US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, on her last day in office on 31st January 2013, announced the Alliance for Affordable Internet during her remarks honoring the Department of State’s Public/Private Partnerships:
“the Alliance for Affordable Internet will expand access to the internet in developing countries where only 25 percent on average of the population are online. This is a key element of economic growth and innovation, so working with multilateral institutions, civil society, and the World Wide Web Foundation, we’re going to help the next billion people come online.”
The Alliance for Affordable Internet is a new coalition of private sector, public sector, and civil society organizations who have come together to advance the shared aim of affordable access to both mobile and fixed-line Internet in developing countries. By unifying these diverse actors in pursuit of a goal that delivers both social and commercial dividends, we hope to achieve a much bigger impact than any one actor could achieve on their own.
Our primary focus will be to reach the UN Broadband Commission Broadband Target of entry-level broadband services priced at less than 5% of average monthly income. In doing so, we hope to enable the next two billion users to come online (with a particular focus on low-income countries) and raise Internet penetration rates to least 40% in all countries.
By creating the conditions for open, competitive and innovative broadband markets, regulatory and policy reform can leverage very large increases in internet access. However, policy change is not easy to bring about. The Alliance’s added value lies in bringing major players together across sectors and geographies to generate both the will and incentives to drive change.
While industry consortia on related issues, an array of regulator training, and a rich body of research exist, to date there has been no coordinated effort which systematically advocates for and tactically makes possible the regulatory and policy changes necessary to achieve Internet affordability. The narrow focus of the Alliance on identifying and addressing barriers, building case studies around success stories, bringing together key stakeholders, and promoting regional cooperation represents the best chance to effect change in an extremely complex environment.
Planned activities include:
- Publishing and promoting policy and regulatory best practices
- Producing an Affordable Internet country index or ratings
- Conducting research and delivering case studies to bolster the evidence base
- Deep engagements with 10-12 countries in multiple regions to pioneer reforms and demonstrate impact
- Facilitating south-south dialogue to share expertise, best practices, and success stories
- Coalescing and enhancing local and regional civil society and private sector voices
- Cultivating a diverse and dynamic Alliance membership to magnify messages, offer incentives, and provide technical assistance
Digital information flows play an increasingly critical role in determining levels of human, social, political and economic capital. However, in the developing world, internet penetration is limited to only 25% of the population, who are mainly affluent urban dwellers. In Africa only 10% of people use the internet, and in many least developed countries, that figure drops as low as 1-2%. Women are particularly disadvantaged by the high price of access and are estimated to be 40% less likely to use the internet in low-to-medium income countries. Overcoming this digital divide is critical to effectively harness technology and innovation to accelerate progress in areas such as education, food security, job creation, public health, and gender equity.
For further information about the Alliance for Affordable Internet, please contact email@example.com.