Business people, community activists and policy-makers have an interest in as many people as possible –including people in the lowest income-brackets- having access to the internet, being able to check out important information on websites and communicate cheaply via email or internet phone. In order to reduce poverty and foster inclusive development through affordable access to the internet, APC produced a resource kit for realising a universal access agenda, present promising options, experiences, lessons and opportunities in pro-poor access provision in developing societies.
This kit consists of three modules, each focusing on a different topic:
This overview synthesises key issues and emerging options in the area of ICT policy and regulation as they affect access and affordability for poor people and communities.It looks at both policy and regulation, though the two are not always easy separated. In general, policy provides the broad thrust of what is to be achieved, and regulation creates the mechanisms to achieve it. This is usually done with the oversight of a government ministry or an independent regulator. Some policies are detailed and prescriptive, leaving regulation little room for manoeuvre; others are open, even vague, with ample scope for innovation at regulation level. Effective outcomes require a combination of good policy and good regulation, the one reinforcing the other.
ICT policy makers and regulators can influence pro-poor developments by:
Issues and trends in policy and regulation are outlined below, beginning with those most directly associated with pro-poor potential.Universal access policies
The goal of universal access, often set down as precise targets in policy and regulation, includes the provision of affordable telephony and – now almost always – internet.
Achieving universal access is an objective of virtually all telecommunication regimes, monopoly or otherwise. This comes from the recognition that telephony and increasingly the internet are regarded as basic services to which everyone is entitled.The “standard” approach to universal access policy, as recommended by the European Union and World Bank, includes the establishment of a universal access fund (UAF), to be administered by an independent regulator and financed by the main operators in the sector. This is often in combination with other measures designed to roll out access to areas that are underserved by markets. There are many ways of administering UAFs. 
These include management by government ministries; by purpose-built, even multi-stakeholder, trustee funds; or by dedicated vehicles separate from a regulator. Financing may come directly from government, from spectrum auctions, or from postal, media and courier services.
From the mid-1990s, especially in Latin America, the principle
UAF mechanism deployed to achieve universal access has been the
lowest-subsidy auction. Through this mechanism, licences to extend
services into underserved rural areas are awarded to those seeking the
lowest subsidy in a competitive bid. This led in a number of cases to
rapid commercial viability of the new services and to significant
growth in access. Among the success factors was the selection of target
areas using a bottom-up approach. In Chile, for instance, local
authorities, community organisations, and telecom companies together
submitted lists that were then short-listed by regional authorities.
However, the extent to which “smart subsidies” can achieve
rapid commercial viability for network providers in rural areas falls
as remaining underserved areas become progressively poorer and more
remote. The positive experience in Latin America was to some degree the
result of early underestimation of the demand and willingness to pay
for telephony, even among poor people. There is also evidence that
ongoing supporting policies, after the initial subsidy, are needed to
achieve sustainability, such as asymmetrical interconnection charges
(implemented in Chile, Colombia and Uganda, for example) and continuing
firm regulation against anti-competitive behaviour by dominant
The use of UAFs to provide internet access has in most cases proved more commercially challenging, as the service lacks the same degree of pent-up demand and potential income is far less. However, internet provision is now an accepted component of universal access and has spread in some places to including access in schools, NGOs, health centres and other social services.
Recent approaches to universal access are going further. They
are, for instance, funding broadband services, experimenting in
technology-neutral approaches (eliminating restrictions on technology,
such as VoIP, that can be used), and encouraging experimentation in
low-cost delivery platforms such as broadband wireless access networks.
There is also movement towards making more unlicensed spectrum available. Dedicated licences are now also available in many countries for small-scale local telecom companies to provide the full range of services.Some continue to argue that liberalisation will, given sufficient time, offer the complete solution to universal access. Exponential growth in mobile phone access across most developing countries adopting a pro-market approach, and even some that did not, offered support to this view. Mobile growth remains strongest in Africa – an annual 39% for the two years to the end of 2007 – and Asia also saw a healthy 28% annual growth during the same period. 
Some of the value-added services becoming available on
mobiles, such as financial services (“m-banking” or “m-money”)
including remittance payments of direct relevance to poor communities
and families (successful examples are found in Kenya – almost two
million users – Tanzania, South Africa and the Philippines), have also
been facilitated, if not actually driven, by policy and regulatory
Yet large access gaps remain, especially in poorer, sparsely populated areas. Mobile telephony, despite growing data functionality and applications, still offers limited internet access, usually at tariffs beyond the reach of the poor. The affordability of mobile telephony has not been adequately addressed and its use remains beyond the reach of many poor people even where network access is available. Despite services being available on mobile phones, universal access, some would argue, must in key respects go beyond the market approach to support a public good approach to ICTs.
Such an approach would argue for widespread affordable internet and ICTs based on the idea that the public good is maximised and most efficiently achieved only if virtually everyone is connected.A pro-poor approach
A key challenge with universal access policies and regulation
is to ensure that they can successfully target poor people and poor
communities and are not just benefiting the wealthier sections of what
are, overall, relatively poor communities (i.e., that it is not only
the better off who can actually afford to utilise the services). From
this perspective, a pro-poor approach may be viewed as a convergence
between ICT policy and development policy, where the goal is not simply
to ensure access to ICTs, or even to render them affordable to the
poor, but also to build on the capacity of ICTs to empower poor people
and poor communities.
The manner in which poverty is addressed can vary. South
Africa, from the earliest days, pioneered telecentres as a means to
achieve universal and affordable access for telephony and internet use
by the poor, often offering a range of other services. Success was
but telecentre programmes have become a part of universal access policy
in many other countries.
Some initiatives build in features targeted at poverty. In
India, the Kerala state’s Akshaya project, launched in 2002, 
started as a pilot and is now state wide. It aims to build a network of
rural community “kiosks” in every village. What is notable in the
approach is that the state offers subsidised broadband to social
entrepreneurs to set up these centres. The pro-poor mandate derives
from a legally sanctioned role of the village elected bodies
(panchayats) in governing the kiosks, including some influence in
setting different tariffs according to need, as well as a requirement
that one member of every family in the village is given ICT training.
Other examples following similar principles of community participation and socialised benefits can be found in telephony cooperatives in Argentina and Poland, and the unusual case of a community-owned irrigation board in Peru setting up and running a Wi-Fi based telephony and internet service. Such community-driven networks are intended to build capacity within the community in terms of managing an enterprise, to retain the profits within the community, and to redirect surpluses towards development activities.
A detailed discussion on various government-driven, public/private sector and community-based entrepreneurial models can be seen in the Implementing Projects at the Community Level module of this toolkit.Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda are among countries that have opened regulatory spaces in national policy for these kinds of initiatives. Such small-scale local initiatives may not be inherently pro-poor in nature, but policy and regulatory measures can be taken to encourage and enable them in poor areas, including the participation of poor communities themselves. For instance:
A pro-poor approach focuses on the needs of the poor, and these extend beyond ICT access and affordability. Policy measures can help deliver appropriate content and services to address these wider needs. Many poor rural communities are beyond the effective reach of social and public services, and ICTs can facilitate remote delivery, reducing delivery costs in the long term. For example, the National e-Governance Plan in India includes a well-funded programme, already launched, to establish up to 100,000 Common Services Centres (CSCs) in rural areas, seen as front-end delivery platforms for government, private and social services.
Small-scale village entrepreneurs and NGOs are contracted to
offer the services and establish the centres, charging agreed tariffs.
The idea is that subsidies for the provision of key government services
will underpin the viability of the centres, enabling them to offer a
wider range of services at affordable charges. If this were more firmly
linked into a community empowerment approach, the impact could be even
Affordable access to high-speed internet brings further policy possibilities, both because it allows for the simultaneous provision of a variety of different services and because it supports high-speed broadband services. Areas such as agricultural extension, basic literacy and numeracy, education, disease prevention, hygiene and small business development can all be supported through ICTs, driven by cooperation across different policy domains. The health sector, in particular, can benefit from broadband access, with high-quality video and data transmission linking community health centres with centralised and specialised diagnostic centres. Early diagnosis is often the key to local and effective treatment, and yields major savings both for people and for the health service. Existing universal access policy moves to link health centres and schools to the internet would, with the availability of broadband, come significantly closer to realising such possibilities.ICT strategies
The development of such plans was strongly encouraged from the late 1990s by regional and global entities such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Summit on the Information Society, and by donors at national level. Most include e-governance measures, sectoral actions in health and education, training and capacity building, support for small and micro businesses, as well as infrastructure and service extension, each of which may contain pro-poor measures.The impact of such initiatives on poor people is difficult to judge as there have been no systematic evaluations. Few ICT strategies were backed up with funding; a number comprise little more than a collated set of project ideas to be brought before various donors and sectoral ministries. Some fail to prioritise, and indeed a few countries have produced overlapping ICT plans and strategies, each funded by a different donor. Rwanda's NICI 2010 Plan (extended to 2020) is amongst the most ambitious and explicitly places ICTs at the centre of its overall development plan, and therefore attracts a considerable proportion of development funding. India's National e-Governance Plan, mentioned above, is another example.
