Joining A4AI will help the organizations tackle the challenge of mobile broadband penetration in Africa and other less-developed countries which have penetration rates of mobile subscribers as low as 20 per cent (Ethiopia), 28 per cent(India) and 30 per cent (Pakistan) according to GSMA Intelligence.
“There is an urgent need for affordable smartphones, the rapid, economically viable deployment of wireless broadband infrastructure in rural areas and the promotion of digital literacy to help connect the unconnected in underserved communities around the world,” said Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA.
Launched in October 2013, A4AI’s main mission is to make broadband access to all and at affordable prizes, less than five per cent of average monthly income. A4AI thus seeks to create the conditions for open, competitive and innovative broadband markets via policy and regulatory reform through a combination of advocacy, research and knowledge-sharing at global, regional and national levels.
Sonia Jorge, Executive Director of the Alliance for Affordable Internet added: “Despite recent falls in prices, mobile broadband remains prohibitively expensive in most developing countries. A4AI’s recent affordability report highlighted that for those living on less than US $2 a day, mobile broadband costs in excess of 20 per cent of monthly incomes in many countries, and skyrockets to as much as 48 per cent of income in Colombia, and 35 per cent in Zambia.
“A4AI is tackling the regulatory and policy barriers that keep prices artificially high. Working with the GSMA and its members to lower cost structures and develop innovative delivery approaches will be a significant boost to our efforts. We must drive broadband prices down rapidly to enable billions more – particularly women and under-served rural communities – to access the life-changing potential of the Internet.”
GSMA is not new to A4AI. Before the Alliance’s launch, GSMA helped it shape its principles and policy positions. A4AI is made up of Ericsson, Facebook, Google, Intel, the Internet Society, Microsoft, the Omidyar Network, Alcatel-Lucent, the Association for Progressive Communications, Cisco, the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, Research ICT Africa, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), USAID and Yahoo!
These organizations plan to start work in Ghana and Nigeria in the first quarter of 2014.