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May 2016, Issue 30
FEATURED STORY
Trader in Nigeria uses her mobile phone to obtain current market prices. Photo via IIAT, CC 2.0.
Nigeria Coalition Warns Against 9% Communication Service Tax
The A4AI-Nigeria coalition is urging the government to consider alternatives to the Communication Service Tax (CST) Bill. Currently under review by the National Assembly, the CST Bill proposes a 9% tax on communication services that would be collected in addition to the existing 5% Value Added Tax on devices and services, 12% import duties on devices, and 20% tax on SIM cards.

Affordability is key to Nigeria’s ambition to increase broadband penetration to 30% by 2018. Yet, according to recently published analysis by the A4AI-Nigeria Coalition, the proposed tax would leave an additional 20 million Nigerians unable to afford a basic connection.

Speak up with A4AI-Nigeria:
Also in this issue:
Updates from Dominican Republic | Nigeria Ghana | MozambiqueSt. LuciaUpcoming Events
DOMINICAN REPULIC
A4AI-Dominican Republic coalition meeting, April 2016.
In Dominican Republic, Promoting ICTs Take Center Stage Amidst Presidential Campaigns
Coalition members in the Dominican Republic have been hard at work for months ahead of the presidential elections—and it's paying off. Among its accomplishments, A4AI-Dominican Republic successfully advocated to revive the country's Digital Agenda, and advocacy on the importance of digital inclusion has become a hot topic in mainstream media and national conversation throughout the campaign. More than ever, high-level decision-makers are acknowledging the key barriers to Internet access and understand the opportunities they have to tackle them.

In April, the coalition met in Santo Domingo for their quarterly meeting and a workshop on the importance of measuring ICT development to achieve the SDGs.

The workshop was a collaboration between A4AI and INDOTEL and benefited from the leadership of Paul Tactuk (Director, National Bureau of Statistics), Yacine Khelladi (LAC Regional Coordinator, A4AI), Amparo Arango (International Relations Officer, INDOTEL), and Alberti Canela (Executive Director, INDOTEL). We were pleased to welcome and learn alongside 125 participants as we addressed three key areas: 
  • What indicators does the ICT sector need? Where are the gaps and what information is unavailable? 
  • What are the barriers to monitoring the information society?
  • What steps could we take to improve the data collection and use?
Participants divided into small groups to analyze these questions in the context of e-government, health, education, household sector, and the private sector. A full report of their findings will soon be available through the A4AI-Dominican Republic page.

Working groups, including existing members and newcomers, met the following day to review their progress and agreed on next steps to keep up the coalition's momentum:
  • Data and Research: In addition to the latest workshop and participation in the CTS-TIC, continue to support data producers to contribute to the PEN-TIC system. Initiate outreach through universities.
  • Taxation: Delivered to presidential candidates a letter calling for commitment to promote importance of ICT development. Review candidates for the contract to undertake the taxation study, with support from INDOTEL. Outreach to providers to ensure consultant will have access to the data required to undertake the study. 
  • Digital Agenda: Continue to refine the proposed digital agenda which is expected to be adopted as part of the "digital republic" plan. Coordinate public consultation with public sector after the May 15th election.
  • Infrastructure Sharing: In the process of recruiting a consultant to work with the group in evaluating recommendations for how to implement infrastructure sharing.
All working groups will continue to meet in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for an invitation to the next coalition meeting.
NIGERIA
A4AI-Nigeria Convenes Internet Access Advocates in Abuja
A4AI-Nigeria gathered for a coalition-wide meeting in March to coordinate the working groups’ outputs for 2016. Held in Abuja, the meeting included presentations of the Affordability Report by Dhanaraj Thakur, A4AI Research Manager, and the 2016 WDR: Digital Dividends by Tim Kelly of the World Bank’s ICT Policy department.

