An Innovative Approach to ICT and Telecom Regulation and Policy in Africa
Academics, regulators, policymakers and operators from 17 nations met during the last week of May and the first week of June, 2003 in Gaborone, Botswana, to mark the inauguration of NetTel Safari, a two week conference hosted by the NetTel@Africa (Network for Capacity Building and Knowledge Exchange in the Telecommunications Sector) Project.
In a first within the telecommunications sector in Africa, seven universities and one training organization in Southern Eastern Africa joined by several U.S. universities and regulators collaborated to develop and present the first round of an online post graduate and masters degree curriculum in Telecommunications and ICT Policy and Regulation.
Seventeen countries were represented: Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, the USA, Uganda, and Zambia.
I have no doubt in my mind that NetTel@Africa is exactly what this continent requires to build capacity that will see most African States graduate from the least developed countries category in the communications sector to become major players in the global telecommunications global village.
- C.M. Lekaukau, Executive Chairman, Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA)
The program caters to African telecommunications professionals and ICT students. Participants assembled in Gaborone to validate the curriculum, test the learning approach and materials, and work out the final details for the first offering of the program in the 2004 academic year.
The ten modules include:
In order to achieve African social and economic objectives, we need African regulatory capacity, which can regulate according to African realities and constraints. This requires the development of indigenous training capacity, based on inter-country co-operation and exchange. It requires the development of an indigenous ICT regulatory knowledge base, and applied research based on the experience and realities of the African countries.The e-learning aspects of the program are run using an open source learning management system called KWEL (Knowledge Environment for Web-based Learning). The project website also uses an open source content management system, WebManager. Both of these open source tools were developed and are supported by the University of Western Cape.
The greatest strength of the NetTel@Africa program has been its people. All involved are dedicated and hard-working. They are committed men and women with a great desire to succeed for the betterment of the African people and beyond.Policy and regulation are at the core of the advancement of ICTs. Ultimately, the goal of the policies is to enhance the lives of ordinary citizens. African regulators need to be empowered to ensure that the population gains access to telephones, the Internet and the benefits of ICTs. The modules developed through NetTel@Africa and implemented by African universities will produce highly skilled professionals that can help prepare the region for vigorous economic growth and increase the supply of goods and services to local and international markets.
The NetTel@Africa team produced a "slam dunk" in terms of delivering a promising new approach for improved telecom policy making in Africa. Regulators, policymakers, providers, and most importantly consumers on two continents stand to benefit from this win-win program.NetTel@Africa was established when the Telecommunications Regulators Association of Southern Africa (TRASA) identified the need to build capacity in telecoms policy and regulation. Development of the courses by the participating universities began shortly after the program was announced in the fall of 2002.
This program will provide regulators and policymakers with a solid and broad foundation on which to build upon and will help initiate other innovative ideas not currently thought of.NetTel@Africa, implemented by the Center to Bridge the Digital Divide (CBDD) of Washington State University (WSU), is funded by the Leland Initiative and USAID/RCSA. Internews was awarded about $3.5 million for 3 years (Associate award GDG-A-00-02-00008-00 under the dot-GOV Leader Award No. GDG-A-00-02-00008-00).