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Incentives, Taxes, Data, and the Struggle to Lower Costs in Mozambique

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Note: You can read the Portuguese version of this blog here.
 
The biggest obstacle in expanding broadband access in all of the countries that A4AI works in is the high cost of connecting to the Internet, but in Mozambique, it is a particularly imposing hurdle. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a fixed-line broadband connection costs almost 51 percent of the average monthly income in the country, and a mobile broadband connection costs 41 percent (ITU MIS 2014). These statistics can be daunting when considering prices are much higher for the 60 percent of the population who live below the $1.25/day poverty line.
 
Undoubtedly, these high costs are preventing most of the population from logging on — the ITU estimated that in 2013, only 5 percent of Mozambicans were using the Internet. Yet, this is an opportune time for the country to connect more of its citizens — Mozambique is currently experiencing tremendous economic growth (GDP grew by 7 percent last year) and increasing demand for broadband from businesses and individuals.
 
On November 18, members of the A4AI-Mozambique Coalition met to plan how best to seize this opportune time to address the major policy and regulatory obstacles to more affordable Internet access. The coalition set concrete goals focused on tackling three key issues: Infrastructure Sharing & Investment; Taxation; and Data Collection.
 
Incentivizing Infrastructure Sharing & Investment
 
Coalition members from the country’s telecom operators and private sector shared their experiences and frustrations with the state of infrastructure sharing in the country. Despite the existence of an infrastructure sharing regulation and attempts by the national regulator to promote infrastructure sharing, the regulation is not being implemented adequately. While mobile operators Mcel and Vodacom are currently negotiating an agreement to begin sharing some infrastructure, stakeholders expressed concerns around the fact that the third operator Movitel is building infrastructure with no plans to allow sharing. The key takeaways from the coalition’s discussion on this topic were:
 

Opportunities and Roadblocks: Forging Ahead in Ghana

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The A4AI-Ghana Coalition has much to celebrate after the Government committed to abolishing the 20 percent import duty on smartphones, following advocacy by the coalition’s Taxation Working Group (see our post on the announcement here). However, as we celebrate, we must also look ahead — more hard work is needed to achieve the rest of the objectives set by the coalition.
 
On November 11, the A4AI-Ghana Coalition met to discuss the progress of and challenges facing its working groups, receive constructive feedback from other stakeholders, and refine its work plans. Since the last coalition meeting in June 2014, the groups have finalised their work plans, which include the specific outputs each group will produce and related activities. As the success of the Taxation group indicates, they have also started implementing some of those activities. Three key takeaways from the meeting:
 

A4AI celebrates 1st Birthday

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Today, we’re celebrating the Alliance for Affordable Internet’s first birthday (check out our birthday infographic). Our vision of driving access prices down through policy and regulatory reform has resonated, and we’ve made rapid progress since our launch on October 7 2013 in Abuja, Nigeria. Although there have been many highlights, here are the three we consider most important.

NigeriaCom and Nigeria’s Digital Tomorrow

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A little over a week ago, I was pleased to represent A4AI as moderator of a keynote panel at NigeriaCom. After listening to the discussion between participants on our panel and others, and chatting to many attendees, I was reassured by how rapid Nigeria’s current progress appears to be.

Knowledge is Power: Uncomplicating Broadband Affordability Issues in Nigeria

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Here at A4AI, we are excited that Nigeria — the first African country to join the Alliance — has formed a national action plan and is working to finalise concrete work plans to tackle some of the policy and regulatory obstacles currently blocking the road to more affordable Internet prices in the country. We recognise, however, that bringing these local stakeholders together is just one piece of the puzzle. The policy and regulatory issues we are working on can be complicated, and we can only be an effective coalition if we ensure that A4AI stakeholders and coalition members are informed about and feel empowered to address these issues.

Competition, Innovation, Transparency, and What it Takes to Reduce Internet Prices in Nigeria

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Internet penetration in Nigeria, home to Africa’s largest population and economy, stands today at only 6 percent. Through its National Broadband Plan, Nigeria is working to increase this figure to 30 percent within five years, but a number of major obstacles stand in the way of the country achieving this ambitious goal. One of these obstacles is the cost to connect to the Internet—for the 120 million people in Nigeria living on less than $2 a day, a basic fixed-line broadband connection would cost more than 64 percent of their monthly income, and 21 percent for a prepaid mobile broadband connection.

A4AI releases Peru Case Study

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Today, the Alliance for Affordable Internet is pleased to release our first case study on a Latin America country. We’ve picked Peru – a fascinating country with multiple challenges including challenging topography, a dominant telecoms operator and a wide urban/rural connection gap.

Getting Down to Business in Ghana

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On June 23, A4AI hosted a working meeting of the A4AI-Ghana Coalition at the Kofi Annan ICT Centre in Accra, Ghana – an opportunity for coalition members to hash out what they can do to reduce the price of Internet access in the country.
 
The meeting followed a multi-stakeholder forum held on February 11, which brought together representatives from Ghana’s private, public and civil society sectors to explore the obstacles to reducing Internet costs and identify key issues that the coalition’s working groups should work to improve. The coalition agreed to tackle the issues of:
 

Exploring the Power of the Open Web to Transform Africa at Activate Johannesburg Summit

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The open Web has the potential to transform Africa – and the world – combating poverty, strengthening democracy and allowing journalists to tell stories differently and engage more closely with their audiences. This was the clear message today as the Guardian brought their popular Activate summit to Africa for the first time, with hundreds gathering in Johannesburg to hear global and African innovators speak.