Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Information and Communication for Development: Instead what happened?????????????

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North Africa: World Bank Announces Broadband Connectivity Initiative, New Focus On Citizen Participation in ICT Solutions

 Source: World Bank Press Release

The World Bank has launched a regional initiative to improve broadband connectivity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by bringing utilities' fiber optic networks into broadband use. The Bank also announced a new focus on citizen participation in the creation of information and communication technologies (ICT) solutions to development problems, building on the success of the Cairo WaterHackathon.
The World Bank's broadband connectivity initiative will study the potential for developing regional broadband backbone networks in MENA and prepare the ground for new investments. It will use a new approach that leverages already-deployed infrastructure from other utilities, such as electricity, transport or oil and gas. The study is expected to tackle the main bottlenecks to broadband connectivity in the region, in particular providing redundancy (extra capacity) to existing international connectivity and opening alternative backbone networks in domestic markets.
"Worldwide, broadband is becoming an essential infrastructure for innovation, economic growth, and competitiveness," said Doyle Gallegos, Practice Leader, Connectivity Infrastructure, World Bank. "This World Bank initiative will help increase MENA countries' capacity to cope with the tremendous predicted increase in broadband traffic and to compete in the 21st century's global market."
The MENA region has been actively increasing broadband connections and, as of today, broadband connects over a quarter of MENA households. Broadband traffic in the region is predicted to grow over 100 percent in the next five years, making MENA the fastest growing region in the world with Sub-Saharan Africa.
The World Bank study will cover the region's international and domestic connectivity and will produce four country case studies focused on utility infrastructure use in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia. In addition, the World Bank will look at broadband-based applications to increase operational efficiency and competitiveness of utilities, starting with a smart-grid pilot project in Jordan. Findings from these activities will be shared through regional workshops aimed at boosting investment in the region, particularly in utilities' fiber-optic networks.
The broadband connectivity initiative is part of the World Bank's Arab World Initiative and is supported by the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF) and the Korean Government. Jointly with InfoDev, the World Bank has also produced the Broadband Strategies Handbook, a tool providing hands-on knowledge of broadband market, technology, and policy action.
Cairo hosted the first-ever WaterHackathon in October 2011 which brought together Egyptian technologists with water specialists to brainstorm innovative ICT solutions for Egypt's biggest water challenges. A hackathon in this context is a series of events that source problem statements from citizens, civil society, and development experts; build sectoral and digital literacy for technologists and development practitioners; and allow these partners to collectively identify technical pilot solutions.
"The Cairo WaterHackathon allowed the World Bank to 'do things differently' in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and engage local communities interested in shaping the future of their country," explained Carlo Rossotto, MENA Regional Coordinator, ICT, World Bank. "Based on this success, the World Bank will increasingly use citizen participation in the creation of ICT solutions as a mainstream tool to tackle development challenges."
- A mobile and web-based application for more equitable water distribution, enabling farmers to remotely control irrigation (Salt & Rocks team)
 - An application for irrigation optimization and water saving in agricultural production, using smart mobile devices to enhance collection of field data (Abu Erdaan team)
- A concept addressing water saving in industrial line production, using data visualization and SMS and web updates on water consumption (Run Time team)
The winning teams continue to develop their ideas. Team Abu Erdaan has managed to develop and beta-test its application and is now shortlisted among the top fifty competitors in Google's Business Competition in Egypt. As a follow-up, the World Bank is planning a Transport Hackathon in Cairo later this year.

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11 June 2007

Kenya: World Bank Funds Broadband

Kisumu — The World Bank has extended a grant of US$114.4 million (Ksh7.9 billion) to boost high speed broadband internet connectivity in three African countries.
Mr. Colin Bruce, the Bank's country director for East and Central Africa region says this could drastically cut down international calling costs.


