October 2015, Issue 24
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Monthly Newsletter

Shola Taylor, CTO's new Secretary General, took his oath of office at the opening of the 2015 CTO Forum on September 14th. Photo credit.

Spotlight on Affordability at the CTO Forum

A4AI Deputy Director Kojo Boakye recently attended the 2015 Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation Forum, held in Nairobi, Kenya. Kojo joined more than 400 participants from over 30 member countries to learn about recent developments in and future plans for the ICT sector across the Commonwealth.

When A4AI launched at the 2013 CTO Forum in Abuja, Nigeria, there was much discussion about driving innovation in technology, yet little talk about the cost of services and the investments needed to fund such developments. Two years later, the conversation has shifted to address affordability as key to closing the digital divide. Participants took on issues such as cost structures, how to improve infrastructure sharing and open access, and tax regimes that drive broadband development.

As Kojo reports, “For myself, the rest of the A4AI team, and the members of the Alliance, the apparent mainstreaming affordability issues in the Commonwealth is yet another signal of the momentum of our work.”

Read more about Kojo’s experience at the CTO Forum: The Mainstreaming of Affordability.

In this issue:

Have new research, an upcoming event, or an exciting development you'd like to highlight in the next newsletter? Email submissions to
Country Engagement Update

Gender and the Digital Agenda in the Dominican Republic 

Magaly Pineda (CIPAF), Mirna Gonzalez (Indotel), Sonia Jorge (A4AI), and Amalia Toledo Women's Rights Online programme, Web Foundation) led a workshop on the importance of a gender perspective.

The A4AI-Dominican Republic Coalition revived dialogue on the digital agenda and committed to supporting its development with a series of public consultations and advice. While the agenda acknowledged the Gender Equality Plan for the Information Society, it lacked a gender lens and therefore specifics on how to integrate gender equality goals across the policy directives.

On September 15th, 90 stakeholders from government agencies, the private sector, and NGOs attended a workshop on how to integrate gender across all five pillars of the proposed agenda. The workshop and consultation—a collaboration between the National Commission on for Information Society and Knowledge (CNSIC), CIPAF, Indotel, and A4AI—revealed enormous support from public sector, private sector, and civil society stakeholders to increase focus on gender equality. It also recommended a potential sixth pillar with cross-cutting considerations for gender and socio-economic equality. Inputs suggested included:

  • focus on digital services specifically designed for women and girls’ information needs
  • infrastructure and access strategies that consider poor women’s barriers to access
  • capacity building and educational opportunities for women and girls across all sectors, from agriculture to the military
  • support for women technologists.
The next day, working groups met to finalize their work plans, activities, and deliverables, including the Terms of Reference for a study on the impact of taxation on the ICT sector, additional public consultation to ensure the digital agenda includes the vision and aspiration of all Dominicans, and a framework for data collection and analysis to capture all trends in the sector.

Browse the work plans: A4AI-Dominican Republic Working Group Plans

Activities Across the Africa Coalitions

A4AI National Coordinator Dr. Ernest Ndukwe recently met with the new Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, in Abuja. Dr. Ndukwe outlined A4AI's goals and objectives to the EVC, and briefed him about the organisation's plans for the near future as well as its upcoming activities. He also promised to keep the EVC informed of future developments as well as A4AI's challenges and progress towards its goals.

Working groups in Nigeria are in the process of arranging their next meetings, with the consumer and pricing transparency group set to meet in Lagos on October 9th.

Meanwhile in Ghana, working groups met this past month to continue working on their outputs. The group on data collection and research—including representatives from the National Communication Authority, the Ministry of Communications, and GIFEC (the Universal Service Fund)—met on September 11th, while the consumer and pricing transparency group met in Accra on September 29th.

National coalition meetings will take place in both Nigeria and Ghana in November to showcase the working groups' outputs from the past few months. Stay tuned for your invitations.

