African Internet Resilience #5: What about Complementary Access Models?

How can complementary models increase Internet connectivity in Africa? Which policy and regulatory frameworks can create a favorable environment for community-driven Internet solutions to thrive on the continent?

Now more than ever, the Internet plays a major role in driving local development and transformation in Africa. Increasing Internet access often leads to economic growth, but not everyone has easy access to the Internet in Africa. Statistics show that there are 300 million African people without access to mobile broadband connectivity.

Existing market-driven business models push operators to focus their efforts on building technologies and infrastructure in areas where they can make more profits. This means sparsely populated areas where household incomes are low and infrastructure costs are high remain unconnected. As a result, there is an emerging consensus regarding the need to develop and enable complementary access models.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the critical importance of universal affordable access to Internet connectivity. Despite efforts from the different stakeholders, universal affordable access is far from being achieved in African countries. To address these concerns, the fifth webinar in the African Internet Resilience Webinar Series focused on complementary models to increasing Internet connectivity in Africa. In this webinar, we explored policy and regulatory frameworks that could create a favourable environment for community-driven Internet solutions to thrive.

We explored how community-led alternative solutions to resolving connectivity challenges are proving increasingly successful and are growing in number. Community-owned networks are often misunderstood, in part because they represent a significant shift away from conventional market-driven telecommunication infrastructure development.

This webinar helped create a deeper understanding of their potential to bring change and address the issue of lack of an enabling environment that prevents this model from flourishing and contributing to bridging the affordable connectivity gap existing on the continent.

Objectives of the webinar
  • Introduce the need for complementary access models to address the persistent digital divide in Africa
  • Explore some complementary access model with a deeper look into their sustainability models
  • Discuss policies and regulations to enable these complementary access models.

The virtual exchange lead to policy and practical recommendations to improve alternative approaches to bringing Internet connectivity to Africa.

    • Opening: Moctar Yedaly, Head Of Information Society of the African Union Commission

    • Jason Aproskie, Principal Economist at the Competition Commission of South Africa and the Technical Head of the Data Inquiry

    • Josephine Miliza, Africa Regional coordinator, LocNet

    • Chako Armant, Senior Research Coordinator, La Différence

  • Susan M. A. Wegoye, Director Legal Affairs, Ugandan Communications Commission

  • Victor Asante, Senior Manager, Research and Planning, Ghana Innovation Fund fro Electronic Communications

Moderator: Michuki Mwangi, Senior Director, Internet Technology and Development, Internet Society

This 5th webinar on complementary access networks is organized as part of APC’s project Local Access Networks: Can the unconnected connect themselves?

Watch the recording:

You can also watch the recording in both French and English on following channels:

Image: Farai Bishi (36) and Comfort Bishi (5), one of his sons, at their rural home in the village of Kwenda in Eastern Zimbabwe on 25 August 2018. Together with his brothers, Bishi established Murambinda Works, which operates an Internet café out of a shipping container in Murambinda. With the support of the Internet Society, Murambinda Works has initiated a pilot project that will extend wireless broadband from the café to the town of Murambinda, as well as to rural schools up to a 40km drive away. © Internet Society / Nyani Quarmyne / Panos Pictures

Date and Time

11:00 – 12:30 UTC

Thursday 30 July 2020