Empowering tomorrow — technical capacity building for Internet development
Empowering tomorrow — technical capacity building for Internet development

Empowering tomorrow — technical capacity building for Internet development

By Bikram Shrestha on 22 Mar 2024

APRICOT 2024 / APNIC 57 Cooperation SIG.

Categories: Community Development

The APNIC Cooperation Special Interest Group (Cooperation SIG) serves as a platform for discussing high-level public policy topics and connecting them to the practicalities of network operations. This facilitates collaboration between network operators and individuals from non-technical backgrounds, fostering cooperation between the broader technical and non-technical Internet communities. During the APNIC 57 Cooperation SIG session at APRICOT 2024, esteemed speakers such as Sylvia Cadena (APNIC Foundation), Notachard Chintakanond (APT), Liu Ziping (NBTC), Sameer Sharma (ITU), and Ian Sheldon (Australian government) shared their insights on the significance of the theme, 'Technical Capacity Building for Internet Development,' emphasizing its critical importance for the Asia Pacific region. Despite technological advancements, 33% (2.6 billion) of the global population remains offline, with a noticeable gender gap as 65% of women use the Internet compared to 70% of men. Addressing this digital and gender disparity is a pressing global challenge that necessitates implementing specialized training programs and workshops for ICT professionals and policymakers. Additionally, providing basic and intermediate digital skills training for individuals in underserved communities is essential for bridging the digital skills gap.

Measuring outcomes

Sylvia discussed the various projects that the APNIC Foundation has supported throughout the region, all aimed at addressing disparities through a wide range of technical and solution-based initiatives. She acknowledged the challenges in measuring impact and comparing outcomes across different projects, particularly those focused on human capacity building. While infrastructure and technical projects can be measured using specific metrics, Sylvia stressed the importance of incorporating a human element into reporting mechanisms. The Foundation encourages grant recipients to provide progress reports at various stages of their projects, allowing for flexibility to adapt to evolving technology and needs. This adaptability has led to measurable success in project completion by promoting continuous inquiry and learning throughout the process. Sameer echoed Sylvia's sentiments regarding the challenges of measuring outcomes and highlighted the significance of comprehensive training evaluations as part of the solution. These evaluations, conducted both quantitatively and qualitatively, focus on aspects such as training quality, participant feedback, and areas for improvement in future courses. Data collected includes participant demographics, economic information, and gender-disaggregated data. The feedback received helps prioritize educational needs and shape more relevant training modules. Sameer emphasized that actively evaluating instructor quality also enhances participant engagement, viewing the training process as a dynamic teaching and learning experience that ultimately improves outcomes.

The role of government

The discussion then transitioned to the topic of government and inter-government collaboration.  elaborated on the Australian government's approach to capacity building, which involves a range of interactions starting from initial engagements and bilateral outreach to other economies. The government collaborates with intergovernmental organizations like the ITU and APT, providing annual voluntary contributions for capacity-building projects in the Asia Pacific region. Additionally, partnership arrangements are established with delivery partners, such as the recent collaboration with the APNIC Foundation to promote community participation in the IETF. Ian emphasized that he finds partnership arrangements to be the most fulfilling aspect of capacity building. By bringing together various sectors of the community through different organizations, along with the consulting and convening power of the government, specific capacity-building challenges can be effectively addressed.


Notochard suggested that this intersection is where stakeholders come together, comparing the differences between the public and private sectors to walking on the same road but in different lanes. While both sectors have common goals, the public sector focuses on regulatory concerns that serve the majority, while private sector organizations focus on their own specific specialties. To promote collaboration, Notochard stressed the significance of informal communication aided by technology, promoting open and honest dialogue between the two sectors. The necessity for shared and concrete plans, such as master plans and long-term goals, is crucial to achieving common objectives. The panelists and chairs concurred that the work is vital and ongoing. While NGOs may have previously found it challenging to engage with governments, Ian suggested that it doesn't have to be complicated when interacting with the government. 

Bikram is Head of Digital Banking of the Sanima Bank Ltd, President of Nepal Internet Foundation in Nepal, and the APNIC Cooperation SIG Co-Chair.

Watch the APNIC Cooperation SIG at APNIC 57.