Staff Update
Onica Makwakwa Assumes Role of Africa Regional Coordinator

A4AI is pleased to welcome Onica Makwakwa, who joined the team October 1st as the Africa Regional Coordinator. Before A4AI, Onica led the Africa initiatives for A4AI member Consumer International. In her new role, Onica will work to strengthen A4AI national coalitions and support stakeholder collaborations to advance our shared goal of affordable access across Africa. Follow Onika on Twitter @afrodiva.
Welcoming Membership Coordinator Karolle Rabarison

Karolle Rabarison recently joined A4AI as Membership Coordinator. Karolle has a background in economics and experience in program management and communications for civil society organizations in the US and India. As Membership Coordinator, Karolle is in charge of membership engagement and partnerships across all regions. She is based in Washington, DC. Follow Karolle on Twitter @ohkarolle.
All members are invited to attend our presentations, panels, and forums. If you are interested in scheduling a meeting with our team at any of the below events, please email
Event Spotlight

Join A4AI at Transform Africa 2015 Summit, October 19-21 in Kigali, Rwanda. Hosted by H.E. President Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, Transform Africa will bring together the continent’s top public- and private-sector leaders to renew their commitment to Africa’s digital revolution and define how this transformation will take shape.

A4AI will lead two main sessions:

Day 1: Monday, October 19, 2015
Internet for All: A4AI Deputy Director Kojo Boakye will moderate a session on how we can extend the reach of Internet to all African citizens via a hybrid combination of innovative connectivity solutions and smart policy interventions.

Day 2: Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Digital Inclusion for Women's Empowerment: A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge will moderate a session on how to unlock the Internet's potential for women's empowerment. Kick-started by a presentation on new research by the World Wide Web Foundation, this session is a collaboration between A4AI, UN Women, the African Development Bank and the Government of Rwanda.

From the Calendar

October 7-8

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – Africa 2015
Cape Town, South Africa

*A4AI Deputy Director Kojo Boakye speaking; Africa Regional Coordinator Onica Makwakwa and Membership Coordinator Karolle Rabarison attending

October 19-21

Transform Africa 2015
Kigali, Rwanda

* A4AI organising two sessions

October 21-22

Stockholm Internet Forum 2015
Stockholm, Sweden

*A4AI Research Manager Dhanaraj Thakur speaking; Web Foundation CEO Anne Jellema speaking

October 27-29

GSMA Mobile 360 Series – North America
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

November 10 (tentative)

A4AI-Myanmar Working Group Meetings
Yangon, Myanmar

*hosted by A4AI

November 10-13

Internet Governance Forum 2015
João Pessoa, Brazil

*A4AI Research Manager Dhanaraj Thakur, Web Foundation CEO Anne Jellema, and Global Campaign Manager Renata Avila participating
**Are you attending IGF 2015? Let us know by filling out this form:

November 24

A4AI-Nigeria Coalition Meeting
Venue TBA
*hosted by A4AI, Invites coming soon

November 26

A4AI-Ghana Coalition Meeting
Accra, Ghana
*hosted by A4AI, Invites coming soon

In the News
Wired magazine highlights MainOne's efforts to expand access to affordable internet—via an undersea broadband cable running from Portugal to Ghana to Nigeria.

Google's Project Link expands to Ghana, with plans to build 1200+ km for access to access to fast, affordable broadband.

A report by The Earth Institute (Columbia University) and Ericsson explains how we can leverage ICTs to achieve the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals. [PDF]

Related: The SDG ICT playbook—developed by Intel, NetHope, Microsoft, CRS, CDW, and the UN Foundation—highlights trends, opportunities, and case studies to guide leaders in tackling the new global development agenda.

Barriers to connectivity in a changing Cuba: Service remains unaffordable at $4 to $8 per hour—20-40% of the average monthly salary Cuba. Broadband is only available to the government and businesses catering to tourists. 

Web Foundation to release Women's Rights Online report this month.
Get the latest affordability news and updates on social media
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