Civil society calls for new governance to make internet accessible to Africans

KIGALI, Rwanda, 29 October 2007 – Convened by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) on the 28th of October 2007, civil society groups have called for new forms of corporate governance to develop the ICT infrastructure in Africa. These new forms should "ensure the interests of all stakeholders, but above all, the interest of African consumers and citizens," the statement insists.

The Kigali statement by African civil society delegates, academicians, researchers, consumer interest groups, and internet service providers is made in light of the Connect Africa Summit taking place in that same city on the 29th and 30th of October 2007.

Gathered to discuss the issue of connectivity to international, regional and national information and communication technology (ICT) networks in Africa, the participants recognised that private investment and public private partnerships play a key role in the deployment of infrastructure in Africa.

The African civil society welcomes the continued investment but asserts that it needs to be further encouraged through the
implementation of a stable policy environment that protects the public interest.

The statement recommends twelve improvements to stimulate the development of internet and ICT infrastructure. Among them, it calls for governments to support the harmonisation of policy and regulation to develop and implement cross border connectivity. This means giving equal priority to the deployment of national backhaul networks and international access networks.

The Kigali participants mention the importance of the Universal Access principle and specify that "such access can only be sustainable if it is not only supply driven, but more demand driven and responsive to the expressed needs of target communities." Civil society therefore upholds that governments need to ensure the participation of all relevant groups from civil society, communities and the private sector in defining and implementing ICT infrastructure.

The statement encourages governments to commit to supporting the development of national data, citizen-centred services and
applications by themselves becoming key providers of content and implementing initiatives that attract organisations engaged in content and application development that improve access to education and healthcare.

The joint statement was issued on behalf of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), the Open Society Institute for West Africa (OSIWA), Collaboration for ICT Policy in Eastern and Southern Africa (CIPESA), the Kenyan ICT Action Network (KICTANet), the African Internet Service Providers Associations (AfrISPA), and the Rwanda Research and Education Network (RERN).

The Association for Progressive Communications is an international network of civil society organisations dedicated to empowering and supporting groups and individuals through the strategic use of information and communication technologies, especially internet-technologies founded in 1990.

Read the full Statement from participants in the "Civil Society Workshop on Open Access to ICT infrastructure in Africa":

For more information and media inquiries, please contact:
Anriette Esterhuysen, APC executive director,
Tel: +27 834 563 224