Highlight of updates from the working groups:

  • Consumer Advocacy & Pricing Transparency: The group completed the work plan for 2016, which includes a public awareness campaign and a workshop on “the Internet Nigerians want.” As part of the awareness raising efforts, the group created a document highlighting the benefits of the Internet and is now developing the strategy for its dissemination.
  • Spectrum Trading: The NCC is assessing the benefits of spectrum trading, an issue that was raised during the November coalition meeting where Minister Adebayo Shittu committed to exploring policy options. The group is focused on how best to support the government in this area, including through research on good practices in other trading and sharing in other regions and working towards a proposal for Nigeria.
  • Infrastructure Sharing: Greater correlation between A4AI advocacy work and policy outputs from the regulators is becoming more evident. The gap is now less in the policy statement and more in terms of execution of infrastructure sharing, where a major challenge is lack of data on how much sharing is actually happening.

You can access materials from the meeting on the A4AI-Nigeria page. The next coalition meeting and workshop will take place on July 4th and 5th in Lagos.

GHANA
A4AI-Ghana meeting and 2016 WDR launch. Kofi Annan Centre for Excellence in ICT, March 2016.
Record Number of Participants Join Ghana Coalition Meeting
A4AI collaborated with the World Bank to host the A4AI-Ghana coalition meeting alongside the Ghana launch of the 2016 WDR. More than 130 people joined the event, with representation from across public, private, and civil society sectors.

In his message to the participants, Minister of Communications Dr. Edward Omane Boamah confirmed the importance of this multi-stakeholder approach and A4AI’s efforts to support the policy process through research, coalition meetings, and workshops.

Champions from each working group presented reports of their activities:

  • Infrastructure Sharing: The group’s activities this year will focus on stakeholder engagement, particularly key actors such as the Ministry of Communication, NCA, Telco Chamber, NITA and the World Bank. Plans are under way to develop a policy recommendation paper, which will be used to engage the community in both online and offline discussions.
  • Consumer Advocacy: The group shared results of a consumer survey that gathered feedback on Internet services and prices in Ghana. One key insight is that consumers have limited knowledge of their data usage and the pricing of data services. The group is looking to launch a public awareness campaign around the affordability challenge and pricing transparency, drawing from the findings and recommendations of the 2015/2016 Affordability Report.
  • Research & Data Collection: Among other activities, the group is helping the NCA change its approach to data—what data it collects and how to collect it. The group had created a tool to submit inputs, and now with the data collection work under way, they will focus on refining it to be more user-friendly and accessible.
  • Taxation: The government has not followed through yet on plans to drop the 20% import duty on smartphones, due to alleged misalignment with the ECOWAS common external tariff. The working group continues to monitor the process and support high-level engagement between the Chamber of Telecommunication and the Ministry of Finance towards successful implementation.

Materials and presentations from the meeting are available via the A4AI-Ghana page. The next coalition meeting and workshop will take place on July 6th and 7th in Accra.

MOZAMBIQUE
Promoting Infrastructure Sharing in Mozambique
The government of Mozambique made headlines in late 2015 as it announced a push to promote sharing amongst network operators.

A4AI and Vieira del Almeida recently conducted a public consultation and workshop as the first step towards developing the updated regulation. We are pleased to report that Mozambique is on track to revise its infrastructure sharing regulation, in a way that will increase broadband penetration and ultimately facilitate access for low-income households who might otherwise be left unconnected.

Working groups also met the following day to report their progress as part of the A4AI-Mozambique Coalition Meeting. Materials from both events are available on the A4AI website: Expert Workshop and Coalition Meeting – May 3rd and 4th, 2016.
ST. LUCIA
Strengthening Consumer Advocacy in the Caribbean
Yacine Khelladi traveled to Castries, St. Lucia, in February to contribute his expertise at a workshop on ICT consumer protection. The workshop brought together A4AI, ECTEL, the OECS Commission, Great Village International Consultants (GVIC), CARICOM Secretariat, and Consumers International to collaborate on three main objectives:
  • Strengthen consumer participation in the development of ICT regulatory framework and improve understanding of telecommunications and data consumer protection regulatory provisions
  • Provide consumer education, sharing the mechanisms and tools for consumer awareness
  • Engage and encourage consumer organizations to participate in consultation processes on the new ICT and telecom standards definition and regulations
The sessions covered a range of topics designed to build an understanding of key issues in ECTEL member states, opportunities for consumer participation in policy and regulation, and current draft regulations.

