IGF 2019 WS #293 Unlocking the Digital Potential of the DLDC Countries

Organizer 1: Jimson Olufuye, AFICTA
Organizer 2: Hossam Elgamal, AfICTA
Organizer 3: Mary Uduma, Nigeria Internet Governace Forum
Organizer 4: Olusegun H. Olugbile, Continental Project Affairs Associates

Speaker 1: Claudia Selli, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Hossam Elgamal, Private Sector, African Group
Speaker 3: Chenai Chair, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 4: GBETONDJI VIVIEN ASSANGBE WOTTO, Private Sector, African Group
Speaker 5: Kossi AMESSINOU, Government, African Group
Speaker 6: Christine Arida, Government, African Group

Additional Speakers

Confirmed Speakers:

  • Hossam Elgamal: Private Sector (Africa) - Confirmed
  • Chenai Chair: Civil Society (Africa) - TBC
  • Jane Coffin: Technical Community (North America) - Confirmed
  • Gbetondji Vivien Assagbe Wotto: Private Sector (Africa) - TBC
  • Mohammed Azizi: Civil Society (Asia) - Confirmed
  • Kossi Amessinou: Government (Africa) - Confirmed
  • Mark Datysgeld: Private Sector/Academia (South America) - Confirmed
  • Mohammed Hagazy: Government (Africa) - Confirmed
  • Goncalo Carrico: Private Sector (Europe) - Confirmed
  • Melissa Sassi: Private Sector (North America) - Confirmed

Jimson Olufuye, Private Sector, African Group

Online Moderator

Mary Uduma, Technical Community, African Group


Olusegun H. Olugbile, Private Sector, African Group


Other - 90 Min
Format description: The format of the session would be in form of a town hall in an auditorium.

Policy Question(s)

1. Opportunities to fulfil the promise of the preceding revolutions have eluded many of the developing and least developed countries (DLDC), in particular Africa, where there is concern about a similar scenario with the current 4th Industrial Revolution. How do we best mobilize and challenge policy makers and stakeholders to come together and take constructive steps towards addressing cross-cutting impediments germane to the unlocking of the digital potential of DLDC imperative for it to realize the promise of the new digital age? 2. An overarching factor for digital inclusion is the need to have highly resourced human capital across the entire spectrum of DLDC labour market and in this respect, what capacity and capability development options are there to foster inclusive DLDC youth and labour force participation in the evolving digital economy?


GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities

Description: This workshop is being facilitated by the Africa ICT Alliance, a private sector led alliance of ICT Associations, Multinational Corporations, Companies, Organisations and individuals in the ICT sector in Africa. Our workshop would be presented in a town hall format in order to foster the maximum attendees participation, where our team of experts bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and diversity to the discussion, with speakers from business, government, civil society & academia. The workshop will be opened by one of our moderators who will set the scene and then address each of the policy questions to the speakers and the attendees (on site and remote). Each speaker will be given 3 minutes to present their intervention on each of the two policy questions, one policy question at a time, with the workshop participants being given 20 minutes (per policy question) to bring forward their contributions to the dialogue. The workshop will explore the digital potential of Developing and Least Developed Countries (DLDC). It will take stock of continental directives and how these have translated into national and regional policy and regulations. It will seek to understand if Africa is on the right track, what Africa is doing right, or doing wrong, and what it can learn from the successes of other countries and contents. It will try to get an understanding of what is good and what is bad for Africa and explore its successes and failures. It will discuss the key challenges and explore why Africa has yet to bridge its digital divide. The workshop will be interactive with maximum audience participation. Remote participation supported and actively encouraged. Further, AfICTA members institutions will promote and host remote connections to the session from their respective countries.

Expected Outcomes: a. Contribution toward the establishment of an Africa Information Hub b. Foundation discussion area for 2019 AU/AfICTA ICT summit c. Suggestions for enhancing and consolidating DLDC capacity and capability development program d. Workshop report with recommendations that will be submitted to the IGF Secretariat e. Policy based knowledge sharing, awareness and capacity building of the participants

The workshop shall be presented in a Town Hall format, affording the on premise and remote participants maximum participation, further AfICTA will be coordinating in country active remote participation via its member networks.

Relevance to Theme: Developing and Least Developed Countries (DLDC) have high youth populations and Africa in particular have an estimated youth population set to top 1 billion by 2050. DLDC and indeed Africa will be required to rapidly unlock their digital potential and meet the social and economic aspirations of their youth. Whilst this is not insurmountable, many DLDC have yet to bridge the digital divide where affordability and access remain keys barriers to participation, excluding many of its citizens from the Internet. In order to unlock their digital potential, To understand and embrace Digital Inclusion for all, DLDC need to put the necessary policy frameworks, they need to foster the required digital skills, embrace its benefits, understand its failings, develop a culture of domestic trust and knowledge exchange, the sharing of Intellectual Property (IP), skills, capacities and capabilities and harness its existing internal ICT expertise.

