1. Introduction 2. Methodology 3. Findings 4. Critical Issues for Policymakers 5. Proposed New Model 6. Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
Promotion of Universal Access and Service (UAS) in Africa has focused on bridging the digital divide for the underserved, mostly living in rural areas, where extreme poverty hampers adoption of ICT Communities have prioritised access to basic needs like health, education, agriculture as necessities as opposed to ICT development Initiatives aimed at eradicating extreme poverty, i.e. MDG 1 target seem to run in parallel with those of ICT development This paper therefore suggests that a pro poor strategy that integrates poverty reduction strategy or economic development be integrated with ICT development
Data is derived from research conducted by ITU, which indicate that Least Developed Countries (LDCs) register lower development in ICT than other countries A decade of data was collected between 2000 and 2010 on internet use per 100 for LDCs, developing and developed countries It further indicated that when a country graduated from an LDC, i.e. Botswana, it improved on ICT development Primary data has also been collected through FGDs and KI interviews in MCTs in Malawi, and various stakeholders i.e. academia, government, CSOs and donors, and reports by MACRA
Internet users per 100 inhabitants, 2000-2010 Evidence indicate that there is a stark contrast in internet use with LDCs being lowest at 3.0%, developing countries at 21.1% and developed countries at 71.6% List of LDCs in Africa alone is 33, namely Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, DRC, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia (Botswana & Cape Verde, graduated)
UAS in Malawi is promoted through: o MGDS policy o Deployment of second submarine cable (Eassy) through Tanzania, with a Virtual Landing Point in Lilongwe o Establishment of Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MCTs) through World Bank, ITU and MACRA However, little progress has been made in improving ICT development for the majority of poor rural Malawians Internet use in Malawi remains as low as 3% with broadband below 0.5% Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger (MDG 1) and ICT development are given different priorities
ITU, United Nations, World Bank, amongst others, all recognise the importance of integrating poverty reduction strategies with ICT development but the UAS policy as noted from USF, has no clear strategy of linking the two Countries like Botswana that have graduated from LDCs, still face the same problem as LDCs on pro poor strategies, as they are still governed by the same weak regional framework on USF ICT development requires a multi-stakeholder approach that include ICT regulators, government, CSOs, academia, donors, in order to integrate it with MDG 1 The future of harmonised policies should include integration of MDG 1 with ICT development
A new model has been proposed for policymakers which integrates ICT development with MDG 1, offers a holistic approach through multi-stakeholder approach, has a bottom up approach and specifies funding Communities (Economic Empowerment & Civic Education) Stakeholders on MDGs (Government, Donors, Academia, NGOs, Banks, Communities USF (with specified telecentre intervention, i.e. e-health) Universal Access Service (Legal Framework) OldNew
Progress has already been made in terms of identifying critical issues for improving UAS in LDCs What remains is for policymakers to harmonise all the findings when formulating policies, which should be as participatory of the local people as possible. A lot of research has already been conducted on the importance of MDGs to ICT development, and the importance of a multi pronged approach to dealing with issues of UAS. What is now required is to have policies that are implementable at grassroots level and proper funding of those initiatives for chronically poor people that do not have any disposable income to spend on ICT
Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA), together with the Public Private Commission (PPC), have promoted Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MCTs), which have had little success in improving use of internet in Malawi. It is recommended that policymakers develop policies that target the grassroots in a holistic manner by involving all key stakeholders who promote economic growth at household level and those that promote ICT development. Likewise, the policies should be harmonised accordingly and appropriate monitoring and evaluation measures be put in place to measure the successes and challenges of the new model. It is also quite critical that the poor and underserved be involved at every stage of the policy process, for instance, problem identification, policy formulation, regulation passing, policy implementation and policy evaluation.
Your consent to our cookies if you continue to use this website.