Research on Access to Knowledge and Development

17 November 2009 - A Workshop on Internet Governance for Development in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt


The Access to Knowledge Global Academy (A2KGA) is proposing a workshop entitled "Research on Access to Knowledge and Development" during the IGF 2009. 

The partnering academic institutions—representing a number of nations both North and South—have founded the Access to Knowledge Global Academy (A2KGA) as an international network of academic centers dedicated to building capacity for research, education, and policy analysis promoting access to knowledge. 
The access to knowledge framework seeks to ensure that the potential for knowledge-based development and growth is maximized through programs, technologies, and business models that enable knowledge to be shared widely and to flourish in conditions of freedom. In this way, knowledge resources can be leveraged for the benefit of all, rather than be constrained or monopolized for the benefit of a few.

The goal of the A2K Global Academy is to promote access to knowledge as a framework for policy-making, to advance collaborative research that both responds to immediate needs and develops a long term positive vision, and to develop model curricula to educate students and policymakers in new ways of thinking about knowledge policy. 

To do this, the A2KGA partners draw on disciplinary strengths in law, economics, political science, engineering, and beyond, working to build communities of A2K researchers both locally and globally and develop a new generation of global scholars prepared to grapple with the hard questions facing the A2K agenda over the next decades. 

A2KGA member participants represent a rich geographical diversity. The founding members of A2KGA are institutions from Brazil (The Center for Technology and Society Fundação Getulio Vargas School of Law in Rio de Janeiro), China (Institute of Internet Policy and Law, Beijing Normal University), Egypt (Access to Knowledge for Development Program, American University in Cairo), India (Access to Knowledge / Culture India Project, National Law School of India in Bangalore), South Africa (South African Access to Knowledge Centre, University of the Western Cape and University of Cape Town), and the United States (The Information Society Project Yale Law School and the Institute for Global and International Studies, George Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University). A2KGA has also expanded to include Argentina (Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies on Industrial Property and Economics Law, University of Buenos Aires) and Ethiopia (Addis Ababa Law School) as well. 

"Research on Access to Knowledge and Development" is the theme of this workshop, which coincides with the crosscutting themes of “Development & Capacity Building” and the “Access” theme of the IGF. The workshop will highlight the vital role of Access to Knowledge research, which aims to change the way knowledge is regulated across various sectors worldwide, and challenges the extent of intellectual property and seeks large-scale changes in the information- and knowledge-sharing aspects of policies in sectors such as Internet governance, ICT, intellectual property, broadcasting, education and publicly funded academic and scientific research, among others. It will also identify the important role that access to knowledge plays in economic development.

This workshop will provide IGF participants with a wider perspective on the utility and importance of the access to knowledge framework. The importance of the suggested workshop rises from the fact that current international intellectual property regime and knowledge ecology marginalize the intellectual contributions of the global South and hold developing countries back from growth. 

We, therefore, see impetus to address how Access to Knowledge can increase innovation, development and utility, which will give workshop participants an edge on “Research on Access to Knowledge and Development.”

Looking further at the conformity with Tunis Agenda, we would find that Tunis Agenda encouraged knowledge sharing “access,” capacity building and development according to paragraphs 49, 86, 87, 88, 90, and 91b. This will be covered through the inclusion of different stakeholders, as well as representatives of different parts of the world.

Paragraph 49 stresses on ensuring harmonious and equitable development for all. Fostering and providing guidance on development areas in the broader Internet governance arrangements, and including, amongst other issues, international interconnection costs, capacity building and technology/know-how transfer. It also stresses on the development of software that renders itself easily to localization, and enables users to choose appropriate solutions from different software models including open-source, free and proprietary software.

Paragraph 86) supports regional and international integration efforts aimed at building a people centered, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, the strong cooperation within and among regions, which is indispensable to support knowledge-sharing. It also stresses that regional cooperation should contribute to national capacity building and to the development of regional implementation strategies.

Paragraph 87) promotes the exchange of views and sharing of effective practices and resources is essential to implementing the outcomes of WSIS at the regional and international levels. To this end, efforts should be made to provide and share, among all stakeholders, knowledge and know-how, related to the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of e-strategies and policies, as appropriate. It also recognizes as fundamental elements to bridge the digital divide in developing countries, in a sustainable way, poverty reduction, enhanced national capacity building and the promotion of national technological development.

Paragraph 88) reaffirms that through the international cooperation of governments and the partnership of all stakeholders, it will be possible to succeed in our challenge of harnessing the potential of ICTs as a tool, at the service of development, to promote the use of information and knowledge to achieve the internationally agreed development goals and objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals, as well as to address the national and local development priorities, thereby further improving the socio- economic development of all human beings.

