communities are affected within Latin America and the world are women. And we are not just talking about women having access to technology. We are looking at the question of fairness and equity when it comes to participation of the social experiences and the digital economy.
So, for instance, one of the things that ‑‑ that had been discussed, and I think here at this IGF, there have been a lot of sessions addressing the question about gender and women's rights and the Internet. But, again, within Latin America, we have been discussing things like content that are ‑‑ content that is produced with antifeminist narratives.
So they may be targeting women's weight or say that they have to get rid of baby weigh to look a mar way. And I think these are some of the things that do intimidate other women from being able to equally participate and enjoy the Internet as we will want them to.
>> MARILYN CADE: Let me give a little comfort to the audience. I know I'm skipping around but I'm not leaving anyone out. I will go to Afghanistan and then I will come back down here to West Africa and then we will go to the audience. So, yes, please, Afghanistan.
>> AFGHANISTAN: Thank you, Marilyn. As IGF Afghanistan. If I was to answer the question, precisely within the one minute, I will simply touch on cultural and social issues. Cultural issues are, there since the women are not really allowed to be online for their own safety purposes and since the Internet is really over the past few years, we have all noticed that Internet is being used to publish and post, you know, contents that are really considered to be radical or to be really considered to be sensitive.
So due to cultural boundaries in Afghanistan, the head of family or the parents do not allow women, especially, to go online and to connect. So if we were to go back to the figure that I did I mentioned earlier on, 50% of our population, 50% of the 30 million, which is 15 million, are women in Afghanistan. So that goes back into restriction of access again.
And we have 1.5 million who are connected, and 50% of the 1.5, if they were to be women, we have 750,000 women who are connected and 3.7 million out of the 7.5 million who are literate, 3.75 million of them consist of women. So if we were to take a look at the figure and balance it out, we can clearly figure out that access ‑‑ access is a huge problem and cultural boundaries and social problems in terms of women not being able to go online due to the cultural and boundaries, you know, provided by their head of families. And because Facebook is used by extremists in Afghanistan that. Creates a huge amount of security problem.
And you never know who your contact ‑‑ who you are contacted through Facebook. So those kind of restrictions are there and that has a very negative impact on the amount of, you know, access that we have in Afghanistan.
So the final words would be, yes, you know, problems are they cultural, social and security.
>> MARILYN CADE: Thank you. And now we will hear from West Africa. We hear from West Africa, we will go to the audience. I want you to think about your questions and if you were not ‑‑ not all panelists will respond to each question. Also think about whether there's a particular NRI that you want to respond. Please, West Africa.
>> WEST AFRICA: For us in West Africa we have a huge number of problems, religious is one, as you are all aware, we have the Boko Haram situation, and you have extremists who think the Internet and, in fact, books are bad. So there are those ‑‑ those issues, but also in terms of technology, technology has got to adapt to some cultures.
Being the last speaker, I will say, sometimes you just think it's the men but it's also the women are also needed to be enlightened because we had a situation where one went with one phone and then the other took the phone. The battery dies out for the husband and when he come backs home, he finds a very grumpy wife and took the phone from the husband and threw it a way and asked him why. She says, all I get is some lady on the phone saying, the customer is no longer available.
In our culture, when you call your customer ‑‑ so you need to adapt technology and how it's present.
In a broader sense, you have to respect those cultures and adapt the technology, et cetera, so that no one calls someone a customer. But they changed that. They call them the subscriber. No longer the customer.
But it's very serious. It's very serious. We also have the issue of political pressures because now people who want to stay in power will keep a certain segment of the community away from the Internet because we don't want them exposed to ‑‑ we don't have those issues in West Africa and hopefully they are changing.
>> MARILYN CADE: It's Marilyn speaking. I'm glad you raised this issue. First of all, I loved your example. And I also might just elaborate it, to say that not just the technology needs to adapt, but the attitude of the providers needs to adapt to have this kind of customization and sensitivity.
>> WEST AFRICA: Yes, no customer.
>> MARILYN CADE: Just as I'm not being called the mistress of ceremonies.
But I ‑‑ I'm glad you raised this issue about the politics of the situation because ‑‑ and I probably ‑‑ as I'm still holding a US passport need to apologize to the world for the creation of the term "fake news."
I ‑‑ I moderated a session on misinformation, disinformation, and fake news in our NRI session and I do think this issue of the spread of misinformation or politicians attacking each other or ‑‑ let my say political parties attacking the opponents is something that is also becoming a problem in the Internet, where someone in power or authority may decide, as you said to limit access to content and information, and I think that is a real sensitive issue, as well.
