On 21 October, our youth ambassadors met with three policy makers to discuss issues in access and accessibility. This was the second roundtable in the YouthxPolicyMakers programme, an initiative the German Informatics Society (GI) has been heading since August. Participants discussed issues such as connecting the next billion internet users in a sustainable and equitable way, developing community networks and local governance, navigating power imbalances between the global north and south, and bringing marginalized or otherwise excluded populations to the table to represent their own digital policy interests.
The invited policy makers were Manal Ismail, Chief Expert of Internet Policies at the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) of Egypt; Vincent Ameganvi, member of the Togolese parliament; and Nadim Gemayel, former member and Chairman of the ICT Committee of the Lebanese Parliament. Each policy maker had their own unique perspective on the topic of access and accessibility. Manal Ismail was part of the team that brought the internet to Egypt, and thus had firsthand experience in expanding internet access. Vincent Ameganvi holds a degree in rural entrepreneurship, and so has worked with less-connected regions of his country. Nadim Gemayel has focused on expanding education in Lebanon, specifically encouraging educators to adopt a digital curriculum.
The roundtable was the second of four such meetings which will take place in the coming weeks. Last week, the ambassadors met with policy makers to discuss inclusive internet governance ecosystems, and on 3 November, they will discuss content, media and literacy. In all, about 20 youth representatives participated in the roundtable. The program admitted a total of about 60 youth ambassadors after receiving more than 1700 applications from all world regions. The exchange serves as a preparation for the UN Internet Governance forum in December. Over the past months, competence building workshops took place on a range of internet governance topics and enabled the participants to gather expertise and consolidate positions and demands ahead of the roundtables.