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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Bandwidth workshop advocates multi-stakeholder approach

Participants at a three-day workshop on ‘Achieving Affordable Bandwidth’ concluded sitting in the city of Saly, Senegal, weekend, with a call for a multi-stakeholder approach to make the dream a realty especially among the sub-Sahara.

The workshop was organised by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA)-based in Senegal, capital of Dakar. OSIWA is an initiative dedicated to give support on creation of an open society in the West African region.

In a communiqué made available to Champion Infotel, participants at the workshop, listed eight-point agenda towards making bandwidth affordable for communities in West Africa.

According to the workshop, co-ordinated by the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Programme Officer at OSIWA, Mr. Ben Akoh, said that the multi-stakeholder partnership when set up would be able to identify the local needs and applications respectively, as well as ensure the establishment of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) at three tiers, namely local, national and regional.

The workshop also asked for development of human capacity to develop local content, encourage local electronic mail (e-mail) and webhosting and empower rural communities with access to ICTs and via universal service and incentives to private sector.

Participants further advocated for development of capacity of the media and journalists to report on ICT, while landlocked countries should be able to connect to the SAT-3 submarine cable to generate more traffic and better economies of scale.

This is in addition to harmonising different West and Central Africa projects like Infinity fibre, Intellicon fibre, WAFs and Marias.

They also called upon governments within these regions to recognise universal access and to monitor this rigorously by declaring telecommunications to be a public utility like water, electricity and roads as well as empowering of the national regulators.

Governments, they said, should take responsibility to place all operators in their countries on the same competing level by addressing the impact of national monopoly access to SAT-3 with the stakeholders involved.

“Ensure national internal fibre cables are laid from the coast to the north to enhance SAT-3 utilization,” the communique stated.

In addition, the calls was also expected to the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to conduct an identification of its membership involved in ICT and engage in capacity building based on development and education.

Effective communication among civil society, participants said would position them to diffuse information on comparative costs of access.

Further, the workshop participants, invited Internet Service providers (ISPs) in the region to pool resources and engage in collective bargaining so as to negotiate cheaper prices on SAT-3, while creating basic strategies for creation of national IXPs, regional IXPs and continental IXPs.

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