How can we make Internet more affordable across the Blue Continent?

Digital Society Foundation, the team behind Connect the Blue Continent, is a proud member of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI).

The Alliance has released the latest edition of its annual Affordability Report, which examines the current affordability environment across 51 developing and emerging countries, and highlights the continued need for urgent work to drive down the cost of a broadband connection. Featuring an interactive data explorer, over 15 detailed country profiles and over 30 practical policy recommendations, it’s a must-read for anyone interested in Internet affordability.

This is an excellent analysis of the state of internet affordability in the countries included..and a guide to the policies needed to drive down costs of internet access – we really need to have this research available for all the communities across the Pacific Islands.

The bad news? More than half of the 51 countries surveyed for the report have not yet met the UN benchmark of entry-level broadband priced at 5% or less of monthly income. None was found to have met this benchmark for those living in poverty (i.e, those earning less than $2/day). Across the countries surveyed by A4AI, a fixed broadband connection costs the average citizen approximately 40% of their monthly income, eight times more than the affordability target set by the UN. Mobile broadband is cheaper but still double the UN threshold, averaging 10% of monthly income — about as much as developing country households spend on housing. The cost to connect is even greater for women and rural populations, who also have to overcome income disparities, infrastructure challenges and other socio-economic barriers in order to connect.

A4AI believes that affordable access is so important, that the UN should put it at the heart of the new sustainable development goals…and we agree.

The good news is that there is a clear roadmap to translate this vision into reality. The report highlights policy and regulatory steps proven to drive prices down.

These include:

  • Implementing and tweaking a holistic, time-bound National Broadband Plan
  • Designing an environment which promotes enhanced competition
  • Developing strategies which permit efficient spectrum allocation;
  • Putting in place models designed to encourage or mandate infrastructure sharing
  • Encouraging widespread public access through libraries, schools, and other community venues.

The report also presents an Affordability Index, which scores countries based on the current affordability environment and policies in place to ensure future affordability. As a region, Latin America leads the way toward enabling affordable broadband, nabbing six of the top ten spots on the Index. Costa Rica’s robust national broadband plan and innovative efforts to expand access to rural and other offline populations earned the country the number one ranking, while similar initiatives in other countries of Latin America contributed to the region’s high rankings. While all countries surveyed in the report have a long way to go before broadband is truly affordable for all their citizens, there are many positive examples and valuable lessons to be learned.

Read the full A4AI report, interact with the data, and explore global affordability at a4ai.org/affordability-report.

 

 

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