Empowering communities: partnerships for access to services – TOPIC 02 Sub 03 2024

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18 June 2024 | 17:00 - 17:45 EEST | Auditorium | Video recording | Transcript
Consolidated programme 2024 overview

Proposals: (#2) (#3) (#11) #28 #46 (see list of proposals)

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Session teaser

While Europe can be considered the champion of Internet access, stable connectivity and the possibility to access online services may be a challenge for some communities, especially in remote areas or in areas at war. The digital divide results in a social divide, leaving many citizens beyond the opportunities of modern society. This session aims to discuss technical and strategic solutions and the roles of different actors in addressing digital inequality affecting the citizens of Europe and beyond.

Session description

The pandemic accelerated the digital shift, underscoring the digital divide. In 2020, 466 million people gained internet access for the first time, with global usage and penetration increasing by 7% and 6%, respectively, from 2021 to 2022. However, as of 2022, 2.7 billion people lack internet access, and 53% lack high-speed broadband, risking exacerbation of economic, political, and social inequalities. Policymakers must address this global digital gap, considering continental disparities in technology access and use.

The issue of digital access and divides is multifaceted, lacking a single cause or linear effect. Disparities in internet and mobile device access vary by geographic location, gender, age, and rural vs. urban populations. In 2022, Europe boasted 89% internet penetration, while Africa lagged at 40%. Additionally, there are 264 million fewer women than men online, and younger populations are more connected. Urban areas typically have double the internet users of rural areas.

However, the digital divide extends beyond mere access to encompass divides in digital skills, usage, infrastructure quality, and access to content. The United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU) divides its goals for bridging the digital divide into two categories: universal connectivity and meaningful connectivity, encompassing various types of access.

Various approaches have been employed to mitigate digital divides, evolving from a focus on infrastructure access to encompassing digital skills, usage gaps, and societal internet awareness. Numerous initiatives and strategic plans from intergovernmental bodies and private companies are addressing these issues.

The United Nations leads initiatives such as the Broadband Commission and the Giga Initiative to ensure universal internet connectivity and connect schools worldwide. UNHCR’s Innovation Service promotes digital access for refugees, while the UN Commission on the Status of Women focuses on embedding gender inclusivity into the digital economy.

Private actors also contribute to solving digital divide components. Space X's Starlink expands broadband to remote areas, while Google's Next Billion Users initiative creates digital products based on user research. These initiatives often target specific aspects of the divide, providing funding for resource-constrained public sectors.

This session aims to accelerate progress and ensure that various efforts complement, rather than undermine, one another.


Panel discussion

Further reading


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Programme Committee member(s)

  • Inga Rimkevičienė
  • Riccardo Nanni

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  • Laura Guobužaitė, Head of Export and Market Development at Lithuania‘s DigiTech association ‚Infobalt‘

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  • Amali De Silva – Mitchell

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Video record



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Transcripts and more session details were provided by the Geneva Internet Platform

