Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Roundtable: The Information Society vs Basic Infrastructural Needs
02 September 2014 - A Workshop on in Istanbul,Turkey
The following is the output of the real‑time captioning taken during the IGF 2014 Istanbul, Turkey, meetings. 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 to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Good morning, all. Welcome to Small Island Developing States Round Table. We're starting now, so remote moderator, Maureen is ready, knows we're starting? Yes. Hello?
>> MAUREEN HILYARD: Hi, Tracy, yes, I'm ready.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: All right. All right. So good morning. So welcome to the Small Island Developing States Round Table. I'm Tracy Hackshaw, the Vice Chair of the Internet Society Trinidad and Tobago Chapter. To my left is the core organizer of today's workshop, Patrick Hosein, University of the West Indies and also the TTNIC administrator of Trinidad and Tobago. To his left is Ellen Strickland, who is a board member of the Pacific Island Chapter of the Internet Society. To her left is Ms. Anju Mangal from Fiji, who is representing the Pacific Island chapters as well, ISOC. When you speak give a brief introduction. To my right we have Mr. Carlton Samuels from ‑‑ who is independent consultant and Chair of the National Advisory Council in Jamaica. We are also expecting Ms. Williams from St. Lucia and she represents herself as an end user.
Before we start we can go around to our other ‑‑ this is not a workshop. This is a Round Table, so everybody has an equal role to play. On remote we have Maureen Hilyard who will speak after we all introduce ourselves, and she's from Cook Islands and she's going to introduce some of the topics today as well. So perhaps I can start on my right after Carlton with you, sir.
>> ANG PENG HWA: I'm Ang Peng Hwa from Singapore. I'm the Vice President of Internet Society Chapter in Singapore. And working the Internet space at the university, and I'm doing a project on the ‑‑ small countries. Ended up with new democracies, glad to be here because of your work in this area. There are some issues that special intrinsic to small countries regarding media Internet policies, so I'd be interested to listen to what you have to say.
>> DAVE FARBER: I'm Dave Farber from the United States, member of the ICANN board ‑‑ what am I saying? ISOC board. (laughter) That was bad. Erase it. Erase it. Too much exposure to them. Yeah ‑‑ thank you. Second time I've done that. My career is basically academic, University of Pennsylvania, and Carnegie Mellon recently, and former chief technologist at our Federal Communications Commission, and on the board of Electronic Frontier Foundation for a long, long time. So I'm interested in bringing networks to people in diverse places, and the small countries especially, and small islands produce an interesting set of problems, and opportunities.
>> BOB HINDEN: I'm Bob Hinden, the current Chair of the ISOC board, and I've ‑‑ well, I've been involved with ISOC since it was first created at different levels. I've been active in the ITF since the beginning of the ITF or before the ITF. That's how I got ‑‑ first met Dave. And so, yeah, so I'm very interested in seeing what is happening about bringing the Internet to small islands, like ‑‑
>> Speak close to the microphone.
>> BOB HINDEN: Okay, I have to speak closer to the microphone. And I'm particularly very interested in, you know, bringing the Internet to small islands and I've also occasionally sailed a sail boat to islands in different places. So thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you, welcome. There's Deirdre. Join us. The gentleman in the very stylish hat.
>> Hello, and good morning, my name is Chris. I'm ‑‑ it's not an island. I do fancy some small islands and came here. Some ‑‑ if I would be able to somehow cooperate with your efforts. I'm a member of ‑‑ the frontier of ‑‑ privacy‑related organisation. And therefore I'm here. Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Welcome. And our boss from the region, Mr. Bellagamba.
>> SEBASTIAN BELLAGAMGA: Hi, my name is Sebastian Bellagamba. I'm the regional director for the Internet Society for Latin America and the Caribbean. Sorry, yeah, close to the microphone. I'm very interested here in how to expand the Internet reach and particularly to small islands, but in general how to connect more people. Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thanks for coming, Sebastian.
>> KEISHA TAYLOR: Hi, I'm Keisha Taylor. I work with a company called TechSoup Global that connects tech companies with NGOs that need technology and I work on business and strategy development around data. Basically I am also on the board of the Caribbean diaspora for science and technology in the U.K. and there we try to kind of promote the use and the development of subjects by connecting professionals in different industries. I am here also because I'm really interested in continuing ‑‑ learning from what happens in different small islands and as part of my Ph.D. I'm going to be doing soon and Web science, I'll be looking at business development in small islands.
>> CINTRA SOOKNANAN: Hi, I'm Cintra Sooknanan, on the Multi‑Stakeholder Advisory Group for TTNIC as well as on the Tobago board. I'm going to take this opportunity to invite you all to another workshop that takes place on Friday morning. It's co‑organised by myself and Keisha, and it deals with Small Island Developing States and access to it. Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you, we have three new people joining us. Perhaps you could introduce yourselves starting with my colleagues.
>> NATE DAVIS: Good morning, everybody. My name is Nate Davis. I'm with Aaron. We are one of the five RIRs serving across the globe. Specifically, Aaron along with LACNIC are responsible for IP address allocation through the Caribbean, so we're happy to be here.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you. Welcome.
>> Cathy Handley. I'm also with ARIN and what Nate said ‑‑ I'm sorry. Cathy Handley, I'm with ARIN and I'm ‑‑ along with what Nate said, happy to be here and hear what has to be said. Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you. And gentleman in the ‑‑
>> Yes, hi, I'm here for this forum is subject itself, because I'm originally from Sri Lanka, which is a small island, but the other main reason is because Tracy, you are hosting it because you are my moderator in ISOC, the futures programme. So I thought this would be a good time to meet you and hear from you. It's good to be here.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: All right. Well, thank you, welcome. And right on time, Mr. Mark Carvell. Introduce yourself.
>> MARK CARVELL: Yes, thank you. Good morning, I'm Mark Carvell, U.K. government department of culture media and sports, and also covering the Commonwealth Internet Governance issues. Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you, Mark. I'm glad to hear ICANN. Thank you very much for coming. All right. So as we said in the workshop synopsis, this is not a traditional workshop where you'll have presentations and the standard fair. We're going to have a full discussion as far as we can. Each of the discussants who are here will have conversation but we expect equal participation from everyone in the room. It's a Round Table, although it's horseshoe shaped, and we will try as best as we can to have everybody participate in our session today. What I will do is I will quickly toss ‑‑ is Maureen ready? To Maureen Hilyard, from the Pacific Islands Internet Society Chapter. She is the current board Chair, and ask her to make a few opening remarks and to address us if she can. Maureen, are you there? Thank you.
>> MAUREEN HILYARD: Yes, I am. I am, thank you very much. Can you hear me? Is it clear? Can you just wave and let me know that you can ‑‑ thank you. (laughter) Hello, everyone, and yes, Maureen Hilyard. I am the board Chair of the Pacific Islands Chapter and it is so great to see Ellen and Anju representing at this meeting. It's a real pleasure to be with you today, and I mean, all the way from Cook Islands in the south Pacific. I'd like to start the conversation by introducing two challenges from the perspective that we face in the Cook Islands and the enablers for many other countries in the Pacific and most likely other small developing islands ‑‑ developing states. The first one is actually the cost of Internet connection, and the impacts that has on our isolated island community, and secondly, the lack of political will by some of our governments to actually support Internet Governance.
Connectivity in the Pacific is actually developing at a fast rate. We've got O3B installed in the Cook Islands, and it's delivering broadband and it hasn't been unleashed yet. We have Pacific, another company establishing itself in the Pacific and fiberoptic cable options coming from all directions, but what is the killer for us is local end users in the developing economy, is the cost of being connected, and the sad thing is that the impact that ‑‑ this impacts users who most want or need to connect, those for whom connectivity would be both a social and economic enabler.
Going on to the second challenge just briefly, I think that perhaps it's a main contributing factor to the delay of Internet development in the Pacific, lack of political will and perhaps a lack of understanding by some government, the main decision makers in now develop countries. Governments like to see statistics of users connecting to the Internet but there are very few supports to ensure ‑‑ users face and be sure the Internet is available at a reasonable cost. I won't go on too much more because I know that you obviously want to say more, but thank you, Tracy, for allowing me to be part of this session, and I'll pass on to Ellen and Anju, who can probably contribute more. Thank you. Who will be able to contribute more. Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: All right. Thank you, Maureen, and as she said, we'll talk to Ellen. Just to remind everybody what we're doing here today, we are trying to understand whether or not the infrastructure in small developing states such as water, sewage, poverty, transport, do they outweigh the infrastructure on the Internet and communication side, or as a matter of fact, can the Internet and communication issues, the infrastructure, can they assist with affecting and changing and making significant impact on the larger infrastructure issues that we face in our region, when we talk about disaster preparedness is used, climate oh issues, climb change issues, and Ellen, on that note maybe you could give us a little bit of big/small island position, from New Zealand.
>> ELLEN STRICKLAND: Thanks, Tracy. I think ‑‑ so I'm Vice Chair of the Pacific Islands, chapter board, but I also work for Internet ‑‑ the (?) domain name and work with the community in New Zealand but also a mandate in the Pacific to support development of the Internet there. And I think the focus of the Round Table is very interesting to me in terms of the concept of information society and knowledge economy and that, you know, if you look back over the last 15 years maybe now, look back to the late '90s and the World Bank sort of focus on this, that there have been at times a focus on information society and knowledge economy in a way that has neglected the realities and needs of basic development. Assumptions, you know, made with the best intention that if you just focus on the Internet and the information society, you know, knowledge economy, everything else will be taken care of. And it's pretty clear that does not happen now.
And conversely, you know, as a reaction, perhaps, you hear a lot of people that really, you know, are frustrated and so they want to focus on the really basic important stuff, you know, as you said, you know, you know, health, you know, really true, you know, sort of poverty issues, infrastructure, and I think that it's created a bit of a tension, you know, between that sort of agenda and people feeling that that doesn't address the realities, and people that are dismissing, I think, the potential of the Internet and information society, some of what can come with that out of reaction to, you know, the lack of nuance that those concepts have. And so I think, yeah, I'm really interested in this Round Table and this discussion because I think it is really about looking at the specific context of places to find how you can, you know ‑‑ the ‑‑ in development the most important thing is about the community, community‑led development about the needs, you know, of those communities, the needs of those communities, and there are ways that the Internet, you know, is becoming ‑‑ is so important to some of the basic infrastructure. So in New Zealand we see more and more government services moving on‑line, and for us the digital divide in New Zealand to sort of compare has become not just an exclusion of some benefits or opportunities but become an issue of real social inclusion. To not be on‑line is a deep disadvantage in terms of accessing ‑‑ you know, being a citizen, yes, and that ‑‑ that's something that you see happening there that I think is, you know, going to spread, you know, those sort of things. So I think we have to think about the two together.
And I'd just sort of close by saying the thing I think is so important about the Pacific and about Small Island Developing States is I think the changes that we see happening with the Internet and ICT are so deep and broad and varied, and that to really learn about what's happening, you know, that there isn't a model. There isn't an information society, a knowledge economy, and that to really understand what can be and looking at what is the periphery in the small places, in the specific context, and SIDS provide, you know, this amazing variety to look at and learn and move forward with. So thanks.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you, Ellen. To keep the powerful ladies in the Pacific going we would bring Anju Mangal from Fiji ‑‑ perhaps you could indicate who you're representing and your thoughts.
>> ANJU MANGAL: I work for the Secretariat of the Pacific community and we work with the 22 Pacific Island countries and territories. Currently there is the third international conference on the Small Island States. I'm not sure if you're aware of it, but our organisation in collaboration with other organisations, UN is participating in organising the states conference, and they're mostly looking at sustainable development, so not only ICTs but also climate change issues and other issues in terms of NCDs, health, et cetera.
In terms of the Internet, I guess it's a Democratic right to access Internet. Everyone has the right to access it, but from a small island perspective, there's more sort of ‑‑ there are more ‑‑ there are other challenges such as, you know, access to water, access to resources, basic infrastructure, for example, roads and stuff. So if you take, for example, a farmer who needs to export ‑‑ who needs to take his produce to the market, it's really impossible because they have road issues, they not only have road issues but in terms of accessing the markets, et cetera. So using ICT as a way to leverage this, or to sort of say that we can ‑‑ to overcome this issue is what we are trying to work in some of the Small Island States.
