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2014 A4AI affordability index says women yet to afford internet access




The Alliance For Affordable Internet’s (A4AI) 2014 Affordability Index has shown that women are still far less likely to afford access to the Internet globally, reports ITRealms.

The Affordability Index in its executive summary made available to ITRealms indicated that across the board, “women are far less likely to be able to access the Internet affordably than men.”

According to Index, research has also shown that women, on average, earn between 30 per cent – 50 per cent less than men. 

This income disparity, ITRealms gathered, diminishes the ability of women to afford to access, adopt, and benefit from a broadband connection.

“The Internet access gender gap is apparent throughout the world, although the extent of the gap varies from region to region,” A4AI stated in the Index.

They also noted that in the 51 countries surveyed, there are approximately two billion people earning less than $2 a day ($60 per month) according to World Bank data.

But depending on the country in which they live, these individuals have to spend anywhere between 5.5 per cent and 114.5 per cent of their average monthly income in order to access an entry-level broadband package.

“At present, not a single emerging or developing country can claim to meet the affordability benchmark set by the United Nations (UN) Broadband Commission of broadband priced at less than 5 per cent of monthly income for those potential users surviving on less than $2 a day,” the report decried.

Those living in rural areas, A4AI Index added, are often unable to secure affordable access to the Internet with two primary reasons to buttress its point, namely that incomes tend to be lower in rural areas, resulting in a higher real cost to connect; and secondly, challenges associated with infrastructure deployment in rural areas result in limited opportunities for access which particularly under current regulatory environments or in access prices that are significantly more expensive than those in urban areas.

Using statistical tools, A4AI has it analysed the relationships between policies and regulations, and the affordability environment in each country, and has identified five common success factors.

These are, A4AI said include effective broadband strategies, enhancing competition, efficient spectrum allocation, infrastructure sharing models and universal access to affordable internet services.

A4AI in its Executive Summary of the Affordability Index, pointed out that effective broadband strategies shows that clear and comprehensive national broadband plans, which allow for increased private investment, remove barriers to infrastructure deployment, and encourages public-private partnerships.

 On enhancing competition, A4AI said a level playing field that encourages innovation and gives consumers a range of choices as to their service provider; a unified licencing framework is of particular value here.

Just as efficient spectrum allocation in a fair and competitive way, with innovative spectrum tools considered, could spur infrastructure sharing models, even as laws and partnerships will be designed to embed open access methods and reduce sunk infrastructure costs.

In addition, A4AI said that universal access to affordable Internet services inspires development of shared services, available at community centres, schools, libraries and other anchor institutions; especially important in rural areas.

A4AI further stated that given the transformative potential that affordable access to the Internet holds, recommend that affordable access to broadband Internet is enshrined as a sustainable development goal (SDG) by the United Nations General Assembly when it meets later this year. 

Emphasising that close collaboration between key players including government decision makers, international development partners, private sector, academia and civil society — on the five areas identified above will be essential to making this a reality.
 
+Remmy Nweke (ITRealms) 
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