Broadband for Africa : developing backbone communications networks (English)

Abstract Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa see information and communication technology (ICT) as a necessary foundation for long-term economic development. While the region has been very successful in increasing access to basic voice communications, there has been no comparable improvement in broadband connectivity. In fact, the broadband access gap between Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world is getting wider just as the gap in basic voice communications is getting smaller. This book looks at one critical element of the broadband network infrastructure: domestic backbones. Backbone networks are the high capacity, fiber-optic networks that link disparate geographic areas and transport the high volumes of communications traffic associated with broadband services to customers. Africa's focus, thus far, on mobile networks to address an immediate service need has left backbone networks underdeveloped. This has created a major bottleneck in the rollout of high-bandwidth services and in the upgrading of cellular networks to provide value-added services. Overcoming this infrastructure hurdle is an important element in shaping the structure and policy framework of the telecommunications services sector. Without it, broadband will remain expensive and limited to businesses and high-income customers. This volume takes a comprehensive, analytical view of the policy challenge of backbone networks, starting with the economics and the technology. It develops a set of policy recommendations for governments aiming to raise investment in and access to backbone networks, and lays the foundation for the World Bank's strategy toward backbone communications infrastructure in Africa. This book focuses on one important part of the challenge the lack of high-capacity backbone networks. It addresses three specific questions: What role do backbone networks play in the provision of broadband services? What is the current state of backbone network development in Sub-Saharan Africa and the reasons for this? What can be done to promote the development of backbone networks and thereby stimulate the take-up of broadband services? There are two main reasons why the rate of broadband connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa is so low: prices are very high and availability is limited. The average retail price for basic broadband in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2006 was $366 per month, compared with $6-$44 per month in India. Typical prices for entry-level broadband services in Europe average $40 per month, falling as low as $12 per month in some European countries

Complete Report in English

Official version of document (may contain signatures, etc)
*The text version is uncorrected OCR text and is included solely to benefit users with slow connectivity.



Williams, Mark D. J.. 2010. Broadband for Africa : developing backbone communications networks. Washington, DC: World Bank.


