ICTs for democracy: Information and Communication Technologies for the Enhancement of Democracy - with a Focus on Empowerment

By APC (October 2009, Swedish International Development Agency )

The democratisation process is often uneven and rocky as the power dynamic shifts between governments and their respective constituencies. In practically all cases, however, governments hostile to citizens’ civil and political rights have both the resources and the power to withhold these rights. It is therefore imperative that support be channeled to governments to deepen their awareness of citizens’ rights and the processes needed to ensure they have access to these rights. Equally important is support to civil society groups so that they can demand their civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights from their governments. There is ample evidence of the importance of “demand side” approaches for ensuring the longevity of a human rights culture. In the cases of young and emerging democracies, it is essential that institutions, processes and mechanisms be installed to support and underscore national efforts to strengthen democracies. This study by the APC and the Swedish International Development agency explores the potential information and communication technologies (ICTs) have for advancing democracy and empowerment, with a special focus on Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

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Amy Mahan Research Fellowship Program to Assess the Impact of Public Access to ICTs


Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Amy Mahan Research Fellowship Program to Assess the Impact of Public Access to ICTs.

Kenya: Killing two birds with one stone

JOHANNESBURG 24 September 2009 (Rebecca Wanjiku and Alan Finlay for APCNews)

On 12 December last year – Kenya’s 44th independence-day celebrations – journalists, media owners and civil society activists took to the streets in Nairobi. They were protesting the publication of Kenya’s Communications Amendment Bill (2007) which was later passed into law. But the media protests overshadowed a more complex challenge that lies at the heart of policy convergence in a networked world, write Rebecca Wanjiku and Alan Finlay…

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A review of telecommunications policy and challenges in Rwanda

By Albert Nsengiyumva and Emmanuel Habumuremyi (September 2009, APC )

This report examines the implementation of telecommunication reforms in Rwanda, with particular attention paid to broadband issues.

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Bringing affordable telecommunications services to Uganda: A policy narrative and analysis

By Wairagala Wakabi (October 2009, APC )

This report analyses the challenges faced by the Uganda telecommunications sector in creating a healthy market structure, encouraging efficient and affordable services, and delivering services to the poor. It is divided into three parts.

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Kenya Communications Amendment Act (2009): Progressive or retrogressive?

By Rebecca Wanjiku (September 2009, APC )

This report unpacks this mixed reception to the Kenya Communications Amendment Bill (2007), outlining the media’s objections as well as the government’s response, and contextualising the tension between the two historically. At the same time, it asks whether the sector’s positive response to the Act was misplaced, given some worrying inconsistencies and omissions.

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International Links - Tuesday September 15th, 2009

The Independent, Uganda
International Links - Tuesday September 15th, 2009
16 September 2009

[...]"The Association for Progressive Communications reports that although Uganda was one of the first countries in Africa to develop a successful policy on universal access to telecommunications, high taxes may be undermining telecom growth."[...]

Senegal: Behind the guise of competitive prices

CALGARY 10 September 2009 (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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Milking a cow you don’t feed: Is Uganda starving telecoms growth through high taxes?

JOHANNESBURG 10 September 2009 (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.

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