The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> Hello, everyone. We are starting the next session. I will start and then open up for the online participation already. Give me 30 seconds. We are late because this is forum 23 process took the room and took more time here. So, please excuse the delay.
>> MODERATOR: Hi, everyone. And good afternoon to the session on connectivity. It is titled Let's Talk Connectivity. In a very short while we are going to have panelists respond to issues around connectivity, particularly for schools. And then we will have a blend of both online and offline. So, take turns to ask your questions. And at the end of the session to see how we can get responses from people already here.
If you know anybody this session will be of help to, you might invite them to join in person or also online. You can share the link to people who benefit or on site. If there are any of us who are here who would like this session, kindly invite them to be a part of it.
We are going to have a blend on our online and offline folks. And we have speakers from sectional. I will take the time to mention the names and then we will take the questions across online and offline with everyone answering. And then we can have questions from you also.
So, we have Dr. Moses Ismail from the University of -- yeah, Dr. Ismail. We have from Vodacom, Nguvu Komando. We have Madam Sandra Oswald from Tanzania. We have Vodacom PLC. And Justina Mashiba from the UCSAF. And then we have Barrack Otieno, also from African Higher Education and Research Institute.
We are going to kick-start the conversation, and if you are just joining in, this is a conversation around connectivity, particularly about how to skill, what's happening with connectivity in rural areas and we are going to take the time to have the questions go around.
So, if we can have Mr. Nguvu, if he is online, and if he can confirm he hears us. We see you, absolutely. Can you say hi.
>> NGUYU KOMANDO: Please note the host does not have us unmuted so we were able to do so --
>> MODERATOR: Just a few seconds. We will try to see what the issue is. Because you can see speech, but we are unable to hear you. Just to confirm that you are unmuted and you can try speaking again.
>> NGUYU KOMANDO: Yes, I am unmuted. Good afternoon. Can you hear me?
>> MODERATOR: Yes, we can loud and clear. Excited to have you join us. We want to know what the connectivity is around 3G and 4G ability in Tanzania. We want to have your background and have the conversation move forward from there.
>> NGUYU KOMANDO: My name Nguyu Komando, the director of digital in trans. As you know is part of the Vodacom family whereby we do connect for better future and we believe with social contracts that is digital society, inclusion for all on the planet. On digital society double credit and they get all the other areas within the infrastructure platforms and solutions. One country infrastructure we do hope our plan to ensure that no one is left behind on the digital economy. Whereby we have been ruling out our infrastructure in terms of 2G, 3G, 4G and even 5G. And we are (?) ensuring we provide as a super quality network to end users. With over three, 500 to the sites and over 3003 sites, and nearly 2000 free sites and we just started 5G, we are approaching 200 sites on 5G.
All in all our aim is to ensure that we provide the viable connection with over 99.999 on area site and this is due to the fact that we have good enough capacity on the back holes and got good connections to ensure all the challenges when it comes to transmissions and other passive infrastructure related being taken care.
So, when comes to internet connectivity, we are still growing, and, yes, thanks to what has been happening for the past few years. In average in our country now, we are already 30% Smartphone users and the remaining is on digital phones. However, our solutions are not really segregating. We do also consider those who are not lucky to have Smartphones. So, I think as an introduction, that's in a nutshell what Vodacom is doing on addressing connectivity with regards to Tanzania.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much, particularly sharing on the efforts and expansion of 2G, 3G and 4G, and pretty much not leaving anyone behind. I like how you mentioned it is not just focused on people with Smartphones, but, essentially, so others can get it, and the initiatives that you have in place to try to connect those as well. That's a good way to start now.
Right on the back of this question that is ongoing on 2G, 3G or 4G, I want to come to you and ask about 5G and how can we tap into 5G for connectivity.
Now, we want it to be also around device and infrastructure.
>> NGUYU KOMANDO: That's a very good question, and I really like it. I think it's a catch 21, it's like a chicken and egg. Which came first?