However, the availability of this scale of funding to implement ICT and e-government strategies is the exception, not the rule; nor was it always the intention. The possibility of reaping indirect benefits was also part of the rationale for such strategies. A goal was to nurture a wider multi-level strategic ICT dialogue between traditional telecommunication ministries and IT institutions, and sectoral ministries in industries, health, education, rural development and so forth; and to involve as much as possible wider stakeholders. Efforts directed at such mainstreaming of ICTs at the policy level can claim some success in a number of countries such as Mozambique.If the trend now appears to be away from overarching strategies towards sectoral-level policy on ICTs – e-governance, e-health, e-education, etc. – this may reflect a measure of success. Thus strategies that maintained a top-down approach have made little progress, while those that are based on an organic, incremental approach “with a focus on building blocks such as national educational capacity, policy and regulation, infrastructure, content and public sector delivery”  have met with more success.
Many policies apart from those explicitly geared towards
achieving universal access and poverty alleviation influence affordable
access to ICTs.The lack of optical fibre backbone networks in many
countries acts as a bandwidth bottleneck, driving prices beyond the
reach especially of poor people and limiting the functionality of the
services available. Remote delivery of educational, health and other
content-driven services is heavy on bandwidth. Universal access
policies aimed at empowerment through supporting, for instance, the
emergence of community-driven networks and low-cost broadband wireless
access systems also require significant bandwidth. Satellite access,
the only option in many poor and rural areas, is very costly, has high
latency (i.e., time delay between sender and receiver) and is
unreliable in certain weather conditions. Ubiquitous low-cost,
reliable, high-speed networks open up opportunities for everyone, but
especially for innovative approaches to pro-poor ICT solutions. The
paucity of national backbone fibre is particularly evident in Africa,
but also affects poorer Asian countries.
Policy deficiencies are to some extent behind the problem.
The type and extent of liberalisation, overlaid onto existing
rigid yet frail telecommunications institutions and fixed-line
operators, resulted in shortcomings in the nature of the ICT regimes
and services that emerged. For example, the fixed-line network, far
from achieving the expected growth, shrank in some countries. This was
the result of strategic short-sightedness, policy and institutional
hurdles, and unavoidably high initial fixed costs. In much of
sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, liberalisation reinforced or
encouraged vertically integrated operators with end-to-end networks.
Although backbone networks are extensive, the majority comprise
microwave and satellite owned by mobile operators designed primarily
for voice traffic. Furthermore, some governments restrict the types of
technologies that can be deployed, and prohibit operators from selling
on excess bandwidth capacity. As a result, the prospects for universal
broadband are on hold in many developing countries. People in
low-income countries, representing 38% of the world’s population,
currently make up only 1% of the world’s fixed broadband subscribers.
Where the backbone issues have been partially addressed, for instance in Kenya and Nigeria, bandwidth has been freed up and new backbone providers attracted, expanding capacity and reducing prices. In Kenya, the lifting of restrictions on VoIP in 2004 resulted in a fall of almost 80% in the cost of international calls;  and India expects to see national long-distance call tariffs halved and a fifth off international calls. 
This will benefit many poor people deriving economic and social benefits from contacting relatives and friends abroad. However, such developments tend to be confined to main urbanised centres, where fibre already exists and the best market opportunities arise. Market incentives alone, even with supportive regulation, are unlikely to deliver the investment needed for broadband access in more rural areas.The policy and regulatory question is how to get high-speed backbone into rural areas and how to ensure it addresses the needs of the poor. Here additional action is needed, and some have been attempted. 
A crucial factor in the success of these is the implementation of an “open access” approach whereby all players (including at local level) can connect into a technology-neutral environment, at cost-based non-discriminatory charges with the subsidy ensuring they are affordable.Maintaining strong regulatory or public control over service price and quality and applying positive discriminatory measures are critical to ensure that benefits reach poor communities. This suggests that the third model above might be most effective, with a strong role for public interests. The consortium could comprise a number of public entities active in the area with communication needs, such as educational and health institutions. Indeed the government and public services could become an “anchor tenant”, underpinning viability by guaranteed purchase of a significant proportion of available bandwidth in the context of the implementation of wider e-governance strategies.
India, on the other hand, offers an example of a nationally owned incumbent carrier, BSNL, recently building a modern and extensive rural fibre network. According to one Ministry of IT official, every village in India is within 25 kilometres of an optical fibre cable.
BSNL owns the great majority of the backbone and is pursuing an ambitious policy of laying fibre to every exchange in the country, giving extensive rural coverage (though currently it is hugely underutilised). At the same time, it is obliged to sell backbone leased lines on a regulated basis – though not perhaps as much as it might. 
This reinforces that a key factor in success is firm regulation of BSNL regarding cost-based prices and quality of service.Shared infrastructure
An additional policy dimension can be added, depending on the local conditions, to encourage, enable or even mandate the sharing of components of national infrastructure. Sharing can be of “passive” (physical) infrastructure, or of “active” (fibre or other medium) infrastructure.
A key goal in relation to rural access is to reduce the capital cost, and sometimes the current cost, of both passive and active components, thereby enabling network extension beyond where it is otherwise commercially feasible.
In new-build situations, the legal and financial costs of obtaining common rights of way can be shared between communication, electricity, railways, highways and other infrastructure suppliers. Poles, ducts and power supplies can also be used for multiple purposes. As early as 1999, Brazil's three regulatory agencies, for telecoms, electricity and oil, decided to specify a common regulatory framework for sharing infrastructure. In Cameroon and Nigeria, several utilities have been put under the telecoms regulator, facilitating measures ranging from mandatory sharing of passive infrastructure to financial incentives and guidelines. The newly created regulator in Lebanon has similarly declared its intention to promote passive infrastructure sharing in areas where multiple operators cannot viably build infrastructure and where environmental or social concerns are particularly important. 
Network sharing between mobile phone operators of masts,
power, physical space and cabling is encouraged in India and elsewhere,  and
the Indian regulator policy recommendations include financial
incentives such as tax exemptions and licence subventions.
There are also several approaches to sharing active
infrastructure, usually fibre capacity, depending on the circumstances.
Some countries have regulated for the wholesale or retail use of fibre
owned by electricity and railway companies, or the multiple use of
fibre along existing and new electricity (Ecuador, El Salvador, Kenya,
Tanzania) and train (Ghana) network lines. A transnational example is
the Cameroon-Chad oil pipeline, where twelve of the eighteen fibre
cables installed will be available for use by telecoms operators,
traversing many rural areas.
There is, however, some resistance to sharing common
infrastructure. Concerns include that commercially sensitive knowledge
will become available to competitors in the case of mobile operators
sharing elements of active infrastructure; or that forced sharing will
facilitate direct competition in a core area of business. But the
incentive of considerable gains has led to solutions being found around
these issues. In Tanzania, for instance, a neutral partner carrier in
the form of an equipment vendor manages shared active infrastructure
for several operators in what might otherwise be marginal rural areas,
thereby avoiding the issue of commercially sensitive information.
Open standards are about enabling all communication
technologies – and people – to interact with each other by recognising
and adopting common standards. Open hardware means the public
availability of technical specifications of ICT equipment. Open source
is the term for software that makes its “source code” freely available
to all, thus allowing programmes to be tailored to local needs and
giving birth to a global community of software engineers helping each
other out; free and open source software (FOSS) is the wider movement
that also emphasises the availability of software for free. Open
spectrum is essentially making wireless bandwidth available without the
need for a licence.
Together they can facilitate a pro-development approach and, particularly in a local context, pro-poor aspects can emerge. Open standards can help to avoid vendor “lock-in” where customers are obliged to stick with the same equipment, ensuring that all equipment can interconnect. This allows for greater customer choice, including the choice of local equipment. Open hardware facilitates small-scale manufacture and assembling of hardware locally, to suit local conditions and needs and generate employment. A major policy lever in relation to open standards and open hardware is government procurement policy for government services.Open source not only saves money, but in the right circumstances can help build up local software skills. The success of Wi-Fi at the local level, where it has been deployed by poor communities to build their own networks, can in part be attributed to the emergence of a Wi-Fi open source community enabling new business models to emerge. 
Open spectrum policies have been at the root of the Wi-Fi revolution, greatly simplifying the bureaucratic barriers involved in legally accessing spectrum and eliminating licence fees. The potential and actual benefits of FOSS for development in general have been widely documented,  though the subject will undoubtedly remain hotly contested given the power, resources and massive user platform of commercial software companies, notably Microsoft. Quite a number of countries and regions are implementing policies to support FOSS, as part of a development approach or sometimes integrated within ICT strategies, from Brazil and Venezuela to the Indian state of Kerala. The last is in the process of setting up an International Centre for Free and Open Source Software with wide-ranging functions to support and implement FOSS. 
Ecuador joined the list in May 2008, when the president issued a decree that establishes, with few exceptions, the mandatory use of FOSS in the public administration and institutions, and pilots are underway in two ministries. The case is interesting as these measures anticipated the proposed new constitution, finally adopted in October 2008, which includes an explicit commitment to the right to universal access to ICTs.Broadcasting policy and regulation
Radio and television are sometimes thought of as technologies
of the past. Yet they continue to evolve and change and exert major
influence, sometimes in new areas. They can be technologically
innovative, and are increasingly intertwined with their
telecommunication and internet-based cousins. Apart from their economic
role, the fact that most countries retain relatively strict regulation
– and sometimes direct government control – in an era of deregulation
is testimony to how important these media are in political and cultural
spheres. Broadcasting globally is by far the dominant means by which
people receive information from outside and, most importantly, this
is especially true in poor and remote communities.
Broadcasting, if properly regulated, has the potential to give voice to poor communities, opening a door to wider influence in society's structures and institutions. Yet broadcasting is too often neglected in current ICT policies and strategies, and its pro-poor potential lies largely dormant.The growth in the past decade in community radio– the cheapest and most accessible of all ICTs – is probably the most striking feature of the sector. Every continent has been affected. In Africa, from Mali to Cameroon, Senegal to the Democratic Republic of Congo, through Togo, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Niger and Chad, all have witnessed an explosion of community radio stations to the extent that their numbers now run into the thousands. Latin America has a history of community radio dating back over half a century, in the beginning outside the law, but in recent years Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Mexico and Argentina, amongst others, have developed policy and are regulating the sector . The experience in Asia is more recent, but Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand, India and Indonesia now give out radio licences to communities.
However, the policy and regulatory processes that have accompanied this flowering of stations is highly uneven, and whether the future will live up to its undoubted pro-poor potential is uncertain.Nepal is a case in point, illustrating some of the risks. Community stations played a key role in the restoration of democracy to Nepal and, partly in reward, the new government “fast-tracked” applicants for new licences. Dozens were granted within weeks, with more applicants joining the queue all the time. Yet the licence does not distinguish between commercial and community stations and both have to pay a 4% tax on income and a significant annual broadcasting levy. There are also few regulatory protections to ensure that the public interest is kept to the fore. In this circumstance, commercial stations are consolidating their base and crowding out the community stations; and politicians and political parties can manipulate channels for propaganda. 
Television is also growing as a medium in poor communities. However, community television, because of the higher costs and wider set of skills required, has had little impact so far, with the possible exception of a couple of Latin American countries. But there has been a major shift in policy and regulation in the last decade. A pronounced decline in direct government control of broadcasting is evident, including television, especially in Africa and to a lesser extent in Latin America and parts of Asia.
Taking its place, however, is the emergence of sometimes unregulated commercial television, often tacitly supporting the government and intent on maximising profits. At the same time, the publicly held aspiration of many of these governments is quite the reverse: to promote public interest television.The creation of a policy and regulatory environment in broadcasting that focuses above all else on the public interest has the potential of being a central plank of a wider pro-poor agenda. The challenges are significant:
In 1995, just 43 countries had established national regulatory
authorities for telecommunications. By the year 2000 this figure had
risen to 106, and in 2008 it stood at 149.
However, even with enlightened and innovative policy and
regulation on the statutes, effective regulatory implementation
confronts a number of serious challenges. Perhaps chief among these are
the limitations in capacity in regulatory bodies, many of them recently
established in a radically altered policy environment. Not only must
new skills be found and institutionally embedded, but they often
quickly confront highly resourced private sector operators with decades
of experience in thwarting the best efforts of regulators. Asymmetries
of information – for instance, around pricing – between the regulator
and regulated are difficult to overcome in the best of circumstances,  and
regulatory “capture” is common. Gaining independence and credibility
involves a complex interaction, and must be earned over time by the
actions of the regulator and the reactions of the government, the
incumbent and the courts.
One trend in this regard is also worthy of mention: the emergence and expanding roles of regional associations of regulatory bodies. Examples include the Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) in Southern Africa and Regulatel in Latin America. In other cases, cooperation takes place under wider regional political alliances, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Their agenda initially includes formulating regional policies, research and sharing of experiences and capacity. ECOWAS in 2007 adopted an agreement that covers ICT policy, the legal regime, interconnection, numbering, spectrum management and universal access.3. Strategic policy and regulatory options
The experience and trends outlined offer a number of policy and regulatory options with the potential to alleviate poverty and contribute to empowerment, some more tested than others.1.Extending network and service access more deeply into poorer and more remote areas may be possible through a range of additions and variations on the basic lowest-subsidy auction model:
2.UAFs and policy can also be deployed to support wider development goals, through measures to promote employment creation and capacity building:a) Licensing and supporting small-scale local and cooperative enterprises offering a range of services including telephony, internet and others can generate local employment and enhance skills.
a) UAFs may be used to provide access to credit, equity capital or grants to micro-enterprise retail phone providers along the Grameen phone model, or more ambitiously to licensed local cooperative enterprises as above.
b) Where available, subsidised bandwidth is an option as a support for community social enterprises.
c) Support for both internet access and content development could be given, in the areas of education, health, NGOs/CBOs and development activities, working in close collaboration with community interests.
d) The UAF could support the setting up of community radio stations: a community radio channel can be built and equipped for less than the cost of a single tower of a single mobile telephone network, and priority could be given to pro-poor communities in licensing.
Given the trend towards including wide-ranging actions under universal service policy and regulation, it has been credibly suggested that the concept of the UAF should be superseded altogether with that of the Universal Communication Fund. Such a fund would be given greater flexibility in terms of the forms and goals of funding, adopting a “bottom-up” approach to supporting community and local enterprise in poor areas, and in moving some services from universal access to universal service. Such a broader role would, in most countries, quickly run up against the capacity limitations of policy makers and regulators, but may be ripe for consideration in some situations.
3.The limited availability of broadband backbone, especially fibre, in rural areas can be addressed through a number of regulatory measures, depending on the circumstances:a) Regulating to oblige operators to share or sell spare backbone capacity may be an option, including for instance mobile backhaul.
b) Regulating to promote and facilitate passive and active infrastructure and facilities sharing, such as rights of way, pilots and masts and pipelines, as well as fibre and wireless facilities.
c) Introducing “open-access” regulation of existing and new fibre, and opening the market for a diversity of small, medium and large value-added services.
d) Offering policy support, depending on the circumstances, for the creation of public policy-driven consortia to build fibre, including public investment.
4.E-governance and ICT strategies could be coordinated more closely with both development and universal access policies. The use of ICTs to provide e-government services in remote areas can generate demand for bandwidth that can be aggregated with other local users to bring down costs. These services can be coordinated with support for community cooperative ICT-based enterprises.5.Open standards, open hardware, open source and open spectrum are each in their own way, and in various combinations, capable of reducing costs, supporting capacity building, and helping to tailor service provision to the needs of poor communities. Policy can play a significant role in encouraging these approaches, for instance through procurement and guidelines, and in more active policy decision to favour their implementation.
6.Broadcasting, both radio and television, can enable poor and marginalised communities to have a voice in the public sphere and gain influence on policy more widely if policy and regulation are specifically designed and implemented towards that end. Evidence suggests that an appropriate balance between commercial, community and public service broadcasting can achieve this. Such an approach covers a vast area of law, regulation and policy. Movement towards such a system must ultimately help to address issues of poverty and exclusion, particularly through the community sector.Increasing the take of the universal access fund through, for instance, raising the percentage contribution should, if the money is spent wisely, ultimately benefit the poor, although care must be taken not to undermine mainstream ICT activities. Broadening the scope of those contributing might be possible, for instance to include courier, broadcasting and other communication-related sectors, where these are stable and profitable.
