InfoDev has just published a report on how open access can help improve infrastructure development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Called Open Access Models: Options for improving backbone access in Developing Countries (with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa), explores three linked issues:(1) opportunities for leveraging new technologies to increase access and functionality of existing infrastructure; (2) the design and implementation of open access models for infrastructure; and (3) the potential role of public financing in expanding infrastructure roll-out in SSA. To obtain a copy of the report go to the infoDev website:

The proliferation of new technologies and services (particularly wireless) is transforming the telecommunication sector. The dramatic rise in mobile penetration throughout the developing world is creating a market environment that presents even greater challenges to fixed-line incumbents, many of which remain state-owned. The financial resources and incentives to expand and upgrade fixed-line infrastructure are limited, in part due to the uptake in mobile. The environment for private investment in expanding telecommunications infrastructure, particularly backbone, remains difficult in many developing regions, and the resources for, and effective models for, public investment in telecommunications infrastructure are lacking.

  At the same time, innovative uses of new technologies (including wireless) at the “outer edges” of national backbone networks are revealing new opportunities to grow network connectivity organically and incrementally “from the edges”, a significant departure from the traditional model of growing networks “out from the center” in a top-down fashion. These innovations, and the resource constraints facing backbone build-out in developing countries, create both the need and opportunity for new models of building, financing and regulating network infrastructure. This need is particularly acute in Africa, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

infoDev is an international consortium of official bilateral and multilateral development agencies and other key partners, facilitated by an expert Secretariat housed at the World Bank.

  Its mission is to help developing countries and their partners in the international community use information and communication technologies (ICT) effectively and strategically as tools to combat poverty, promote sustainable economic growth, and empower individuals and communities to participate more fully and creatively in their societies and economies.

On a similar theme, the Open Society of West Africa (OSIWA) in association with AfrISPA and Balancing Act is running a workshop entitled: Achieving affordable bandwidth: a workshop on the development and opening up of ICT infrastructure in West and Central Africa. The workshop will now take place from 30 November to 2 December in Dakar. The workshop will bring together policy-makers, infrastructure providers and bandwidth users to produce a roadmap to address the issue of the high costs of bandwidth in the region. The event is by invitation only but if you feel you have a contribution to make and would like to see the programme, please send an e-mail to: with your reasons for wanting to attend.

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