Arturas Piliponis: Thank you. Good afternoon, dear panelists, dear participants. I see that it was quite an intense, hectic day, and only the strongest and the most committed stayed, so congratulations to you. I hope we will discuss something which will be of value for you. Before we start, I’d like to introduce our panelists. I wanted to start from the one who is joining online, but I don’t see him. Can you put, please? Not yet. Okay. I’d like to introduce our first panelist online, Mr. Lasse Heidemann. Mr. Lasse is a Senior Director for Outreach at Digital Europe, and before joining Digital Europe, Mr. Lasse served as a Senior Director for UN International Affairs at the Danish Chamber of Commerce, worked at multiple senior roles at Danish institutions, as well as European Commission, DG Sanko, if I understand it right, and as well at the private consultancy. He has quite a rounded experience and hopefully will share it with us today. Our next participant. is Valentina Stadnis, who currently serves as a program officer at the ITU office. Previously, Valentina was active ecosystem builder of IT sector in Moldova. From what I know, you were leading the IT park, which is a very big catalyst of IT sector in Moldova, and as well were in several senior governmental positions. So, good to have you, Valentina, with us today. Our next participants, and I’m trying to do a gender balance, so just changing. Shifting is Mr. Manuel Costa Cabral, is a senior consultant at ANCOM, the regulatory authority for electronic communications in Portugal, where Mr. Manuel mainly involved in digital governance issues. And previously, Mr. Manuel was having different leading roles at the cabinet of the Secretary of State for Digitalization and Administrative Modernization at Portuguese government, at ITU, and as well at European Commission. Good to have you here. And our last participant, Lithuanian Ms. Jeva Žilionienė. Jeva is a very experienced expert in digital field, digital policy and strategy, and was quite involved or is quite involved in different GovTech matters. Jeva was part of Lithuanian Government Information Society Development Committee, and as well Telecom Regulator, where very actively contributed to the digital developments of the country. And one last thing to mention, Jeva… is a national expert and a member of the board of directors for the World Summit Awards. So, as you can see, our panelists are very diverse and bring a very, very interesting experience to us today. Before we jump into questions, I’d like to share our topic, as you could see, is partnership for access to services. It’s about connectivity, it’s about the services itself, it’s about the skills. So, it’s not just pure networks and connectivity, it’s all rather broad. But before we get into the questions, I’d like to share some reflections, which I have from the time when the war in Ukraine has started. I have quite a few colleagues, I have quite a few friends there. And when Russians started bombing Kiev, I was in daily contact with them, and the feedbacks were very diverse. First of all, when you cut the heating, it’s cold, it’s bad. When the water is cut and you live in a multi-story building, it’s super bad, you can imagine. But the worst thing is when electricity and access to Internet is cut. Because you lose the information, you don’t know what is happening, and it’s not only physical, but it’s emotional impact. So, in addition to the fact that we more and more move into the digital world, where we not only communicate and make friends digitally, but as well do business. So, those who have access, who are more advanced, they achieve more. And unfortunately, there are groups which are left behind. So, the topic is how we can make sure that through partnership we go as a team and no one is left behind, or at least at a great scale. That was the intro, and I’d like to start from the first question, the scene setting on the connectivity. So where do we stand now? So Europe aims to have 100 megabit connectivity by 2025, gigabit connectivity by 2030. So what is the progress to date? What are the challenges? And the first question is to Mr. Lasse, please.

Lasse Heidemann: Thank you. And thank you a lot for, I hope you can hear me. I see nodding. Excellent. Yes. So thank you very much for inviting Digital Europe to speak here at this great event. We’re very grateful. Now for the implementation of the digital decade. So we’re looking to have the gigabit for everyone in 2030. This is also reflected in our manifesto, I can say, so we are working towards the same goal and we definitely need a boost in terms of where we are right now. In terms of wireless 5G, Europe is lagging behind. We have 80% population-wise, whereas the U.S. has 98, South Korea has 98, the Japanese has 98, China has 89. So we are not looking good in terms of where we are going right now. The main challenges appears to be a weaker investment climate, both in terms of capital and in terms of the possible return on investment. Then we have, as always in Europe, regulatory fragmentation, which continues to be a problem. It’s both for authorization, the spectrum management and other issues that are problematic And then what we see is that there is basically a lack, this results in, I should say, a lack of commercial interest. Even with subsidized middle mile, we have trouble getting all the way out to the actual consumers and thus ensuring that we have the connectivity that we’re looking for.

Arturas Piliponis: Thank you, thank you. So the message what I take is that despite us being Europe developed countries we still have a gap and we still have an effort to put to close that gap. Moving further, and the question goes to Valentina, how does internet access differ in non-EU countries, more like developing countries? I know that ITU has these goals for universal and meaningful connectivity, so can you elaborate on them as well? What are they and what, I mean, how you apply them?

