Africa: Connectivity Conference, 6/15/98

Africa: Connectivity Conference, 6/15/98

Africa: Connectivity Conference
Date distributed (ymd): 980615
Document reposted by APIC

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Region: Continent-Wide
Issue Areas: +economy/development+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains the recommedations from a conference on Global Connectivity for Africa in Addis Ababa on June 1-4, 1998.It also contains a communique by the Africa network of the Association for Progessive Communications (APC).

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Global Connectivity for Africa Conference

Addis Ababa

2 - 4 June 1998

Summary of Recommendations

For the Programme, Issues Paper, and other background Conference information, please visit: or

The sites were updated regularly during the conference.

For more information, please contact:

Peter K.A. da Costa
Senior Communication Adviser
UN Economic Commission for Africa
P.O. Box 3001 (official) or 3005 (personal)
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251-1-51 58 26 (direct) or: +251-1-51 72 00 ext. 35486
Fax: +251-1-51-22-33
E-Mail:,, or

Please find as follows a summary of the recommendations that emerged from Global Connectivity for Africa (GCA), a three-day conference which ended today in Addis Ababa. A full conference report will soon be available on the ECA and African Information Society Initiative (AISI) websites (see below for urls). The websites also feature the Programme, an Issues Paper, Summaries of the plenaries and working sessions, Opening statements as well as other Background conference documents.

The conference was hosted and sponsored by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the World Bank Group, the Information for Development Programme (infoDEV), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the African Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of the Netherlands. The WorldSpace Corporation, Siemens, Teledesic, RASCOM and Iridium co-sponsored from the private sector.

The gathering -- the first regional follow-up to last year's Toronto Global Knowledge Conference - brought together some 400 market leaders in the field of communications around the common goal of discussing and examining projects that could impact positively on the growth and developmental impact of public telecommunication networks in Africa. More than 30 Communications ministers attended, along with civil society and private sector representatives.


Policy and Regulation

* Regularly review sector policies and regulatory arrangements to optimize the benefits available from the increased choice of technology;

* Licensing policies need to be adapted to facilitate the take up of the services that will be provided over new infrastructures;

* Technical by-pass is inevitable - it can be accommodated without losses to national operators;

* Regulatory intervention is needed to ensure that consumers benefit from the reduced cost of international access;

* Rules are needed to ensure that any exclusivity granted should not restrict the choice available of new technologies and services;

* Awareness-raising programs on changes in the accounting rate regime should be intensified;

* Governments and regulators need to develop specific strategies to cope with the changing accounting rate regime;

* Immediately introduce policies to address the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem.

* The efforts of African Communications ministers in defining a road map for establishing the infrastructure needed for Africa's Information Society (as outlined in the 'African Connection' document) was commended and should be widely supported. Endorsement should be sought from Heads of State for this initiative.


* The new technologies increase options to improve access to communications rapidly, especially in rural communities;

* Explicit strategies need to be developed to implement and sustain access (regulatory issues, user and community involvement, design of appropriate projects, funding);

* Affordability is one of the key barriers - organizing the sharing of facilities can overcome the high cost of access in rural areas (e.g payphones, telecentres, community information centres);

* Universal service obligations need to be reformulated in concrete terms in the light of options now available (e.g. more specific requirements for rural service);

* There is a need for specific programmes to support indigenous content development, with the support of the private sector;

Capacity Building

* There is a need for more and better information on the availability and impact of the new technologies in Africa;

* Ensure that training institutions in the sector, including the Centres of Excellence, address connectivity issues;

* Sector regulatory bodies should share experiences and develop common approaches on connectivity issues;

* Establish an Africa-wide initiative to train ICT operators, and integrate African universities in the process as a fast track to improve capacities;

* There is a need for improved knowledge on the connectivity options and a continuous need for updating available information.


* The financing of the connectivity projects should be undertaken primarily by the private sector;

* Opportunities should be created to allow local financial participation, including micro-credit facilities in rural areas;


* Existing forms of partnership need to adapt, and new forms need to emerge, to accelerate and optimize the development potential of these technologies:

- greater participation by groups previously under-represented, such as women, users and communities;

- regional and sub-regional cooperation;

- public/private partnerships;

- support from development partners;

- foreign/local partnerships.

* Establishment by ECA of a forum for African Communications ministers to maintain the momentum on the positive dialogue and monitor progress in the development of an African Information Society.


Please find as follows a communique issued on 04 June 1998 by the Africa network of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), a global umbrella of non-profit networks stressing issues related to Information Technology for Development and emphasizing the primacy of content over technology for its own sake.

For more information about APC, APC-Africa and the Women's Networking Programme, please contact: Marie-Helene Mottin-Sylla,[The APC web site is at]
APC Africa Communique

Addis Ababa, 4 June, 98

Substantial development in electronic networking has been seen in Africa since the 1997 APC Africa Strategic Meeting (Johannesburg, 1997). Many of us in Africa, who work in electronic networking for sustainable development,welcome the blooming of Internet access in the continent, and the increase and diversification of exchanges that have happened among partners.

We work in a variety of roles in the development sector that support hundreds of thousands of users. Our goals are and remain to improve access, utilization and self-appropriation of low cost communications technologies and applications, particularly by the under-privileged -- women, rural people and those who live in poverty. APC aims to facilitate the flow of high quality and demand-driven content, develop tools that help to improve the quality of life for all,as well as provide the space that enables users to shape their future.

On the occasion of the 'Global Connectivity for Africa' Conference hosted by the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa from 2 - 4 June 1998, we wish to reiterate the need for awareness in the following key areas:

Enabling environment:

We reiterate the need to apply Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) for development in a supportive political and socio-economic environment that is based on the right to communicate. Open forums should be organized at national and regional levels to bring users, civil society, private sectors, and policy makers together to discuss issues and to chart the path towards building an information society that is beneficial for Africa.

ICTs in Education: Human resources development and improvement of people's quality of life are core to any development activity. ICTs need to be recognized in this present day as essential tools for development in Africa. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without integrating ICTs in school curricula for boys and girls.

Content production: African users, young and old, women and men should be encouraged and supported to develop relevant content pertaining to their realities and needs. Electronic production processes should interface with culturally-based methods of communication such as oral traditions.

Information facilitators - a growing necessity: Electronic information is growing exponentially thus rendering the importance of information facilitators that are sensitized and committed to the developmental realities and needs of the local constituencies within which they operate. Support for the growing number of African information facilitators should be made a priority in development activities.

Private sector commitments for sustainable development: The growing participation of the private sector in promoting connectivity in the continent is encouraging. We welcome the commitments made by segments of the private sector to improve connectivity for 80% of the populations that live in rural areas as well as those living in poverty. We urge the private sector to work closely with development actors on the ground in order to ensure strategic users are not left out. We also commit ourselves to monitoring the extent to which this interest and in some cases promise, will be realized.

Addis Ababa, 4 June, 1998

Signed: Africa Network members.

From: Message-Id: <> Date: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 07:46:17 -0500 Subject: Africa: Connectivity Conference

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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