UNESCO publishes Internet Universality framework

UNESCO published its Internet Universality Indicators: A Framework for Assessing Internet Development. As a member of the consortium responsible for undertaking project for UNESCO, Research ICT Africa undertook pre-testing and pilots of the indicators in Senegal and Nigeria, and RIA researcher Anri van der Spuy is one of the co-authors of the report (with Dr David Souter).

The final framework contains 303 indicators, including 109 core indicators, distributed under six categories, 25 themes, and 124 questions. Besides the four ROAM categories, 79 cross-cutting indicators address issues related to gender equality and the needs of children and young people, sustainable development, trust and security, as well as legal and ethical aspects of the Internet.

The framework was developed through a global, open, and inclusive multistakeholder consultation both online and offline. From March 2017 to September 2018, 46 consultation events were organized in 36 countries, covering all regions of the world. 66 UNESCO Member States contributed to the elaboration of the indicators. More than 300 submissions were also received on a dedicated platform. In total, over 2000 experts have engaged with UNESCO in developing the Internet indicators.

While RIA welcomes the development and finalisation of the framework, we remain concerned about the lack of data and capacity of African states to collect data to measure digital development in general and Internet Universality in particular.Despite the efforts of various agencies within the UN system (e.g. the International Telecommunication Union, we simply do not have the data to determine what progress we are making towards overcoming the ‘digital divide’  reflected in the ICT targets underpinning many of the UN General Assembly’s Sustainable Development Goals.

We hope the IUI framework – and examples of how it is used to promote an Internet that serves human rights and the sustainable development goals in other regions – will encourage African governments to invest more resources in collecting data on the nature of the Internet’s development in Africa, along with its impact on socio-economic development on the continent.

A full-text version of the framework is available here: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000367617

A print-friendly version of the framework is also available here: https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/internet_universality_indicators_print.pdf.

See press release announcing the publication of the framework: https://en.unesco.org/news/unesco-publishes-internet-universality-roam-x-indicators-framework-assessing-internet

Post by Anri van der Spuy- Anri manages Research ICT Africa’s Digital Policy Project as a senior researcher, where she specialises in digital risk, Internet and data governance, gender, and media governance. She is also a part-time consultant on Internet and digital policy challenges, with a development focus, to United Nations agencies including UNDESA, UNESCO, the UN Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum, the World Bank, and the UN Broadband Commission on Sustainable Development; for processes/fora like the G20 and G7; for Internet-focused and related entities including the Internet Society, ICANN and GSMA; and for NGOs like the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and Freedom House. She serves on the Advisory Network of the Freedom Online Coalition, the Research Advisory Group (Internet Governance) of the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace, and is a member of the Association of Internet Researchers.

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