Affordable access to communications networks is a basic requirement for the effective functioning of governance, civil society, and education as well as for economic development. Public policy is a fundamental factor in hindering or enabling the investment and business models needed to provide affordable access. Although the media and many development agencies trumpet a “mobile miracle” across Africa, monopolies and poorly managed liberalization as well as inappropriate regulatory regimes are still posing a barrier to affordable access.
The aim of this component of the Information Program is to broaden affordable access to communications networks in Africa and other strategically important countries in the South by supporting policy analysis, policy interventions and the staging of new models. The program intends to advance this aim with a particular focus on the following priorities:
Affordable Access to Mobile Phone
Research shows that a remarkably high percentage of income is being spent on mobile services by the poor. The average African for example spends more than 50 percent of their disposable income on mobile services. Building on Research ICT Africa’s ‘Fair Mobile Index’, an index that ranks mobile communications providers in Africa according to how the cost of their services correlates to the cost of domestic cooking oil, the Affordable Access to Digital Communications Initiative will support advocacy efforts including campaigns to reduce the cost of SMS charges.
Advances in wireless technologies have opened the possibility of new, highly flexible and open ownership structures for the airwaves. Building on the radio spectrum audit of selected African countries by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), the Program will support civil society groups to advocate for the dynamic use of spectrum enabled by cognitive radio, a technology with the potential to open up access to low-cost, high-speed internet across Africa. The short-term goal is to obtain government approval for national-level pilot projects.
The Affordable Access to Digital Communications Initiative will consider applications from new partners in line with the above stated priorities. If you are considering applying for funding under this initiative, please send a one-page concept paper to firstname.lastname@example.org. The paper should include the following information:
- A brief description of the project goals and planned activities.
- Information about the applicant organization and project partners.
- An idea of how much your project will cost.
The Affordable Access to Digital Communications Initiative has a full program of work for 2013. We are open to applications for projects from new partners; however please keep in mind that we are able to only fund a limited number of the many applications we receive. We endeavor to respond to applications for funds which meet the criteria specified within two months.