Some of the shutdowns are happening because of the political campaigns that are going on.
Let's go to the audience and we are going to spend ten minutes and then we'll try to summarize as a group what our solutions or messages are. So keep your questions short and tell me if you want a particular NRI to answer.
>> PARTICIPANT: Of Mr. Omar. I'm a part of ‑‑ we are a part of the information Lebanon Internet Governance Forum.
(off microphone comments).
>> PARTICIPANT: I'm part of the information Lebanese Internet Governance Forum and I'm a board member and networks director as well of Ogera which is the incumbent and the Lebanese main operator. My question is about the short presentation of Afghanistan, of Mr. Omar. When he said that a megabyte costs $150. So I think I was astonished and I was going to ask him whether it was for ‑‑ for every single megabyte or whether it was for only 3G and wireless data, because at this price, whatever other measures you take, it's very hard to get more people to use the internet.
So I just wanted to ask about this and whether the government fixes a price or not.
>> AFGHANISTAN: Thank you so much for the question. It's the speed of the Internet. The data will be unlimited at 150. It's the mbps. If you are getting 1 mbps speed, that's unlimited.
>> PARTICIPANT: Still expensive.
>> AFGHANISTAN: In Japan, it's less than a dollar. Less than 50 cents for that kind of a connection, and in the US, the figures are like a couple of years old, but in the US, I was doing a comparison, it's $5. In Canada, it's $6.
We are way too expensive in Afghanistan.
>> PARTICIPANT: Lebanon, it's less.
>> AFGHANISTAN: When there's a fiber cut, for example, you will have another access. If you are getting a redundant connection, that's going to be $300 in Afghanistan.
>> PARTICIPANT: Phew! Thank you.
>> MARILYN CADE: So one more question. Please.
>> PARTICIPANT: Good morning. I'm Lillian from Colombia. Thanks for all the ideas. It was nice to hear you. I agree about that the technology and also operators should be flexible, but I also think that the governments should be very flexible in their regulations that we have, because many times our governments who don't allow that we innovate in solutions, for ‑‑ for incremental access, then how do you think we could invite the governments to be more flexible, especially in things, for example, spectrum management and on shared communication and that kind of things?
>> MARILYN CADE: Do I have a taker? So what is one of the solutions from the speakers or Mary, did you want to respond?
>> MARY UDUMA: No, mine is a question.
>> MARILYN CADE: Let me add your question and then we'll respond to both.
>> MARY UDUMA: Mary Uduma, again from Nigeria, coordinator the West Africa IGF. I want to act toward what she just said. What should we do as coordinators of regions and national IGF to influence or recommend or even persuade our governments would have control of our spectrum, right of way, they do ‑‑ they have control ‑‑ they implement the human rights and all of these are added together, what can we do at our level, what type of recommendations should we send to them, to be able to see that they would be able to come up with policies that would enable access.
More policies that will enable us. Policies that would eliminate the barriers and policies that would also ‑‑ for instance, if they could give the ‑‑ the good ‑‑ open up the spectrum, it's not for ‑‑ for ‑‑ for commercial. It will just be for social network. And then in education, so those are things that would help us, because we have talked about literacy. So what type of solution, what type of recommendation should we give to our government? Thank you.
>> JULIAN CASABUENAS G.: I'm from the Colombian IGF. I fully endorse what you just said, Mary. In the case the Colombia, for instance, we have ‑‑ or our governments have signed the Latin American Digital Agenda, and, for instance, they said there that we should promote community networks of the ITU is also recommending the use of a spectrum for deployment of community networks, and when we came to the governments and tell them, okay, there are already in place recommendations from international recognitions that are part of our government ‑‑ that are part of our ‑‑ our governments are taking part of them. At the local level, when we go and try to implement the solutions, there's still a lot of barriers and these international recommendations are in some way not taken into account by our governments.
I think that we must at the NRIs to insist in the accomplishment of these compromises from our governments.
>> MARILYN CADE: I'm going to give a couple of other panelists a chance to respond. Do it quickly because we are going to sum up and capture some of this, so when we do the taking stock session, we will be able to actually put some of these recommendations out in the record, and then talk about follow‑up.
So do you want to make a comment? Okay and then we'll come to Georgia and then ‑‑ okay. Okay. But make it quick.
>> KEVON SWIFT: Hi, thanks, Marilyn and thanks to Mary and Lillian on the question. I will piggyback on what Julian said. I'm looking at the process and the approach. At LACIGF, we have been working for a number of years to become closer with regional development process called the ELAC process, as conducted by the UN ELAC based in Santiago, and with that process, on the one hand, it's not just enough to be able to shape decisions and I think a lot of us, we achieve that level of shaping, the plans or the policies that governments have. But what we would like to see eventually is that part of the entire build out for all the approach to the digital development, that non‑state actors also included as part of the implementation mechanisms and it's one of the questions that we have been working on for a number of years.