Valentina Stadnic: Yeah, thank you so much. To be honest, since I’m representing the Europe region of the ITU office, ITU office for Europe, I am really glad to see the progress that is happening in EU countries, in European countries per se, but to bring a little bit of a contrast into the picture, I’m going to repeat one number that has been already mentioned during yesterday’s sessions, is that only 67% of the population currently globally is using the internet. So the scale and the type of the problems that different countries are facing are extremely different and saying that I can also bring into the picture the divide between an urban and rural and in that sense the high-income countries have almost closed the gap, while the low-income countries are still struggling and in the low-income countries only one out of five citizens is using the internet and also another important point here is the affordability of the internet, because Europe is actually doing the best in that sense and when it comes to the other countries, like lower middle-income countries, We see that the gap is way bigger, in that sense the ITU is measuring that indicator as a percentage of GNI per capita, so when we are speaking for example about mobile broadband connectivity and mobile broadband basket, the affordability of it is 5.5 times lower in the lower middle-income countries and almost 20 times lower in the low-income countries. And we are not even speaking about the fixed broadband, because in cases it actually exists, there are situations in which it can reach one-third of the monthly income. So as you can see, the scale and the difference of problems that the world is facing is pretty dramatic. And saying that, I should go back to the reference that was made earlier in terms of the ITU goal ambitious, I would say, to ensure the universal meaningful connectivity by 2030. And we are actively working on that, we are streamlining the regulatory frameworks and working with the countries to ensure the necessary competition levels and to lower the costs and to improve the affordability of the internet. We are working on promoting different capacity building initiatives, as well as promoting the cooperation in order to streamline the investments and also to transfer the knowledge. So I see it’s zero on the display, so I think I need to stop here. So thank you so much.

Arturas Piliponis: Thank you. So my takeaway from this comparison is that, yes, in Europe, maybe we are not doing as well as our goals are compared to some other developed countries. But still, there are regions and countries around the world which are much, much worse and have much bigger challenges. And a question to Ieva. We live in very agile times, times of floods, wars and crisis, so how does that affect access to the internet, to the connectivity?

Ieva Zilioniene: So, yeah, I think we all saw ourselves several years ago, and time flies really, but when COVID hit, we really appreciated the power of technology, I think, in a new way. Then from something just nice to have, it became something which was needed to survive. And working these days in the Communications Regulatory Authority of Lithuania, I remember very well, when very, very quickly we had to be very agile, yeah, and to reinvent or to invent different ways and to consult and to help different institutions and schools and pupils and parents how to adjust. And, of course, war in Ukraine is another example of how digital becomes very, very important and a way to keep in touch with your citizens, even when they are abroad. But now, working in the global consultancy and other companies, which I have the possibility to see examples from very different countries, I think the Caribbean is a very interesting part of the world. And I think a double effect happened there. First of all, they had a couple of very devastating hurricanes in 2017, Maria, Irma, after that COVID hit. And suddenly, the digital became very important for countries, which before that didn’t pay too much attention. And what’s happening there, it’s a lot and lots of transformation. Then digital needs and putting connectivity and as well putting services online became like one of the most important things in the agenda of the government. And working in such countries like Dominica, Langston Martin, like Trinidad and Tobago and others. really, when governments or institutions offer themselves, what it means when you lose access to your paper records, what it means when people cannot come into the institution or to some physical service centers, but they still have to have the social benefits, they still have to have some way to register birth or to get some certificates, so digital becomes very, very important. Or another example from Samoa Island, where we helped to prepare for them to build the civil registry because the island, due to climate change and this diverse effect, is literally sinking. So just to know who are your citizens becomes priority. So I think we will be facing more and more things which are very difficult to predict now. And of course, being prepared and have good examples how to employ smartly technology for that can really be a game changer.

Arturas Piliponis: Thank you. Very interesting stories. I’m sure we could dive into them even more. Now we looked at what we have as situation in terms of the goals, in terms of the examples. I’d like to dive a bit more into the practical developments and good practices and to hear from you. And the first, again, question goes to Valentina. The question is how do United Nations-led initiatives like Broadband Commission or Giga contribute to achieving universal Internet connectivity? Maybe there are others which you could share as well.

