The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) has held a coalition meeting on infrastructure sharing and open access on Tuesday, 25th October, 2016 at the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in IT.
Patronized by a broad spectrum of stakeholders, ranging from both the public and private sector as well as civil society organizations, the programme addressed the priority issue of infrastructure sharing and open access as a key component of making the internet affordable and accessible to citizens especially in developing countries.
After opening remarks from key representatives of A4AI Ghana and A4AI Worldwide, the Deputy Minister of Communications, Mr. Ato Sarpong, and the Director General of the National Communications Authority, Mr. William Tevie, remarked briefly on the importance of the topic, expressing their desire to see its import and application in the Ghanaian context.
Participants were also assembled in groups to brainstorm on pertinent issues relating to the topic, harnessing stakeholder input on matters like the need for infrastructure sharing policies, the appropriateness of regulating tower sharing by telecommunication networks, the impact of the Eastern and Western fiber corridors on infrastructure sharing, and how coverage can be expanded all over the country without much cost to operators.
Participatory Development Associates Ltd took part in this consultative meeting through its Advocacy and Communications Unit. In line with PDA’s main strategic mission of making a qualitative difference to development related tasks in a variety of settings, and in a way that is people-centred and participatory, the need for affordable internet access was stressed as an important tool for binging participation in development policy and action to the door steps of many Ghanaians. It noted that current development practices are greatly influenced and enhanced by the internet. It therefore urged stake holders to speed up efforts at putting in place the necessary infrastructure that will make internet accessible and affordable to all and drive development.
The event also included a presentation by Ms. Nanjira Sambuli on the Gender Scorecard for Women’s Rights Online in Ghana, based on research carried out by the World Wide Web Foundation. Overall, Ghana scored 30% and a five-point action plan was proposed for encouraging and enabling more women to participate more and without threat in online environments, focusing on their rights, education, access, content, and targets.
The Alliance for Affordable Internet aims to increase the affordability of both mobile and fixed-line internet access, with a focus on achieving “1 for 2” – that is, that 1GB of data would cost no more than 2% of the average Ghanaian’s monthly income. Other priority issues for the group include taxation, research and data collection, and consumer awareness and pricing transparency with regards to internet access and affordability.
Credit: Aseda Mensah, Kafui Tsekpo/PDA Ghana