However, lack of funding is not always the issue and there are cases in which finding useful ways to dispose of funds collected is the greater challenge, bringing back up the issue of capacity. Fundamental to building capacity in many cases is the need for firm government support and determination that the regulator will become independent, capable and authoritative.4. Case Studies
Three case studies have been provided for this module as well as a list of additional resource material. The policy and regulation case studies are outlined below:
|Providing Universal Access: FITEL, Peru||This programme provides mechanisms for minimising the subsidy required for commercial telecoms companies to extend the network into non-commercial areas by awarding the contract to the bidder seeking the lowest subsidy||FITEL in Peru offers an early and successful example of a universal access fund adopting an innovative approach to achieving access in rural areas, now widely replicated: the lowest-subsidy auction. Despite shortcomings, this pioneering programme brought various social benefits, and activities have since expanded from public telephony to include internet access.|
|Rural Broadband Backbone: A case study of different approaches and potential||A look at different approaches to extending fibre backbone into rural areas||This case study lists various options for the provision of rural broadband backbone, from direct investment by a government-owned operator (as in India), to the provision of “open access” fibre backbone through a public/private consortium (as proposed in parts of Africa), to mechanisms that encourage infrastructure sharing and build complementary infrastructure.|
|Digital Inclusion Policies: Some lessons from India||A review of digital inclusion policy in India, particularly the Common Services Centres (CSC) scheme of the National e-Governance Plan||This case study looks at a range of digital inclusion initiatives in India. It includes an analysis of the challenges faced by the CSC scheme in ensuring the delivery of development services in a socially inclusive manner using the ICT-based rural infrastructure it is building.|
There are case studies in other modules of this toolkit which are relevant to policy and regulation:
|Using Mobile Networks for Low-Cost Data Exchange:
The Mozambique Health Information Network (MHIN)
|Health workers use mobile networks and PDAs to implement government commitments to provide affordable health services to communities||The use of ICTs by the Ministry of Health in Mozambique to deliver a wider development (health) objective is an example of mainstreaming ICTs across development sectors.|
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Adam, Lishan Policies for equitable access Montevideo: APC, 2008 www.apc.org/en/pubs/research/openaccess/world/policies-equitable-accessAMARC Fighting Poverty: Utilising Community Radio in a Digital Age Montreal: AMARC, 2008 www.amarc.org/wccd/index.php
Borba Lefèvre, Camila “Mobile Sharing” Discussion paper presented at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 8th Global Symposium for Regulators, Pattaya, Thailand, 11-13 March 2008 www.itu.int/ITU-D/treg/Events/Seminars/GSR/GSR08/documents_presentations...Buckley, Steve, Kreszentia Duer, Toby Mendel and Seán Ó Siochrú Broadcasting, Voice and Accountability: A Public Interest Approach to Policy, Law and Regulation Ann Arbor: World Bank Institute and University of Michigan Press, 2008 www.digitalculture.org/broadcasting.html
Cohen, Tracey and Russell Southwood “Extending Open Access to National Fibre Backbones in Developing Countries”. Work in progress, presented for discussion at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 8th Global Symposium for Regulators, Pattaya, Thailand, 11-13 March 2008 www.itu.int/ITU-D/treg/Events/Seminars/GSR/GSR08/discussion_papers/Cohen...De Silva, Harsha and Ratna Kaji Tuladhar “Chapter 7: Smart Subsidies – Getting the Conditions Right”. In Diversifying Participation in Network Development: Case Studies and Research from WDR Research Cycle 3 edited by Amy Mahan and William H. Melody. Montevideo: IDRC/infoDev/LIRNE.NET/Comunica, 2007 www.comminit.com/en/node/270757/307
Dixit, Kunda “The Rescuing of Democracy”. In Fighting Poverty: Utilising Community Radio in a Digital Age Montreal: AMARC, 2008 www.amarc.org/wccd/index.phpinDymand, Andrew Telecommunications Challenges in Developing Countries: Asymmetrical Interconnection Charges for Rural Areas Washington: World Bank, 2004.
Escudero-Pascual, Alberto Tools and technologies for equitable access Montevideo: APC, 2008 www.apc.org/en/system/files/APC_EquitableAccess_ToolsAndTechnologies_Iss...Gillwald, Alison and Christoph Stork Towards an African e-Index: ICT access and usage across 16 African countries Johannesburg: LINK Centre, Witwatersrand University, 2006 www.researchictafrica.net/images/upload/Cairo.pdf
Girard, Bruce “Community Radio, New Technologies and Policy”. In Fighting Poverty: Utilising Community Radio in a Digital Age Montreal: AMARC, 2008 www.amarc.org/wccd/index.phpHoe, Nah Soo Breaking Barriers: The Potential of Free and Open Source Software for Sustainable Human Development. A Compilation of Case Studies from Across the World Bangkok: UNDP-APDIP, 2006 www.apdip.net/publications/ict4d/BreakingBarriers.pdf
Howard, Ian Unbounded possibilities: Observations on sustaining rural ICTs in Africa Montevideo: APC, 2007 www.apc.org/en/system/files/SustainingRuralICTs_0.pdfinfoDev and ITU ICT Regulation Toolkit www.ictregulationtoolkit.org/en/index.html
Intelecon Universal Access and Service Funds, Update December 2007 Vancouver: Intelecon, 2007 www.inteleconresearch.com/pages/documents/UAFunds2007update.pdfInternational Telecommunication Union Report on the World Summit on the Information Society Stocktaking Geneva: ITU, 2008 www.itu.int/wsis/stocktaking/docs/2008/WSIS-Stocktaking2008-e.pdf
Mahan, Amy and William H. Melody, eds. Stimulating Investment in Network Development: Roles for Regulators: Case studies and research from WDR Research Cycle 2 Montevideo: IDRC/infoDev/LIRNE.NET, 2005 www.infodev.org/en/Publication.12.htmlMahan, Amy and William H. Melody, eds. Diversifying Participation in Network Development: Case Studies and Research from WDR Research Cycle Montevideo: IDRC/infoDev/LIRNE.NET/Comunica, 2007 www.comminit.com/en/node/270757/307
Navas-Sabater, Juan, Andrew Dymond and Niina Juntunen Telecommunications and Information Services for the Poor: Towards a Strategy for Universal Access Washington: World Bank, 2002 www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2002/05/03/000094946_02041804225061/Rendered/PDF/multi0page.pdfÓ Siochrú, Seán “Empowering Communities through ICT Cooperative Enterprises: The Case of India”. In The Political Economy of the Information Society: A Southern View edited by Parminder Jeet Singh, Anita Gurumurthy and Mridula Swamy. Bangalore: IT for Change, 2008 itforchange.net/media/ISSS/Political_Economy_of_IS.pdf
Ó Siochrú, Seán and Bruce Girard Community-based Networks and Innovative Technologies: New models to serve and empower the poor New York: UNDP, 2005 www.propoor-ict.netParkinson, Sarah Telecentres, Access and Development: Experience and Lessons from Uganda and South Africa Ottawa: Practical Action Publishing/Fountain/IDRC, 2005 www.idrc.ca/en/ev-87255-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html
Schorr, Susan “What Do We Mean by ‘6 Degrees of Sharing’?” Discussion paper presented at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 8th Global Symposium for Regulators, Pattaya, Thailand, 11-13 March 2008 www.itu.int/ITU-D/treg/Events/Seminars/GSR/GSR08/papers.htmlSingh, Harsha Vardhana and Rohan Samarajiva “Chapter 7: One Backbone, or Two?”. In ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks edited by Rohan Samarajiva and Ayesha Zainudeen. New Delhi: LIRNEasia/IDRC/SAGE Publications, 2008 www.idrc.ca/openebooks/378-2
Song, Steve A Commentary on Tools and Technologies for Equitable Access Montevideo: APC, 2008 www.apc.org/en/system/files/APC_EquitableAccess_ToolsAndTechnologies_Com...Stern, Peter A. and David Townsend New Models for Universal Access in Latin America: Summary of Main Report Regulatel/World Bank/ECLAC, 2006 www.regulatel.org/miembros/publicaciones/ESTU%20DIOS/SERV%20UNIV/PPIAF/i...
Wellenius, Björn Closing the Gap in Access to Rural Communication: Chile 1995–2002 Washington: World Bank, 2002 www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2002/03/22/000094946_0203070403326/Rendered/PDF/multi0page.pdfWilliams, Mark Broadband for Africa: Policy for Promoting the Development of Backbone Networks Washington: infoDev/World Bank, 2008 www.infodev.org/en/Publication.526.h
India is known as an IT powerhouse but still has the greatest number of poor people of any country in the world. India’s experience with policies for digital inclusion therefore may offer some useful lessons for other developing countries. This case study provides an analysis of the ambitious Common Service Centres (CSCs) scheme of the National e-Governance Plan. It looks at the challenges faced by the scheme in ensuring the delivery of development services in a socially inclusive manner using the ICT-based rural infrastructure it is building.