Valentina Stadnic: Yeah, thank you so much. I think linking to the previous intervention, I would like to also mention the support and the activities that we’re having in Ukraine. So IT is currently leading the rehabilitation of 10 broadcasting stations which cover 10 million people. So it’s quite an extensive. that we are managing at this point, and we also see the value in this kind of interventions in the areas where there is a conflict. Speaking about the Giga and about the Broadband Commission, of course, they are driving the universal connectivity forward. They do have an immense potential due to the synergies that they are creating. Of course, the legislative work and the advocacy that the Broadband Commission brings to the table is being amplified at the national level through the Giga initiative and connecting the schools, and so it creates a multilevel engagement. Of course, the innovations are being driven through these initiatives by making sure that new approaches, new financial streams are being identified, new mechanisms are being leveraged to promote this connectivity at the national levels, and probably the last thing is the leveraging of the global networks and building on the strengths of each and every stakeholder that is being involved in those initiatives as important as the other components are. But not limiting only to this, I would like to also mention, for example, the activities that are being directed towards the broadband mapping, and here the work is being done to make sure that the informed decisions are being done in terms of the growth of the networks and improvement of the connectivity, and this work is happening in Europe as well, because in our understanding, Europe is not only EU, but it’s 46 countries, including Eastern Europe and Western Balkans. So that work is being directed not only towards those countries, but also beyond Europe and in relation to the exchange of knowledge and expertise of the European countries in that sense and the African continent. So, a lot of things are happening in that sense. And probably one of the last points that I would also like to mention, and it’s related to the first intervention, we are also working on the 5G connectivity and the work with the – particularly, for example, Western Balkan countries on that element. So, as you can see, there are a lot of initiatives which somehow have their particular goals but which build upon each other and have, at the end, kind of a very synergic approach towards the advancement in that sense. So thank you.

Arturas Piliponis: Thank you. It sounds like there are quite a few initiatives. I’m sure they cost not a thousand euros, so later on we will dive a bit in what it would take to kind of close the gap in terms of the resources. Now moving to Mr. Manuel, the question is for you. What roles a regulator – you are from a regulator – and government institutions partnering potentially with other players, like private players, play in closing digital device? Maybe you could share some success stories, examples of good initiatives as Valentina shared as well. Thank you.

Manuel Costa Cabral: Thank you. Thanks a lot for inviting, for participating in this panel, and thanks for the hosts, RRT, for brilliantly hosting us and bringing us here to the beautiful city of Vilnius. So going to your question, we at Anacom, a regulator, we are perfectly aware that connectivity is a foundation layer, let’s say, of all this digital world. And so without this digital layer that we have on connectivity, we cannot have the rest, all the benefits that this digital economy is bringing us and to the society and so on. So, for us, the electronic communications network is truly important and we are perfectly aware of our responsibilities on that. In Portugal, I can tell you that we are glad and we can be proud of what we achieved in terms of coverage, both in fixed and mobile networks. We are doing well in terms of fixed high-speed networks and also including fiber. We have around 93% of the buildings and establishments already connected to fiber networks. Also on 5G, the rollout of networks is quite positive and we are satisfied with what we have achieved so far. However, we still have some challenges, of course. In some regions, the coverage is not so good as we wish. So, there are some disparities and differences in how regions are connected. Also, we feel that part of the population is not so much connected, given the digital literacy issue and also income. So, we are having some initiatives to address these challenges that we still have. I’ll give you four concrete initiatives. I could talk about more, but I think four of them are quite relevant. One is a public tender financed by public money and the EU money to cover the regions where there is a lack of high-speed networks. So, we were working on that and the tender is open, so we are waiting for you to conclude. Secondly, the 5G auction, where we had some requirements and some provisions that included the coverage of the rural areas. So in order to bridge that gap. Also we created a social tariff for low income people and also people with special needs. This tariff is 5 euro a month, plus VAT, so it’s very convenient, a very good price, I would say. And also a flagship project we have, which is a submarine cable system connecting our autonomous regions of Asores and Madeira and the mainland continent. This is a very important and relevant system for connecting these regions, autonomous regions.

Arturas Piliponis: Super. Thank you. I think there were a few good thoughts, kind of few good examples of how those getting the spectrum should be incentivized to do a bit more than just using it or the social tariff as well. A very nice example. Knowing that Anacom is one of the best examples in Europe, at least as per my knowledge, in how regulators are run, how the markets are managed. You shared what you do in Portugal. Maybe a few words, but just a few words. What you do outside of Portugal in other countries, less developed countries, are there any good examples for the audience to hear?