There is a lot ‑‑ there are a lot of implications, for example, broadband access for everyone. We see that it's an important element for ‑‑ for people to have broadband access in most developing countries, but some of the Small Island States are still using satellites, and this is ‑‑ yeah, this is ‑‑ this is one of the issues, and a country like, for example, Carabas ‑‑ is facing the threat of climate change. So they're more interested in climate change adaptation solutions rather than looking at what the overall ICT solution is, although we can use ICT as a solution, but right now they're more focused on these sort of important issues, such as climate change. And having basic ‑‑ like I said, having basic infrastructure and also the access to water and food, et cetera.
Other things are like for example people are talking about the transition between ‑‑ I mean, from IPv4 to IPv6. Bigger countries are concerned about this and people are more concerned about reliable or, you know, really good broadband access, but there are some really small countries like Carabas that are on dial‑up. So the question is what is the ‑‑ what are some of the issues that are actually ‑‑ that actually is stopping them from benefiting from some of the ICT solutions, like, for example, costs of equipment, you know? It's really costly and there are not many players in the region. So we sort of depend on some of the donor funding organisations and also partner organisations that come into the Pacific to sort of assist the countries.
So I mean, this is just a basic overall one, and we are sort of looking at ‑‑ while we know that these are the challenges and risks associated to dealing with some of these issues, we're also looking at trying to target the policy makers, what are they doing. Yeah. So that's ‑‑ that's it.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you, Anju. What I'm going to do next ‑‑ Deirdre will go next but before that I'm going to ask if anyone wants to respond, because we had a Pacific roundup. We had Cook Islands, we had New Zealand, we had Fiji, and speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands. Is there anyone in the room, it's a Round Table, who wants to respond or to jump in at this point to any of the points raised so far in terms of the issues or is infrastructure a problem. Anju ‑‑ will pick up on it as well as Maureen. Are we really focusing on the wrong area? Does ICT make any sense in the small islands states? Should we focus only on the large issues or can ICT assist in Small Island States? Any reaction from the room on that? Just pop in and say something. Let's get Singapore.
>> ANG PENG HWA: You're pointing ‑‑ how can I jump before a lady, come on. (laughter) Go ahead.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: He's giving way to you, Cintra.
>> CINTRA SOOKNANAN: Thank you so much. I just wanted to ask, in terms of actual infrastructure development, how much of a push end users being corralled into using data and ‑‑ applications on the cloud rather than having local infrastructure? Is that something that governments push towards or there's a trend towards? And are there any privacy issues as well alongside with that that are being promoted?
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Before we ‑‑ we'll hold that question. You had a question. So we'll go on and just answer them ‑‑
>> ANG PEN HWA: Okay. Thank you. Yeah, I'm looking at this issue and I see that this is actually very, very complex. First of all, how important is ICT and Internet ‑‑ even access, in the range of priorities the Small Island Developing States have. There's global climate change. Are we going to see ‑‑ even smaller island developing states, right? This one. And if you look only at infrastructure, I think you will be missing other possible threats and dangers. We now know, for example, that there is a risk of Internet addiction, gaming addiction, for guys especially, more than ladies, 80%, high in China and Singapore, 84%. There are ‑‑ in terms of exploitation, children on‑line. So there are some risks and I think you can't just look at physical infrastructure. You need to consider the social and political side as well, you know. So I think that there's a whole mix of issues. There needs to be some kind of ranking of priorities so we can address them. So let's be realistic, you appear realistic to the policy makers.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: All right. Thank you. Maybe I could ‑‑ the question was supposed to ‑‑ posed to you guys about the Pacific, the cloud and so on. To respond?
>> Yeah, I mean to respond to that. For most of the Pacific, you know ‑‑
>> Sorry. So with the cloud, the biggest issue we have, really is back home, really poor, slow connectivity, and it makes it unreliable. It makes using cloud services not that attractive, you know, expensive, difficult, I think. Most people, it's know ‑‑ it's not something that really ‑‑ most places, there will be some exceptions. But even thinking of places ‑‑ I don't know of any examples, really, of governments or anything where there are quite good ‑‑ they're using ‑‑ do you know?
>> Just to add, like what you said, there is a big issue with connectivity, so the Small Island States, they're still not looking at some of the cloud services. Although countries like Fiji, right, it's still a small island state, but they have like a national broadband policy, which talks about reliable and affordable ICT services, and they are trying to have like affordable price with speed of 256 K ‑‑ Kbps. So this basically provides access to not only ‑‑ to the end users but also to the schools, and they are starting to explore because of the eGovernance project, they're starting to explore cloud services, organisations are looking into it. For example, SBC, we do host some of our services on cloud ‑‑ on ‑‑ we host our applications on cloud services, but we also have to think about in terms of privacy, security, so those are the things that we're trying to tackle in the countries.
But for Small Island States it's still a big challenge. And I'm sorry, I didn't really ‑‑ you were talking about basic infrastructure, but also looking at social and also political ‑‑
>> Just saying that it seems to me you do need some sense of priorities of the issues, first on a national scale, all the other issues, and within Internet, sort of more pressing than that.
>> ANJU MANGAL: One of the things that the islands are doing, for example, Vanuatu they're leading the ICT innovation in Vanuatu and they have policy for the submarine cable and bring affordable access to the people. So they are also ‑‑ these are the kind of people that are log at cloud services ‑‑ I'm sorry, the government that is looking at cloud services. But they've ‑‑ what they've started doing is involving like a multi‑stakeholder, in reality it's working because they're not only involving the ICT sector, the Ministry of communication, but also other sectors, like agriculture, health sector. So they're also looking at all this development issues in terms of targeting agriculture, health, education and also I think this is one of the interesting ones, like some of the ‑‑ how do you know it ‑‑ some of the countries that are spearheading some of the interesting initiatives in the countries.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you, Anju. So a few more people came into the room. Perhaps you could quickly introduce yourselves. We could start with Sally here. Thank you.
>> SALLY WENTWORTH: Oh, sorry. There we go. Sally Wentworth. I'm the vice president of policy at the Internet Society.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Yep?
>> Hello, I'm Susie Hargrove, I'm chief executive of the Watch Foundation, and I'm here because we provide a back‑office solution for reporting on‑line child sexual abuse for countries without the option. So very interested to hear what's happening. Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you. Welcome.
>> Good morning, my name is Kristof Claesen. I'm a colleague of Susie.
>> At the end of table the table?
>> I'm from the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation in London.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Repeat for the transcript?
>> I'm (?) and I'm from the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation.
>> I'm Amy (?), I'm from the (?) Foundation associated with the International Association of Internet Hotlines and we provide support to set up Internet hotlines to attack child abuse on the Internet.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you. I understand there are a few remote participants as well so when the remote moderator returns he could say a few words on that. Chair of the ISOC board.
>> I'm just going to suggest that when people speak they speak slowly, because it's ‑‑ it's even hard for me to understand, but I think it's impossible for the transcription.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: All right. Excellent. Good suggestion. Thank you. So as I promised, coming soon, Deirdre Williams, St. Lucia, from the Caribbean, will give us a perspective in response what you've heard thus far and perhaps take a look at your island, St. Lucia and the Caribbean, what are some of the issues that seem to outweigh, from what you see, the Internet issues and all these, as we said, separate session, who is and all these things, what issues do you see that might be important that some of the ‑‑ actors don't see as important for Small Island States around the Internet and ICT.
>> DEIRDRE WILLIAMS: Good morning, everybody. First of all, my apologies for being late. My 8:00 meeting overran by five minutes, even though I struggled hard to escape.
As Tracy said, I'm here as an end user. I'm not a technical person at all, but I've been being an observant end user for rather a long time now. In the late 1990s I was looking for funding to go to a seminar at the University of Sussex at IDS, and when I went to the British government representative to ask if he would be able to help, he said, "Oh, well, you know, where we're putting the money at the moment is in things like water catchment and drainage and roads and things like that," and I said, "But surely you need the information about water catchment and roads and things like that." And I got my funding. The seminar I was going to was about on‑line information, but this was in 1997. I'm not sure that I've been very successful in convincing people that, in fact, there is a very useful tool here that can help. Listening to what has been said so far and listening to meetings I attended yesterday and meetings I've been attending for several years, there is a tendency to separate the ICT and the Internet from the rest of life. From my standpoint, this is not the right way to go about it.
The ICTs and the Internet are tools that you can use to live your everyday life. Some parts of your life they won't help with. We have a current problem with the dam, the water catchment in St. Lucia. Two years ago we had a very wet hurricane, and the very wet hurricane washed silt and trees into the dam and the dam is still half full of trees and silt, so this year when we had a very bad drought, we had a water problem. I don't think the Internet is going to help us with that one. I think that one needs bulldozers and things.
However, somebody in the introduction said something about child protection on‑line. That's a place where the Internet might help us. There are lots and lots of documents in St. Lucia, reports that were carried out by all sorts of people over the years, and these collections exist in all of the islands, and because they're on paper, they sit on shelves and nobody reads them. That's the place where the Internet and ICTs could help us a great deal.
I think the secret is to ‑‑ to stop having a digital divide between this is the Internet and ICT on one side and this is the life that we live on the other side. I think that divide must be closed so that the ‑‑ the ‑‑ the tools that are available can be applied to the problems. I really don't think that that is happening properly at the moment, and I remember reading an Article by Richard Heeks ‑‑ no ‑‑ I'm sorry, I don't remember the author, but he worked in Southeast Asia, and he was talking about the computer and the cargo cult. You take a computer and you put it up on the wall in the classroom, problem solved. Your children will be educated. You don't need to worry any longer. Of course he was making fun, but sometimes that's what happens. You hand out computers to children in schools, but you haven't thought what the children are supposed to do with the computers. Is that enough of an end user perspective? (laughter).
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: I think so, and what I'm going to do now, thank you, Deirdre, is probably give another perspective. We have Patrick Hosein from the academic community, from the University of West Indies, an administrator and is technical, so maybe Patrick can give a counterpoint to Deirdre's discussion as an end user.
>> PATRICK HOSEIN: Okay. Good morning. So when Tracy asked me to speak at this workshop, first thing I tried to do is come up with some concrete examples, because I like to think in terms of, you know, simple examples for our problem to be solved. And there are lots of examples, when you compare costs for broadband, infrastructure improvements versus non‑broadband infrastructure improvements, you know, we could talk about things like setting up spot grids and sensor networks to monitor the environment, et cetera. But one simple example I decided to talk about is something that affects me. I live in the capital, and my commute is terrible, and if, for instance, the government wanted to reduce my commute time by 50%, the transportation infrastructure improvements required would be tremendous. But let's say instead they spend that money ‑‑ or a portion of it on improving the broadband infrastructure, making it more robust, higher speeds, et cetera, and let's say, you know, for instance, they allow people to work at home one day per week, all right, telecommute. So we're talking about roughly 20%, you know, of course you have to spread it out, but 20% reduction in the ‑‑ in the amount of cars or traffic into the capital. But a 20% decrease in traffic, you know, in terms of delaying would roughly be a lot more reduction in delay because of the way traffic and delay works. So it would probably reduce the commute time by 50%, which is what we ‑‑ you know, I was trying to look at.
So you have a 50% reduction in commute time with a simple change ‑‑ or with the use of ICT as opposed to building extra roads or implementing a rail system, et cetera. So this is just one of several examples you could come up with where you have concrete benefits of ICT as opposed to investing in non‑broadband infrastructure.
So again, I think as long as the governments understand the benefits that could be gained by introducing ICT and improving the broadband infrastructure, then, you know, we can make a good case. Okay. Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you, Patrick. So far we've had some interesting points raised from both the Caribbean and Pacific perspectives. I'm going to ask Carlton to sort of take the lead discussion through from here on in, and perhaps give us sort of an introduction to the larger discussion we're going to have now, and kind of maybe ask some provocative questions, Carlton. I know that's one of your strong areas. Go ahead.