Live as at October 31st 2008
Advocacy Strategies and Approaches:
Advocacy is the active support of an
idea or cause expressed through
strategies and methods that influence the opinions and decisions of
people and organisations.
In the social and economic development context the aims of advocacy are to create or change policies, laws, regulations, distribution of resources or other decisions that affect people’s lives and to ensure that such decisions lead to implementation.Such advocacy is generally directed at policy makers including politicians, government officials and public servants, but also private sector leaders whose decisions impact upon peoples lives, as well as those whose opinions and actions influence policy makers, such as journalists and the media, development agencies and large NGOs.
By “pro-poor advocacy” we mean advocacy for political decisions and actions that respond to the interests of people who directly face poverty and disadvantage. For those pursuing the goal of equitable and pro-poor ICT access, advocacy as a means to bring about change can be appropriate in a range of circumstances, including:
(a) Where ICT policies could have the effect of reinforcing poverty and discrimination. For example, “e-government” projects that use the internet to improve access to public services may, for those without internet access, have the reverse effect, unless they are complemented by other measures to enable universal access to the internet.
(b) When appropriate ICT policy change could be expected to improve poor people’s lives and livelihoods. For example, the adoption of broadcasting policies that enable community-based organisations to establish their own radio or television services.
(c) As part of a wider programme of support for pro-poor ICT access. For example, the impact and effectiveness of investment in public ICT access centres may be improved by advocacy efforts to adopt and mainstream good practice such as community participation in management or use of free and open source software.
There is much that has been written on advocacy and how to gain influence. Some of the basic tenets of the art of persuasion, found in political science and communication studies, appear also in early Greek and Chinese philosophy. It is widely recognised, for example, that change comes rarely from force of logical argument alone or from the presentation of irrefutable evidence in support of the changes required. The latter is most starkly demonstrated by the slow response to climate change warnings. Much depends on the character, approach and credibility of those seeking change and the receptiveness of those they are seeking to persuade. Advocacy is inherently political and an understanding of political dynamics is at the heart of effective advocacy.
Even the most clear-minded advocacy for pro-poor ICT policies can meet resistance for various reasons, including lack of political will, bureaucratic inertia, and counter arguments from well-resourced interest groups pursuing their own advocacy efforts. Effective advocacy therefore requires research to map out the policy terrain, the principal actors, the political relations and the interests at stake. In the ICT policy field this terrain typically will include government departments, communications regulators, telecommunications service providers, media organisations, sector associations and growing numbers of civil society interest groups. Careful planning and a strategic approach are therefore needed if results are to be achieved.
Policy change rarely happens overnight and is often linked to broader change in the political environment. Effective advocacy requires long-term as well as short-term thinking, an understanding of the points of resistance and the means to gain traction, the readiness to form alliances, and the flexibility to seize windows of opportunity.
This overview describes some of the more commonly used advocacy techniques, from critical engagement such as policy monitoring and policy dialogue, through organised campaigns for policy change, to pathfinder and demonstrator projects that can inform and influence future policy making. It highlights the importance for people facing disadvantage to be able to assert their own needs and interests. It explains step by step how to devise an effective advocacy strategy for ICT policy reform. It is accompanied by case examples and signposting to further tools and resources.
Policy monitoring and public
Almost all effective policy-related advocacy efforts commence with observation and monitoring of the implementation and effectiveness of policies already in place. These might include, for example, commitments to ICT infrastructure roll-out, universal access policies, support for community-based ICT access centres, public interest broadcasting policies, or regulatory mechanisms to ensure fair pricing of services.
High profile ICT policy monitoring by civil society advocacy groups can, on its own, contribute to improved policy implementation and effectiveness by highlighting public policy targets and drawing public attention to under performance or to policy failure. Governments and public bodies, especially in democratic societies, are sensitive to critical reports, and more so when these are based on robust evidence and analysis, come from a credible source, and are widely published and disseminated.
Policy monitoring by civil society groups may be in the form of one-off investigation into a particular area of interest; it may consist of a baseline study, perhaps at the commencement of a new policy, and a follow-up study later to establish what results were achieved; or it may be a periodic monitoring report, such as an annual review.
Policy monitoring and public accountability are made easier where government departments and other public bodies, including regulatory organisations, maintain and publish data and reports in a timely fashion and undertake research and consultation to facilitate decision making in the public interest. Where this is not the case, where the information is poor or unreliable, or where independent data is needed, civil society organisations and coalitions may organise their own research and data gathering, or they may rely on third party sources such as commercial and academic research.
Right to information laws can help and, in countries where such laws are weak or absent, their adoption or improvement has itself been a key demand of civil society organisations, not only those working in the communication policy field. In some cases investigative journalism may be needed to root out and expose policy failings.
Impact may often be enhanced by involving citizens and civil society organisations in the process of policy monitoring and review and by gathering demand-side data using techniques such as citizen surveys, social audits and participatory policy review. Such social accountability mechanisms have gained increasing recognition as effective means of strengthening civic engagement in policy making and policy monitoring.
Policy dialogue – ICT and mainstream development policy
Policy monitoring alone may prompt
corrections to policy failure or
lead to improved policy implementation, but most civil society groups
concerned with ICT policy also carry their own ideas about what
policies are desirable. They are interested in gaining influence
earlier in the policy-making process. At its most straightforward this
involves engagement in policy dialogue with bureaucrats and politicians.
The Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), for example, has a core programme activity on “gender and ICT policy advocacy” with a focus on equitable access to ICTs and engendering ICT policy making. Their priorities include not only a focus on existing ICT policies such as the Rural Communications Development Fund (a levy applied to telecom providers to support areas that are underserved by markets) but also engaging in policy development processes such as the review of the National ICT Policy. WOUGNET participates actively in government-organised stakeholder consultations on ICT policy, it contributes its own studies and reports, and it responds to draft policy proposals.
Civil society organisations like WOUGNET, whose field of interest is in the development of the use of ICTs, tend to focus their policy dialogue efforts on areas of policy making that are explicitly and primarily concerned with ICT policy: universal access arrangements, national e-strategies, etc. This may seem an obvious strategy but, on its own, it can also have the drawback of limiting policy dialogue to a relatively narrow range of actors – especially those who already share a similar outlook or others perhaps more interested in ICT growth than in pro-poor development.
Strategic engagement in policy dialogue on pro-poor ICT access can also be gained by taking, as a primary focus, areas of mainstream development policy – education, health, rural livelihoods, and so on – and contributing to more strategically framed development policy making such as the preparation of National Development Strategies. This perspective can assist in gaining traction for a pro-poor ICT access agenda across a broader political and policy-making spectrum. It can also assist better understanding of the real world policy choices that politicians and their constituents face – cleaner water or faster connectivity, more clinics or more ICT access centres – and better articulation of the role of ICTs in poverty reduction.
For effective pro-poor ICT policy dialogue, engagement on both fronts may be the most productive strategy: ensuring that ICT policy making is informed by a pro-poor perspective and strengthening that position by building support across government, especially those most engaged with poverty reduction and pro-poor development.
Campaigns for policy change
In India, in 1996, the National Campaign
for People’s Right to
Information (NCPRI) was founded by social
activists, journalists, lawyers, professionals, retired civil servants
and academics. Its goal was to campaign for a national law facilitating
the right to information. Its first step was to produce, with the Press
Council of India, a draft right to information law. After years of
public debate and the passage in several Indian states of right to
information laws, the government of India passed the Freedom of
Information Act 2002. The Act was weakly drafted, subject to widespread
criticism and never brought into force. Continued
campaigning and a change of government led eventually to adoption of
the Right to Information Act 2005.
Civil society campaigns for policy change rarely achieve rapid results. They require patience, tenacity, courage and conviction. There is no blueprint for success, but there are some common denominators to almost all successful advocacy campaigns. It is essential, for instance, to maintain clarity in communications: goals should be clear and achievable; messages should be compelling for those to whom they are intended; calls to action should be specific and concise. Good planning and organisation must combine with the ability to mobilise broad coalitions of public and political support towards a common goal.
Policy campaigning is goal-oriented advocacy in which civil society groups and coalitions aim to set the policy agenda rather than simply to monitor or respond to government policy making. It involves taking action and initiative. It can be exciting and empowering for those involved, but it can also be hard work, frustrating, and ultimately unsuccessful. Before adopting a campaigning orientation it is worth asking whether the goals could be better achieved by dialogue or quiet negotiation.
