This October saw a diverse group of private and public sector players come together in Abuja, Nigeria to launch the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), a coalition to lead policy and regulatory reform and spur action to drive down artificially high internet prices in developing countries.
By advocating for open, competitive and innovative broadband markets, A4AI aims to help access prices fall to below 5% of monthly income worldwide, a target set by the UN Broadband Commission. Reaching this goal can help to connect the two-thirds of the world that is presently not connected to the internet (source: ITU) and make universal access a reality.
A4AI’s 30+ members reach across boundaries of geography, industry, and organisation type and include governments, companies, and civil society organisations from both developed and developing countries. Members share a belief that that policy reform, underpinned by robust research and genuine knowledge-sharing, is one of the best ways to unlock rapid gains in internet penetration rates.
The Alliance was initiated by the World Wide Web Foundation, and its honorary chairperson is DrBitangeNdemo, the immediate former Permanent Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications, who is widely regarded as the father of Broadband in Kenya.
A4AI has a strong focus on action and announced the following plans today at the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation’s Annual Forum in Abuja, Nigeria, witnessed by communications ministers, policy makers and industry leaders from around the globe:
- The Alliance will begin in-country engagements with three to four States by the end of 2013, expanding to at least twelve countries by the end of 2015.
- Members have committed to a set of policy best practices (enclosed) that will guide advocacy work at the international level. Key policy levers to drive prices down include allowing innovative allocation of spectrum, promoting infrastructure sharing, and increasing transparency and public participation in regulatory decisions.
- A4AI will produce an annual ‘Affordability Report’, with the first edition being unveiled in December 2013.
Other players included Global sponsors Google, Omidyar Network, UK DFID and USAID. They were joined by a host of governments, tech companies and civil society organisations from developed and developing countries in launch of new initiative, backed by Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee.