APrIGF 2022 Session Proposal Submission Form
Part 1 - Lead Organizer
Contact Person
Ms. Isha Suri
Organization / Affiliation (Please state "Individual" if appropriate) *
Centre for Internet and Society
Senior Researcher
Economy of Residence
Primary Stakeholder Group
Civil Society
List Your Organizing Partners (if any)
1. Primary Organizers - Isha Suri, Senior Researcher, Centre for Internet & Society, and Crystal Kewe, Senior Mentor, Digital Makers Asia Pacific (DMAP)
2. Organising Partners:
i) Gayani Hurulle, Senior Research Manager, LIRNEasia,
ii)Sarbani Banerjee Belur, Region Coordinator Asia, Association for Progressive Communication (APC),
iii)Crystal Kewe - Senior Mentor @ DMAP and CEO @ Crysan Technology,
iv) Rodrigo Balbontin - Program Manager, Technology Programs, The Asia Foundation.
Part 2 - Session Proposal
Session Title
Connecting the Unconnected - Efforts from Private Sector and Policy Lessons from the APAC
Session Format
Panel Discussion
Where do you plan to organize your session?
Onsite at the venue (with online moderator for questions and comments from remote participants)
Specific Issues for Discussion
During this panel discussion, panelists from different countries from the region will explore the state of internet connectivity, adoption and usage within the Asia Pacific region. In addition, the session will highlight the challenges and opportunities inherent in efforts to build inclusion into the region’s vision for a digital economy and connected society. Examples of ongoing initiatives to engage underserved communities – including indigenous peoples – led by some of the region’s digital entrepreneurs will be highlighted.
The panel will discuss the following issues:
What is the state of connectivity in APAC? How has Covid-19 impacted internet adoption in these countries? Are certain communities still unconnected?
What are some of the bottlenecks in ensuring affordable broadband connectivity for all? What are some interventions that can bridge this digital divide?
What are some of the factors outside mere internet access needed for assessing meaningful connectivity and access by the populace? What role does digital skills, in particular, play?
What role can some of the other stakeholders such as civil society, private sector, ISPs and telecom companies play in bridging the existing digital divide?
What are some existing examples of efforts (private-sector led) being undertaken within the region to drive greater digital inclusion, especially for indegenious peoples and marginalized communities?
What are innovation challenges encountered within emerging ecosystems to bridge the digital divide and increase equal participation in the digital economy?
What are some policy reforms that can unlock greater opportunities to leverage digital tools to serve the underserved? What challenges do these policies need to address in order to spark innovation?
What role can the private sector play in bridging the gaps that exist between policy makers and underserved communities, particularly indigenous peoples, impacted by digital inequality?
Describe the Relevance of Your Session to APrIGF
Digital connectivity has become imperative to leading a fully functional life in the 21st century with access to essential services such as education, health, and governance dependent on internet access. The UN declaring internet access as a human right in 2016 is testament to this.
While the pandemic spurred digitisation across sectors and industries and internet use within Asia-Pacific jumped by 24% between 2019-21 (ITU). The growth in users was predominantly driven by pandemic induced lockdowns compelling schools and offices to function remotely, as well as concerted regulatory interventions.
Despite these interventions,40% of the APAC region still continues to be disconnected. Also, there exists significant variation in regulatory and policy ecosystems between countries, evidenced by 92% of Singapore’s population using the internet in 2020, as opposed to 18% in Afghanistan (ITU, 2020). There is also variation within countries — rural populations, the elderly, and historically marginalised groups such as women, ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities are disproportionately impacted. Covid-19 has further underlined and exacerbated the debilitating cost of digital exclusion and amplified the need to bridge the digital gap with utmost urgency to ensure that existing inequities are not magnified.
During this session, we want to bring regional experts from select countries in Asia to discuss various hurdles faced by the region in its digital journey and share best practices and suggest a way forward towards universal, affordable broadband connectivity within the region. Apart from the differences, there are also parallels among countries within the region including sociocultural context, availability or lack thereof of digital skills, funding constraints and regulatory uncertainty. This discussion can help facilitate dialogues towards cross learnings and regional cooperation to expedite the process of connecting the unconnected.
Methodology / Agenda (Please add rows by clicking "+" on the right)
Time frame (e.g. 5 minutes, 20 minutes, should add up to 60 minutes) Description
5 mins Introduction and context setting by the Moderator
20 mins Opening remarks by each panelist
25 mins Moderated Q&A
10 mins Audience Q&A
Moderators & Speakers Info (Please complete where possible)
  • Moderator (Primary)

