High Cost Of internet Connectivity In Africa: How Do We Achieve Mobile Telephony Success Story?

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF5: Cross-Cutting Theme // The basic requirement for meaningful use of any web-based tools is to be able to have hassle-free access to the internet. Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) can only serve as effective tools of broad-based development and opportunity for all if all people in developing countries can afford access to them (Khalil, 2003). However, underdeveloped or even complete absence of telecommunications infrastructure is hampering use of ICTs in rural remote areas (Mandioma et al., 2007; Adomi, 2005; CIPESA, 2005). Broadening the reach and affordability of these technologies and services to rural Africa remains a complex and difficult challenge. This is because terrestrial telecommunications infrastructure requires substantial investments that are often unaffordable for the public sector and don’t make economic sense to the private sector (Songan, et al., 2004; Chatelain and Van Wyk, 2007; Fibre for Africa, 2007b; Hasson, 2008). Yet affordable and reliable internet accessibility in poor rural areas will extend the attendant beneficial impacts of ICTs. However, all this will depend on a number of key factors. These include (i) Lowcost, reliable communications infrastructure being built in rural areas. This goes hand in hand with increased awareness of the value-added services brought about by internet connectivity, which will in turn create the requisite demand and justify the massive financial and technological investment. (ii) A supportive and effective legal and regulatory environment being created and maintained, to ensure competitive markets for communication services (iii) Governments providing incentives to private sector investment that lead to the expansion of affordable internet accessibility to rural areas through a range of pro-active policy, regulatory and investment measures, including public-private sector partnerships, where appropriate. The ultimate measure of the value and impact of ICTs in development are the desired outcomes that have a bearing on the Millennium Development Goals, i.e., reduction in poverty levels, thriving African economies, reduced disease, increased literacy, etc. // Paper ID 289

ICT in Education,Rural Development