We understand the challenges happening not only in Africa, but also in most part of the world when it comes to affordability, especially on this high-end 5G devices. To give an idea, in Tanzania, even the devices is an issue. So what you realize as a company, we saw that as a challenge, and then we want people to enjoy the super quality because we extend the use cases that are being unreached on the 5G capabilities. So we came up with a solution of 5G routers whereby with the same devices, people will be able or customers will be able to enjoy 5G using wi-fi because of the router that we are offering and those routers are high-capacity routers. For example, one has good capacity to connect up to 300 devices. So we see that is a very good solution and it will be a game changer when it comes to not only home, but also to the offices.
So, as we continue addressing affordability on devices --
>> NGUYU KOMANDO: Definitely our routers will be fixed solution accommodating (?) people.
>> MODERATOR: Sorry about that, Mr. Nguvu. We are trying to have the support team reach the other folks so we can hear you clearly.
Conversation right now on maximizing what resources are available to be able to provide 5G services. We will come back to you as well. And thanks for the submission.
I want to go to the same question. Want to say in the back as we heard about 2G, 3G, 4G and now what efforts 5G. I want to ask if you are (?) connecting schools, especially your areas with 5G.
>> JOSEF NOLL: I like to take the opportunity that 5G has very strong technical perspective where we, amongst others, have a network slicing concept which would allow us to think (?), to think about a new from our (muffled audio) is to, A, allow on 5G a network slice for the free access to information for everyone. That is the number one.
The number two is, and I'm thankful for your input on the 5G devices because we, actually, see the Nordics that 5G is replacing copper, VSL, DSL, whatever lines. The access to schools from a 5G tower is a lot easier by, what you say the (muffled audio) supporting the 5G connectivity.
And the last but not least, the chicken and egg between devices and knowledge, I really believe that we first need to empower through community learning living labs the skills of women, girls and under-represented groups to get learning of what the digital beauty is of the services which help empowering the community, and then the existing technology, whether it's then 4G or 3G or 5G is secondary aspect.
But the technological advances are there and the point which I love to bring to this table is that we are looking forward to having a pilot with the universities, with Vodacom, with others, with UNICEF to discuss how we can actually pilot the 5G pilot access for schools.
>> MODERATOR: I love how we built up on what is -- the community essentially by empowering first and trying to move on to the technical expect which is the advances in 5G. Right now China has pilot would be pretty also to see what can happen, what needs to be done, what ought to be done and to see the resources that probably would go into skilling this up in the near future. Thank you so much, professor law.
And now we move to Dr. Ismail will bring a research perspective to our conversation. Dr. Ismail, I believe, is online. And if he can hear us, we want to know, in fact, can you check if Dr. Ismail is online yet? He can say hello to us. Right. We don't seem to find him online.
Right. So technical team, if you can give permission to unmute, please do unmute him. And, Dr. Ismail, kindly say hi so we can hear you. Okay. We will do a quick move to -- come back to Dr. Ismail for the aspect perspective on research.
We want to go now to Madam Sandra, who is sitting right next to me -- oh, sorry. She is online, too. So, I want to also know if Sandra is online. Oh, she is sitting by -- yeah. Decided to meet in one space. Which is pretty awesome. Yeah. We see you.
And, Madam Sandra, we also have a question for you. We just moved from what you have seen when it comes to essentially the conversation in 2G, 3G and all of that and Vodacom's efforts. We want to make sure how Vodacom is working that devices are available about advanced connectivity. Described as empowering community before we can look at the technical advances. As a first leg in, what is Vodacom doing for devices and also just to make sure as affordable, what are some initiatives?
>> SANDRA OSWALD: Yes. Thank you very much. Warm greetings from me to everyone.
So, yes, Vodacom is really working in the space of ensuring that devices are available and they are affordable to the communities that we work in, but also the customers. Currently, unfortunately, we know that the government has reversed our efforts and has reintroduced back the 18% application on VAT. I remember last time on a similar forum I had commuted that we had managed to convince the government to remove VAT on devices, but, unfortunately, in the new financial year they did put back the 18%. So that is a regression.
However, Vodacom, we have mobilized ourselves quickly to see how we can leverage our own partnerships internally and especially to give facilities where devices can be loaned, but also they can be bought on financing plan using various partnerships.
