Empowering tomorrow — technical capacity building for Internet development

By on 22 Mar 2024

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APRICOT 2024 / APNIC 57 Cooperation SIG.

The APNIC Cooperation Special Interest Group (Cooperation SIG) is an open forum to discuss high-level public policy subjects and bridge them to the reality of network operations — creating cooperation between network operators and non-technical disciplines. It aims to promote cooperation between the wider technical and non-technical Internet communities.

At the APNIC 57 Cooperation SIG session, held at APRICOT 2024, speakers from different sectors, including Sylvia Cadena (APNIC Foundation), Notachard Chintakanond (APT), Liu Ziping (NBTC), Sameer Sharma (ITU), and Ian Sheldon (Australian government), shared their experiences on the importance of the theme, ‘Technical Capacity Building for Internet Development’ and why it is crucial for the Asia Pacific region.

With 33% (2.6 billion) of the world’s population still offline and 65% of women using the Internet compared to 70% of men, the challenge of a digital and gender divide remains. The global challenge of bridging this digital skills gap requires specialized training programs and workshops for ICT professionals and policymakers as well as basic and intermediate digital skills training for people in underserved communities.

Sameer’s presentation (PDF) noted that over 40,000 users currently access over 150 ITU online training courses, with 67% of participants coming from developing nations.

Measuring outcomes

Sylvia shared the range of projects APNIC Foundation (Foundation) has supported across the region, that work towards addressing this disparity via a diverse range of technical and solution-based issues. However, she noted the complexity of measuring impact and comparing outcomes across different projects, especially those focused on human capacity building remains difficult.

While infrastructure or technical projects can be quantified with specific metrics, Sylvia emphasized the importance of incorporating a human element into reporting mechanisms. The Foundation encourages grant recipients to submit reports at various milestones during projects, which encourages flexibility for changes based on evolving technology and needs. This flexibility has contributed to measurable success in project completion by fostering continuous inquiry and learning throughout the process.

Sameer reiterated Sylvia’s thoughts on difficulties in measuring the impact of outcomes and underscored the importance of comprehensive training evaluations as part of the solution. These assessments, conducted quantitatively and qualitatively, focus on factors such as the quality of training, participant feedback, and priority areas for future courses. Data collected includes participant numbers, economy demographics, and gender-disaggregated information. The feedback received informs the priority of educational needs and the development of more relevant modules. Sameer emphasized that evaluating instructor quality actively also encourages participant engagement — that viewing the training process as a dynamic teaching/learning experience improves outcomes.

NBTC’s Liu added some observations of APT’s 45 years of capacity-building efforts. The focus has been on updating training content with technological progress. Local training has merged traditional and tailored education, with a particular focus on involving youth and women. To measure outcomes, they use feedback surveys and assessments from both trainees and institutions. This two-way approach gives a greater understanding of member needs before initiating training courses. The management committee oversees and reports on operations, providing a platform for member input and continuous improvement.

The role of government

The discussion then moved on to government and inter-government collaboration.

Ian summarized how the Australian government approaches capacity building through a spectrum of touchpoints, starting with light engagements and bilateral outreach to other economies. They collaborate with intergovernmental organizations like the ITU and APT, providing annual voluntary contributions for capacity-building projects in the Asia Pacific region. Partnership arrangements involve working with delivery partners, such as the recent project with the APNIC Foundation for community participation in the IETF.

Ian shared that he finds partnership arrangements the most rewarding and that pulling together different parts of the community through various organizations with the consulting and convening power of government can address specific capacity-building challenges.

Responding to an audience question. Notachard reiterated the importance of governmental involvement in fostering skill development by creating policies and plans at various levels.

Governments collaborate internationally, engaging in partnerships and cooperation to address collective issues and find common ground, particularly in the realm of technology and skill development. Notachard shared how challenges arise due to differing technological standards and developmental levels among economies and how cooperation is essential to overcome development disparities for successful collaboration.

Notachard explained that it’s not just internationally where collaboration is important but also domestically, where coordination among various government agencies can optimize resources and reduce confusion for individuals seeking assistance.

Further, Liu discussed the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors. Governments are seen as responsible for policy setting, and environmental regulation, while the private sector contributes expertise, skills, resources, and experiences so establishing a common understanding of the distinct roles each sector plays is fundamental.

Liu stressed the need for a complementary relationship between the two sectors and the importance of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) providing a platform for government and private sector members to gather, exchange views, and find solutions.


Notachard implied that this is the intersection where stakeholders meet, likening the differences between the public and private sectors to walking on the same road but in different lanes. While both sectors share common goals, the public sector focuses on regulatory concerns serving the majority, while the private sector organizations focus on their own narrower specialities,

To foster cooperation, Notochard emphasized the importance of casual communication facilitated by technology, encouraging open and frank dialogue between the two sectors. The need for shared and concrete plans, including master plans and long-term goals, is an absolute requirement to reach shared goals.

The panellists and chairs agreed that the work is important and ongoing and while NGOs may have viewed governments as difficult to engage with in the past, Ian suggested that it needn’t be complex when engaging with the government.

Addressing technical experts, Ian suggested reaching out to local government for collaboration and expressing a willingness to engage in open conversation as a first step.

Simply making contact can start the capacity-building conversation.

Watch the APNIC Cooperation SIG at APNIC 57.
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The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.

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