ICT Policy advocacy

The lack of easy, affordable and timely access to information about ICT-related issues and processes is one of the top challenges African countries face. Accordingly our objectives are to raise awareness about key issues, provide useful information to assist African participation in policy-making, and stir debate by sparking discussion and convening productive gatherings, primarily in the area of international ICT policy.

Since its inception, CIPESA has positioned itself as the leading centre for research and analysis of information aimed to enable policy makers in the east and southern Africa understand international ICT policy issues. Great attention has been paid to the role of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), Internet governance and ICT infrastructure — three of the issues considered to be critical to the development of the region.

We produce and publish commentary, briefing papers and a monthly newsletter that are widely circulated in the region and beyond. Our commentaries – short and informative pieces aimed at sparking thinking and dialogue on important issues in international ICT policy-making processes – provide an overview of selected international ICT policy issues relevant to African stakeholders. They stir discussion by presenting views and posing relevant questions. Readers are encouraged to respond to the points raised, via email or in the “comments” box under each commentary on the CIPESA website.

CIPESA has also published a number of incisive briefing papers on ICT policy issues, which explore issues like Internet Governance, regional infrastructure initiatives and Internet Governance.  We have held national workshops in various countries on the East African Submarine System (EASSy) and other ICT infrastructure initiatives, and have been a driving force in online discussions for the Africa ICT Policy Dialogue DGroup (AFRICTIC) during April and May 2006. In 2005, we held the online discussion on issues for Africa in the Intellectual property rights debate in the information society, in conjunction with our west African sister centre CIPACO, www.cipaco.org.

We were also actively involved in developing content and driving debate for the Association for Progressive Communications (APC, www.apc.org ) project that advocated affordable and open-access fibre in Africa – www.fibreforafrica.net. Besides, CIPESA has been one of the partners in the APC’s Communication for influence in Central, East and West Africa (CICEWA), which sought to identify the political obstacles to extending affordable access to ICT infrastructure in Africa and to advocate for their removal in order to create a sound platform for sub-regional connectivity in East, West and Central Africa, thereby providing a base for the effective use of ICTs in development processes.

In mid 2006, CIPESA commissioned 10 journalists across east and southern Africa to conduct an assessment of policymakers, regulators, civil society and private sector perceptions of how undertakings like EASSy can effectively contribute to alleviation of the region’s bandwidth problems.