Building Capacity for the Coming Era of Connectivity: The Next Billions

At the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, in San Jose, Calif., this hands-on workshop with interactive discussions preceded by brief presentations, Building Capacity for the Coming Era of Connectivity: The Next Billions, was held on 21 October 2018 from 8:30-10:00 a.m. PDT.

Presentation: Building Capacity for the Coming Era of Connectivity: The Next Billions


The value of the economic, social and political gains offered by internet connectivity have been well-documented. The benefits that can be realized through increased connectivity—individually, locally and globally—can be transformational. Many citizens in the world increasingly rely on the internet for access to education, health care, employment, finance, commerce and information. And the emerging Internet of Things has the potential to dramatically further increase the positive social and economic impacts of global connectivity.

At some point this year, the world will see internet users reach 4 billion, but yet there will remain a significant population of the world that is not connected. Connecting this population, however, figures to be a different and a more difficult challenge than was connecting the first billions. There are a variety of reasons why, including that the last billions are typically living in remote, rural and/or sparsely populated areas, access is still too expensive, the internet lacks content that is relevant to them and the internet may be too unfamiliar. To continue to address and overcome these challenges and, more so, to enable sustainable internet access, many from various walks of life, disciplines and professions, including engineering professionals, will need to work together to help build capacity and skills—as these are levers for economic, social and sustainable development.

This hands-on workshop explored what is needed to build the necessary capacity and skills for local citizens so they can support projects that lead to future organic expansion and sustainability of internet connectivity. To inspire an open discussion among the participants, the speakers shared first-hand experiences in building skills and capacity in network engineering, technology support, application development and training, as well as in specialized skill sets of financing, policy education and others. This was followed by an interactive discussion to identify and capture what factors need to coalesce to ensure sustainable internet access that will be collectively generated and managed by those who will benefit, while keeping a focus on local community needs.


 Introduction to the Session

 Jim Wendorf, Program Director, IEEE Internet Initiative

 Opening Remarks
 The impact of building local capacity and skills on   achieving universal access

 Deepak Maheshwari, Director, Government Affairs – India, ASEAN & China,   Symantec Corporation, and Chair, IEEE Internet Initiative

 Case Studies
 Experiences in building local capacity and skills


  • Meher Bnouni, Innovation Manager, Novation City
  • Divon Lan, Managing Director, Black Paw Ventures
  • Don Means, Director, Gigabit Libraries Network, and Coordinator, Partnership for Public Access
  • Maurice McNaughton, PhD, Director, Center of Excellence for IT-enabled Innovation, Mona School of Business & Management, UWI 

 Interactive Discussion
 Identifying the factors that help advance sustainable   internet inclusion for all, by addressing the gaps in:

  • Access to technical/practitioner talent among broadband public-sector leadership
  • Technical/practitioner talent on the ground where connectivity is lacking
  • Effective and sustainable capacity and skills development
  • Understanding around policy, financing, best practices, etc.
  • Understanding of the value of connectivity
  • Others . . .

 Full Audience Participation
 Moderator: Deepak Maheshwari

 Summary & Prioritization of the Identified   Factors

 Jim Wendorf

 Closing Remarks

 Deepak Maheshwari