Manuel Costa Cabral: Yeah. Thanks for the question. I think we have a strong intervention, let’s say, cooperation in a number of countries, regions, well, including Ukraine. When the war started, we set a protocol with Ukraine, the regulator, also to provide assistance and support and whatever we can, we could. But where we normally attach our attention in terms of cooperation with foreign countries is the Portuguese-speaking countries. So the Portuguese-speaking community is quite broad. It has 250 million people speaking Portuguese. So it’s spread in four continents. And we are proud that it’s one of the most used languages in the world in the Internet as well, of course. And so we dedicate a lot of attention to our sister regulatory authorities in Portuguese-speaking countries. Particularly in Africa and Asia, we have very strong cooperation with them in terms of assistance. We set up a number of protocols with them. And we want to address some of the issues that Valentino was talking about, some of the concerns that they have. We set up a number of capacity building programs, a number of initiatives in terms of provision of information. Also consulting services. And also going to the field. That is something that we like to go there. So to have these programs in the field implemented, even providing with equipment and so on. So concrete things that we can try to help, whatever we can, in order to bridge this divide. So just to illustrate about what we are doing, the capacity building programs, we cover basically everything on these capacity building programs in Africa and Asia. The organization, the accounting is put in place, the financing, human resources. But also then the concrete stuff of what regulators do, economic regulation, spectrum management, consumer protection, security, and so on. So we have a broad range of… Let’s say, activities that we dedicate a lot of effort and a lot of resources to support these initiatives. Thanks.

Arturas Piliponis: Super. Thank you. Thank you. I think these were nice examples. I’d like a bit to challenge Mr. Lassa and Ieva. You know, I work myself with the connectivity and the mapping exercises and, you know, there is this nice idea that if you attract private sector into these initiatives, they will invest their money and everything will be better. So a question to you both in terms of these partnerships and examples. Can you share some of the examples where maybe private sector plays a role, not just because they are paid because of the tender, but, you know, there are some mechanisms which incentivizes as well to private sector to engage? I don’t know whoever wants to go first, but Mr. Lassa, maybe you could.

Lasse Heidemann: Yes. Thank you. Yes. I mean, here we are looking to bridge the digital divide as well as everywhere else, right? To make sure that we can extend the connectivity to the less attractive rural areas. In our experience, the only way that can happen is that all the players collaborate, right? So one example could be public funding for the middle or the last mile rollout where there’s no commercial interest. This is like one way of going about it. The timely allocation of spectrum for wireless connectivity at a reasonable price. That might be a way out. Many member states have used the RFF funding. So the big fund that came after the COVID epidemic to extend or to fund middle and last mile connectivity. And that is also something that might be seen in future financing. Let’s see what the next mandate comes with. There’s an opportunity to use satellite-based connectivity in programs to complement some of the other activities, especially where it’s very hard to reach areas. We do have those in Europe, even though we’re quite concentrated. Of course, companies can share the infrastructure. So infrastructure sharing can be an opportunity to help. It is complicated, but it can be very good when it works. And the last thing I wanted to mention is the necessary skills to be able to provide all these solutions. We have a lack of employees in Europe, and these skills also will be lacking. So we need to make sure that the skills are available. And there can be different ways of going about it. Some of them can come from Brussels, but mostly the member states have competence in making sure that the skills are indeed available.

Arturas Piliponis: Thank you.

Ieva Zilioniene: Yes, I’m coming to some examples from my experience, I’d say. So yeah, I think we know and hear quite a lot about different PPP projects, and it will become a trend, but only in areas where there is profitability, I guess, because business is business. That’s the nature of it. So there are interesting examples, I guess, for big projects. And I guess each country now is trying to see how to make this work for different kinds of projects. But coming back to practical examples, I think a very interesting one I have from a very interesting encounter we had in International Telecommunication Union, World Summit on Information Society last year, where I was part of Lithuanian delegation of our politicians, our public institutions, and as well businesses. And we had lots of meetings with different countries. And during the meeting with Kenya’s delegation, it was very interesting exchange on the best experience and pain points of the country. And one of the things that government is doing is putting like 10,000 of public services online, which is very ambitious. Another thing is that quite a lot of people just don’t have access to digital. So that means that the divide is not decreasing, it’s just actually increasing. And the idea that came there was, so why not to try to see how to use the networks that already exist in the country, like in this case, postal networks, which again, each country, it’s a challenge how to adjust a postal network with really changed habits of people. So how to use this well-established historical network to provide access to digital services to people living in rural areas. So Lithuanian government through this LT8 fund is financing and energy companies is co-financing a project in Kenya based on seeing the best practices from Europe, including from Lithuania, from other countries, and seeing how to merge these experiences into something meaningful, how to use the assets which the government already has in new ways. So I guess sometimes being creative really pays off. And this creativity, yes, it can come not just from government, but from private sector as well.

