WACC partners report at Internet Governance Forum how community networks create digital inclusion
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Collage with images of two black women working to install a satellite dish, a group of women, children and men wearing maroon-coloured shirts in front of a hut with a thatched roof, three black women huddled around a laptop, and a logo with the words "IGF 2023" and a purple-coloured sphere with a white network of crisscrossed lines

WACC partners report at Internet Governance Forum how community networks create digital inclusion

WACC partners advanced a vision for just, inclusive, and community-led digital communication at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2023 last week in Kyoto, Japan.

“The Internet We Want — Empowering All People” was the theme of this year’s meeting of the IGF, a UN mechanism bringing together various stakeholder groups to discuss public policy issues relating to the Internet.

To spotlight digital justice issues around ownership and control, WACC joined with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), DW Akademie, and Rhizomatica to organize the side event “Agents of inclusion” showcasing best practices of community-led connectivity and media.

The meet-up event explored ways to build digital justice along the “4C Framework”: designing computing, connectivity, content, and human capacity with local community members in the driver’s seat.

Bridging the digital gap via community networks

Kemly Camacho, director of WACC partner Coopertaiva Sulá Batsú in Costa Rica, reported on the development of Indigenous digital technologies through a community network led by the Association of Cabécar Women of Alto Pacuare.

Policy advocacy was the focus of a presentation by James Gondwe, executive director of WACC partner Ulalo, formerly the Centre for Youth and Development, in Malawi. He shared learnings from a project to bring about better policy, regulatory, and financing frameworks that pave the way for the use of community networks to bridge connectivity gaps.

Mwendwa Kivuva from Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet) spoke about the WACC partner’s digital inclusion work providing reliable and affordable Internet services in the Mathare Valley through the Angaza Community Network.

Just and democratic Internet governance

“We wanted to bring the democratization of the Internet and digital resources to the forefront,” said Lorenzo Vargas, WACC Communication for Social Change program manager.

The work of these WACC partners is an example of digitally just Internet governance, with community Internet networks giving local communities control over their own communication infrastructure, he added.

“Instead of needing to rely on corporate or public telecommunication services, communities can determine directly the best way to exercise their communication rights and have a voice in developing policies to address issues they are facing.”

Community network development by WACC partners in Costa Rica, Kenya, and Malawi. Photos: UmozaNet, KICTANet, Coopertaiva Sulá Batsú.

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