[APAC-Discuss] Update [Workshop on Digital Divide]

Salanieta T. Tamanikaiwaimaro salanieta.tamanikaiwaimaro at gmail.com
Wed Aug 6 12:56:24 UTC 2014

Dear All,

This is a raw draft Report on today's Workshop.

*Workshop Number 14: Digital Divide: Lessons from South East Asia and the

*Date: 6th August 2014*

*Time: 4:00pm - 7:00pm*

Pre Workshop Paper to initiate dialogue on the Digital Divide called:

"A Snapshot of the Digital Divide in the South East Asia and the Pacific

*Moderators: *

   - Chaitanya Dhareshwar Head Technologist and Adviser at Doctor on Call
   and Pasifika Nexus Think Tank Membe
   - Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro <http://2014.rigf.asia/speakers/#Sala>
   -President of South Pacific Computer Society, Member of SEARCC ExComm,
   Manager ICT Center, University of the South Pacific, Founder of Pasifika
   Nexus *(Remote)*


   Ms. Noelle de Guzman <http://2014.rigf.asia/speakers/#Noelle>, Regional
   Programme Coordinator, APAC, ISOC
   - Mr. Satish Babu <http://2014.rigf.asia/speakers/#Satish>, Director,
   ICFOSS, India
   - Mr. Edmon Chung <http://2014.rigf.asia/speakers/#EdmonChung>, CEO of
   DotAsia Organisation

   - Mr. Benjamin Matthews <http://2014.rigf.asia/speakers/#Benjamin>,
   Business Consultancy *(Remote)*

   Mr. Sakaio Manoa, USP ICT Outreach Coordinator* (Remote)*

*Number of People on Adobe Connect: 6*

*Remote Hub was set up from the Pacific at the University of the South

·         Brian Louey Gung - Pacific Islands Regional Regulators Resource

·         Sonal Shivangani - Journalist

·         Sonal Singh - Journalist

·         Ian Thomson - TEREC

·         Dr Sunil Lal - Senior Lecturer, School of Computing and
Information Science, University of the South Pacific

·         Reshmi Prasad - International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

·         Vinay Prasad -iTUTi

·         Salveen Singh - Telecom Fiji Limited

·         Francis Simelum - Global Leadership Interlink (GLI)

·         Sakaio Manoa -USP ICT Outreach Coordinator

·         Salanieta Tamanikaiwaimaro - President South Pacific Computer
Society, Director Pasifika Nexus and Manager - Japan Pacific ICT Centre,
University of the South Pacific

*Countries That Participated in the Panel Discussion via Video, Live and
Remote Participation*

·         Australia

·         Fiji

·         Kiribati

·         Solomon Islands

·         Tuvalu

·         Vanuatu

·         Indonesia

·         Hong Kong

·         Cambodia

·         Philippines

·         India

·         New Zealand


Video featuring snapshots from Asia Pacific is available via

*Levels of the Digital Divide*

Digital Divide levels exist at different levels:

·         Urban and Rural

·         Old and Young

·         Men and Women

·         Rich and Poor

·         Persons with Disabilities and Those without Disabilities

·         The Literate and the Illiterate

·         Those who participate in policy development processes and those
that do not participate in policy development processes

Asia Pacific has 4.2 billion people within its region which is 60% of the
world population and the countries are all diverse with languages, size,

Panelists touched on various levels of the digital divide and it was
interesting to hear the diverse snapshots from across South East Asia and
the Pacific. There were common threads in terms of access challenges. What
was resoundingly clear was that there was no one size fits all as each
country and territory is unique. There was discussion on the important of
access in preserving languages, culture and enabling economic development
and a better quality of life. There was discussion on challenges to
stimulating investment rollout in underserved region and in some countries
like Indonesia where provinces have different levels of minimum wage rates
but that the high costs of the internet was consistent throughout the
country. Dwi Elfrida the E Application Services officer with the Ministry
of Communication and Information Technology shared about the challenges
with rolling out infrastructure in the rural areas.