So, those are the kind of mechanism and schemes that we are working to ensure that Tanzanians get affordable devices, but also for us in terms of the social contract plat, in terms of how we give back to our communities and create that social value, we do have programmes that we run through our CSRM where we ensure that we work with suppliers that can give us also affordable devices in terms of the tablets and computers to make them available to our public schools so that we can introduce digital education and digital skills to schools at the end of the day.
But also we have a special device a code smart katochi, which it costs about 15 US dollars. It works and has the same capacity as a Smartphone. So, that's another product that we are really pushing to the masses to see how they can get connected and enjoy the same, similar benefits of what a Smartphone offers.
In general those are the efforts we are undertaking to mitigate some of the current environment that we are facing when it comes to connectivity and ensuring that connectivity is, sort of, like an egalitarian service to everyone. Yeah.
>> MODERATOR: Thanks for sharing the initiatives around even the programme where people can get devices and how to create over time. I think that is a good one.
And now the downside of the plat that is not too exciting is that reinstatement of what is 18%, which is almost like having everything you have built to a good extent crushed down in front of you. We will take that conversation up in a short while. We will be asking about partnerships, by race and government. But I will come back to you. So thanks for sharing and we are proud of Vodacom's efforts in doing this. Thank you.
Want to come back to Moses Ismail and give you one chance again to say hi to us. Give you a question before we move to Madam Justina. Can you say hi? Right. We can't still seem to find or hear you, Ismail. Come back to you. And if you can hear us at all, you can use the chat to say you are there and we will be back.
Background we are coming to the funding aspect because you work at UCSAF. So we want to have the question for you about funding, and we want to know how will the lack of funding affect last more connectivity in people in rural areas, how does it especially -- the question I'm trying to ask is, how does stifled efforts that we currently and we are looking at it from a policy angle, so we are looking at it in terms of what you are doing, and that ask UCSAF in using policy and funded, now the issue is funding, the very big elephant, and how are we overcoming it, true policy. How is your aspect also influencing this change in that area?
>> JUSTINA MASHIBA: Good afternoon, everyone. And thank you very much for being invited in this panel discussion, which is really important and on my side, because I'm always working in the villages, so, it really make a lot of sense when I talk about it.
So, as the Moderator introduced me, my name is Justina Mashiba, I'm the chief executive of the universal communication service access fund. This is a fund that has been established by the government so that to breach the digital gap between the rural and corporation. We all know that the lack of Vodacom are more interested in the villages -- no, they are more interested in.
>> MODERATOR: Urban, cities?
>> And they have less interest in rural area. So the government decided to establish this organization so that we can try to, you know, bridge the gap of those living in villages and those living in villages and urban area.
What we do is not only communication service but we are using ICT to bridge that digital gap. What we normally do, we subsidize the service providers, Tanzania and then they roll out communications services. It's a partnership. And when we are doing that, it's not like the government is giving the operator the whole amount of money. We are making sure that the rural population is getting communication services.
On top of that, like Sandra said, when you are talking of public schools in Tanzania, I don't know, but I think it's in many African countries it is just maybe the same. They really don't have budgets when you are talking of computers, laptop, iPad. It is very rare to find them in some of the governments because not only government school but when you are talking of government school in rural areas, that is another story.
So, we take -- we decided to take the challenge of trying to connect those children in public schools, especially in villages. As I said, when you are talking of public schools in Tanzania, they are all underserved. But you can think more about the children in rural areas.
So, we have tried to do. It's not much, but we are really trying to give them gadgets and at the same time we are partnering with the operators and the lack of African child to connect the gadget that we are providing with internet.
