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April 2015, Issue 18
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Member News

Affordability Report 2014: Have you checked out our data explorer? 
Participants vote for the priority areas that the A4AI-Myanmar Coalition will focus on during the A4AI Multi-stakeholder Forum in Yangon on March 26. Photo credit: A4AI

Opportunities for Action as A4AI Forms First Asian Coalition

A4AI kicked off its activities in Myanmar — where hopes and expectations are high for the government and telecom operators to deliver Internet access as widely and quickly as possible — on March 26 by hosting a forum that brought together more than 75 of the country’s influential stakeholders from the government, private sector, and civil society. The forum provided participants an opportunity to discuss and identify openly the biggest challenges to expanding affordable Internet access in a country where only 15 percent of the population use the Internet — up from a 2013 use rate of just over 1 percent.

Challenges to expanding access

During the forum, representatives from private sector organisations, government departments, and civil society organisations highlighted the biggest obstacles they face in expanding Internet access. These include:  

  • Expanding networks to the approximately 70 percent of the population that live in rural areas, often without electrical power;
  • Lack of coordination among operators and regional and local authorities, in addition to a lack of streamlined processes for rolling out telecoms networks and building necessary infrastructure;
  • Lack of public awareness on the benefits of using the Internet and ICTs in general;
  • General lack of ICT data and formal processes to collect such data; and
  • Lack of staff and institutional capacity to address the policy and regulatory needs of a fast-growing sector, including an independent regulatory agency that has not yet been fully set up.

Deputy Minister U Thaung Tin stressed that the government is facing immense political pressure from parliament and citizens to expand Internet access to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. He shared his hope that Myanmar’s partnership with A4AI will allow the country to learn from the successes and failures of other countries, and ensure that the policies and regulations necessary for expanding affordable Internet are developed with the input of all of Myanmar’s stakeholders.

Developing the coalition’s plan of action

After an open debate surrounding the primary challenges to affordable Internet in Myanmar, forum participants determined that the A4AI-Myanmar Coalition should prioritise and focus on tackling the following issues:

  • Infrastructure Sharing and Deployment
  • Taxation
  • Universal Service Fund Administration
  • Data Collection & Research Framework

In the coming months, working groups will be formed to work through each of these priority areas. 

In this issue: 

Country Engagement & Research Update | Member Feature Engage with A4AI
Did you know? You can access members-only documents via our website at http://a4ai.org/member-area/Login: a4ai-member | Password: alliance

Country Engagement Update


Mozambique
On March 30-31, A4AI held its third A4AI-Mozambique Coalition event, featuring two expert workshops on Infrastructure Sharing & Open Access, facilitated by A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge and A4AI Advisory Council Member Mike Jensen (APC), and Fiscal Policy & Taxation, facilitated by Sonia Jorge and telecoms consultant Will Burnfield (Great Village International). Following those sessions, the coalition's working groups also met to update and refine their work plans. You can access presentations from the workshops here.

Opportunity for Coalition to Influence Tax Review
The Coalition's Taxation Working Group now has the opportunity to influence the Mozambique government's current review of taxation in the country, which will close at the end of April. A4AI and the working group are developing a recommendation that will be submitted to the government, providing justification for a dramatic reduction in the import duty on ICT equipment and devices.


A4AI-Mozambique Coalition members work in groups during the workshop. Photo Credit: A4AI

Research Update


New Country Case Studies on Dominican Republic and Myanmar

Coinciding with A4AI launching its engagement in the Dominican Republic in February and Myanmar in March, we published two case studies focused on each country, providing a snapshot of the current state of broadband affordability, including the policy environment, challenges and opportunities. 

You can access the case studies by clicking below: 


















You can also check out our infographics on the state of broadband in both countries here

Member Feature: Digital Empowerment Foundation
 

Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), a Delhi-based not-for-profit organization, works at the grassroots of India to create economic and commercial viability using ICTs. DEF works with communities in rural and semi-urban areas, in India and South Asia, who live at the edge of information and economic benefit; DEF envisions bridging the digital divide at the grassroots level and, thereby, delivering socio-economical benefits of ICT to the grassroots communities.

Member since: September 2014

Check out: DEF's “Wireless For Communities” (W4C) project, launched jointly with the Internet Society. The project aims to provide a holistic, community-empowered approach to connecting rural communities to the Internet via wireless networks.

For more information: http://defindia.org
Engage with A4AI! 
Call for Experts
 
As A4AI plans for an increasing number of knowledge sharing and capacity building workshops across the regions, we ask our members to identify policy and regulatory experts from their teams that can speak and present on key topics. We are particularly interested in perspectives on the topics that have been selected as priorities in current countries of engagement:
  • Infrastructure sharing and open access
  • Taxation across all segments of the industry
  • Consumer awareness and price transparency (consumer protection issues)
  • Data collection and research
Please e-mail emilie.yam@webfoundation.org with any recommendations and their contact information. 
Upcoming Events 

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 e-mail emilie.yam@webfoundation.org.  
April 21-23

Mobile West Africa
Four Points by Sheraton
Lagos, Nigeria

*A4AI Policy Manager Kojo Boakye will be moderating a panel. 

April 27-30

Semana NIC.br de Metodologias de Pesquisa (NIC.br Week of ICT Research Methodologies)
Sao Paulo, Brazil 

*A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge will be delivering the keynote address. 

May 5-8

Intel Africa Broadband and USF Leaders Forum
Kigali, Rwanda

*A4AI Policy Manager Kojo Boakye will be speaking. 
May 6-8

Dynamic Spectrum Alliance Global Summit
Manila, Philippines 

*A4AI Asia Regional Coordinator Shaddy Shadrach will be speaking. 

May 19-20 (Tentative)

A4AI-Dominican Republic Coalition Meeting & Expert Workshops

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic









 
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