CATIA was a three-year project supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to enable Africans to gain maximum benefits from the opportunity offered by ICTs and to act as catalysts for policy reform.
APC, as the lead implementer for CATIA on African-led advocacy for ICT policy reform, supported six national advocacy processes in Africa from 2004-6. In the process, we developed a practice of how to support national ICT policy advocacy campaigns.
The practice depends on a combination of four factors:
Capacity building of national policy animators through regular workshops and individual mentoring.
A multi-stakeholder approach to encouraging national ICT policy dialogue that includes government, the private sector, civil society and the media.
Devolvement of control of the process to the national animator.
Encouraging the national animator to form policy networks as a platform to drive advocacy.
Positive policy and regulatory reform really took off in Kenya from as early as 2005. KICTANet, as a multi-stakeholder advocacy network, undertook a range of inclusive policy debates with the government, private sector, media and consumers, and collaborated closely with the government in the formulation of the ICT policy that was approved by the cabinet in January 2006. Its efforts included online and face-to-face consultations on the Kenya ICT policy with stakeholders. At the regulatory level, KICTANet advocacy played a direct role in the liberalisation of VoIP by the regulator.
A civil society-based network came together in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of CATIA to engage policy-makers and use research to inform advocacy on a national backbone network based on open access principles. In 2007 DRC still did not have a fibre optic connection to the international internet and APC member, Alternatives, presented the first independent feasibility study on the implementation of a vast high-speed internet infrastructure for Africa’s third largest nation.
Photo: M. Diop. Coura Fall (pictured, left) CATIA animator in Senegal, being interviewed during a workshop on ICT policy and the role of the media.