Most communications policies around the globe have been developed on models based on the economic, political and social realities of North America and Europe – which assume large private companies build expansive national wired infrastructures. So laws and regulations have evolved with the understanding that these wired networks are the main communication infrastructure and that wireless networks connect through them. But wired networks do not exist in many developing countries and do not necessarily need to be built.
The spectrum both surrounds us and passes through us. Made up of waves of energy that allow us to communicate the way we do today – through radio, television, mobile phones, wireless internet and more — spectrum is an invisible common link that ties our societies together. A global shift in spectrum regulation is currently under way with regulatory reforms being developed and proposed in several countries. As the internet and wireless communication increasingly merge into a singular form of communication, we will be presented with unique opportunities to adapt to open, trusting and collaborative forms of regulation and technology use. This introduction to developing a policy on open spectrum by spectrum expert Evan Light for APC, breaks down what spectrum is, how it works and why governments with under-served communities stand to gain so much from opening up the spectrum to more users and uses.
In 2008-2009, Ugandan organisation Toro Development Network (ToroDev) was awarded a small grant through the APC’s Gender and agriculture and rural development in the information society (GenARIDS) project. No more than a year later, the grass roots organisation has been awarded $12, 000 through the Africa Rural Connect contest, to continue its work in helping small-scale rural farmers – many of which are women – learn to use technologies such as mobile phones, radios and computers.
As part of its research activities, APC has compiled a list of African ICT blogs. Thematically, most of them focus on ICT4D issues, although some others deal rather with online journalism, ICT policy, freedom of expression, or other related issues.