So, as I'm talking right now, we have provide internet -- no. We have provide gadgets to more than 1,000 schools at the moment, and we have also connected those schools with internet. Thank you to Vodacom, thank you to African child, because by ourself, there's no way we can do it. As a government, as a government, we cannot do it by ourself. We need a collaboration, we need a partnership with the private sector so we can make sure, every Tanzanian, every child, not only in Tanzania, but every child has access to internet. Nowadays when you're talking about internet, internet is anything. You can get money out of it, you can do anything with the internet. The government is welcoming all the private sector to partner together so that we can make sure that all our children in, particularly in rural areas are connected and they have a better future and better education. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much. So, we see the efforts in connecting historically underserved areas and she mentioned the reality that schools that are underserved. But think about underserved schools in rural areas, then it gets even -- it becomes a dire situation. Thank you for the efforts and connecting people, for also mentioning the need for partnerships. Governments on its own can't do all of it. So the private sector and all others to show commitment and then to have some progress towards connecting people across the world.
On the government also partnership and moving things forward, we have Mr. Barrack Otieno, who has done something around connecting schools in Kenya and has some word around the space. Mr. Barrack, we have a question for you. Because you have done work in this area, we want to know what you have -- you have seen as challenges, opportunities and maybe you can share best practices essentially. And then we wanted to also hone in on the issue of partnerships. How can we get government buy-in in some of these initiatives?
>> BARRACK OTIENO: Thank you very much. Not easy questions, but I will try to answer to the best of my ability.
First and foremost, good morning, good afternoon, good evening, everyone, especially those who are following us online. As the Moderator has indicated, I represent on this panel, AHERINet, which is a community network working in the western part of Kenya. And AHERINet has in partnership with the Basic Internet Foundation, represented by Professor Noll here, connected 50 secondary schools in Kenya. It was an interesting project in that in 20 -- I think in 2019, 2020, when we met Professor Noll, and together my colleague, Robert, who is here, we signed the memorandum of understanding to work together. We didn't know what lay ahead. And I think there are many issues at the table which we had to unpack.
First, there was the issue of what do we want to do or what is the objective of the partnership that we went into. And it was in bridging the digital divide, ensuring that information can -- that communities that were unable to access information, are, actually, able to access this information affordably. There was an interesting model that I met for the first time, connectivity that had premium and freemium model of connecting to the internet. And a freemium model, it assumed the concept that any information that is for the benefit of humanity, especially on health and on social-related usuals should be accessed for free on the internet.
And, of course, the internet itself, given the role that it plays in social and economic development, at least something should be paid for it, so it fell under premium. But it was one thing for us to discuss this. It was another thing to take this to the community.
And the first lesson we learned is that the community entry process is very important. Fortunately, in our team we had community development experts. And hopefully my colleague later on will speak to this. Which made sure that in a way, we were able to penetrate the community.
Of course, we leveraged an already existing community organization, community initiative support services. The other issue was community engagement. It's not enough to just get into the community. But you have to engage them. Communities have hard ways of surviving. They have been using smoke to provide direction. So, when you say that you are introducing Google maps, how better -- or, rather, what benefits does it bring compared to, for instance, smoke? Or sometimes, you know, in the villages if you want to trace where there is a party, you need to listen to the drums because in most cases it's very dark.
Already there was existing technology which we were, sort of, challenging. I think tied to this, again, was the issue of digital literacy. We are bringing gadgets into the community. All of a sudden children know more than their parents because parents don't have time to go through the gadgets and understand how they are operating. You go to schools, the students know more than the teachers. Basically, technology is challenging the status quo.
How then do we normalize this abnormal situation, if I may use that term?
Then there was the issue of infrastructure design. Initially Professor Noll would send us equipment that was fully configured, but the moment it landed at the port, it would take us six months to get the equipment, if at all we were able to get it. Sometimes it will disappear.
We had to change strategy and ask ourselves are we able to configure this equipment and deploy it? So first we had to learn this technology because it was coming straight from the factory. And secondly, we had to figure out ways of deploying it in the community. Remember, as we deployed in the community, it is such that in the rural areas, a primary school -- where you see a secondary school, most likely there's a primary school behind because there's electricity in that place. If you are serving a primary school you must also consider the needs of they are joining public facilities.
In our school, probably that hole is where public participation is done and a lot of things are done within the community. So we had to consider back in infrastructure design as we looked at the project, and when we landed in the communities, we realize we have to pay for this service. So, it is not just about the glitz that you have brought the equipment, but there are bills to be paid. And because you are the one who brought this equipment, the community expects you to advise how the costs will be taken care of.
