Parallel session 1B

Community access – Helping the last 4 billion get connected

There is growing interest in the potential for small-scale locally based communications infrastructure to help address the digital divide. This has been stimulated by the emergence of low cost networking equipment and the growing number of community based networks all over the world, from Barcelona to Bogota, from rural Eastern Cape in South Africa to rural Thailand. This has inspired some to say “just let the unconnected connect themselves.” There are said to be many other positive spinoffs for community development that take place when locally initiated networks are built.

But how sustainable is this strategy for improving connectivity? If there is potential, where does it work best? What are the key constraints? Where can governments and other stakeholders help? What are the real social impacts and how can integrating a gendered perspective support the transformative potential of these initiatives?

This 90 minute session aims to discuss these questions from people working to support the development of community networks around the world.


Steve Song (moderator) – Research associate and consultant with the Network Startup Resource Center

Jac Sm Kee – Head of the Women’s Rights Programme of the Association for Progressive Communications, APC

Eric Huerta –  Member of the advisory council of the Mexican telecommunications regulator, IFETEL

Ritu Srivastava – Digital Empowerment Foundation

Jane Coffin – Director of Development strategy, Internet Society, ISOC

Htaike Aung – Co-founder and Executive Director, Myanmar ICT for Development Organization, MIDO

Carlos Rey-Moreno – Co-creator of Zenzeleni Networks

Twitter: #SIF17 together with #SIF1B

Location: Fogelström