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Issue 29
A4AI at Mobile World Congress, February 2016.
Affordability Report Takes On Barcelona and Beyond
At A4AI, we are serious—and ambitious—about making Internet access affordable for all. Our analysis shows that all levels of income earners are able to afford access when basic broadband is priced at 2% or less of average monthly income. That’s why we have started a global conversation to advocate revising the UN Broadband Commission’s definition of affordability, from 5% to a “1 for 2” target—1GB of mobile broadband priced at 2% or less of average monthly income.

This new target is just one of the recommendations laid out in the 2015/2016 Affordability Report, released in February 2016. Each year A4AI undertakes a study of the state of Internet access across 51 countries, assessing the policy frameworks that make some countries more successful than others at driving down the cost of connecting. This year’s report includes a close look at:
  • Country rankings on the Affordability Drivers Index (ADI)
  • How poverty and income inequality undermine the impact of falling prices
  • The importance of gender-responsive solutions to affordability challenges
  • Policy recommendations to put countries on track to achieve the SDGs on digital inclusion
Selected Coverage:
The Guardian | Fortune | CNET  | AllAfrica.com  | ITWeb Africa  | La Prensa Libre (Costa Rica)  | Tech Trends (Nigeria)  |  The Khaleej Post (UAE)  | O Globo (Brazil)
In the month since the launch, we have had many opportunities to share the report's findings and recommendations, including throughout Mobile World Congress and at coalition meetings in Nigeria and Ghana.

MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS
From February 22–24, the A4AI team participated in the 2016 Mobile World Congress to share the report with policy makers and key stakeholders in the mobile industry. 


Highlights from the week included A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge and Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation (A4AI member), speaking at the launch of Connected Women Commitments on efforts to accelerate digital and financial inclusion for women. Recognizing that digital access can be a powerful catalyst for financial inclusion, the Cherie Blair Foundation has been rolling out various efforts—such as the Skilling for Change project in Rwanda—to offer financial products to rural women via mobile platforms.

A4AI Research Manager Dhanaraj Thakur contributed to a panel discussion during Tuesday's Mobile for Development Seminar, where he highlighted the report's special focus on income inequality and gender inequality. On Wednesday, A4AI had strong showing with participation in the both leadership workshops at the Ministerial Programme—Connected Societies and Connectivity for Women. Deputy Director Kojo Boakye and Ebele Okobi, Head of Public Policy for Africa at Facebook and member of A4AI’s Advisory Council, participated in a session to explore how policymakers and the mobile industry can work together to address the key barriers to access. In the second workshop, Sonia Jorge joined panelists from Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation, Telenor India, and the ITU to discuss solutions to the gender gap in mobile usage—today, more than 1.7 billion women from low- and middle-income countries do not own a mobile phone.

CONVENING STAKEHOLDERS IN NIGERIA AND GHANA
We were pleased to collaborate with the World Bank and Nigerian and Ghanaian experts for our latest in-country engagements.

  • Nigeria, March 22nd: A4AI-Nigeria gathered in Abuja for the quarterly coalition meeting. In addition to updates on the working groups' progress, the meeting included presentations of the Affordability Report by A4AI's Dhanaraj Thakur—with highlights on the Nigeria case—and of the World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends by Dr. Tim Kelly, co-author of the report and a Lead ICT Policy Specialist at the World Bank. Other experts leading the discussion included Dr. Ernest Ndukwe (A4AI-Nigeria National Coordinator), NCC representative Engr. Haru Alhassan, and Prof. H Hwana (Dynamic Spectrum Alliance).
     
  • Ghana, March 23rd: In Accra, the A4AI-Ghana coalition meeting was a special joint event with the World Bank for the official Ghana launch of the WDR 2016. Hosted at the Kofi Annan Institute for Excellence in ICT, the event opened with remarks from A4AI Deputy Director Kojo Boakye and Henry Kerali, Ghana Country Director at the World Bank, followed by a special address by Ms. Patricia Dora Sampson delivered on behalf of Hon. Minister of Communications Dr. Edward Omane Boamah. Dr. Tim Kelly and Mavis Ampah (Regional Coordinator and Lead ICT Policy Specialist, World Bank) presented the WDR 2016, while Dhanaraj Thakur shared insights specific to Ghana from the Affordability Report. The day concluded with an engaging discussion led by panelists Dorothy Gordon (Director-General, AITI-KACE and advisor to the WDR 2016), Prof. Clement Dzidonu (President, Accra Institute of Technology), Mavis Ampah, Estelle Akofio-Sowah (Country Manager, Google Ghana), Derek Laryea (Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications).

LOOKING AHEAD
Our work with the Affordability Report doesn’t stop here, however. Over the next few months, we will continue to take these findings “on the road,” especially to countries where we are directly supporting multi-stakeholder coalitions to drive policy and regulatory changes. We are also working on translating the report into Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Stay tuned!

→ Explore the 2015/2016 Affordability Report

This special edition of the newsletter focused on Affordability Report in light of the recent launch. We will resume regular updates across our activities and from the A4AI membership in the April issue. A4AI members that would like their recent news featured in the newsletter can contact karolle.rabarison@webfoundation.org.
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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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