    • Name: Isha Suri
    • Organization: Centre for Internet & Society
    • Designation: Senior Researcher
    • Gender: Female
    • Economy / Country of Residence: India
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Moderator (Facilitator)

    • Name: Rodrigo Balbontin
    • Organization: The Asia Foundation
    • Designation: Program Manager, Technology Programs
    • Gender: Male
    • Stakeholder Group: Private Sector
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
  • Speaker 1

    • Name: Gayani Hurulle
    • Organization: LIRNEasia
    • Designation: Senior Research Manager
    • Gender: Female
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Sri Lanka
    • Stakeholder Group: Civil Society
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Speaker 2

    • Name: Dr. Tariq Zaman
    • Organization: University of Technology, Sarawak
    • Designation: Associate Professor
    • Gender: Male
    • Economy / Country of Residence: Malaysia
    • Stakeholder Group: Academia
    • Expected Presence: Online
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
    • Link of Bio (URL only):
  • Speaker 3

    • Name: Crystal Kewe
    • Organization: DMAP and Crysan Technology
    • Designation: Senior Mentor (DMAP), and CEO (Crysan Technology)
    • Gender: Female
    • Stakeholder Group: Private Sector
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Confirmed
  • Speaker 4

    • Name: Riki Manarangi
    • Organization:, and Good Buggers Advisory
    • Designation: CEO (, and Director (Good Buggers Advisory
    • Stakeholder Group: Academia
    • Expected Presence: In-person
    • Status of Confirmation: Proposed
Please explain the rationale for choosing each of the above contributors to the session.
The session has been planned with a view to accommodate diverse stakeholders across the board including civil society, academia and the private sector. More specifically, panelists have been selected to represent varied geographic, economic and institutional environments to understand the various nuances that exist within the ecosystem. The session will be jointly moderated by Isha Suri and Rodrigo Balbontin. The discussion will begin with policy lessons and the approach towards policy on community networks by University of Technology Sarawak, Malaysia. LIRNEasia will touch on the changes brought about in the state of digital connectivity in the region as observed through nationally representative surveys carried out by them in select countries, as well as the need to improve digital skills.
Bridging some of the highlighted and ongoing policy efforts within the APEC region, two entrepreneurs in the panel representing the private sector will speak on the entrepreneurial-led efforts to bridge the digital divide and increase digital connectivity throughout some of APEC’s underserved communities. The examples, experiences, as well as unique challenges shared will cover some key factors that can support a digitally connected region, including digital skills education, innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems, policy reforms to unlock greater opportunities to leverage digital tools to serve the underserved, and the role private sector can play in bridging the gap between policy makers and targeted beneficiaries that unfortunately usually miss out on the opportunities available.
All the speakers selected for the discussion have experience of engaging with diverse stakeholders within the ecosystem including regulators, policymakers, private sector, and civil society at domestic as well as global level. This will enable a nuanced discussion which brings out viewpoints of various stakeholder groups and facilitates an informative discussion.
Please declare if you have any potential conflict of interest with the Program Committee 2022.
Are you or other session contributors planning to apply for the APrIGF Fellowship Program 2022?
Number of Attendees (Please fill in numbers)
    Gender Balance in Moderators/Speakers (Please fill in numbers)
      Admin Use
      I agree that my data can be submitted to and processed by APrIGF organizers for the program selection of APrIGF 2022.