Last week, A4AI National Coalitions in both Nigeria and Ghana came together for quarterly meetings to discuss challenges to and progress made toward increasing access to affordable Internet in each nation.
On November 24, A4AI Honorary Chair and former Nigerian Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, welcomed 60 attendees to the meeting of the A4AI-Nigeria Coalition in Lagos. Newly appointed Nigerian Minister of Communications, the Honorable Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu, joined the meeting, where he highlighted the importance of affordable Internet for Nigerians and committed to continue implementation of the country’s existing National Broadband Plan, adopted in 2010. Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, National Coordinator of the A4AI-Nigeria Coalition, posed a critical question to the Minister regarding Nigeria’s readiness to trade spectrum – a question which prompted the Minister to request a proposal on this issue, among other key issues raised in the discussion that he intends to focus on beyond the meeting.
Two days later, on November 26, over 40 members of the A4AI-Ghana National Coalition gathered in Accra to work across key affordability issues, analysing challenges and developing recommendations for tackling them. The forum offered Coalition members the unique opportunity to review the key issues that the Coalition working groups are working on, including research and data collection, infrastructure sharing and open access, and pricing transparency. Much discussion focused around taxation, and how the Coalition might encourage the Government of Ghana to implement its stated intention to eliminate duties on the import of smartphones.
Both meetings noted the importance of increasing not only access, but also the usability of the Internet, by supporting the development of local, relevant content. Another message that came through clearly at both meetings: the critical nature of improving broadband affordability beyond the UN Broadband Commission target of basic broadband priced at less than 5% of average monthly income. For the millions of people surviving on less than $2 per day in each country, broadband priced at 5% of average monthly income remains well out of reach.