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Contributions: Ms

Created On Sunday, 13 September 2015 15:53

Contribution

  • Title
    Ms
  • First Name
    Alison
  • Last Name
    Gillwald
  • Professional Affiliation
    Research ICT Africa/ University of Cape Town
  • Stakeholder Group
    Civil Society

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

  • How would you define the issue “Connecting the Next Billion”?
    To Connect the Next Billion we will need to move beyond the notions of access as a supply side and infrastructural issue but beyond the availability of a physical connect to the demand stimulation. Key of course amongst these is affordable access and while the costs of broadband in most developing countries is far from cost based, even if it were, it would still not be affordable for many. Providing some free and low cost public access is not only a measure to connect the unconnected next billion to at the very least basic information and communication services but also a way of connecting citizens in public spaces. This of course is only a partial measure and does not address the real digital divide emerging between those with not only the income to utilise the the internet to meet their needs but the skills to harness the benefits of the internet. These 'beyond access' issues are what will expand the digital divide in the internet era and addressing inequality in human development is a far more difficult policy challenge than infrastructure connectivity.
  • Have you observed any regional or national specificities regarding connectivity (e.g. Internet industry development)?
    Southern African Development Community (SADC)'s regulator's association, the Communications Regulator's Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) has initiated a number of regional projects to harmonise policies and extend broadband next works in the region including infrastructure sharing and open access guidelines and targets which include accelerating the adoption of broadband plans by all SADC countries.
  • Do you know of existing policy measures, and private sector or civil society initiatives addressing connectivity? If yes, was the policy a government policy, industry policy (either collective best practice or corporate policy), technical policy, or did i
    Unevenly across Africa, public wifi as a form of primary access to a limited range of site for free through both public and private initiatives is expanding in the Global South as are more sophisticated schools connectivity strategies, leveraging the devices already accessible learners. Operators and social networking platforms are also driving internet take up with zero rated services. In the backbone, backhaul and local access networks where duplication of infrastructure may be uneconomic, regulators are enabling infrastructure sharing which was prohibited in some cases in order to drive network investment and extension, and open access regimes for publicly funded broadband networks is becoming more pervasive. Civil society material participation is uneven and absent still in policy processes in many African countries. Even in those countries were consultation is required by law, these is a sense that multistakeholder consultations are often a formality to tick the box.
  • In your opinion, what worked well in the development of the policy, and what impediments were encountered?
    Although 'silver bullet' proposed by leading multilateral agencies and some global NGOs of broadband policies have been adopted in several leading African economies in the last few years, in many cases they have not been effectively implemented due to the constraining institutional arrangements, lack of institutional and individual capacity and sometimes political will, particularly when they straddle electoral cycles, and either politicised bureaucracies or leadership legacies may not provide the necessary continuity between policy formulation and implementation
  • What was the experience with implementation?
    As described above.
  • Did you experience any unintended consequences of policy developments/interventions, good and bad?
    Described above
  • Can you think of unresolved issues where further multistakeholder cooperation is needed?
    Lack of independent public data, indicators and analysis for evidence based policy, and asymmetries of information between industry, government and academia as a result of lack of co-operation between operators and regulators on data collection and generally lack of enforcement by regulators even if they do have the powers to demand information from licensees. Absence of open data/open government frameworks for data that is collected and gaps could be filled through some access to big data generated by operators but this faces the same and even greater management/governance/enforcement challenges.
  • Did you gain any insight as a result of the experience?
    Yes, neither state nor private sector can provide solutions to connection the next million on their own. Only through innovative interplays between public and private sector, drawing on the experience and knowledge of civil society, will solutions to the major communications challenges of the 21st Century be found.
  • List proposed steps for further multistakeholder dialogue/actions.
    As indicated multistakeholder co-operation on creating public good frameworks for the gathering, analysing and disseminating of data, indicators and analysis for evidence based policy and regulation. The development of the necessary open/big data governance frameworks.