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: