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Pushing the Boundaries: A4AI’s 2021 Annual Plan

Following the year like no other and recognising that Covid-19 will continue to impact our lives for the near future, A4AI will step up its efforts this year to connect the remaining half of the world still not online. In 2021, we will advocate for affordable and meaningful connectivity, support our policy advocacy efforts with robust research and evidence, and showcase policy in action through our country engagements and technical assistance work.

This year, A4AI will focus on four strategic areas to achieve our mission to work with businesses, governments, and civil society actors globally to deliver the policies needed to reduce the cost to connect and make universal, affordable internet access a reality for all.

1. Advocate for Affordable and Meaningful Connectivity

A4AI’s advocacy will revolve around three core themes: the meaningful connectivity target, the rural broadband policy framework, and our policy and regulatory good practices —  all grounded on gender-responsive policy-making approaches. 

We will advance our advocacy for policy change at national, regional, and global levels, and develop tools and resources to support policymakers with adopting and implementing reforms. We will also lead knowledge-sharing workshops and policy dialogues for our partners and stakeholders across regions to learn from their successes and experiences more broadly.

2. Bolster Country and Regional Engagements 

A4AI will focus on four pillars of work at the country and regional-level engagements in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.  

First, we will support a flexible multi-stakeholder coalition model, with strong leadership, guiding and allowing for more focused engagements to deliver bottom-up policy change in each country. Our policy focus will be on infrastructure sharing, meaningful connectivity, taxation, rural broadband, and universal access and service funds in existing countries of engagements

Second, we will leverage our country engagement work to showcase each country’s achievements with regional organisations and further advocate and motivate policy change in each sub-region. We are excited to deepen our relationship with our key regional partners, including Smart Africa, UNESCAP, and UNELAC.  

Third, we will strengthen our ties between A4AI country coalitions and the growing Women’s Rights Online (WRO) network to promote the REACT framework at the country and regional levels. A4AI will work together with gender advocates from the WRO network to ensure that local, national, and regional experts inform and provide input into the coalitions’ work. 

Lastly, we will implement knowledge sharing and learning opportunities for policymakers in coordination with A4AI and WRO partners. We will strive to engage policymakers outside of communications and digital economy ministries to draw synergies with stakeholders from other sectors, including education, health, planning, energy, and agriculture, among others. 

A4AI Four Strategic Focus Areas for 2021 in post it notes: Advocate for Affordable and Meaningful Connectivity, Bolster Country and Regional Engagements, Expand and Democratize Knowledge, and Deepen A4AI Engagements and Strategic Partnerships

3. Expand and Democratize Knowledge 

Evidence is key to everything we do at A4AI. We will continue to produce rich, innovative evidence-based research to support our advocacy strategies for affordable and meaningful connectivity and bolster country and regional engagements. Our research team plans to focus on three themes: affordable access, meaningful access, and sustainable access. 

On affordable access, we will continue to monitor the affordability of internet access worldwide, measure policy environments, and recommend policy innovations to reduce the price of mobile data. The expected outcomes include our annual Affordability Report, device and broadband pricing updates, and updating our Good Practices database.

To further the discussion beyond the launch of the meaningful connectivity target last year, we will expand our work on meaningful access by understanding its impact, tracking data gaps, and scaling the target’s measurements. 

We will also launch a new strand of work on sustainable access, analysing how broadband planning, sustainability, and climate change issues are addressed. It will include releasing a pilot report on this topic. 

4. Deepen A4AI Engagements and Strategic Partnerships, including through Technical Assistance Opportunities 

With now over 100 members, A4AI is well-positioned to amplify our messages to a broader audience. We look forward to proactively engaging our members and partners across the globe to push the Alliance’s advocacy agenda and outputs, and exploring more opportunities for collaboration.

We will also pursue technical assistance and partnership opportunities with our members and partners to complement our planned work outlined in this blog. One of the first projects we are happy to announce is our new project with the ISOC Foundation, where we will look into the economic impact of the digital gender divide on digital economies. 

Engage with us!

Now more than ever, A4AI is excited to work with you to advance affordable and meaningful access for all. 

We have ambitious goals for this year and we can not do it alone. Please reach out to us to discuss how we could work together on any of the activities outlined in this annual plan! 

For more updates on our work, follow us on Twitter at @a4a_internet and sign up to our newsletter.