>> CARLTON SAMUELS: Thank you, Tracy. Morning, everybody. So we are talking about infrastructure and all of the other issues. Here's something we know. The governments, especially in the Caribbean, they have now come to realise that sugar and bananas bauxite and aluminum, even oil and gas is not enough to erase persistent poverty. They have come to that realization, and at least they know it's not the only thing, and they have been looking on and seeing where knowledge is changing the landscape for economic and social development. And so they have embraced the idea that ICTs, especially the Internet, is going to be important, critical to addressing these issues of underdevelopment, persistent poverty and so on.
When they hear talk about the information society and the knowledge ‑‑ global knowledge economy, they are also very much aware that what you have to do is to improve social capital before you can improve economic capital. So it's a conundrum. What do you do?
Well, all governments in the Caribbean, they've come up with three major policy ‑‑ areas of policy. One, that there is going to be ICTs in education and there is everywhere a very big effort to improve social capital by using ‑‑ making investments in ICTs and education where the Internet is very, very critical to that. Two, they have come to the realization that government services and government interaction is going to be enabled by ICTs, so everywhere there's a need government initiative going on. And three, they have begun to understand that they don't much understand how these things work. So in one sense there is reality of all of the issues of persistent poverty and underdevelopment, and most of our countries, probably with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago, the largest draw on the national budget is debt repayment, followed by education. Just about everywhere.
I say these things to let you understand that a couple of things are in the air, and you can see some things being teased out even as we speak. For example, as we speak now, while we have abandoned this idea that we are going to reduce persistent poverty by traditional agriculture, there is a sense that if you bring more technology in agriculture, we can improve agriculture practice, agriculture output in what we call nontraditional areas and we could get exported. So for example throws areas of fruits and vegetables, exotic vegetables being put. There's this idea of using basic technology like SMS to connect the farm gate to the market gate. There's a basic example of giving just in time information about market conditions to farmers, so, for example, in our bread basket, you don't have everybody bringing in tomatoes and melons at the same time and the market price ‑‑ the provides crashes, the market goes, and everybody is broke, even though you had a bumper crop you're broke. So they understand there's a nexus between some of the traditional things that we're doing now and how technology might enable changes in practice that might improve outcomes. That is understood.
The thing for us still is that there's a chicken and egg situation, because although that is understood, and although the government ‑‑ they understand that you have to have the infrastructure ‑‑ technology infrastructure, the connectivity infrastructure in place to make that happen so that your eGovernment initiative should not exacerbate social exclusion but actually, as was mentioned before, inclusion is ‑‑ it's a method for social inclusion, because now that you are going on‑line government services are going on‑line, you have to have the ability for all citizens, even those in the backwoods, to participate in the government and have access to government services and are not excluded from it.
So we ‑‑ we tend to see all of these things happening, and so we have to think, when all of these things are in a state of flux, you start thinking, what is the priority? You have to prioritize. It's not an easy task when you don't have too much elbow room, especially in government, to spend. It's ‑‑ around the Caribbean, quite a few governments are again in the grip of the IMF, and I say that advisedly. And this has created ‑‑ I love this term, economists call it ‑‑ there's not enough ‑‑ what is the space they say? There is not enough policy space for a lot of things that we know could work but simply because of the strictures that are imposed by these conditionalities from the multi‑laterals. The issues simply cannot be addressed as readily as they could. We have a situation where even if we attempt to prioritize, the priorities themselves are so burdened, that it is definitely not easy. I don't wish to leave you with the impact that there's not points of light in all of this. There are points of light. We are seeing development especially in young people of initiatives to exploit technologies in ways that are heretofore different, just different, and they are creating some economic space with these approaches. For example, we have these hackathons, the digijam events where we're getting people to understand the digital economy and to enable them to see access points into the global knowledge economy, in development of apps, in development of games, and creating applications for social ‑‑ that have social value, for health and education and so on. These things are happening. And it is not all gloom and doom. But there clearly is a contention between what we know can help the traditional and the means by which we can apply the help. That's the issue. Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you very much, Carlton. I think that was very well said. I'm going to do a couple things here. One, ask if there are any remote interventions from my remote moderator. Anything as yet?
>> Yes, Maureen Hilyard says, just agreeing with Carlton. I agree with what others are saying about the current priorities of our governments on infrastructure projects like renewable energy, catchment, disaster management, which are all very important to Small Island States. But such a direct focus ignores social and economic development, which must ‑‑ for which the Internet is critical. So there will be less reliance on donors to maintain these special projects.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you very much, Maureen. I'm going to put two groups on the spot. Since we are privileged to have so much society power in the room, I'm going to ask any one of the representatives here ‑‑ we have the Chair of the board, we have members of the board, we have the head of policy, we have the head of the Latin American Caribbean Bureau ‑‑ to perhaps respond to some of those observations that were made by our discussants and then to put the Commonwealth on some ‑‑ I don't know whether Rakesh or Mark might want to have a response from a Commonwealth perspective as to what these issues mean for them as a foundation, as an organisation that somehow, you know, has shepherded Small Island States over a period of time, and how will they see it evolving now. So I'm going to first ask an ISOC representative to respond. Sebastian.
>> SEBASTIAN BELLAGAMBA: Okay. Thank you. Hi, this is both ‑‑ I mean. Okay. Thank you, Tracy. I think this is quite important. In our perspective we ‑‑ we must ‑‑ it's multi‑layer and I agree with what she was saying. It's something we all have to drive forward and it's something that's key for ISOC as an organisation. We have to understand clearly with we need to get there and we need to bring the Internet to everyone. I mean, our ‑‑ the Internet is for everyone, as an organisation. This is what we say, and this is what we strongly believe. And this is what exactly we're there for. So we are here particularly ‑‑ I'm not coming from a small island development state but we are clearly here to help, and to support. So I'm more in the listening mode here, you know, to learn how to better support the needs of ‑‑ particularly in my position the Caribbean and the Caribbean region, but all over the world too. But Ellen wants to add something.
