The telecoms situation in Benin is unique. The array of mobile telephone enterprises established during Mathieu Kérékou’s regime has resulted in the average Beninese owning three, four, or even five SIM cards for their daily communication needs. Facilitated by corruption and skyrocketing prices, it was not until the arrival to power of the new president Yayi Boni in 2006 that reform in this sector began. Despite the current progress and lower prices, networks remain segregated and there is still much to be done in relation to ICTs and the standardisation of the telecom sector in a legislative and regulatory environment that is open to investment. APC investigates to find out more.
Since the APC Africa ICT Policy Monitor started in 2001, significant inroads into raising the profile of the need for progressive ICT policy approaches in Africa have been made. The need for a portal like the Africa ICT Policy Monitor that collects and organises news and resources on a vast array of issues has diminished, but APC’s policy programme’s Africa wing will continue to report on issues of strategic importance through Chakula, a periodic newsletter.
“The post WSIS clock is ticking and many challenges remain,” said APC executive director Anriette Esterhuysen at the opening of the twelfth session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSDT). Among these challenges, she talked about WSIS principles related to human rights: “In many countries from the developed world and the developing world there is still a sense that freedom of information is perceived more as a threat than as an enabler, as a driver for learning and innovation and for more transparent and accountable governance.” CSDT is reviewing progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) outcomes at the regional and international levels.
“The IGF has embodied the WSIS Principles – that internet governance should be multilateral, transparent and democratic, with the full involvement of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organisations – in its practice as a space for policy dialogue. [...] There are however areas that need improvement. Participation of civil society, and in some cases also of developing country government and private sector stakeholders, is hampered by insufficient financial resources”, said APC in its response to the IGF 2008 review, submitted to the Secretariat.
APC member ZaMirNET has been working hard on uncovering the truth about war crimes committed during the Yugoslav wars, between 1991 and 2001. In late October, they joined an initiative to establish a regional body that will expose the truth about war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, which will help serve justice and guarantee that these crimes will not be repeated in the future. More recently, they have also made important headway in e-inclusion initiatives and access to public services for those who cannot see, including the launch of a new web portal for IT professionals and a general audience.
Launch of draft framework for a national broadband strategy highlights policy vacuum in South Africa
A draft framework towards a broadband strategy in South Africa was launched in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Representatives from 29 different African parliaments met last week in Kigali to reaffirm that “equitable access to information is a right for all” and urge governments to enact laws that promote access to information, knowledge and communication for all citizens. Traditionally seen as civil and political rights, information rights are now becoming acknowledged as rights that are also social and economic, said APC’s Anriette Esterhuysen in her presentation which was framed by APC’s internet rights charter. The charter has just been translated into its twentieth language, Esperanto.