Submitted Proposals

Organization: APC
Title :
Can the mobile revolution bridge the internet access divide in Africa? Perspectives from Africa and India on ‘connecting the next billion’.
Provide a concise formulation for the proposed workshop theme including its importance and relevance to the IGF.

This workshop will address issues of internet development, investment and governance as they relate to addressing the continuing gap in access tin Africa.

There is a common perception that the explosion in mobile telephony in Africa provides the answer to internet access. This is reinforced by the development of mobile handsets that can function as handheld devices for interacting with the internet, and with the development of services and applications specifically targeting mobile phone users.

Unfortunately many people and institutions, particularly in the ICT for development sector, interpret the power of mobile telephony and internet as having eliminated the need for reliable, affordable and sufficient internet backbone in Africa at national and regional level. Mobile is being portrayed as a ‘total solution’ and policy makers and people in the development community who were concerned about the access divide assume they can now focus their attention elsewhere, e.g. on the development of content and applications for mobile.

This workshop will explore the potential of mobile telephony in addressing the access gap. It will also look at the limitations, e.g. the ongoing high cost of mobile services, particularly 3G, issues related to quality of service, regulatory issues and limitations at the level of content and applications.

The workshop will look at the relationship between mobile networks and internet backbone infrastructure.

Its goal is explain the relationship between mobile telephony and internet infrastructures and to ask and answer the question of whether mobile is really the total solution to the access divide that many are saying it is.

While the focus of the workshop will be Africa, we will draw on lessons learned from the Indian experience.

Provide the names and affiliations of the panellists you are planning to invite. Describe the main actors in the field and whether you have you approached them about their willingness to participate in proposed workshop.

AFRISPA – African Internet Service Providers Association (confirmed)

Mike Jensen – Independent consultant, South Africa (confirmed)

Lishan Adam – Research ICT Africa! Ethiopia (to be confirmed)

Sebastian Buettrich – Wireless DK and South African Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (Denmark) (to be confirmed)

Abiodun Jagun – University of Strathclyde (to be confirmed)

Ugo Vallauri - Computer Aid International Kenya and research fellow at University of London (to be confirmed)

GSM association speaker or a speaker from a mobile operator (to be confirmed)

Government of India (to be confirmed)

Provide the name of the organizer(s) of the workshop and their affiliation to various stakeholder groups. Describe how you will take steps to adhere to the multi-stakeholder principle, including geographical diversity.

The name of the organizer of the workshop is the Association of Progressive Communications (APC). The information to be presented and discussed will look at the issue from the point of view of a range of stakeholders.

Co-organisers are:

IDRC – International Development Research Centre (para-statal entity from Canada

Link Centre – University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg) based research centre that hosts the Research ICT Africa! Research network

African Internet Service Providers Association – Private sector network representing African ISPs

Panos London – Media organisation (civil society)

Does the proposed workshop provide different perspectives on the issues under discussion?

Yes. We believe that the mobile operators or the GSM association will provide an optimistic view of the potential of mobile while ISPs will reflect the importance of internet infrastructure. We anticipate that Research ICT Africa! will present the perspective of the disconnected and share their research finding on the impact on household income of the current extremely high mobile communication costs that is their only option.

We believe that Mike Jensen and Sebastian Buettrich, both who have extensive experience throughout Africa will present some of the practical considerations that need to be considered in addressing the infrastructure gap.

We hope to get a public sector speaker, from the government of India.

Please explain how the workshop will address issues relating to Internet governance and describe how the workshop conforms with the Tunis Agenda in terms of substance and the mandate of the IGF.

It relates to paragraphs 72 e and g: “Advise all stakeholders in proposing ways and means to accelerate the availability and affordability of the Internet in the developing world” and “Identify emerging issues, bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public, and, where appropriate, make recommendations”

List similar events you and/or any other IGF workshops you have organized in the past.

APC ran a one day multi-stakeholder workshop on Equitable Access in on November 10th in Rio De Janeiro in lead up to the IGF held there. We also convened a workshop on access during the Athens IGF.

Were you part of organizing a workshop last year? Which one? Did you submit a workshop report?

Yes, we were part of several workshops. Under the ‘access theme’ we convened “Regulatory Frameworks for Improving Access “A report was submitted.


Please note: in relation to themes below, as we are only able to check one box:



This proposal falls under the access and development themes. And it addresses the challenge which underpins the 2008 IGF: connecting the next billion.