Campaigns for policy change draw on a wide range of tools and tactics, including public demonstrations, protests, letter writing, lobbying, use of media and the internet, and legal action. Campaigning is often confrontational in nature. After all, a campaign would not be needed if the government or private company was receptive to the policies being advocated. Conversely, it is often the dynamic of conflict that gives a campaign momentum, spurring media attention and recruiting public support.
Campaigns are often built in response to particular opportunities or threats arising in the context of the process of policy change. For example, the transition from analogue to digital distribution systems for television is moving ahead rapidly worldwide, with only limited time for civil society organisations to gain guarantees of access to the new channels. In Uruguay, a law first drafted in 2005 by a coalition including community broadcasting activists, journalists and labour unions was adopted in 2007, guaranteeing an equitable distribution of frequencies between private, public and civil society organisations. The law has ensured that civil society groups have a legal entitlement to use part of the digital television spectrum.
In Ecuador, the process of adopting a new constitution that began in 2007 under the presidency of Rafael Correa was seen as an opportunity by civil society groups engaged in media and ICT advocacy to challenge the existing political economy of the communications environment and to propose a new communication rights framework. The new constitution adopted in 2008 included the explicit entitlement of all persons to universal access to information and communication technologies, together with a right to the creation of social media, including equal access to radio frequencies.
Some civil society advocacy organisations may have several campaigns running at the same time, each with distinct goals requiring different alliances and strategies. In other cases a single-issue organisation, or a coalition of like minded groups, may form to campaign towards a single policy goal, as in the example of India’s campaign for a right to information law. International campaigning organisations, such as Amnesty International and Greenpeace, have tested their campaigning methods over many years. Some of the lessons learned are also relevant to ICT policy advocacy.
Building the advocacy capacity of stakeholder groups
As noted in the introduction to this
toolkit, poor people face
systemic barriers in their access to information and in their means to
exercise their right to freedom of expression. The lack of “voice” of
disadvantaged groups is a challenge at the core of pro-poor advocacy on
ICT access. It is one of the reasons why
advocacy for equitable access to ICTs is important. At the same time,
it compromises the ability of disadvantaged people themselves to
advocate for their own communication needs.
This is a critical issue that demands the attention of any organisation engaged in pro-poor ICT advocacy. We stated earlier that “pro-poor advocacy” means advocacy for political decisions and actions that respond to the interests of people who directly face poverty and disadvantage. They are the primary stakeholders. Their lack of voice can be overcome in two distinct ways. As Drèze and Sen describe it: “One is assertion (or, more precisely, self-assertion) of the underprivileged through political organisation. The other is solidarity with the underprivileged on the part of other members of the society, whose interests and commitments are broadly linked, and who are often better placed to advance the cause of the disadvantaged by virtue of their own privileges (e.g., formal education, access to the media, economic resources, political connections).”
There are a great number of “pro-poor advocacy” organisations that are not, by any means, populated by people with first-hand experience of poverty. Rather they are run by well-educated middle-class professionals for whom pro-poor advocacy is a vocation. This is as much a reality in the ICT policy field as in other development sectors. That such people have chosen to work for and in solidarity with those who face the daily struggle of poverty and deprivation is, of course, to be welcomed – social solidarity is very often an important component of advocacy and political action – but, on its own, it is also “a somewhat undependable basis of authentic representation of the interests of the underprivileged.” Solidarity has multiple motivations, is not always accompanied by shared perspectives, and may be more effective at attracting support when it conforms with dominant ideologies.
Thus building the advocacy capacity of self-help groups of the disadvantaged and of community-based and working-class organisations is at least as important as doing advocacy for the poor. Effective pro-poor advocacy on access to ICTs must include strategies likely to lead to an increase in the voice and influence of the underprivileged sections of society in ICT and other policy making. This may include, for example, strengthening the communications capacity of disadvantaged people’s organisations and support for development of grassroots communication initiatives like community radio. Such strategies can be effective in enabling people who are disadvantaged and marginalised to speak out directly on the issues that affect their lives and livelihoods.
The Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC), for example, is a national network that combines a programme of advocacy in ICT policy areas such as right to information, community broadcasting and e-governance, with practical support for rural knowledge centres and community radio stations.
Deccan Development Society (DDS) is a grassroots organisation working with women's sanghams (self-help groups) in about 75 villages in the Medak District of Andhra Pradesh, India. The 5,000 women members of the Society are mostly Dalit, the lowest group in the Indian social hierarchy. As part of a broader strategy in pursuit of “autonomous communities”, the women of DDS established the DDS Community Media Trust, including a video production unit and Sangham Radio, the first rural community radio in India and the first women’s radio in South Asia.
The right-to-information movement in India drew, among other inspirations, on empowerment-based approaches to public accountability pioneered by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in Rajasthan, including public hearings where accounts, including public expenditure records, were read aloud at independently organised village meetings and local people were invited to give testimony.
Pathfinder and demonstrator projects
New ideas in policy are not always easy
to communicate to those who
influence or make decisions, particularly where they involve new or
unfamiliar uses of ICTs. It may not be until an idea has been
demonstrated in action that it is fully understood.
“Pathfinder” or “demonstrator” projects can therefore be an effective alternative strategy for ICT policy advocacy. If success can be demonstrated in practice, it can have the dual impact of mobilising further demand and interest and of motivating policy makers to take decisions that encourage replication and scaling-up. Such initiatives can be resource intensive. They may require certain policy decisions before they can proceed, but policy makers may also be more receptive to allowing a limited experiment to test and demonstrate an idea than to agreeing a major policy change.
RITS (Rede de Informacão para o Terceiro Setor) was founded in Brazil in 1997 to strengthen civil society organisations’ communications capacity. The organisation has built an impressive network for monitoring ICT policy and campaigning on equitable access. A demonstrator project organised by RITS in partnership with Sampa.org led to the establishment of 128 community-based telecentres in São Paulo, with an estimated half a million users per month. The model offers free public access and training support, is based on free and open source software, and promotes community involvement in management and development of the centres as a space for community organisation. With support from Petrobras, it has been replicated in 50 locations across Brazil. The Brazilian government is now considering investment in 10,000 new telecentres drawing substantially on the experience of the RITS demonstration.
The Nigeria Community Radio Coalition, launched in 2003, has mobilised broad support for its campaign goal of seeing community radio services established in Nigeria. As part of its strategy for opening the door to community radio development, it has proposed a pilot scheme in at least six locations to be distributed across the country’s geopolitical zones. The proposal for a pilot scheme has been supported by the National Broadcasting Commission and by the National Fadama Development Programme, which has committed funding for preparation and infrastructure.
In this part we look at the practical steps involved in ICT advocacy planning and implementation. The stages outlined draw on principles of strategic planning and project management combined with political analysis and communications. For each of the stages we set out some key considerations to be addressed. At several points we pose questions rather than solutions. There is no single template for pro-poor ICT advocacy. The questions are intended to assist the process of planning and design.
A. Preliminary steps
(i)Identifying the problems and the
What is the pro-poor ICT access issue to be addressed? Why is it important and to whom? This may have been highlighted through research, expressed as a demand by grassroots organisations, or it may have a normative basis, for example, it has been identified by comparison with good practice elsewhere. Does this problem have a policy dimension? What current policies reinforce the problem? What changes in policies could lead to improvement? Who is responsible for those policies?
(ii)Defining the advocacy goal
It can be helpful, at the preliminary stage, to define the goal of the proposed advocacy initiative. What positive change can be expected to result if the initiative is successful? Is the initiative intended to improve access to information, to promote dialogue, or to strengthen voice and influence? Or will it contribute to all of these things? Or to broader development goals? Who will be the primary beneficiaries of the initiative?
(iii)Consulting and building
Building relationships is intrinsic to any successful advocacy effort and should also commence at an early stage. Before engaging in detailed policy analysis and planning it can be important to consult with other organisations, especially those which share similar goals and interests. Has any similar initiative been tried before? If so, what were the results? Is anything similar being considered or planned? Are there opportunities to build a partnership-based approach from the outset?
(iv)Establishing credibility as an
The credibility of the organisation, partnership or coalition that is advocating change is likely to be a key factor in its success. Does it have a mandate to speak on behalf of those who are expected to benefit? Does it have specialist expertise? Does it have influence with decision makers? What could be done to strengthen the credibility of the initiative – for example, further research and consultation, better alliances?