Paragraph 90) promotes the provision of equitable access to information and knowledge for all, recognizing the role of ICTs for economic growth and development. It also stresses on the importance of working towards achieving the indicative targets, set out in the Geneva Plan of Action, that serve as global references for improving connectivity and universal, ubiquitous, equitable, non-discriminatory and affordable access to, and use of, ICTs, considering different national circumstances, to be achieved by 2015, and to using ICTs, as a tool to achieve the internationally agreed development goals and objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals, by:

a) mainstreaming and aligning national e-strategies, across local, national, and regional action plans, as appropriate and in accordance with local and national development priorities, with in-built time-bound measures.

b) developing and implementing enabling policies that reflect national realities and that promote a supportive international environment, foreign direct investment as well as the mobilization of domestic resources, in order to promote and foster entrepreneurship, particularly Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), taking into account the relevant market and cultural contexts. These policies should be reflected in a transparent, equitable regulatory framework to create a competitive environment to support these goals and strengthen economic growth.

c) building ICT capacity for all and confidence in the use of ICTs by all - including youth, older persons, women, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, and remote and rural communities - through the improvement and delivery of relevant education and training programmes and systems including lifelong and distance learning.

d) implementing effective training and education, particularly in ICT science and technology, that motivates and promotes participation and active involvement of girls and women in the decision-making process of building the Information Society.

e) paying special attention to the formulation of universal design concepts and the use of assistive technologies that promote access for all persons, including those with disabilities.

f) promoting public policies aimed at providing affordable access at all levels, including community-level, to hardware as well as software and connectivity through an increasingly converging technological environment, capacity building and local content.
g) improving access to the world's health knowledge and telemedicine services, in particular in areas such as global cooperation in emergency response, access to and networking among health professionals to help improve quality of life and environmental conditions.

h) building ICT capacities to improve access and use of postal networks and services.

i) using ICTs to improve access to agricultural knowledge, combat poverty, and support production of and access to locally relevant agriculture-related content.

j) developing and implementing e-government applications based on open standards in order to enhance the growth and interoperability of e-government systems, at all levels, thereby furthering access to government information and services, and contributing to building ICT networks and developing services that are available anywhere and anytime, to anyone and on any device.

k) supporting educational, scientific, and cultural institutions, including libraries, archives and museums, in their role of developing, providing equitable, open and affordable access to, and preserving diverse and varied content, including in digital form, to support informal and formal education, research and innovation; and in particular supporting libraries in their public-service role of providing free and equitable access to information and of improving ICT literacy and community connectivity, particularly in underserved communities.

l) enhancing the capacity of communities in all regions to develop content in local and/or indigenous languages.

m) strengthening the creation of quality e-content, on national, regional and international levels.

n) promoting the use of traditional and new media in order to foster universal access to information, culture and knowledge for all people, especially vulnerable populations and populations in developing countries and using, inter alia, radio and television as educational and learning tools.

o) reaffirming the independence, pluralism and diversity of media, and freedom of information including through, as appropriate, the development of domestic legislation, the responsible use and treatment of information by the media in accordance with the highest ethical and professional standards, the necessity of reducing international imbalances affecting the media, particularly as regards infrastructure, technical resources and the development of human skills. These reaffirmations are made with reference to Geneva Declaration of Principles paragraphs 55 to 59.

p) strongly encouraging ICT enterprises and entrepreneurs to develop and use environment-friendly production processes in order to minimize the negative impacts of the use and manufacture of ICTs and disposal of ICT waste on people and the environment. In this context, it is important to give particular attention to the specific needs of the developing countries.

q) incorporating regulatory, self-regulatory, and other effective policies and frameworks to protect children and young people from abuse and exploitation through ICTs intonational plans of action and e-strategies.

r) promoting the development of advanced research networks, at national, regional and international levels, in order to improve collaboration in science, technology and higher education.

s) promoting voluntary service, at the community level, to help maximize the developmental impact of ICTs.

t) promoting the use of ICTs to enhance flexible ways of working, including teleworking, leading to greater productivity and job creation.

Paragraph 91.b) promotes regional and international cooperation for easy access to and sharing of information for disaster management, and exploring modalities for the easier participation of developing countries.

Supplement: Answers to IGF Questions and List of Speakers:

The following paragraphs attempt to answer the three IGF questions which I received June 16, 2009. Many thanks for extending the deadline to accommodate our response.

Invited panelists on this workshop will represent the views and joint research undertaken by different members of the Access to Knowledge Global Academy coming from diverse countries from the global South and the United States (Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, South Africa and the United States). 

The following is the list of confirmed speakers in the workshop:

Carlos Affonso Pereira de Souza

Affiliation: Vice-coordinatorCenter for Technology and Society (CTS) at Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV/RJ)
Contact information:
tel. 55 21 3799-6065
Area of expertise: Internet Governance, Intellectual Property, Human Rights, Private Law
Short bio: Carlos Affonso Pereira de Souza is the vice-coordinator of the Center for Technology & Society (CTS) at the FundaçãoGetulio Vargas (FGV) Law School in Rio de Janeiro. He holds a Ph.D degree in Civil Law from the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). He was a elected
councillor at ICANN´s Generic Name Supporting Organization (GNSO), representing the Non-Commercial Users Constituency (2007-2009) and participates in IGF´s Internet Rights and Principles Dynamic Coalition. On the A2K Global Academy he has participated in the drafting of the Brazilian Country report on Exceptions and Limitations to Copyright.