Arturas Piliponis: Super, thank you. Very relevant example. And I think if I’m not mistaken, it’s nice, it’s not because it’s just hard connectivity, because when going to the postal office, you assumingly will get a service advice and guidance, and therefore you will be upskilled and better use it. And maybe reflection on AI topic, because people say that we are shrinking and labor force is reducing. On the other hand, we are saying that AI is taking our jobs. which is not bad maybe, not so bad for Europe if AI takes the jobs which are currently cannot be filled by human then it’s a very good thing. The only problem is that many people not having the right access to the internet or not having the ability and skills to be part of that game of course are left behind and that’s a clear challenge. Okay, maybe it’s time for some questions from audience if there are any. Do we have any questions? Yeah, we have online questions.

Online moderator: I will be quickly and a short question from Amelie De Silva Mitchell. What is the role of civil society? And I do have, nope, I did have a raised hand but no more.

Arturas Piliponis: That’s okay, let’s deal with this question. What is the role of civil society? Who wants to take this question?

Valentina Stadnic: I can take it with a concrete example. Since we started talking about the meaningful part of the connectivity, I would like to bring to the table the experience that we had in ITU with the GovStack initiative. It’s an initiative built and launched together with the government of Estonia, Germany and the Dial Foundation. So there is a multi-stakeholder approach in its greater sense, I would say, involving also all of the type of the stakeholders into the development of the right thinking towards the public services development but also the community which builds itself the efficient and cost effective mechanism for the public services delivery. So it is based on the building block approach and promotes a very, I would say, a very strategic way of addressing the services development by reuse of the already existing codes instead of just reinventing yourself all the time. Thank you. and it has a very strong citizen-centric component as well being seen across all of the streams of the activity of this initiative. That would include the capacity building exercise and empowerment of the women in a GovTech. It also goes into the knowledge sharing and the platform that has been built with the courses currently located on Atingi to promote the knowledge about the digital services development. And also it goes into the involvement of the community into the development of the specifications even that currently end up being part of the global sandbox to which everyone has an access and can experiment, build their own services regardless of their capacities in the sense of the technical knowledge. So everyone can create their own understanding or foster their own understanding of the digital services and can contribute with their own bits and pieces to the process. So I don’t know if that’s answering the question but that was my take on it.

Arturas Piliponis: Thank you, nice examples. Ieva, anything or others to add? If not, I can share just building on what you said. You mentioned that Atingi as EY we are dealing with digitalization topics as well and we just recently launched an e-commerce course badge actually on Atingi for Ukraine, Moldova and we are moving to Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. And this is how to do e-commerce on new marketplaces. One may think, ah, it’s very easy, it’s this e-commerce all over. But if you want to find the real quality material which guides you and lets you understand tax matters, legal matters, the process, there is none. And what was funny because Atingi is an open platform. You put there, anyone can access. The first person completed the course for Ukrainians was Nigerian, which just shows how global the world is. But at the same time, the interest in closing this knowledge gap, skills gap is big. Any other questions? Yes? Do we have?

Audience: Thank you so much. I hope you can hear me.

Arturas Piliponis: Yes. Yes. Okay. Thank you.

Audience: Thank you for the informative and thought provoking panel. I just want to find out two things for developing and low economics. What should we do to achieve the meaningful connectivity to bridge the digital divide? More so that we, where I am, we have like two economies, the first and the second economy. So you have the large number of the people in the second economy and they do not have meaningful access to connectivity. So the digital divide is widening instead of closing. So I would just want to understand as developing and low economies, what is it that we should be doing to achieve meaningful connectivity and to mean it when we say leaving no one behind? Because many people have been left behind in terms of participating in the digital economy. And the second thing I just want to know, how do we make partnership work to build digital inclusivity for all, including those from rural areas? I believe that as long as this… PPPs are about profit, the vision for digital inclusion might be continuing to be elusive because if it’s about profits then there is no point in going to rural areas which is, I’m coming from one of the rural areas in South Africa and connectivity there is bad. So I have better connectivity when I’m in the city like right now but if I was at home at the village I would not have been able to to connect actually to this event. Thank you so much.

