African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms Coalition
Position Paper in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic (June 2020)
In the section, equitable access to the internet, the Coalition speaks to the role of community networks in the pandemic (page 4-5). The section on CNs is found below.
“For the Coalition, community networks play an important role in responding to
the COVID-19 pandemic. These decentralised community-built and owned networks are the most effective way to overcome digital exclusion in areas that are still isolated from the social and economic dynamics of the digital era,18 as seen with Zenzeleni Networks NPC in South Africa and TunapandaNET in East Africa..”
“Instructively, they are examples of community networks that are using their infrastructure to localise COVID-19-related information to fit the local context and languages, as the information released is mostly in English. At the same time, TunapandaNET is providing an e-learning platform and has been supporting teachers in the digitisation of Kenya’s school curriculum. Further, the Centre for Youth and Development in Malawi is supporting teachers to run classes on WhatsApp to enable teachers to share lessons recorded as videos or voice notes with parents. ”
“However, community networks face many challenges for their development, from
lack of access to unused spectrum in underserved areas, to expensive and highly
bureaucratic processes to obtain a licence. The Coalition sees this as an opportune time for governments to remove these barriers so community networks can expand services to unserved or underserved communities.”
The launch of the Roadmap for the High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, which recognizes that “Some policies have been shown to promote connectivity, including regulations aimed at creating an enabling environment for smaller-scale providers, including broadband cooperatives, municipal networks and local businesses, by putting in place practices such as facilitating licence exemption and tax incentive schemes” and it sets itself to “d) Promote the development of enabling regulatory environments for smaller-scale Internet providers, along with local and regional assessments of connectivity needs;”.
The report “Progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society at the regional and international levels - Report of the Secretary-General” released this month at the UN Commission for Science and Technology for Development, recognizes the contributions made by global civil society organization on making recommendations for innovations in spectrum management to support community networks.
The Webcast and presentations on the launch are now available similarities between #smartvillages and #communitynetworks are very strong so this is a big opportunity to create policy and regulatory frameworks to enable them both
On June 26th the Africa Union Commission, the African Telecommunications Union, the Internet Society, Mozilla, Nethope and the Association for Progressive Communications organized a webinar on “Shared Spectrum Strategies to Increase Affordable Access in Rural Areas”
This is a economic case study of collaborative networking. “How costs are distributed among the participants is a key question in the management and viability of shared resources.” The external traffic networking costs are assessed in a model (i.e. IXP and carrier costs, management costs, electricity costs, etc). The cost-sharing approach is analysed (i.e. equally dividing a part of the total cost among the participants, while proportionally dividing the other part according to each participant’s bandwidth usage).
Cerdà-Alabern, L., et al. (2020). “On the Guifi.net community network economics.” Computer Networks 168 : 107067.
The exploration of link quality for wireless community networks (WCN). A case study of a WCN in FunkFeuer in Vienna. The approach in the paper could be useful in the prediction of link quality and improve performance of the WCN.
Abdel-Nasser, M., et al. (2020). “Link quality prediction in wireless community networks using deep recurrent neural networks.” Alexandria Engineering Journal.
On 17 June 2020, APC collaborated with the ICT4D (Information and Communication Technology for Development) Research Centre at Bahir Dar University, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Internet Society Ethiopia Chapter, the Internet Society and the Network for Digital Rights in Ethiopia to submit a contribution to the draft Telecommunications Licensing Directive No. 1/2020. In the contribution, we recommend that the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) consider international recommendations including creating a licensing framework for telecommunications operators that considers community networks as well as developing an innovative, transparent and accessible spectrum licensing scheme that enables community networks. Read the full submission here
An ever growing repository of Dr. G. van Stam (@gertjanvanstam) research outputs is available here. Dr G. van Stam was a critical actor in the development of the community networks in Africa with its contribution to the creation of Murambinda and Macha Works, in Zimbabwe and Zambia, respectively, more than 10 years ago.
Terms and Conditions podcast by Berhane Taye and Neema Iyer.
Two guest speakers, Josephine Miliza and Chenai Chair speak about Community Networks and Universal Service and Access Funds in Africa as well as feminist thought on connectivity issues.
Great quote by Josephine on CNs in Africa:
“Community networks… is not a foreign concept in Africa. In terms of telecommunications, it might be seen as something new. But in how we live our lives, existing in communities and coming together to solve challenges that affect us, [it] has always been there.”