Bandwidth so important, so expensive: making affordability a distance dream
Saly, Senegal, 30th November 2005
Bandwidth is the life line of the new economy. Without bandwidth obviously the benefits and the promises of ICTs can not be realized. Two key issues come to the fore, the high cost of bandwidth and its low availability especially in the areas where they are most needed. Currently international traffic going outside Africa are either terminated via VSAT or undersea fibre cable both of these options are not cheap. Though VSAT is currently most available, it is most expensive. Whereas undersea fibre cable has still not reach most Africa countries it holds the promise of been relatively affordable but ironically it is currently expensive as well.
In order to address the issue of bandwidth availability and its usage, the Open Society of West Africa organize a three day workshop on the optimistic theme “ Achieving affordable bandwidth “ aimed at opening up ICT infrastructure in West and Central Africa.
Speaking at opening ceremony, Dr. Nana Tanko the Executive Director of OSIWA formally welcome the participants to the workshop and expressed the hope that this dialogue of reaching the goal of affordable bandwidth can bare some fruits. She noted that 600 milion dollars is repatriated outside the continent due to use of bandwidth by Africa countries and these funds can be used for connectivity in Africa thus making a difference. Dr. Tanko also said there are fundamental issue such as the SAT 3 is ending its life span but it is still under utilized thus this important resources is not available at affordable costs. She concluded by saying it is important to ensure that bandwidth is available affordable rate in order that internet can play a role in poverty eradication and wealth creation.
Others speakers at the opening ceremony included Zolisa Masiza, ICASA- South Africa,Dr. Jahya Janneh, Ex Telco Minister of Gambia and Alioune Kamara of IDRC, Senegal
What about the Media
In recognizing the key role of the media, OSIWA organized a day briefing to provide background information on how the provision International bandwidth used for Internet access and the intricacies of bandwith pricing. The briefing focus on satellites (VSAT) and fibre specially the existing SAT3/SAFE cable and proposed new cable for East Africa ( EASSy)
Russell Southwood, editor of Balancing Act Africa, speaking at the media briefing said it is imperative for low volume, high cost option for undersea fibre cable should be replaced by high volume and low cost model. He made a comparison of the days where it was expensive to own and use mobile phones in Africa (low volume and high costs) and the currently boom of mobile phones in Africa working in the context of high volume and low costs regime.
Mr. Southwood concluded by saying, bandwidth from the under sea cable, for example, can be made affordable if it become more available at same time driving costs down
Over these three days workshop, the workshop participants would look at obstacles to achieving affordable infrastructure and the consequences of not having it, current bandwidth situation and related issues and creating ways of tackling these obstacles via the use of the open space methodology.
credit : penplusbytes