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Out of Africa

The IIC’s TMF in South Africa proved to be a thorough examination of all the supply and demand side issues testing regulators on the continent

Out of Africa

The IIC's Telecommunications and Media Forum (TMF) in Johannesburg debated what constitutes best practice policy and regulatory decision making across Africa. Each day began with a keynote address from South African deputy ministers and the event was supported by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and sponsored by Microsoft, MTN, Multichoice and Vodafone.

The broadband landscape

Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, deputy minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, set the scene on the opening day where the focus was on infrastructure, funding and supply side issues with affordable, sustainable access recognised as a key development goal.

The first panel session picked up on the theme of broadband rollout and how Africa's broadband strategy is developing. Charley Lewis, senior lecturer at the Link Centre, University of the Witwatersrand, noted that in Johannesburg there is a lot of fibre infrastructure activity – there's clearly a connectivity revolution time he was still showing a slide highlighting the divide between up-market urbanites and rural villages.

Our biggest challenge is actually in human development and that is what's stalling programmes all over the continent.

Thabiso Thukani, who runs government and industry relations for Ericsson's Sub-Saharan Africa division, noted that it is promising that as of 2015, about 150 countries had put in place some form of national broadband policy or strategy. "But we also need to look at the quality of these broadband policies: are they implementable?" he asked, adding that there are good examples of how to combine broadband and regulatory policy with minimal government intervention, such as in Germany, which released sub-1 GHz digital dividend spectrum with conditions to cover rural areas. France is also a good example of a country with poor rural provision where similar digital dividend goals are proving to be successful.

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