people around table - Intersessional Work during IGF 2015

CENB – Phase IV

Policy Options for Connecting and Enabling the Next Billion(s) | Phase IV

Executive Summary

Final Output Document Download here

Connecting and Enabling the Next Billions - Phase IV is a part of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) intersessional work for 2018. Phase IV aims to supplement policy recommendations made in the first three phases conducted from 2015 to 2017 with concrete case studies that highlight ways in which community-level projects are progressing on key sustainable goals. This output document is an edited compilation of case studies that show how connectivity initiatives are helping countries and communities make progress on four key sustainable development goals – Sustainable Development Goals 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for ‎all), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) – collected using the IGF’s traditional bottom-up, multi-stakeholder consultative process.

Some key findings of this resource are that there are many evident and prominent overlaps and interlinkages between projects attaining different SDGs; most projects don’t fall into a single bucket and address multiple SDGs. This also highlights the importance of partnerships to achieve the envisioned goals. Hence, addressing the SDGs effectively requires unified multi-stakeholder collaborations with synergies between various approaches from market-based to government-based.

CENB IV maps several local access projects which make progress on SDG 7 such as; M-Kopa, which provides pay-as-you-go access to clean energy in Kenya using Portable solar energy as a charging solution for electronic devices; Solar Sister, which trains and supports women to deliver clean energy directly to homes in rural African communities; and Digital Inclusion Luxembourg which holistically addresses refugee inclusion, digital media literacy skill building, recycling/reusing e-waste, and sustainability. Several of these projects have strived towards manufacturing energy-efficient equipment, making progress on target 7.3, namely to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. Various case studies in this report focus on landlocked countries such as Rwanda and Uganda, in consonance with target 7.d that seeks to expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support, by 2030.

The case studies highlight a wide range of economic activities and both demand- and supply-side interventions that are supported through Internet access from the tourism industry in Georgia to agriculture in Romania. Digital skills training programs often act as complements to traditional connectivity and improve economic outcomes for vulnerable communities, especially youth (as YISHDA shows) and women (as seen in the CEDRO, Peru case). The projects also underscore the critical role that community anchor institutions (such as libraries) play in enabling meaningful access.

Moreover, this resource finds that Internet access is a key component of a thriving innovation environment and transformative industries, which is the focus of SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure). It compiles examples of the lengths required to make Internet access available in places where geography and markets don’t favor it. The emergence of community networks as supplementing traditional connectivity in areas that are remote and geographically isolated is highlighted in many submissions (such as Zapotec, Tusheti, and Red Chaski), as is the trend of ad hoc connectivity solutions and the proliferation of unlicensed spectrum use instead of licensed approaches. Case studies also highlight the use of newer and innovative technologies such as using vacant “white space” TV spectrum for data use, Li-Fi, mesh networks linking Wi-Fi signals together in villages, etc. to provide connectivity in line with SDG 9.

Lastly, and critically, the goal of connecting the next billion cannot be achieved by one set of stakeholders alone, highlighting the saliency of partnerships, as envisioned by SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). Internet access itself can act as a unifying factor for bringing together diverse stakeholders to discuss and share resources to achieve SDGs. This resource highlights the work that different partnerships formed with an aim to promote Internet access are doing, and the impact that they have had in making tangible progress on the ground. It is observed that the partnerships highlighted in this resource are diverse in their organization and foci; they are operational at different levels of aggregation (partnerships such as the World Economic Forum’s Internet for All operate internationally while partnerships such as Lavazza Foundation project in Colombia are local), and they have different models of engagement and organizational structure (such as EQUALS which has a specific issue area of Gender Digital Equality), with different levels of responsibilities on individuals and organizations that form these partnerships.

CENB IV session at the 13th Internet Governance Forum 2018, UNESCO, Paris

Session recording


The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) ‘Policy Options for Connecting and Enabling the Next Billions’ process is a bottom-up, community-driven intersessional work process that seeks to produce a collaborative document to identify ways to connect the next billions. Since 2015, this process has identified key barriers to connecting the next billions, made policy suggestions at the international and regional and local levels, and identified tangible linkages between grassroots ICT projects and the sustainable development goals. This output document represents the compilation of the fourth phase of this process with a focus on case studies that aid in the attainment of four Sustainable Development Goals namely SDG 7 (Clean and Affordable Energy), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) and SDG 17 (Partnerships to Achieve the Goals).

The four phases of the CENB Process have each gradually built on prior work and expanded the international community’s understanding and efforts to connect and enable meaningful access to the next billions. In 2015, the first phase titled ‘Connecting the Next Billion’ focused on agenda-setting, identified key obstacles, and proposed policy options to target these key obstacles. The first phase placed an emphasis on expanding infrastructure while keeping end-user costs low, enabling users through user-friendly applications and interfaces, and creating an enabling environment for adoption.

The second phase in 2016 expanded this work greatly, by focusing on ‘meaningful access’ to connect and enable the next billions. This year, the intersessional track focused on elucidating local and regional dimensions of the connectivity challenge, and discussed how ICTs help attain the Sustainable Development Goals promulgated by the UN General Assembly in 2015.

In 2017, the third phase of this intersessional work built from policy options at the local and regional levels, to focus on local access projects doing this work in the real world. Focusing on three key SDGs pertaining to education, gender equality and infrastructure (4, 5, and 9), the output document collected case studies of grassroots projects around the world that sought to advance these goals.

In three phases of this process, nearly 200 submissions and feedback comments from varied members of the IGF community have been received. The National and Regional IGF initiatives, Dynamic Coalitions and Best Practice Forums, as well as external organizations and individuals interested in the Internet Governance Community, contribute to this process and enrich its outputs each year.

In 2018, the fourth phase of Connecting and Enabling the Next Billions built on the work in Phase III by collecting concrete stories showcasing how connecting the next billion(s) helps achieve ‎SDGs 7, 8, 9, and 17.