While the suits with cellphones did business at Africa Telecom 98, NGO
representatives from southern and eastern Africa also discussed telecom
issues a few km down the road at a conference organised by the Media
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and Econews. Needless to say, there was
a far less commercial edge to the NGO conference, and there were some
interesting interactions between some Africa Telecom delegates invited to
speak, and the NGO people in attendance.
Here is the final communique of the MISA/Econews conference for those who
have not seen it.
>Return-path: <[log in to unmask]>
>Envelope-to: [log in to unmask]
>Delivery-date: Fri, 15 May 1998 09:44:59 +0200
>Date: Thu, 14 May 1998 09:33:12 +0100
>To: [log in to unmask]
>From: [log in to unmask] (John Barker - MISA)
>Subject: Telecoms Conference
>The Media Institute of Southern Africa and Econews Africa recently
>organised a conference on New Information Technologies, Telecommunications
>Policy and Development. It was attended by abouty fifty delegates from 9
>African countries, these delegates will represented, media and policy NGOs,
>developmental ISPs and established regulatoriy bodies.
>The conference was be held in Johannesburg 5-8 May 1998, at the same time
>as the ITUs Africa Telecom 98 event. The reason for this is two fold.
>1. It enabled us to focus on the concerns of the non-governmental
>development sector in much more detail than would be possible at the ITU
>2. It was cost effective - we took advantage of the availability of some of
>the delegate from the ITU event to address our conference. The cost of
>holding a seperate fully subsidised conference costs about the same as 50
>registration fees for the ITU event.
>The following organisations represented.
>Journalists Association for the Environment of Tanzania, Media Counci.l of
>Tanzania, MISA Tanzana, Tanzanian telecoms Commision, Ugandan Network of
>Indigenous Voluntary Associations, Uganda posts and Telecoms, Uganda
>Journalists Union, Ugandan Human Rights Media Group, AMARC-Africa,Gaborone
>TV, Southern African Broadcasters Association, PANOS, Zamnet, Zambia
>Teleecoms, MISA Zambia, Uganda Womens Media Association, Association of
>Media Women Kenya, East African Internet Association, International
>Federation of Journalists Keyna, Kenyan community Media Network, Kenyan
>Union of Journalists, Media Institue Nairobi, Nation Newspaper Group Kenya,
>Task force on Media Law Kenya, Telecommunications Foundation for Africa,
>MISA Zimbabwe, FAMW-SADC, MISA Malawi, Article 19, FXI, NCRF, Universal
>Service Agency, British Council, Info-Botswana, Rhodes University,
>Presentations were made by representatives of
>Worldbank, ITU, SATRA, USA, Pyramid Research, Sentech, Worldspace, Mission
>Mobile Education, Womens'net, Siemens, United Nations University -Institute
>for Technology, and others
>A full report of the conference will be available at the end of May.
>Media Institute of Southern Africa/Econews Africa Sub-Regional Workshop on
>Technological Convergence and Telecommunications Regulation
>Johannesburg, South Africa May 5-8,1998
>Participants at the sub-regional workshop on technological convergence and
>telecommunications regulation, held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from May
>5-8, 1998, representing freedom of expression NG0s, development information
>and communications NG0s, ISPs and interested telecommunications industry
>stakeholders, recommend the following:
>1. The ITU and telecommunications service providers should redefine
>Universal Access (every person must be within walking distance of a
>telephone service) so that the needs of disabled people and the elderly are
>2. The ITU and telecommunications service providers should make access
>for the disabled a priority.
>3. Licenses given to telecommunications service Providers should have
>clear performance indicators on universal access. Penalties should be
>imposed for those service providers that do not meet their requirements.
>Additional public services such as fixed cellular pay phones should form
>part Of license obligations.
>4. Poverty in Africa is widespread and low income people can not be
>expected to pay for universal access which is a public responsibility. In
>the long term regional integration will reduce income and rural/urban
>disparities. Governments and commercial service providers must subsidize
>the high initial costs of installation in rural areas, through established
>funding programmes. High taxes also hinder service provision in rural
>areas. A concessional rate for rural telecoms projects should be agreed
>upon. Local funding mechanisms such as telecommunications cooperatives or
>franchises should be considered. Rural people need to be educated on the
>uses and benefits of telecommunications services.
>5. Accountability mechanisms and compensation procedures for funding
>received for telecommunications development must be established. Impunity
>of those implicated in corruption must end.
>6. Liberalization/privatization entails allowing more than one player
>in restricted areas. However widespread consultation should precede
>privatization. Sub-regional experiences and models of privatization should
>be taken into account. Whilst introducing privatization and competition, a
>review of liquidation laws should be carried out. Workers' rights should be
>respected. This would include adequate compensation for redundancies and
>continued retirement benefits. Protection for local companies and the
>opportunity for local investment should be prioritized.
>7. Regionally NG0s and civil society groups need to network in order
>to create a platform to influence telecommunications policy and regulation.
>Nationally parliamentarians should be drawn into dialogue and advocacy
>efforts. The media should be educated on technological and developmental
>aspects of telecommunications to raise awareness through increased coverage
>and debate. Regional exchange of news and analysis of telecommunications
>issues should be encouraged.
>8. Widespread consultation with stakeholders and the general public
>must be conducted on all regulatory issues. Regulation needs to be reviewed
>on a constant basis as part of a public process. Broadcast and
>telecommunications regulation needs urgent harmonization, especially in
>light of technological convergence.
>9. Regulatory authorities should be fully autonomous independent
>statutory bodies. Appointments to regulatory boards should be carried out
>through an open and public process and ratified by parliament. The criteria
>for eligibility to serve on a regulatory body must be clearly defined and
>publicized, gender balance must also be considered. In addition to direct
>grants and any operational revenue regulatory bodies should be funded
>through parliamentary appropriation
>10. There should be no broadcasting monopolies and existing national
>broadcasters should become independent public broadcasters throughout the
>amendment of appropriate legislation. Liberalization of the broadcasting
>sector should provide for a three tier licensing system to incorporate
>public, commercial and community broadcasting services.
>11. Communication is a fundamental human right and all communications
>media including telecommunications facilities, new information technologies
>and broadcasting should be accessible to and representative of all sectors
>12. Participants at the sub-regional workshop on technological
>convergence and telecommunications regulation commit themselves to lobby
>for the promulgation of an African communications charter encompassing the
>above principles and commitment from governments.
>John Barker, Regional Programme
>Media Institute of Southern Africa
>Private Bag 13386,
>21 Johann Albrecht Street
>Tel: +264 61 232975 Fax +264 61 248016
>E-mail [log in to unmask]
>* http://www.misanet.org *
PO Box 8828
Tel: +264 61 252946 (h) 236970 (w)
Fax: c/o +264 61 233980
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