Mr. Khelladi introduced the work of A4AI and the Web Foundation, and shared the key factors that will ensure digital inclusion and affordable broadband access. 

His message focused on the need for a multi-stakeholder approach to advocacy to ensure effective policies and practices at the country level. Consumer advocacy organizations must build a clear understanding of ICT policy and participate in the policy and regulation consultations. Meanwhile, policymakers and regulators must support consumer protection agencies to use the existing legal and regulatory framework to achieve their objectives, even as new frameworks are in the works.
 
Overall Recommendations and Action Items
  1. Consumer Groups to meet to consider the Consumer Protection and Retail pricing regulations and provide feedback.
  2. In support of (1) above, ECTEL/Consultants to summarize all draft regulations and circulate to consumer and civil society groups to better understand the provisions and provide feedback
  3. ECTEL/NTRC to convene meetings between the providers and businesses, consumer and civil society groups to address the draft regulations.
  4. Provide an enhanced mechanism for proper consultation and inclusion of consumers in any future update of the legal and regulatory environment. 
  5. Provide continuous capacity building and training of consumers or their representatives, businesses and journalists on the legal and regulatory framework.
  6. Participants to provide feedback on the People’s Charter or Digital Bill of Rights on the use of the Internet.
  7. ECTEL to implement an activity in observance of Consumer Rights Day or issue a public statement.
  8. Establish a focus group that will include the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Consumer Groups and ECTEL/NTRC representatives.
  9. Consumer groups to participate in the sub-regional consultations on the new regulations.
Workshop Materials

The workshop originated from the OECS Commission office in Castries, Saint Lucia, with participants in Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines joining via videoconference. Special thanks to all presenters: Embert Charles, Alison Gajadhar, Yacine Khelladi, Deidre Williams, Antonino Serres Cambaceres, Vestricia Llewellyn, Will Burnfield, Nichole Mayers.
UPCOMING EVENTS
May 23 | AfDB Annual Meetings
Lusaka, Zambia
• A4AI Honorary Chair Omobola Johnson speaking on panel "Creating a Smart Africa: How the continent can harness the ICT revolution"

June 3-6 | ICTD 2016
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
* A4AI members leading the session "Addressing the Rural Connectivity Challenge"
* Dhanaraj Thakur (A4AI), Jane Coffin (Internet Society), Anita Gurumurthy (IT for Change), and Paul Garnett (Microsoft) participating

June 20-23 | Congreso Latinoamericano de Telecomunicaciones
Cancún, Mexico
* A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge and LAC Coordinator Yacine Khelladi speaking

June 29-30 TBC | A4AI-Mozambique Coalition Meeting & Workshop
Maputo, Mozambique
* Workshop and consultation on infrastructure sharing
* Agenda and invitation forthcoming

July 4-5 | A4AI-Nigeria Coalition Meeting & Workshop
Lagos, Nigeria
* Workshop on spectrum trading
* Agenda forthcoming; save the date
July 6-7 | A4AI-Ghana Coalition Meeting & Workshop
Accra, Ghana
* Agenda forthcoming; save the date

July 19-20 TBC | Capacity Building on Mobile Sector Regulation
Yangon, Myanmar
* Hosted by A4AI and GSMA

July 21 TBC | A4AI-Myanmar Coalition Meeting
Yangon, Myanmar
* Agenda and invitation forthcoming; join the A4AI-Myanmar coalition

July 26-28 | Mobile 360 Series—Africa
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
* A4AI Honorary Chair Omobola Johnson speaking

Sept 13-14 | Africa Summit on Women and Girls in Technology
Accra, Ghana
* Hosted by A4AI, African Development Bank, Kofi Annan Centre for Excellence in ICT, UN Women, and Web Foundation
* Explore sponsorship opportunities






 
A4AI members that would like their updates featured in the newsletter or on social media can contact karolle.rabarison@webfoundation.org.
About A4AI

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) is a global coalition of public sector, private sector, and civil society organisations working to advance the shared mission of affordable access to mobile and fixed-line Internet for all.
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