I would say very honestly that to date, there's not a concrete solution to that, but non‑state actors, especially from the LACIGF component have been trying distinct ways of ensuring that we become part of the implementation of what will be the next cycle of the regional additional Development Agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean.
>> MARILYN CADE: Thank you. 30 seconds.
>> WEST AFRICA: There's a big push for the community base, in terms of spectrum. Even on the license, we are looking at having different tiers of license that would you have the community‑based license which is nonprofit and that's one key area that we are definitely looking at in West Africa, making it a community‑based nonprofit, and someone would take several villages but just to recoup the costs, yes.
>> MAHEESHWARA KIRINDIGODA: From Sri Lanka. The questions regarding the same question, is government the only stakeholder to answer these questions? No. There are other stakeholders. So we have to ‑‑ in the Sri Lanka IGF, we have other participants of the stakeholders and most of the stakeholders are active at the moment, working solutions collaboratively.
So the problems are finances and implementation barriers, human resource kind of things are still there. So we need to support from the community, where that we can implement these solutions.
And there are ISOC Japan and other various organizations are collaboratively working on some solutions. The disability community. So ‑‑
>> GEORGIA: Two points from Georgia. We also always pushing the government, like my players of Internet Governance because they are policymakers in some initiatives. For example, Georgia, is quite active in this process and also IGF, you have to keep busy for the next year. How it's working and why it's so important and the last point about amendments in our constitution was just two months ago, open access to the Internet is implemented like a human right for Georgian citizens. It's also like a positive possibility for our government and the policymakers.
>> MARILYN CADE: We have three minutes left and we need to sum up. Is it from the same company?
>> PARTICIPANT: No, no, no, it's related to the Arab IGF. Actually being I'm from the Lebanese IGF, but I'm here talking about the Arab IGF and in which I was participating for the update of the roadmap. The roadmap. Arab IGF was drafted last week, it was final last week and will be posted for public consultation. The main ‑‑ the main priority set was the access ‑‑ the meaningful access that leads to inclusion. So I think that this is the main issue in our region, as only 41% of the Arab people are connected to the Internet.
>> MARILYN CADE: Thank you, Zina and your region, Marilyn speaking as the emcee and your region has some of the same significant diversities. So when you talk about your region, when you look country by country, you may find a country in your region in the Arab region has very high connectivity, like UAE, or even Saudi Arabia, compared to the other countries which are much, much poorer and have very different geography.
I ‑‑ I have a couple of ideas about some of the key messages that we might think about sending forward. So here's my first big idea for you.
My first big idea is that this group seriously looks at collaborating about how to develop a significant session in each of our new NRIs that's targeted to addressing these challenges with concrete suggestions, and that we think about identifying international experts or speakers that can be used consistently for you.
We think about the fact that ‑‑ let me tell you something about ministers. Most of them do not have technology advisors. Let me tell you something else about ministers, most of them are subject to losing their jobs when the political regime changes.
So you have to make friends at a number of levels and you guys know that, but it's very, very difficult to do. Access is very difficult.
In one of the sessions I moderated. He saw the head of his TRA twice at IGF meetings and has not been able to get an appointment in his country. Invite different ministers and create a session that is not ‑‑ where they don't feel like they are just going to hear from civil society and business about the problems but a session where you are going to present some of the ideas.
Here's how community networks and here's how white spaces and here's how interesting competition and here's how building community centres and here's how digital literacy programs and work together, and we can use the NRI network to find some examples of success stories that can be reapplied to create the excitement and the energy on the part of your minister that they are going to be able to ‑‑ ministers ‑‑ ministers, minister of health, not just the minister of communication.
Key to you achieving anything is a relationship with the Minister of Finance. Even when your Minister of Communications wants to do something, or the head of your TRA wants to do something creative with the funds from the universal service fund, he's still got the budget guy and the budget guys are like the world over. They all have a red pen. So what we have to do is convince the budget guy that by increasing the number of users, you increase the revenue. You increase the business opportunity. You increase ‑‑ you increase the taxes that are paid by the new businesses.
Convince people that by solving some of these problems that we are going to have to solve by working together, developing local solutions and local entrepreneur online applications that are customized. I'm not going to say any of this is going to be easy, but think about creating the idea that you will create a meaningful event, not just a high level speaking opportunity and then let's think about something else.
Let's think about trying that and then putting together a proposal f