Policy-makers and regulators “cannot be supermen and superwomen,” says African information and communications technology (ICT) policy analyst Professor F.F. Tusubira. Instead, he says, they need to create an environment where “savvy” entrepreneurs can bring value to customers.
While there are many points of agreement on how to understand the key challenges facing policy activists who want to unlock the potential of ICTs more vigorously for the poor, exchanges between experts often raise quite straightforward yet intriguing questions, such as: Do those with entrepreneurial spirit and energy need to be taught, or are they self-taught? Is it patronising for an outsider to intervene? When it comes to ICTs, who are the outsiders? And do remedies for the digital divide ignore similar divide debates that have gone on in other sectors decades ago?
Some of these questions are raised in an issue paper by UK-based ICT for development consultant David Souter, entitled Equitable Access: People, networks and capabilities. Souter’s paper is one of a series of four on aspects of equitable access to ICT infrastructure commissioned by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC).