GROWTH OF THE INTERNET WILL COME THROUGH GROWTH OF CONTENT SAYS AFRISPA
The African Internet Service Providers Association launched their first position paper in a series which is focused on strategies for increased Internet growth. “A call for a paradigm shift to stimulate Internet growth through content” is the first position paper which argues that based on research finding, most African are interested in the value they get out of connecting to the Internet and not just for the sake of having access. Primarily their interest is driven by the value of content that they locate which is relevant to their lives and business.
According to Muriuki Mureithi of Summit Strategies who authored the report on behalf of AfrISPA, it was intriguing to realize that even in the semi-rural areas the interest of most small medium enterprises who could afford the Internet was content; they asked the question “would I find relevant material on the Internet which would aid the growth of my business?”. For them it was not just enough to use the Internet to communicate but they also wanted to see how it fits into their business processes for growth. Further the position of the lack of African content on the Internet was expressed by some of the constituents interviewed in the study.
Launching the report, William Stucke, Chairman of AfrISPA expressed AfrISPA’s interest in identifying other mechanism for stimulating Internet growth on the continent hence the series of position papers being undertaken with support from the Catalysing Access to ICTs in Africa Programme (CATIA @ www.catia.ws). He outlined the ten point recommendations of the study and emphasised the one that asks AfrISPA members and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Africa to give a free webpage or weblog (blog) to all their clients as well as develop simple web publishing tools to help them publish their content.
The main objective of this position paper it to make the case for Africans to move from being consumers to producers of content that is relevant to their livelihoods and business. The culture of generating, process and publishing content in Africa is so lacking that if we don’t take a strategic step to deal with it, all the Internet pipes that are being built would lack the relevant content for our socio-economic development.
Earlier, Eric Osiakwan, Secretary of AfrISPA announced in his presentation that Africa now has fifteen Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) and twelve ISP Associations (ISPAs) however current efforts with other regional institutions would result in the establishment of ten more ISPAs and IXPs in 2006 with a projection of that to double in 2007. He emphasised that the growth of these exchanges is based on content and vice versa so the establishment of IXPs and the culture of developing and publishing content must go hand in hand.