>> ELLEN STRICKLAND: Thanks, Sebastian and thank you to Tracy and others for organising this event and encouraging us to come. It's very interesting, and I ‑‑ similarly to Sebastian and very much in listening mode, I think one of the things from a policy perspective that we would like to understand is what are the barriers to achieving the levels of connectivity that are clearly in your ‑‑ in your sights, in your goals. There are infrastructure barriers. There are technology barriers, but there are also some policy barriers that might be within ‑‑ within the realm of overcoming, possibly, but there's also, I think, an important role here, which I find very useful to see different countries in similar conditions sharing information. There are lessons to be learned in the Pacific that the Caribbean brings to bear, and vice versa.
Having said that, we shouldn't stop there because while the conditions are unique to this particular set of geographic conditions, there are, I think, pieces that can be learned more globally and lessons that can be shared more globally, and that's something at Internet Society we're quite interested in doing, is what are the barriers to connectivity that are unique but then what are the barriers that are shared and can be lessons learned more broadly. So that's what I'm here to listen for. I'd be interested if you have any reactions to that or initial ideas of what some of those barriers might be, and then what role an organisation like the Internet society or other partners here in the room could play to help address those.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: So I recognize ‑‑ there is a gentleman from Finland who wants to intervene, also a gentleman from ISOC and then yourself, Keisha. And I have the Commonwealth as well. So let's go to Finland. Your I can't remember your name, can you repeat it?
>> Yes, hello. Thank you for the nice introduction of the problems to the small islands in terms of Internet access and social matters. I just wanted to highlight one point, that the issue is the problem with the ‑‑ with the small islands is not only about the infrastructure, about the penetration level, but it's highly related to the world politics itself and how the small islands are seen by the many ‑‑ nation‑states, some kind of places to throw away unwanted persons. So it is not only questionable how small islands will develop, but it's mainly and also heavily a question about how those legacy nations will develop themselves in the political ‑‑ in world politics and political world there is a tendency of changing structures in the world, so in that sense it's very optimistic stance to the small islands, I would say. It's a very good situation for them, and also you need to remember the multi‑stakeholders are always connected to the same process. Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you very much. Very valuable points here, that we do encounter that in our region, I'm not sure about the Pacific, but certainly in the Caribbean we have some of those challenges that you've raised. Yes?
>> I don't live on a small island, but I've over the years engaged with people who live on small virtual islands, and particularly in the United States there's several interesting examples that might be worth looking at and see how they develop our Indian nations, which are basically, poor, isolated, sometimes almost barren. Some of them, when the casinos arrived and they had some money, rather than spending it on mansions, they established funds to bring up their technology level, for a number of reasons. One is that they needed to develop their ‑‑ the people who lived on the reservation. But equally important they wanted to deal ‑‑ be able to deal with people who were off the reservation in diaspora, because they were part of the culture they were losing as they moved off the reservation. Children didn't know the language, they didn't know a lot of things, and they were very, very successful in taking an income which they knew was going to go away sometime, and it has to a large degree because of the opening up of casinos, gambling in the U.S. and investing it. And it didn't take a huge amount of money, but it took a lot of careful planning and careful understanding of what they needed. You might want to look at those.
Also, again, in the United States there are a lot of very isolated towns, which basically have the same set of problems. They're surrounded not by water but by ‑‑ by non‑connectivity, by governments that don't understand their problems, and they're being, I guess, economically challenged because of the fact that they're disconnected from the world, and many of those have taken a rational look at how they can get connectivity at an affordable rate. They don't have ‑‑ they can't get money from their states often, and they can't get it from the federal government. So they've had to be innovative. So I'm suggesting you look not just at the small islands, but the small virtual islands and see what they've done.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you. Actually, that came up in a last year a discussion with I think ‑‑ from Australia and made some observations along those lines, a large country like Australia, which is also an island, there are those other separate pockets of communities, the Aboriginal communities, rural communities that need also to be looked at and the problems that they have may be very similar to problems Small Island States may face. So that's a very good observation. Singapore?
>> ANG PENG HWA: Two points. First, sorry to play the same tune about prioritizing, Carlton. I appreciate the point that making priorities isn't easy but you can see there's a lot of goodwill in this room, and one of the ways to get it to work is that you do need to tell us in what areas, if we put the buck, we will get the maximum bang. Once you show some small success, you'll have what Americans call low‑hanging fruit, or quick successes. Other people come and say, you did this little thing, see what you got. If you carry on you'll get results. You need to prioritize, what are the areas we get the maximum bang for the buck. Second point is this. I completely disagree with Dave that he does not live on an island.
>> ANG PENG HWA: I completely disagree with you, Dave, that you do not live on an island. My work is on policies of small countries and we found ‑‑ Singapore, which has a population of about 5 million, turns out based on Wikipedia, half of the countries in the world have a population bigger than 5 million, 200 countries, have the population ‑‑ population more than 5 million. So 5 million is kind of a median point. A lot of American cities, are ‑‑ the larger part of the city, not just Washington, D.C. or Boston or L.A. or Chicago, the greater whatever, is about 5 million. If you take a city, if in America as a country, it is a small island. It is a small country. You look at politics, it is the politics of a small country. The issues are very similar to that of a developing country.
I was just speaking to David Vyorst, the President of ISOC, ISOC chapter in Washington, D.C. He asked me, how many ISPs do you have in Singapore? I was thinking four or five. He says, you have one ISP. The price he pays is high because it is a ‑‑ it's an island. It is not a geographic island. It is an Internet island. There is a monopoly there. The issues are very similar to that. It is not as high as the price discussed in the Pacific Islands Caribbeans are paying but you're paying a higher price than me. I have five ISPs. Ten bucks you can get unlimited on the ‑‑ $10 in the U.S., unlimited. 17.90 or something like that. The issues are very similar, Dave. It would be good to have you work on this, on your island called Philadelphia or whatever, right? Okay. Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you. You wanted to intervene? Keisha Taylor?