Arturas Piliponis: Thank you. Who would like to take these questions?

Ieva Zilioniene: I can start maybe from national perspective but I’m sure that my colleagues will have plenty to add but I think the questions are very very broad and very very difficult and I guess if someone had all the answers there won’t be need for us to sit here and discuss but usually what happens that each country has a very different context of course but even in Lithuania like 15 years ago we had this challenge that perfect connectivity in the cities and really bad connectivity in rural areas so yes we are not that big but still it was a very clear policy of the state to invest in these areas which are not commercially attractive specifically there is no profit for operators there is no interest to go and Lithuania was one of the first countries to invest into building this backbone network connecting rural areas fiber network which was then possible to use to all operators on equal rights and to make the coming to these rural areas much cheaper and Lithuania still continues to do that with different technology with different approaches but this is one of the ways among many but of course that requests that the government still takes a stand and takes This is important for us and we must do something and there are of course different scenarios for that.

Manuel Costa Cabral: Yeah, thank you, I can I can also develop on this. Of course, it’s a difficult question to reply to But anyway, I think we during this Eurodig, we have listened to some perspectives that at least give us hope that we are doing something and we can achieve something. Of course, a lot was done already in terms of connecting the world, but it has to be done yet. So I was pleased to listen to ITU that has recently, I guess, set up a financing protocol with the World Bank and other institutions that in order to get to the proper financing to connecting developing regions. Also, we heard a number of technologies well, including satellites, including submarine cables that are providing solutions to make connectivity more affordable and with a larger capacity. Also from our side what Portugal is doing, I think is also an example, you know, to collaborate, to give the best of our knowledge, the best of our expertise to bring that expertise also to the field and with concrete projects, concrete examples. I think it’s also that all of us can collaborate a little bit on that and all things combined, I hope that we can continue to make improvements. Thank you. That’s an optimistic note, I hope.

Valentina Stadnic: Yes, I’ll try to be brief. I see that people are already coming to rush us a little bit. So I would just like to say that I fully agree with my fellow speakers here. It’s It’s very difficult to drive the change from the outside. You have to have the driving force inside the country. And frequently this role is supposed to be taken by the government. One thing that is not as important is the creation of the right ecosystem and involvement of all of the stakeholders in the process. So of course, when we are talking only about connectivity, that narrows a little bit the type of the stakeholders that we’re aiming to involve. But when it comes to the involvement and driving the change at the larger scale, we have to look at all of the type of the stakeholders and at the same time, look at the building of the ecosystem, entrepreneurial ecosystem, on innovation ecosystems, just make sure that that change, which we are speaking about even in terms of connectivity, is actually having a perspective of evolving into the competitive advantages for the country as well, because it’s not only about the access to the network, it’s also what people will be doing further with the network once it’s there. So of course, partnerships at the international level are super efficient to kind of motivate and drive that change. But as I said, it’s all starting inside the country and with the drive that is being kind of, that is growing from bottom up, I would say. So yeah, thank you.

Arturas Piliponis: Thank you. Mr. Lasse, would you have any? 30 seconds. 30 seconds, okay. So probably we don’t have much, but so the topic is so wide, we could continue for a few hours easily. Maybe a few takeaways. First of all, what is being done, as we can hear, very, very nice examples on developments, but unfortunately, and most probably the gap is widening. And the thought for all of us to think, so how much resources, efforts, or initiative needs to be put in order to reverse that trend and really. not to leave people behind, those who cannot go together. So it’s the question about the money, it’s about the political will, it’s about the partnership, and as you rightfully said, it’s initiative from the bottom. Thank you, dear panelists, thank you, audience. For some reason, we have more listeners than we started, which is great. So, thank you, I enjoyed the discussion and looking forward to have a good time. Thank you, Duras and the team.