B. Analysing the policy environment
(i)Identifying relevant policies,
laws and regulations
Having decided, in principle, to consider advocacy as a strategy to achieve pro-poor ICT access and having undertaken some preliminary work to define the advocacy goals, the next stage involves closer analysis of the policy environment, starting with an audit of the relevant policies and political institutions. What policies are already in place (for example, national e-strategies, e-government, media development, digital divide initiatives)? How are these reflected, or not, in current laws and regulations? It is important also to be aware of relevant international treaty obligations, laws and standards.
(ii)Mapping relations of power and
Where are policy decisions taken and who has influence over them? For example, is the focus on government policy and, if so, which ministries and departments are responsible? What other ministries have an interest in the impact of the current or proposed policies, for example, rural development, education? Are there other public bodies with relevant influence or responsibility, such as a communications regulator or a national media council? What about the legislature or parliament – are there interest groups in the policy area? Can support be usefully mobilised across different political parties? Who else has influence over the key political decision makers?
(iii)Considering the options for
Would a change in policy alone be sufficient to achieve the advocacy goal? Or might the proposed policy change also require legal and/or regulatory change? What about the economic impact – are there taxation or public spending implications that should be taken into account? Are there alternative approaches to be considered? Could the goals be achieved incrementally or do they require a fundamental change in policy? What policy options are most likely to attract support, or generate opposition?
C. Developing the strategy
(i)Focusing on the goal and objectives
In developing the strategy, and in the light of more systematic analysis of the policy environment, it is advisable to return to the advocacy goal and to set specific and realistic objectives that can be achieved within a reasonable, defined timeframe. It should be possible at the end of such a period to say whether or not they were achieved. If the goal is ambitious it may be necessary to set more limited and incremental objectives – for example, raised awareness, commitments of support, pilot projects – that can contribute to achieving the goal over a longer timeframe.
(ii)Identifying the target audiences
It is useful to distinguish between primary and secondary audiences. The primary target audiences are the institutions, and the individuals within them, who have authority to make the policy decisions that are sought. These are generally determined by the policy goal and objectives. The secondary audiences are those who are best placed to influence the decision makers. These may include politicians, public servants, the media, development agencies, influential NGOs and so on.
(iii)Identifying allies and opponents
It is important to identify both the potential allies and the likely opponents. What other organisations share similar goals and concerns? Would they support the initiative, be open to partnership or to joining a broader coalition? Are there already coalitions in place? What risks might there be in alliance or coalition building? What groups or organisations might feel threatened by the proposals? Could this coalesce into organised opposition? What can be done to reduce the risk of opposition?
(iv)Selecting the advocacy approach
What advocacy strategies are most likely to influence the target audiences? Will it be effective to work through dialogue and negotiation with policy makers? What is the likely impact of public pressure – can it be expected to lead to a positive response or to resistance? What sort of treatment can be expected from the media: supportive, hostile, or indifferent? Are there incremental strategies that might be more likely to achieve results? Through what mechanisms might competing interests be brokered?
(v)Identifying the key messages
In relation to the goal and objectives, what messages are likely to be persuasive with the primary audience? What about the secondary audience – are different messages needed for different audiences? If the approach taken is public or based on a broad coalition, what key messages are likely to mobilise the broadest support, gain traction in the media, or have a viral effect, with the audience itself acting as a multiplier?
D. Framing the plan
(i)Preparing a plan of action
Effective advocacy requires good organisational planning. Having defined the goal, objectives and strategic approach, it is important to be systematic in mapping out the actions to be taken to achieve results, including timelines and milestones. This is best brought together in a logical framework including measurable progress indicators.
(ii)Budgeting and identifying
Cost considerations are likely to influence the approach to be taken. Policy monitoring and dialogue, for example, may be achieved with just limited staff or volunteer time and the means to publicise the results. A media-oriented advocacy campaign might require substantial publicity costs from the outset: preparing news releases and placing stories, commissioning photographs or a video, designing posters and other campaign materials. A capacity-building project or a demonstrator project might require significant investment in equipment and training. Organisations working in ICT policy advocacy will frequently have the skills and know-how to harness new ICTs in their advocacy work – for example, using email, text messaging and Web 2.0 technologies to assist with data gathering, coalition building and mobilisation. Funds and other resources will need to be sufficient to sustain the project for its duration.
What are the main risks to successful project implementation? Risk analysis involves assessing the impact of each particular risk and the likelihood of it happening. It is useful to rate both impact and likelihood (e.g., low, medium, high). How can the high and medium risks be managed to reduce their impact and/or likelihood? Particular attention needs to be paid to any risk of harm to individuals. In many countries, media workers, internet activists and freedom of expression defenders have faced threats, harassment and violence in the course of their work. Might the planned advocacy provoke state repression? Are there non-state actors that pose physical dangers?
(i)Getting the message across
Good communications is at the core of effective advocacy. This requires attention to the message, the audience and the means of delivery. The message needs to be clear: it should explain what is being proposed, why it is needed, and what difference it would make. It also needs to be compelling: it should be crafted to the interests and knowledge of the audience. The means of delivery must ensure it is received and heard – whether, for example, a written proposal, face-to-face presentation or public demonstration. It is rare that a single advocacy message will be received and acted upon. The message needs to reinforced, by repetition and through the influence of secondary audiences.
(ii)Using the media
The media – radio, television, press and online media – have a particular role to play in public advocacy initiatives, especially campaign-based approaches. Not all advocacy work uses the media, and a media-based approach carries risks as well as opportunities. The media can bring a mass audience, potentially increasing profile and credibility, but they can also bring bad publicity and may contribute to mobilising opposition as well as support. Using the media requires planning and skills, including building contacts, knowing the media audience, writing press releases, placing stories, being interviewed, providing visual imagery and organising newsworthy events.
(iii)Building partnerships and
Most advocacy initiatives involve some degree of mobilising public support behind the proposal. What partnerships and alliances are most likely to assist in mobilising broad-based support? What processes can best achieve trust, collective ownership, and effective collaboration? Should the initiative operate as an open coalition and, if so, what mechanisms are needed to enable participation and to assure accountability? Is support needed to build the advocacy capacity of partner organisations? Media and the internet can also be used to recruit and mobilise broad-based public support.
(iv)Employing tactics and negotiation
Advocacy is rarely a one-way communications process. Some advocacy work is more reactive than proactive towards policy makers, or is explicitly dialogical. In any case, policy and decision makers may well respond to advocacy proposals with their own questions or alternative proposals. Other interested parties may launch strategies to counter the proposals being made. It may become necessary to modify the proposals to achieve results. What alternatives might be considered? What counter proposals can be expected? What is non-negotiable and what could be up for discussion?
(v)Monitoring and evaluation
Throughout the implementation phase it is important to monitor the process, the results and the policy context. Mechanisms are needed to track activities such as meetings and communications and to monitor results such as media coverage and expressions of public support. Data needs to be maintained on the target audiences: contact details, positions they have taken, offers of assistance and so on. The process and results should be evaluated not only at the end of the planned timeframe but on a regular basis so that adjustments, if needed, can be made to the strategy and plan of action. Advocacy invariably takes place in a dynamic environment, especially when the focus is on ICTs. The policy terrain can change for social, political or economic reasons that are independent of the advocacy initiative underway. The ability to react quickly and flexibly, to spot windows of opportunity, and to anticipate new challenges requires close monitoring of the policy context and of broader trends.
Three case studies have been provided for this module as well as a list of additional resource material. The advocacy case studies are outlined below:
|São Paulo Telecentres Project||A successful example of how practical ICT demonstration at a local level can support national advocacy for policy change||This partnership-based project mobilised policy, investment and technical support leading to the establishment of 128 community-based telecentres. It eventually influenced national-level digital-inclusion policies.|
|Advocacy for community radio in Nigeria||A five-year advocacy project seeking policy change to enable the establishment of community radio services||
This case study illustrates their approach and the challenges when campaigning for ICT policy change. It also highlights the lessons learned: for instance, how commitments to change policy mean little without political will.
|Rural Knowledge Centre Movement||The story behind the “Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre” vision that has the goal of extending the benefits of rural ICT access to 600,000 villages in India||This case study documents how a project has evolved into a mass movement in India and influenced similar initiatives in Asia and Africa, and has mobilised high-level support from public, private and civil society organisations.|
|The Huaral Valley Agrarian Information System, Peru||This project is providing phone and internet access for poor farming communities and access to an agrarian information system||
This case study illustrates the importance of leadership and vision to ensure that lobbying and advocacy are undertaken both within communities but also with the government. The community, through its irrigation board, was able to lobby for changes in the existing restrictive ICT policy and regulatory frameworks.
|Nepal Wireless Networking Project||Low-cost and easy-to-maintain wireless networks used in harsh and remote locations in Nepal to provide phone and internet access to dispersed and marginalised communities||
The advocacy efforts of the local champion, Mahabir Pun, resulted in the government changing its restrictive telecoms policies that previously prohibited the use of wireless networks, while also dropping the costs of licences to under USD 2.
