Access to the Internet should be available and affordable to all persons in Africa without discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Access to the Internet plays a vital role in the full realisation of human development, and facilitates the exercise and enjoyment of a number of human rights and freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression and information, the right to education, the right to assembly and association, the right to full participation in social, cultural and political life and the right to social and economic development.
Access and affordability policies and regulations that foster universal and equal access to the Internet, including fair and transparent market regulation, universal service requirements and licensing agreements, must be adopted. Direct support to facilitate highspeed Internet access, such as by establishing necessary infrastructure and infrastructure facilities, including access to openly licensed or unlicensed spectrum, electricity supply, community-based ICT centres, libraries, community centres, clinics and schools, is crucial to making the Internet accessible to and affordable for all. Equally important is support for the establishment of national and regional Internet exchange points (IXPs) to rationalise and reduce the cost of Internet traffic at national, local and subregional levels. It is also essential to address the gender digital divide, with factors such as level of employment, education, poverty, literacy and geographical location resulting in African women having lower levels of access than men. The sharing of best practices about how to improve Internet access for all sectors of society should be encouraged among African states. These efforts should be geared towards ensuring the best possible level of Internet connectivity at affordable and reasonable costs for all, with particular initiatives for unserved and underserved areas and communities. The cutting off or slowing down of access to the Internet, or parts of the Internet, for whole populations or segments of the public, should not be permitted on any grounds, including public order or national security grounds. Internet intermediaries should be required to be transparent about any traffic or information management practices they employ, and relevant information on such practices should be made available in a form that is accessible to all stakeholders.
A fresh, public-interested assessment of the zero-rating of certain applications (apps) and platforms in the African mobile prepaid environment is overdue. This policy paper examines the issue of zero-rating within the contexts of the range of discounted and dynamically-priced African mobile network operator (MNO) products, and the priority public policy issues facing the continent in relation to the Internet.
This research was carried out by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) as part of the OpenNet Africa initiative (www.opennetafrica.org), which monitors and promotes Internet freedom in Africa.