APCNews 107 – ICT policy in Uganda and Senegal

APCNews – September 10 2009 – Year X Issue 107
The news service on ICTs for social justice and sustainable development
Uganda was one of the first countries in Africa to develop a policy on universal access to telecommunications – it’s Rural Communications Development Fund has helped the teledensity rate jump from 12% to 22% in just two years. But exceedingly high taxes of up to 30% on services in the mobile and fixed-telephone sector are undermining the success of this initiative. Meanwhile in Senegal, a country that used to be at the top of the ICT game in Africa, any telecommunications project must go through the incumbent operator, Sonatel. This means that competition amongst operators is but a mere façade and the regulatory body is moving at a snail’s pace to approve any changes that would bring about real competition. As usual, it is the Senegalese that are paying for it, as a once flourishing industry falls into decay.

Milking a cow you don’t feed: Is Uganda starving telecoms growth through high taxes?

JOHANNESBURG, (Wairagala Wakabi and Alan Finlay for APCNews) – Analysts argue that governments in cash-strapped developing countries often tread a tightrope between a need to shore up the state coffers for public spending, and a responsibility to address critical telecommunications access for the poor. Telecommunications make money – lots of it – and many governments know that this money can be used to fund basic services, such as water, housing and electricity. But in the process universal access promises go adrift, as is the case with Uganda’s high taxes on telecoms services, write Wairagala Wakabi and Alan Finlay.

Senegal: Behind the guise of competitive prices

CALGARY (LC for APCNews) – Cybercafés are in decline in Senegal. Too much offer compared to demand because of prices that are still out of reach for the average Senegalese, have resulted in the closure of many of these access points to knowledge and communication, once found around the clock on every street corner in Dakar. The arrival of a much-anticipated new operator, Expresso only led to disappointment – the operator jumped into the mobile telephone market rather than focus on the much-needed fixed telephony and internet sector. As a result, the state-owned operator continues to control basic infrastructure, creating a mere façade of competition among operators.



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