Mr HR Mohan, President of Computer Society of India shared about how ICT
proliferation in a country of 1.2 billion people was a challenge especially
when there was diverse cultures and languages. Mr. Mohan shared that whilst
India has been known to provide ICT services to the entire world but that
they acknowledge the Digital Divide and economic divide that exists within
India. He suggested that this could be attributed to low literacy levels,
high cost of access devices, high cost of internet devices and low internet
penetration rate. He says that there are about 15% of internet penetration
rate. Mr Mohan suggests that solutions in India include transparency in E
Governance initiatives and the Right to Education Act, National Skilled
Cooperation Initiative, National Optic Fibre Network are all part of
solutions in addressing the Digital Divide.

Amit Singh, Vice President of the South Pacific Computer Society shared how
countries like Nauru that do not have a Bank and as such they have
challenges in importing goods and growing businesses. Amit Singh also
shared about Tahiti (French Polynesia) has strict laws about bringing
electronic goods into the country where people are expected to show
receipts of purchases or be penalized. Similarly Professor Dr. Ahmad Zaki
Bin A Bakar, President Malaysian National Computer Federation, Member of
the National ICT Human Resource Task Force, Secretary of the ICT Cluster,
National Council of Professors, Chairman of National E-Commerce Standards
Committee, SRIM shared that socio economic status was also a factor in
terms of access and how access to ICT and banking services have the ability
to transform communities.

Lisa Garcia of the Philippines emphasized the need to address the gender
disparity in terms of Access issues.

Samson, a student from the Solomon Islands shared about the challenges to
accessing ICT and the Internet in his country with students having to come
to the urban centers to access ICT and educational material as this was not
accessible in rural and remote areas.

Edmon Chung of Dot Asia shared that affordability and access in Hong Kong
was also an issue for students in a system where homework or assignments
through E Learning initiatives have to be submitted electronically. These
students have to visit the Public Library or stand in the queue to access
internet services to do their homework. This is typically a problem for
students in bigger cities in Asia and the Pacific. The levels of divide
that exist for developing countries are also true for developed countries
in certain instances.

Mere, a student from Kiribati shared about how people have to connect from
Telecom Service Centers to access efficient and fast internet as it is
really fast but that connecting from home is a challenge due to high costs.
She said that they pay 2AUD for 30 minutes and 4AUD for an hour.

Cheryl Langdon - Orr Director of auDA and ISOC AU and Nick Tate the
immediate Past President of the Australian Computer Society shared how
people's socio economic status affects affordability in Australia affects
access in Australia. They each emphasized the various levels of Digital
Divide that exist in Australia in terms of Digital literacy.

Tenanoia Simona, Manager IT and Telecom Tuvalu shared about the challenges
in rolling out infrastructure in Tuvalu. They rely on satellite for rolling
out services and have to repeatedly deploy the same infrastructure for
other islands. The high cost of internet bandwidth limits is an issue in
Tuvalu that affects the Digital Divide. The Minister of Telecommunications
in Tuvalu also shared about the challenges with finance and infrastructure
in Tuvalu.

Benjamin Mathews, Services Delivery Manager of Alcatel Lucent and Pasifika
Nexus Director of New Zealand shared how the divide between rich and poor
was also a factor in how people are able to access ICT in New Zealand. He
shared that whilst they had contributed to the rollout of 70% of the
infrastructure in New Zealand, it was clear that no one single stakeholder
can resolve the Digital Divide but that it has to be a coordinated,
collaborative engagement of all stakeholders to commit to bridging the gap.

There was also extensive discussion on the important role that access to
ICT plays in preserving languages whether this was almost extinct languages
through online translators (Noelle De Guzman, Philippines)  and using
Internationalized domain names (Edmon Chung) to enable access to
communities who do not normally use the ASCI script. Satish Babu Director,
ICFOSS, India spoke about the important role that access plays in relation
to culture, protection of languages and the enhancement of Internet of
Things in climate change adaptation and monitoring and disaster reduction.

Professor Dr. Ahmad Zaki Bin A Bakar, President Malaysian National Computer
Federation, Member of the National ICT Human Resource Task Force, Secretary
of the ICT Cluster, National Council of Professors, Chairman of National
E-Commerce Standards Committee, SRIM shared that socio economic status was
also a factor.

Noelle De Guzman of Philippines Regional Programme Coordinator, APAC, ISOC
shared about some excellent initiatives that ISOC Asia Pacific has been
rolling out in the Asia Pacific region. She advocated for activating
community projects as a means to bridge the Digital Divide.

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