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Title: Towards an African e-Index : ICT access and usage across 16 African countries
Other Titles: ICT sector performance review 2006
Authors: Gillwald, Alison
Stork, Christoph
Date: 2006
Publisher: LINK Centre, Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, ZA
Abstract: This paper integrates the findings of a series of research projects undertaken by Research ICT Africa! (RIA!) that seek to contribute to evidence-based ICT policy formulation on the continent. The project, Towards an African e-Index, arose out of the need not only to fill some of the data gaps that existed on the continent in relation to ICT indicators, but more specifically to develop tools to assess the regulatory impact and policy outcomes of telecommunications reform against actual sector performance. What these supply-and demand-side studies have demonstrated is that across the continent, even where there was overall sector growth, the sector performance has been sub-optimal: for the most part, the primary national policy objectives of delivering affordable telecommunications access have not been met. // The supply-side analysis, undertaken through the sector performance review, shows that mobile telephony is addressing the gap between those who have voice services and those who do not. However, the divide between those who are able to access the Internet and the range of enhanced services that have become necessary for effective citizenry and consumer participation, and those who cannot, has widened. The high cost of communications not only constrains individual communication, but also inflates the input cost to business, negatively affecting national and regional economies. // The demand-side household and individual access and usage survey provides insights into the continued marginalisation of large numbers of Africans even from basic communications services and confirms the sub-optimal use of communications services due to the high cost of access to services. The value attached to accessing and utilising communications is evident in the considerable portion of household income spent on communications and the multiple strategies used by individuals to maintain communication access according to their cash flow and the prices of alternatives. The willingness-to-pay modelling suggests that relatively small reductions in the cost of equipment and services would result in increased uptake and usage, with a significant growth in revenues for operators. // The outcomes of these supply- and demand-side surveys are further considered in the context of a telecommunications regulatory environment perception survey of sector stakeholders in each of the countries. The generally poor perception of the policy and regulatory environment across the countries surveyed confirms the negative impact of market structures and institutional arrangements on sector development as a result of constrained competition, market dominance and anti-competitive practices and ineffectual regulation.
Project Number: 103114
Project Title: Research ICT Africa - Phase II
Access: IDRC Only
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