Amnesty International Amnesty
International Campaigning Manual
London: Amnesty International, 1997
Betancourt, Valeria Access to ICTs as a right: The case of the constituent process in Ecuador Montevideo: APC, forthcoming
Drèze, Jean and Amartya Sen India: Development and Participation New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002
IFEX (International Freedom of Expression eXchange) Campaigning for Free Expression: A Handbook for Advocates Toronto: IFEX, 2005 www.ifex.org/download/en/IFEXCampaignHandbook.pdf
Jenkins, Rob and Anne Marie Goetz “Accounts and accountability: Theoretical implications of the right-to-information movement in India” Third World Quarterly 20, 3 (1999): 603-22
Malena, Carmen, Reiner Forster and Janmejay Singh Social Accountability: An Introduction to the Concept and Emerging Practice Washington: World Bank, 2004
Mendel, Toby Freedom of Information: A Comparative Legal Survey 2nd ed. Paris: UNESCO, 2008
Narayan, Deepa Voices of the Poor: Volume 1: Can Anyone Hear Us? Washington: World Bank, 2000
Pavarala, Vinod and Kanchan K. Malik Other Voices: The Struggle for Community Radio in India New Delhi: Sage, 2007
Rose, Chris How to win campaigns: 100 steps to success London: Earthscan, 2001
Sprechman, Sofia and Emily Pelton Advocacy Tools and Guidelines: Promoting Policy Change Atlanta: CARE, 2001
Wolf, Kirsten Now Hear This: The Nine Laws of Successful Advocacy Communications Washington: Fenton Communications, 2001
 Sofia Sprechman and
Emily Pelton Advocacy Tools
and Guidelines: Promoting Policy Change (Atlanta: CARE, 2001)
 Notably in the writings of Aristotle and Confucius.
 Carmen Malena, Reiner Forster and Janmejay Singh Social Accountability: An Introduction to the Concept and Emerging Practice (Washington: World Bank, 2004)
 The 2005 World Summit on Aid Effectiveness included a commitment by developing countries to prepare National Development Strategies incorporating the Millennium Development Goals.
 Toby Mendel Freedom of Information: A Comparative Legal Survey 2nd ed. (Paris: UNESCO, 2008)
 See, for example, Chris Rose How to win campaigns: 100 steps to success (London: Earthscan, 2005) and Kirsten Wolf Now Hear This: The Nine Laws of Successful Advocacy Communications (Washington: Fenton Communications, 2001)
 Valeria Betancourt Access to ICTs as a right: The case of the constituent process in Ecuador (Montevideo: APC, forthcoming)
 See, for example, Amnesty International Amnesty International Campaigning Manual (London: Amnesty International, 1997)
 See, for example, Deepa Narayan Voices of the Poor: Volume 1: Can Anyone Hear Us? (Washington: World Bank, 2000)
 Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen India: Development and Participation (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002), 29
 Ibid. 30
 For a case study on Sangham Radio see also Vinod Pavarala and Kanchan K. Malik Other Voices: The Struggle for Community Radio in India (New Delhi: Sage, 2007)
 Rob Jenkins and Anne Marie Goetz “Accounts and accountability: Theoretical implications of the right-to-information movement in India” Third World Quarterly 20, 3 (1999): 603-22
 Among others, this section draws from the advocacy research and experience of Amnesty International (1997), Sprechman and Pelton (2001), Wolf (2001), Rose (2005) and IFEX (2005).
This case study reports on five years of advocacy for policy change in Nigeria to enable the establishment of community radio services. It has been included in the toolkit as an illustration of the challenges of campaigning for ICT policy change. At the time of writing there is still no community radio in Nigeria. A well-organised campaign, launched in 2003, has built a substantial civil society coalition and gained commitments of support from government, politicians, the broadcast regulator, civil society organisations and international development agencies. Yet the goal of the campaign remains elusive and the advocacy effort has required continuing renewal.
The case study highlights some lessons learned: the pace of change can be uneven and unpredictable; key decision makers in government may be replaced, requiring new relations to be established; commitments to change may not translate into action, particularly when they are not backed by political will; advocacy campaigns require sustained access to resources if they are to maintain consistent and effective pressure.
Grameen Gyan Abhiyan (Rural Knowledge Network) is a multi-stakeholder alliance advocating the use of ICTs to empower rural communities through the establishment of rural knowledge centres. This case study illustrates planning, implementation and development of a mass movement-oriented advocacy campaign to bring ICT access to rural India. Building on an initiative of the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in South India in 1998 that tested the concept of Village Knowledge Centres, the project evolved into the campaign “Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre” with the goal of extending the benefits of ICT access to 600,000 villages in India. The case study describes the evolution of the campaign from small beginnings into a mass movement that has influenced similar initiatives in Asia and Africa and has mobilised high-level support from public, private and civil society organisations.
- Community contributions through “sweat equity”, where community members see benefit in offering their time in project implementation. This could be through the setting up of equipment,
- the building of infrastructure, the provision of security at community centres to safeguard ICT equipment, or the contribution of volunteer training to other community members.
- Community management through the use of culturally appropriate decision-making processes, which could take the form of consultation with local leader groups, the establishment of management structures such as community forums, or the use of existing or specially convened community structures such as women’s groups or church groups.
- More formal management structures such as the creation of a hierarchical structure with employed staff (voluntary and/or paid), or the establishment of a board of directors, advisory committees, or elected local officials who are bound contractually to provide strategic direction for the project. The irrigator commissions comprising locally elected farmers in the Huaral case study would fall into this category.
- Community ownership through various mechanisms such as cooperatives (see the section on cooperatives below), where community members or workers own shares and have voting rights
- in the project, as in the case of unions.
- Universal service funds (where they exist) and the provision of subsidies and/or infrastructure roll-out to support ICT provision to underserved communities.
- Low- or no-interest loans, as was the case in the US rural cooperative model.
- The “embedding” of a project through partnerships with other institutions to create alternative sources of income such as access to credit through unions or micro-finance businesses (as in the case of the Grameen Village Phone project).
- The introduction of mechanisms for cost recovery from the community for service delivery, such as:
- i.member subscriptions
- ii.the levying of monthly fees from users
- iii.pay-as-you-use income from services rendered
- iv.the provision of “sweat equity” by community members for the installation of networks and ICT equipment
- v.the use of volunteers to provide support and training
- vi.in-kind contributions such as the provision of buildings or computers
- vii.the pooling of community resources to provide start-up capital.
- Requesting donations from the international public, such as the Nepal Wireless Networking Project has done in setting up a fundraising effort in partnership with a US-based university for one-dollar donations, which provides another interesting model.
|The Mozambique Health Information Network (MHIN)||Health workers use mobile networks and PDAs to collect, transmit, and manage health data as part of implementing government commitments to provide affordable health services to communities||The technology users are health workers who are often
older in age and
less prone to the adoption of new technologies. With proper training,
health workers collected information and data from the field that
benefited people. The case study illustrates a number of critical
elements required for moving a project from prototype to pilot and
eventual sustainable roll-out.
|The Huaral Valley Agrarian Information System, Peru||The project is providing phone and internet access to poor farming communities and access to an agrarian information system||Although originally planned as an ICT installation to
network of irrigation canals for local farmers, the project has evolved
into the provision of telecoms and internet access for poor farming
communities that would otherwise have been excluded from such resources.
|Nepal Wireless Networking Project||Low-cost and easy-to-maintain wireless networks used in harsh and remote locations in Nepal to provide phone and internet access to dispersed and marginalised communities||A combination of strong community support and effective
leadership is delivering much-needed communications, community and
entrepreneurial services. This case study serves as an excellent
example of how a community-based project can be implemented with few
resources but was able to challenge existing policy frameworks to allow
for the use of innovative technologies to provide ICT access to poor
|Providing Universal Access: FITEL, Peru||This programme provides mechanisms for minimising the subsidy required for commercial telecoms companies to extend the network into non-commercial areas||Evidence has shown that the installation of public phones has enabled people to save on transportation costs. The project reduced the distance to the nearest public phone from more than twenty kilometres to less than five kilometres for over one million people. Anecdotal evidence has also shown that rural phones have increased the incomes of store owners who provide public phone services.|