>> KEISHA TAYLOR: I just wanted to point out that the economic forum just had a network report, and Finland is rated No. 1 and Singapore second, and that report is just not just infrastructure but also an enabling environment. So I think that one of the things to talk about what he said and what some of you guys said, is also not just about having the infrastructure, but once you have the enabling environment, improve the infrastructure, everything comes together. And I completely agree with what you said about the islands, a lot of the different issues are similar, in small communities, in rural communities. You know, depending on where you go, some of these places also don't have any access at all. They struggle with agricultural issues and the loss of talent, all those kinds of things. So also I think that we should during the course of this whole week try to find ways to connect with each other and work together on some of the different projects and programmes that you are working on. Thanks.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you. And before I return to the discussion on the panel, Commonwealth, Mark, Rakesh, any observations, any thoughts? Yeah?
>> MARK CARVELL: Yes, thank you, Tracy. It's Mark Carvell, U.K. government working with Commonwealth Secretariat and also the CTO, and other Commonwealth entities in this whole area of Internet Governance and the priorities for ensuring that the knowledge economy becomes an important part of national strategies. I think on that we've yet really to find an effective channel for supporting national policy makers on that in terms of developing national digital economies and strategies that will be integrated with social and economic development. I think that's ‑‑ that's an important message coming out of this discussion here, but that's not taking place in many Small Island Developing States.
In the Commonwealth initiatives that we've been developing, we have focused on some of the risk areas. We've ‑‑ through the Commonwealth Internet Governance Forum we've developed a child protection toolkit and we also have the Commonwealth cybercrime initiative. So those are progressing well and they're making excellent progress. Toolkit was recently updated. You can find that on the Commonwealth IGF Web site and the cybercrime initiative. There are several key projects in a number of Commonwealth states well under way. But as I say, I think this issue of support for national policy makers is something we've yet really to embrace as a challenge, and I think we and Commonwealth Secretariat and the CTO need to talk about this and review how we might develop some medium or channel for sharing best practice for ‑‑ because as has been well pointed out there are a lot of challenges and challenges facing Small Island States. We can, I think, try to find a way to engage policy makers and governments so that mechanisms for support through aid programs and so on can help them out. So that's, I think, an important take‑away for me. I don't know if the CTO wants to add to that. They have a forum under way in Dhaka, which perhaps touches on some of those challenges.
>> Just to add to Mark, I think the CTO ‑‑ I think one of the issues that CTO also has to work on is really getting the funding. Funding remains an issue for all of our members, and what other ‑‑ the biggest issue we also find is most of the ‑‑ we've been looking at remains a talking show rather than action. So we are working closely with the Secretariat and the U.K. government to make sure that we go there and do really some good action, get the funding, and also we are seeing from our members, the biggest issues they find is really the cost of the consultants are really high, and that's why the funding is really an important issue. So if we can get the consultants' fees to go lower and to get experts out to all the countries with the policy enabling, that will really help. Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: All right. Thank you. There's a remote intervention and there's a question from ‑‑
>> SIDS (?) limitations to internal market demographics compared to larger countries, which have implications on infrastructure players and access providers. Points raised on the enabling environment are highly pertinent in this respect.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you very much. There's an intervention. Yes?
>> This is Lilly Tron from Chinese Academy of Sciences. I also ‑‑ I'm an officer in the International Organisation For Science and Technology of ICSU. In ‑‑ in the ‑‑ we have a group in the task developing countries. So the small island nations also is one of the tasks for us to work on. During the last ten years after the visas, we work hard on the Africa, Asia and also Latin America. From our experience developing countries really is a big programme in the last ten years, but the infrastructure, we have summarized these activities so we think there are at least four specific points that are more critical, and the one is connectivity. Second one is the national policy and the strategy. Third one is the content. Especially to open resources. And of course another one is the capacity building. So I think the ‑‑ for the small island nations and the ‑‑ task group also would like to focus our effort for the next five years on this topic. So first thing we want to do is capacity building. We work with UN ‑‑ UN and also the committees of Chinese association for science and technology, we have training workshops. This year we have the one, several people from Caribbean I think also. So we will ‑‑ we would like to continue the effort with ‑‑ with you on ‑‑ to have training workshops, and then commercial building first. And second one, and also we find that there are very few countries, almost no other country from Caribbean countries to participate in the ‑‑ international organisations. So I think it's very important to these countries to actively work with not only UN but also others and the Academy of Sciences and work together so we can get help from these international organisations.
And then we have to develop national strategies and policies, for example, last month we had a very successful workshop in Kenya, and then Kenya set up this national strategy to support data centers and then trainings and then ‑‑ in the universities and so on. So I would like to suggest to this group, and I also try to help with the ICSU and several international organisations to work together on this issue, especially for the community building and openness and reuse of the word ‑‑ the resources, the data resources. Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you. That's very useful suggestion from you, Chinese Academy of Sciences and we'll try and take that up. Perhaps after this session we could have a chat. So we're going to go back to the discussion, panelists, starting with Ellen, but before that, Internet Watch Foundation had intervention, so we take that last one and we return to Ellen back on the panel.
>> Thank you very much, Tracy. Very interesting discussion. My comment is also a question, which is that the IWF deals with criminal content, and recently we've done a countrywide assessment of Trinidad and Tobago, and actually one of the things we're finding in terms of ongoing sustainability is that the initial content we have with government regulators, but actually the sustainability issue of any solutions is dependent on the Internet industry. So my question to you all is, what level of multi‑stakeholder partnerships are in place and to what level is Internet ‑‑ the Internet industry engaged in the dilemmas and discussions that you're having today? Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Okay. I think Cintra wanted to respond.
>> CINTRA SOOKNANAN: Yes, I just wanted ‑‑ I wanted to mention that I was actually part of those discussions and I was invited by the Ministry of national security to take part in it, and I know that they did meet with the experts and several stakeholders groups, you know, business community, et cetera. I am with the society group and they engage with child line, which is a tool free child ‑‑ tool. And I know in the case of Trinidad and Tobago that did occur but your point is valid and taken on board. Thank you.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: All right. So we'll start with Ellen and return to the discussants to summarize what we've heard and offer solutions and steps on the way forward. Ellen?
