Question 1: Internet connectivity
What are the elements of an enabling environment to promote Internet connectivity?
• Policy and regulation that promote easy entry by new players without pushing existing players out of business , infrastructure sharing, healthy competition and a universal service fund that supports deployment of connectivity to unserved areas;
• Content is key for any meaningful use of the Internet. If time is taken to create content that is relevant and useful then use of the Internet will increase. In some rural areas for example, lack of connection is due to the fact that the content available is irrelevant. If there is content that attracts the rural folk more people will connect thereby making investment in connectivity worthwhile. Such content should also be developed in a language that the local community understands;
• An environment with no over-protectionist, stringent and over regulation of Internet including the computing devices that enable such connectivity; and
• The deployment of free Internet access hotspots.
Question 2: Affordable Internet
What are the elements of an enabling environment to promote an affordable Internet?
• A clear net- neutrality policy for the country;
• Open/Public traffic management obligations for ISPs so that consumers are aware of the level of quality they can expect from them. For example possible discrepancies between advertised speeds and actual broadband speeds which makes it mandatory for users to pay for contended bandwidth without their knowledge;
• Introduction of a subsidized regime in the importation of hardware and software consumables that incentivize Internet affordability; thus causing Internet services to be affordable. This can be achieved through the removal of duty on ICT imports so as to make them less expensive for the majority of the people;
• Promoting widespread use in order to induce a surge in demand hence leading to cheaper prices;
• Allowing a platform for many Internet actors to facilitate competition in the provision of Internet goods and services, with competition and tumbling down of monopolies and oligopolies in the same realm, Internet becomes cheaper and affordable; and
• From the infrastructure owners’ point of view, there is need for "smart-infrastructure-sharing". While taking into consideration that different organizations have different investments it is still one of the key cost drivers. By sharing there is less investment to be amortized and thus the cost to the consumer will be significantly reduced.
Question 3: Quality of access to the Internet
What are the elements of an enabling environment to promote the quality of access to the Internet?
• For Zimbabwe it is definitely support of the ISP's and MNO's to increase coverage through the Universal Services Fund;
• Internet Sector-wide involvement, through democratic processes to allow a free and open cross pollination of ideas on Internet, exchange of best and latest practices and sharing of notes by all state and non-state actor stakeholders;
• Capacity building and training strategies that over-arch various core and periphery groups to promote pervasive utility of Internet; and
• Formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Internet infrastructure regimes with infrastructure sharing, harmonization policies in Zimbabwe being the most topical one to enable a robust infrastructure base on which Internet use is predicated upon.
Question 4: Confidence and security in the use of the Internet
What are the elements of an enabling environment to build confidence and security in the use of the Internet?
• Awareness on cybercrimes laws, paying particular attention contextual trends on the most likely crimes to occur in a country;
• Ensuring stakeholder participation in coming up with the ideals at country level for countries yet to adopt the laws as is the case with Zimbabwe. Some critical issues to be discussed at a regional level should include judicial oversight on execution of the different warrants such as the interception of communication, search and seizure and authorization of the use of forensic tools. Without the protection of the judiciary Internet users continue to be vulnerable;
• Publication of transparency reports by the government and intermediaries to determine the extent to which citizens’ right to privacy are protected and how widespread filtering and surveillance is in a country & the region as a whole;
• Promotion of a free market Internet regime;
• Capacity building in the utility of Internet and how to unlock value from the same, how to empower communities through the Internet, laying bare the Internet-development nexus, touching base with the realities of the imperative preparation for a generation of Cadres whose future lives will be impossible without Internet;
• Enactment of laws that strike a balance between the Internet rights bordering on access, openness, affordability, utility and serviceability of the same and the security of other users bordering on nuisances, prejudices, harmful Internet utilities and other undesirables that emanate from broad thresholds Internet use;
• Inter-Governmental, trans-boarder, international standardization of Internet utilities and approaches based not on over-regulation but good-faith adherence to such standards of safe and secure Internet;
• Sustainable environment to allow research and further innovation on hardware and software safety and security enablers; and
• Delimitation of thresholds of provision and access of appropriate sustainable Internet packages relevant to certain interest groups such as juveniles and learners.
Question 5: Role of Governments
What is the role of Governments in building an enabling environment?
• Facilitate a multi-stakeholderism approach in all Internet governance related issues thus acknowledging that it is not the prerogative of government only but of all the other stakeholders from the everyday users, technical communities, civil society and the service providers;
• Recognise and uphold the ten global key rights and principles for the governing of the Internet, as defined by the Internet Rights and Principles Dynamic Coalition;
• Internet Policy direction, through:
a. Identifying lacunae/gaps in the national Internet regimes;
b. Consulting Internet stakeholders;
c. Receiving various optional strategies and practices for interventions;
d. Crafting policies embracing popular views by state and non-state actors;
e. Creating proper platforms for discussions, on the proposed interventions; and
f. Allowing sector wide validation of the policy framework.
• Creating an enabling environment for Internet policy implementation through enacting relevant laws;
• Facilitating or establishing consensus building and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms along the Internet value chain;
• Morphing enough political will balanced with sovereignty issues (given that the Internet knows no sovereign boarders), that can crystallize into a robust motive force that generates actions around all proposed Internet governance options-in order to actuate the functionality and serviceability of the whole Internet package meant for Zimbabwe as an Internet regime;
• There is need for use of the Internet to be upgraded from luxury to basic need to promote wide usage. The Government needs to come in and create an enabling environment by providing the backbone infrastructure across the country; and
• Creating a free and open market for hardware and software components which enable Internet and web functionality.