Relevance to Internet Governance: The more we engage and include the un-included in the Internet Governance (IG) dialogue, the stronger the legitimacy of the Internet Governance process. As the Internet architecture is distributive so also participation in the IG discussion should be inclusive of all stakeholders including the upcoming generation and the youth, who are the link to our future. As is the case in many DLDC, Internet facing start-ups are driven by youth and as such should be fully aware of the ramifications of IG governance and be engaged as active voices in determining the nature of such governance imperative for their effective participation in the evolving digital economy. As such this session provides opportunity to learn, share experience and information, and to address governance limitations, bottlenecks and huddles militating against the attainment of higher access and uptake of the Internet. It also serve as a call to action on what needs to be done to unlock the digital potential of the DLDC. The workshop further provides important information and linkages that engender the realization of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Online Participation

AfICTA will engage its outreach of in country partners to host on-line participation for their constituents.

1. Key Policy Questions and Expectations
  • How do we best mobilize and challenge policymakers and stakeholders to come together and take constructive steps towards addressing cross-cutting impediments germane to the unlocking of the digital potential of DLDC imperative for it to realize the promise of the new digital age?
  • An overarching factor for digital inclusion is the need to have highly resourced human capital across the entire spectrum of DLDC labor market and in this respect, what capacity and capability development options are there to foster inclusive DLDC youth and labor force participation in the evolving digital economy?
2. Summary of Issues Discussed

AfICTA was the principal organiser of the Workshop with the support of the EITESAL, ICT-Professionals of Namibia, Kontemporary Konsulting Ltd and the ICANN Business Constituency among others. To ​mobilise and challenge policy makers and stakeholders to come together and take constructive steps towards addressing cross-cutting impediments germane to the unlocking of the digital potentials of DLDC, it was discussed that there is need for self-awareness of the stakeholders to embrace and use internet governance forum platforms in-country and within their regions to articulate critical digital policy directions for their countries. In many cases, there are relevant policies and laws but the gap is the political will to implement those policies. Training and retraining of policy makers would create necessary regulatory know-how for action. A good means of mobilization is for there to be regular South-South peer review through existing regional and international mechanisms. A one-stop portal (broadbandpolicy.org) for policy analysis as a best practise tool would enhance policy makers ability to evaluate the relevance of their policy positions/documents to the contemporary needs of the people. The involvement of parliamentarians would also provide necessary impetus with the instruments of law to unlock the digital potentials of DLDC. A novel approach to steer policy makers to action is for solution providers to deliver life changing solution (e.g.in financial management, transportation etc) for which policy would then do a catch up. It was summarized that clear policy actions should deliver connectivity and electricity as priorities for the realization of the SDGs.

3. Policy Recommendations or Suggestions for the Way Forward
  • Government is encouraged to believe that they do not have it all and as such should embrace multi-stakeholder approach in all policy making and implementation efforts i.e. foster cooperation among all stakeholders.
  • The ICT sector should not be over-taxed. In essence multiple taxation should be abolished as a priority.
  • Ease of doing business should be enhanced to attract foreign direct investment.
  • There should be flexible regulatory frameworks.
  • Governments should invest heavily in the youth and the people in general. Policy makers too should be well equiped to carry out their responsibilities.
  • School curricular should be revised and enhanced as a matter of urgency
  • Focus should be on the development of local solutions because no e-solutions means digital divide and locked digital potentials.
  • DLDC should consider electricity as a critical infrastructural right for all citizens to guaranty access and the realization of the SDGs.
  • South-South collaboration should be enhanced across all sectors.
  • Regulatory institutions are advised to transform by name and policy to unlock the digital potentials for the benefit of their citizens. For example, a telecommunication authority can be transformed to a Digital Society Authority.
4. Other Initiatives Addressing the Session Issues

The workshop noted several projects and initiatives as follows:

5. Making Progress for Tackled Issues

Making progress for tackled issues, speakers recommended the localization of discussions among policy makers and stakeholders to review progress and proffer improvements particularly through national and regional internet governance fora among other mechanisms for multi-stakeholder engagement. Policy makers are to ensure evidence based policy that enhanced youth and gender access and also ensure ease of doing business to promote foreign direct investments.


6. Estimated Participation

There were an estimated 30 onsite participants, of which about 9 were women.

There were 5 online participants, of whom 2 were women.


7. Reflection to Gender Issues

The session discussed gender issues with regard to gaps in access and connectivity. It was noted that evidenced based policy making would help ensure that the depth of those gaps can in equal measure be addressed.