>> ELLEN STRICKLAND: Thanks. I wanted to offer a bit of an experience that touches on some of what's been discussed, so particularly around prioritization, politics, policy, and the role of digital strategies, and that the Pacific Island region, and I'll try to be brief ‑‑ I've just submitted a Ph.D. on this topic, which is ‑‑ throws been a regional ICT strategy in the Pacific that dates back to 1999, three different iterations involving the ICT ministers throughout the region, which has been about prioritizing and linking ICT and Internet to broader development issues. So in '99 it was very much the ICT ministers. In 2005 it was part of a broader Pacific plan that had to do with the whole region and all of the priorities and having a digital strategy within that. And the most recent one in 2010 built a very specific framework faction that was really looking at detailed priorities, at actions, rather than just having an ICT ministerial meeting they held a meeting with ICT along with transport and energy as well, you know, so looking at infrastructure. And, you know, these documents, you know, are really ‑‑ a really thorough look at priorities, through discussion of officials and ministers and trying to integrate, you know, the local needs with sort of the bigger picture politics.
But I have to say, you know, what Carlton said about politics, the thing is, you know, a lot of capacity building was through that period, international strategies and policies as well, but the prioritization in the end, countries, and the region, don't have the elbow room to pick ‑‑ to enact most of that prioritization. It's donor countries. It's the development industry. These are ‑‑ it's a regional policy. It's a regional prioritizations, but it's a multilateral context. And so what gets funded depends on the priorities and interests of the funders, not on the Pacific.
And so, you know, three rounds of that, it's very disheartening as a region to see that in the end it comes down to a couple of big funders, you know, World Bank, you know, being the only major infrastructure, and then a lot of the other funding is just capacity building and hosting around the strategy itself, actually doing the things that we've identified through that process and that strategy, there's no money for that. And then it's put on the Pacific, and the nations that they fail to deliver the strategy, you know? And so it ‑‑ it's a double‑edge sword. There are a lot of cool things that have happened, but there's so much potential to have these processes and then, you know, we have to think about how do we bridge from having that in that multilateral context to get the priorities and the people who now have that capacity and interest to be able to bridge the money and what needs to be done.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: They mixed up a little bit, Deirdre. Let me give you a chance to respond and offer next steps and perhaps some solutions.
>> DEIRDRE WILLIAMS: Well, I was interested to hear you say there are little things that happen, because we also suffer from ‑‑ this is going to sound very ungrateful, and please remember, I'm speaking as an end user, not in any way officially, but we get funding to have a strategic plan or a national plan. We've got lots of those. We've had some really nice ones with lots of specific things to do, and then somebody put them on a shelf and forgot about them because there was no money. If I were to make a suggestion, my suggestion would be, think about it like the dams. Remember the big dams? That turned out to be a mistake. So why don't we try lots of little dams, small funding for small projects with a practical outcome at the end. Always in St. Lucia, I know we like to have a big project, and it dies. The ones that work, the ones that survive are the little tiny projects that can grow into something really amazing, if they are given a chance. So that would be my suggestion.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you. That's instead, part of the small islands. I think that's ‑‑ big islands too. Patrick, perhaps you could offer some solutions and next steps?
>> PATRICK HOSEIN: Well, I have no solutions, but yeah, we've all hit all the issues but politics and policies, et cetera, but in my mind essentially the fact is we SIDS have limited resources, limited funds, and we need to decide between (?) and broadband versus non‑broadband infrastructures. And coming up, I think somebody mentioned, if you come up with simple examples where we can demonstrate that spending the funds on broadband gives a greater benefit than on the non‑broadband solution, then we could start from there and build. Thanks.
>> TRACY HACKSHAW: Thank you. Perhaps Anju, solutions, next steps, way forward?
>> ANJU MANGAL: There are so many solutions but I don't think I'm the only one to provide the solutions. Maybe you guys could work with us to provide the solutions. Ellen pretty much nailed it, because like she said, we have the council of regional organisations in the Pacific that are working for ICT for development. It's a framework that we have, and it looks at the role of the ICT and some of the key priorities in the Pacific. But like she said, that sometimes most of them are donor funded and then there's a big issue of sustainability. If donors are partner organisations, I'm not being negative here but sometimes when they come in they provide like a two to three‑year project priority, but then after that it runs out, and then onus is on the countries, and sometimes the countries are not able to ‑‑ to work on some of those initiatives because of the lack of resources. Not only the lack of resources, but also ICT human resource capacity and training. This is one of the limitations that we have in the Pacific.
And then when we have things like policy, ICT policies, not many people understand what the policy is about, because when you develop a policy, what about the end users? Do they understand what the policy means? And there are these policies that exist, but then there are cross‑cutting issues that they don't look at. For example the health sector, the agriculture sector, the education sector. So these ICT or Internet development framework is not really cross‑cutting into the sectors.
So these are some of the challenges we also have. But I mean, we have a lot of challenges, but we also have really interesting projects going on, and we have really some really quick wins and also successful projects, like we have some ‑‑ like you said, that we need to look at some of the success projects, but also to look at the failure. And things like, you know, interesting projects that we have is like integrating ICT and Internet into disaster reduction ‑‑ yeah, platforms and alerting to ensure that there's timely flow of information during emergency. So is something we're currently working in the Pacific because of climate change. And while we have some of the donors coming in and partner organisations that are helping in these initiatives, but we need more people and more, you know, sort of partnership.
So this is what I want to try to point out, that we really need partnership. And you were here in this room so you can help us, because over the years we've been just coming and talking and talking, but when we go back there's nothing relevant happening. And I know that's difficult because we have our own priorities. We also have our own agenda, but in reality if we can all work together, and this is sort of my way of saying, we need your help. I mean, SIDS do need your help, apart from looking at some of the great success stories, we also need to look at some of the real solutions and practices, and we need to find out who can start rolling this sort of initiative.
And we are not that many. I mean, there's only about two or three, four people from the Pacific that have come in. I'm talking on behalf of the Pacific region. It's really difficult for us to get to these conferences as well, and we do thank, like ISOC and some of the othe