Hong Xue

Affiliation: Professor of Law, Institute of Internet Policy and Law, Beijing Normal University


Ahmed Abdel Latif

Affiliation:Programme Manager for Intellectual Property (IP) at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), Geneva
Area of expertise: Ahmed Abdel Latif is Programme Manager for Intellectual Property (IP) at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) in Geneva and previously, Egyptian diplomat at the Permanent Mission of Egypt in Geneva (2000-2004) where he followed IP issues, first at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and then also at the World Trade Organization (WTO). This assignment led to his close involvement in the formation of the A2K movement and the launch of the WIPO Development Agenda. He is a graduate of the American University in Cairo (AUC), the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the Institute of Political Studies - Paris (Sciences-Po). He has written “Developing Country Coordination in International Intellectual Property Standard-setting,” (TRADE Working Paper 24, South Centre, June 2005).


Affiliation: Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) 
Contact information:
Area of expertise: Hossam Bahgat is founder and Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), an independent Egyptian human rights organization which works since 2002 through research, advocacy and litigation to promote and defend the rights to health, privacy, religious freedom and bodily integrity. In 2005, Bahgat founded the EIPR’s Health and Human Rights Program, which conducts policy research and strategic litigation in the areas of public health policy, access to medicines and health-related discrimination. With training in political science and international human rights law, Bahgat is also a board member of the International Network on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) and a member of its Right to Health steering committee. 

Sherif El-Kassas

Affiliation: Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the American University in Cairo.
Contact information:
Area of expertiseSherifEl-Kassas’s research interests are focused on security management, the application of formal methods in software engineering and computer security, and open source technologies. El-Kassas is also a consultant for various organizations; Member of the board of trustees of the Information Technology Institute; Member of the board of the Egyptian Open Source Business Consortium NGO; and Member of various professional computing societies. El-Kassas received his PhD from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.


Affiliation:Associate Dean for Executive Education and Professor of MIS at the American University in Cairo. 
Contact information:
Short bio: SherifKamel’sresearch and teaching interests include IT management and transfer to developing nations, eBusiness, human resources development, and DSS. Kamel is the author of over 150 publications in IS and management books and journals. Kamelis the Associate Editor of the Journal of Cases on IT, Journal of IT for Development and the Electronic Journal of IS in Developing Countries. He is a founding member of the Internet Society of Egypt (1996) and the AIS SIG GlobDev (2008). He is the Chairman of the Chevening Association in Egypt. Kamel is an Eisenhower Fellow and a member of the Eisenhower Fellowships Alumni Advisory Council. He serves as co-chair of the ICT committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt. He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science (1994), an MBA (1990) and a BA in Business Administration (1987) from The American University in Cairo. 

Nagla Rizk

Affiliation: Associate Professor of Economics at the American University in Cairo (AUC).
Contact Information:
(0020) 123105766
Area of expertise:Nagla Rizk’s area of research is the economics of knowledge, technological change and economic development with focus on information and communication technology (ICT), intellectual property and human development in Egypt and the Arab countries. She is a co-author of the first Arab Knowledge Report 2009, co-editor and contributor to Access to Knowledge in Egypt: New Research on Intellectual Property, Innovation and Development. She has published works on knowledge industries and development in the digital economy, and eReadiness of businesses in Egypt. She is a founding member of the Access to Knowledge Global Academy and is currently a member of the Advisory Board of IQsensato, an international research and policy think tank. She served as chair of the Economics Department at AUC, research advisor for the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and taught at the University of Toronto. She received her PhD in economics from McMaster University in Canada, MA and BA in economics from AUC. Rizk has served as leader of Egypt’s Access to Knowledge research team in collaboration with the Information Society Project at Yale Law School.


Affiliation: Dean, Faculty of Law, Addis Ababa University
Coordinator of the A2K Project
Contact information: P.O. Box: 150465, Phone: 251-911-242554/251-911-66-45-94, 
Area of expertise: IP/international economic law and human rights law

South Africa 
Eve Gray
Affiliation:Honorary Research Associate in the Centre for Educational Technology, University of Cape Town
Area of expertise: Eve Gray is a scholarly publisher by background. Her area of expertise is the changing environment of scholarly communications and publication in a 21st century digital world. Gray’s particular focus on how the advantages offered by the Internet and new copyright models can be leveraged for African scholarship. 

United States of America
Lea Shaver

Affiliation: Associate Research Scholar and Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School
Contact information:
Area of expertise: Lea Bishop Shaver is affiliated to the Information Society Project at Yale Law School, where she directs the research program in Access to Knowledge. Her research interests include intellectual property, Internet law, human rights and constitutional law. Prior to joining the faculty at Yale Law School, Shaver was a Fulbright Scholar to South Africa, where she contributed to socio-economic rights litigation efforts at the University of Witwatersrand Law School’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in the social sciences from the University of Chicago, as well as a JD from Yale Law School. Shaver also edited Access to Knowledge in Brazil: New Research on Intellectual Property, Innovation and Development.