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OPEN SOCIETY INITIATIVE FOR WEST AFRICA ACHIEVING AFFORDABLE BANDWIDTH: A WORKSHOP ON THE DEVELOPMENT AND OPENING UP OF ICT INFRASTRUCTURE IN WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA

26-28 October 2005, Dakar, Senegal

Background

Creating ICT infrastructure that is affordable and can deliver a range of different services is a key challenge for the sub-region. As with the rest of the continent, the sub-region is caught in a vicious cycle. Current prices are too high (although falling) and therefore the market will not expand rapidly. Without rapid expansion of the market it is hard to justify investment in this kind of infrastructure.

This vicious cycle comes about because of a number of quite challenging policy and regulatory obstacles that are both the legacy of the existing SAT3 fibre project and more widely, the difficulties of creating inter-connections between different countries. Breaking out of this vicious cycle requires a clear vision and consensus between Governments, regulators, the private sector and civil society.

Rationale

The vision would have to chart a clear and implementable path on the areas of public policy, regulatory structures, infrastructure development and last mile access. It is important that stakeholders understand the impact of SAT3 on the availability of bandwidth to support their information society aspirations and that there is a consensus on the need to both influence its prices in the short term and to provide competition to it in the medium-term.

This event seeks to bring all of the stakeholders together to look for ways of creating a vision for ICT infrastructure that will offer all potential users lower prices and access on fair and transparent terms. The purpose of the event is to identify those who wish to move beyond the current stalemate by pioneering new approaches. Approaches that ensure commonality and widespread usage of ICTs and adoption of same in the rural areas to spur entrepreneurial and SME activities. This would ensure sustained economic development and innovation at the edges of the network infrastructure.

Platform

Drawing on the work already carried out by NEPAD’s e-Africa Commission, the event will combine: information-giving plenary sessions; plenary discussion sessions and working groups that will look at four key issues:

1. An overall vision for why affordable bandwidth is needed.

2. User requirements and reaching less well-serviced areas (terms of access to the network; pricing; and innovative low-cost extensions to the backbone).

3. Policy and regulatory environment required with suggested new pioneering approaches.

4. Investment in the network (transparency; who gets to invest and access for future investors)

To tackle these issues, participants will break down into small working groups that will meet in break-out sessions that will draft short, written contributions that can then be made into a short roadmap document.

Audience

∑ The event would have several key audiences:

∑ NGOs/civil society organisations involved with connectivity.

∑ Public Policy-makers

∑ ISPs and Telecoms Operators

∑ Regulators

∑ Ministers and Communication and Information Technology

Topics

The workshop will address but not limited to these topics:

∑ Collective vision to create affordable infrastructure

∑ Overview of existing infrastructure and projects proposed

∑ Obstacles to achieving affordable infrastructure and the consequences of not having it

ICT infrastructure development – Meeting the needs of users

∑ SAT 3 in Focus; structural build-out, financing, consortium ownership and access

∑ New models for investment in infrastructure – creating a wider range of returns

The event is by invitation only but if you would like to be invited, write for further details to:

The ICT Program Officer
Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA)
BP 008 FANN
Dakar Senegal
Email: ictprogram@osiwa.org
http://www.osiwa.org

SOUTH AFRICA'S INTERNET PLAYERS GATHER FOR iWEEK CONFERENCE

Co-hosted by the Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) and UniForum SA, the internet community’s fourth annual iWeek conference is taking place from 14 September to 16 September 2005 in Johannesburg.

http://www.ispa.org.za/iweek/2005/

The venue for iWeek is the Pharmaceutical Society, 52 Glenhove Road, Lower Houghton, Johannesburg. Interested parties not able to attend iWeek will be able to access all papers presented at the conference on the ISPA website from 19 September 2005.

*More information:

Masedi Molosiwa
Joint Chair: ISPA
Cell: 083 272 3507
Email: masedi@ispa.org.za

Elaine Zinn
Secretariat
Tel: 011 314 7751
Cell: 083 327 4806
Email: elaine@ispa.org.za

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