Broadband Internet coming to Africa

Michel Rogy's picture

The digital divide for voice services is closing at a rapid pace in Africa due to the spread of the basic mobile phone. With 500 million mobile phones on the African continent, more than in the US or European Union, Africa is the fastest growing region in the world.
However, just as one divide is closing, another one is opening wider as Africa is being left behind as a large part of the world transitions into the broadband era. Increasing the accessibility and affordability of broadband services is thus high on the agenda for policy makers in Africa. And this agenda is in-line with the International Telecommunication Union’s objective--Broadband For All Challenge to the World—to increase broadband penetration in developing countries from 10 percent to 50 percent by 2015. Broadband connectivity will have a profound positive effect on the long-term economic development of African countries and the way in which delivery of services in various sectors, education and health for example, will be made[1].
A number of submarine fibre-optic cable projects, connecting Africa to international networksare coming towards completion (see diagram below). Most of these projects have been funded through private-public partnerships (PPP) and a relatively straightforward infrastructure expansion projects.  The next stage is the more challenging terrestrial backbone networks (“missing links”) to be financed and operated by various stakeholders across country borders. The lack of nationally competitive infrastructure compared to the extent of supply and competition in submarine cables, is demonstrated by the fact that capacity from an African submarine landing station to Europe ($100-$300/Mbps/month) is usually cheaper than the in-country national backbone capacity ($500-$2000/Mbps/month)[2].
African countries that have fully liberalized their telecommunications markets are seeing as a result competition in backbone networks emerge. However, the telecommunications operators have generally focused on the most profitable geographical areas, primarily major urban areas and intercity routes. Populations living outside the major urban areas remain unlikely to benefit from the increased competition. Regional business models are emerging as cross-border backbone infrastructure expands and as network traffic transitions from simply voice communications services to Internet-based communications that involved data transmissions. Even further off the network are the landlocked countries in Africa that are still lacking appropriate connections to high-capacity submarine cables or to redundant connections that would help reduce prices.
If operators are to leverage the backbone networks to extend affordable broadband Internet outside of major urban areas as well as in landlocked countries, some form of public support or incentive may be required. Despite emerging international experience in using PPP vehicles to facilitate the practice of open access[3] to telecommunications backbone infrastructure, fostering trust and cooperation between the various stakeholders in such frontier markets, trusting and cooperative relationships is sometimes difficult to initiate and maintain.
Lessons learned from operations under regional connectivity projects of the World Bank[4] indicate (i) the need for some form of effective PPP or concession framework in the country as a prerequisite and (ii) that PPP and open access discussions often run into obstacles when it comes to the practical details of how to implement PPP and Open Access principles. Support for designing contracts and related licenses is therefore key to the successful development of PPP frameworks.
When turning to the effective roll out of the backbone networks, several issues need to be addressed upfront to minimize delays in project implementation, in particular:
·         Legal and regulatory uncertainties. Existing legal and regulatory frameworks often need to be reviewed to ensure unfettered, non discriminatory and cost-oriented access to submarine cable landing facilities as well as to national and international fiber backbones.  Support in the area of broadband regulation is also needed to assist the regulatory authorities in creating enabling environments for fair and effective competition in broadband services.
·         Licensing and transparency concerns. Mobile licenses generally include the right for operators to set up their transmission network both within the countries and to its borders. However in some countries it is sometimes argued that this applies merely to microwave and not to fiber; in other countries, uncertainty is caused by the set up of new auxiliary state bodies empowered to build shared national infrastructure and acquire existing infrastructure.
·         Delays in obtaining rights of ways. Obtaining rights of way takes typically between 6 and 12 months for a 1000 km fiber link, as it requires authorizations both from the ministry and from all local authorities along the chosen path.
·         Difficulties in obtaining authorizations for cross border connections. Cross border fiber connections take a long time (up to 3 years) to establish, particularly when they clash with a governments’ plan to have fiber backbones being built and operated by incumbent operators or to protect investments already made in international facilities[5].
·         Necessity to draft appropriate environmental and social safeguards. Rigorous safeguards are adhered to by projects financed by the World Bank and are generally mandatory under national law. Although fiber optic links are expected to follow major roads or railway tracks already in place, negative environmental and social impacts of the project could come from the laying of the fiber and have to be sufficiently mitigated. The negative environmental impacts resulting from the work mainly concern: soil erosion, water pollution, loss of vegetation due to deforestation to clear the right-of-way, etc. The significant negative social impacts will mainly concern the acquisition of land for the construction of infrastructure, the disruption of life setting, the occupation of private lands, the possible destruction of crops and forests, the risk of encroachment on areas of indigenous peoples, the risk of disruption of cultural areas during the excavation, the risks of accidents during the work, the risks of disruption of networks of other utilities (water, telephone, electricity), etc.
Broadband Internet has arrived in Africa namely in the form of submarine cables. In order for the majority of Africans to benefit from the new high-capacity infrastructure, there a re many hurdles to overcome. The market structure for telecommunications services need to be re-examined to ensure competition in broadband Internet; new operating business models will need to be experimented with to facilitate cross-border communications; PPP models for extending infrastructure into rural and less profitable areas will also need to be looked at closely; and large-scale public projects need to be aware of how broadband infrastructure roll-out will impact the physical and social landscape of Africa. If done properly and through thorough stakeholder consultations, Africa will start building a digital landscape.

[1]              In 2008, the World Bank conducted an econometric analysis across 120 countries to investigate the impact of higher penetration of broadband and other ICTs on economic growth (the average growth rate of per capita GDP) between 1980 and 2006. For developing countries, every 10 percentage point increase in the penetration of broadband services was associated with an increase in per capita GDP of 1.38 percentage points; Internet and mobile phone penetration were associated with a 1.12 and 0.81 percentage point increase, respectively. Although causality in the relationship between broadband and growth is hard to prove with the data available, analysis suggests high likelihood of causality.
[2]              See e.g. Sofrecom led consortium, PIDA ICT Study, 2011.
[3]              Open access” means permitting access to capacity by new entrants on transparent and non-discriminatory terms (price and non-price) and with cost-oriented prices.
[4]              The Bank has been actively supporting the African connectivity agenda under recent regional projects such as the Central African Backbone (CAB) program (started in 2009, operations now in: Chad, CAR, STP, Congo; Gabon), the Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (RCIP) in Eastern and Southern Africa (started in 2007, operations now in: Kenya, Madagascar, Burundi, Rwanda, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania; Uganda and Comoros under preparation), and the West Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (started in 2010, operations now in: Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso ; Mauritania, Mali and Togo in preparation).
[5]              When completed, the harmonization of sector regulation that governs the ICT sector across African countries, particularly under the umbrella of regional economic organizations, will facilitate the establishment of cross border fiber connections.


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