In response to the United Nations “Universal Access Goals by 2030”, Mozilla has partnered with the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) to promote Rural Connectivity across the continent of Africa.
There is an increasing number of smartphone users in the different regions across Africa which means that the need for connectivity is ever becoming greater and essential.
“It is vital that all stakeholders – governments, civil society, the private sector and UN system – continue to build momentum through collaboration and sharing of innovative solutions,” highlighted Fekitamoeloa Katoa Utoikamanu, the top UN official for least developed and other vulnerable countries.
“Least developed countries with a strong government commitment, recognizing the importance of digital technologies for national development, and backed by enlightened policy and regulatory actions including steps to develop skills, can achieve universal and affordable access to the Internet,” added Houlin Zhao, the Secretary-General of the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The MOU that has been signed by Mozilla and the African Telecommunications Union is primarily aiming at ensuring that communications across the African continent is cheaper to all.
“The project, pegged to the usage of spectrum policy, regulations and practices, is designed to ensure affordable access to communication across the continent,” said ATU Secretary-General John OMO.
“Figuring out how to make spectrum accessible, particularly in rural areas, is critical to bringing people online throughout the African continent,” said Mitchell Baker, CEO of Mozilla, “I’m committed to Mozilla making alliances to address this challenge.”
Over the last 10 years, Mozilla has been working in the African continent as more of a community based organization aiming to grow development of developers but to also see younger people get more involved in technology.
One of the biggest challenges that they faced while on the continent is that, as much as there were wide spread computer labs or people using smartphones, the element of connectivity remained a big issue and it is because of this that they are now working towards helping promote connectivity on a fast growing continent.
Mozilla partnership with the African Telecommunications Union aims to promote Rural Connectivity across the continent
Rural connectivity in the African region presents a unique set of challenges. More than 60% of Africa’s populations live in rural areas, but they lack resources and infrastructures needed to connect them. Potential users are often spread out, making it difficult to support the traditional business case for investments necessary to establish broadband infrastructure.
There are many factors that contribute to this digital divide, but one of the biggest challenges is making wireless spectrum available to low-cost operators, who are prepared to deploy new business models for rural access.
Spectrum licenses last between 10-15 years, commitments which would work for national coverage by mobile operators. With the demand for wireless spectrum continuing to increase beyond its administrative availability, policy-makers and regulators have increasingly turned to spectrum auctions to assign a limited number of licenses.
It should be noted that spectrum auctions act as a barrier to competition, creating financial obstacles for innovative, smaller service providers who could bring new technology and business models to rural areas.
What does the wireless spectrum mean?
The wireless spectrum consists of electromagnetic radiation and frequency bands. Respective countries have their own wireless spectra with ranges up to 300 GHz. The wireless spectrum frequencies used in communication are regulated by national organizations, which specify which frequency ranges can be used by whom and for which purpose.
Government entities own frequency channels, which are divided according to common frequency band characteristics and cause performance breaks at different frequency levels, where only windows of continuity are available. (Source: Techopedia)
To make matters worse, the high fees associated with these auctions don’t encourage larger mobile operators to roll out services in rural areas, resulting in the dramatically under-utilised spectrum. It is because of that Mozilla is working with African Telecommunications Union to come up with feasible recommendations that should be able to facilitate innovation and investment in Africa.
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Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is an avid Sports and Tech enthusiast. He loves to keep up to date with all the latest information and research on some of the most compelling stories.