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ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2001 – Development Symposium

ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2001 and BDT presented a special symposium to address the key telecommunication issues in the developing countries in Africa. The following issues were the subject of much debate and interaction amongst those attending:

  • Building Effective Regulators
  • Development of the Internet in Africa: Who should pay?
  • Capacity Development in the African Region

In addition, fellowships were provided to two representatives from each of approximately 30 countries in order to facilitate their participation in the symposium. The symposium resulted in a set of recommendations for the participating countries and ITU on how best to address the issues presented. These included: Regulations, Internet infrastructure and costs and Capacity building.

Africa — The state of Connectivity

African Telecommunication Indicators 2001, the sixth indicator publication on the African Region, was specially prepared for ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2001. The report provides a penetrating review of developments in the African information and communication technology sector, while the indicators include the latest data on ICT development on a regional and country basis. At this critical time of ICT growth in Africa, the analysis of growth trends, regulatory approaches and key data plays a useful part in identifying current and future needs, with the overall objective of finding a way to bridge the Digital Divide.–D/ict/publications/africa/2001


  • Although not an essential condition for the development of network and services, in the African context, a regulatory structure contributes to a legal environment for attracting investments, in particular from the private sector.
  • Autonomy of technical, administrative and financial management can be given to regulatory bodies even if they are not completely independent from the government. Regulatory bodies should be able to finance themselves through licence fees and taxes.
  • Regulations should be created to motivate staff, and a policy of continuous education must be developed in all the activity fields of the regulatory body.
  • Regulatory bodies should have, among their functions, development of networks and services and protection of the interests of users on the issue of accessible prices and quality of service.
  • It is important to have subregional and regional regulatory associations similar to the Telecommunication Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (TRASA) and the West Africa Telecommunication Regulators’ Association (WATRA).

Internet Infrastructure and Costs:

  • Critical mass in demand, bulk regional purchases and local assembly of computer terminals could significantly reduce costs.
  • Subsidies are not a realistic solution; however, innovative approaches such as integration of the Internet into schools must be examined.

  • Service providers of the Internet and network operators must share bridges and interconnection expenses for positive impact.
  • Regulators should have a catalytic role to ensure universal access to ICTs through financing schemes.

Capacity Building:

  • Africa must establish its own priorities, representing a challenge both for governments and the private sector.
  • Interested parties must become involved in the development of competencies and sufficient funds must be freed up for this purpose.
  • Governments should give priority to education at all levels, and universities and teaching establishments should work in close collaboration with the public and private sectors to ensure that education and the proposed curricula correspond to the needs of the people. n Optimal practices and systems of reference should be implemented to guarantee the quality and efficacy of education.
  • ITU’s Centre of Excellence initiative can significantly boost training in Africa.



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Updated : 2002-11-20