The GSMA convened a Roundtable on 16 May to discuss various options for greater regional integration and harmonisation of regulation, policy and best practise to support the broadband objectives and infrastructure to help meet the goal of affordable internet access for all. The World Bank Chief Economist for Africa invited Jerome Bezzima & Casey Torgussen to present their recently completed flagship reports focusing on West and East Africa respectively.
Some of the key advocacy messages from the GSMA included:
Endorsement of the Harmonisation and Indexing initiatives of the World Bank stating very clearly its support and endorsement of the projects. Harmonisation is key for speed to market, lessen cost for policy makers and regulators and ensure that nobody is reinventing the wheel. The GSMA stated that the scoring approach taken by the World Bank in the ECOWAS study was good but ranking must be encouraged also to drive competition for best practise by policy makers and regulators.
A review of the current Capex focused disbursement of the USP Funds across Sub-Saharan Africa and stated that the opex side was the real problem of the operators and this was responsible for the lukewarm attitude of major operators to RFPs issued by USP Funds.
The need for greater political will in addressing issues regarding ROW, Spectrum flipping, enforcement of Use it or Lose it provisions and allocation of Spectrum with a developmental agenda rather than a treasury receivable objective.
Legislation of mandated ducts on new roads and access to railway corridors for laying of fibre.
Efficient tax regimes play a role in bridging the digital divide.