04.10.2011 - UNESCO

Local content, Internet development and access prices: New study presented at IGF 2011

Jānis Kārkliņš, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, at IGF 2011 - © UNESCO

The research study "The Relationship between Local Content, Internet Development and Access Prices" is the result of collaboration between the Internet Society (ISOC), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and UNESCO. The study was presented by three Organizations at the sixth annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) on 27 September 2011 in Nairobi (Kenya). More than sixty participants attended and remotely followed the discussion.

During the joint workshop at the IGF 2011 Janis Karklins, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, said, “Understanding the relationship between development of local content, Internet and access prices could help to demonstrate the economic benefits of expanded infrastructures across countries, particularly if the amount of local infrastructure fosters the development of local content in local languages. The availability of local content could also, in turn, stimulate demand for Internet services. Finally the prices of local Internet access could hinder or promote the development of local content.”

“We cannot continue to think of local content, Internet infrastructure and access prices as separate issues,” stressed the representative of OECD, Taylor Reynolds. “Progress and developments in one area can impact the others so we need to develop a broader approach to policy making that takes the cross-cutting benefits into account," he added.

According to Dawit Bekele, from ISOC, an increasing amount of local content around the world is encouraging, since this will make the Internet more relevant to local communities and help improve their lives. “The Internet Society is happy to contribute to the development of not only access to the Internet but also relevant content to everyone around the world," he said.

The partner organizations acknowledged that the study was able to confirm that local content, Internet infrastructure and access prices are three elements that are inter-related and can feed each other in a virtuous circle:

  • better connectivity is significantly related to higher levels of local digital content creation;
  •  countries with more Internet infrastructure (at all income levels) are also the countries producing more local digital content as measured by Wikipedia entries and by web pages under a given country-code, top-level domain;
  • countries with more international connectivity have lower domestic broadband prices, while countries with better domestic infrastructure have lower international bandwidth prices;
  • the study concluded that the inter-linkages between the different elements lead to three key lines of policy considerations evolving out this research:
    • fostering content development,
    • expanding connectivity, and
    • promoting Internet access competition.

Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist, Google, shared Google’s experience in developing fifteen translation tools that facilitate access to information in different languages. He also suggested creating cloud computing service by establishing regional and national data centers. Muriuki Mureithi, from Kenya, and Tarek Kamel, from Egypt, shared their good practices related to a proactive support for infrastructure, open government, and access to governmental information and services. A remaining challenge is how to create a sustainable framework including local script, infrastructure, software and applications in local languages, as well as to enable all stakeholders, particularly civil society and local community, to create more local content for economic, public and entertainment purposes, which local users need.

The summary of the study is available here.

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