So as you can see it's not an easy journey or a straight journey. And just following on what our speaker from Vodacom has said, the more we started connecting people, our able government also noticed that there's a new frontier for income. So, they not only introduced VAT, but they also introduced excise duty, which we are expected to pay faithfully and promptly, regardless of the fact that we are ensuring that communities are connected.
That also meant that we have to arm ourselves with advocacy skills to be encouraged of government, to meet policy meccas to understand how arrive at VAT to try and community -- if you take away VAT, then how will government finance its operations.
So even as we clamor or request government to take away some of these costs, we must have answers on how they will also be able to ensure that they are able to continue.
So, I think those are the few issues that I would wish to submit. And thank you for the opportunity.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much. So, essentially, we have had a roadmap laid out for us on everything from entry to engagement, to literacy, to cost, to restrategizing. We see here how even how the cost of innovation and activity, (?) come from government and what tax can look like and all of that.
This is pretty what seen a way to branch into communities, skill up and then also have local partnership and international partnership like it has with (?). That is spot on. And thank you for sharing hands on what's happening in Kenya.
We now have a bit of time for engagement. We have questions? Oh, Moses, right. So Ismail Moses, can you say if you can hear us? You can unmute and say hi to us?
>> MOSES ISMAIL: Yes, I can hear you. Hi, everybody. How are we doing?
>> MODERATOR: This time technology won and we are glad you're on because we wanted to hear from you bad. Now heard from the angle of the policymakers, people from the ground. We want to hear from you from a research perspective on academia. How important is research for connectivity of schools? What role can research play in the discussion around connecting schools?
>> MOSES ISMAIL: Yeah. So, thank you so much for having me. So, basically, is you stated there, we are a research institution. What we do -- now what we are trying to do more closely now, more than ever, is bring together the stakeholders whom we haven't involved very much in our research in the past.
We understand to harness the power of the internet we have to address the barriers of connecting the unconnected, especially in the rural and underserved areas. And these barriers include as most people have said in this platform, lack of broadband infrastructure, affordability and hand second airtime. People don't talk much about airtime but there have been a lot of discussion in the country lately, especially in Tanzania about the affordability of service. Not interesting not only in rural areas, but also in urban areas, especially, most of these complaints have been coming from the urban areas.
But as we all know literacy and availability of local relevant content and applications. So, there's also the issue of business models for local and developing content and innovations and development in this area. So, these are the areas that we work in, especially in the college of ICT where I'm best been. We have the research groups. We have, for example, research groups that specifically deal with these kind of challenges.
And last year we started visiting the stakeholders, for example, TCRI who are dealing with regulation and policy. We have reached out to the (?), for example, deal with rural connectivity. What we have tried to look at, the operators as well, like Vodacom, we had a session with them, Noka Simmons as vendors, T Go. In this operate space we have been engaging them. What you have been looking at is how can we come up with the affordable means of connecting them connected, especially in the rural areas. Because when you talk about connecting the rulers, the business comes in. These organizations, these operators are working commercially. And one of the reasons why they failed to deliver these services in the rural is the lack of convention traction I would say for these areas. So they wouldn't go there. And that is one of the reasons why we have UNICEF, for example, to subsidize this kind of census for the rural areas.
So we want to look at how we can come up with the affordable solution, so affordable technologies, for example, connectivity solutions and technologies in the broadband infrastructure. And people don't talk much about the transport solutions, for example, for the back hole and front hole I'm using a bit of technical jargon here but that means we have to not only reach the last mile but, of course, the transmission of that information to go to the switches, for example. And the core network in this case servicing and provision of those solutions.
So, we need to have -- like how can we come up with affordable means to provide all these solutions? Because if we address all these in entirety, that is when we can come up with -- (no audio)
>> MOSES ISMAIL: Sorry. I'm using my mobile phone so people calling.
So, those kind of services. Customer support systems, for example, but the most important thing you are looking at is the business models and strategies because we know the connectivity solutions come in so many forms. The technology, of course, we see that changing now and then. But then when it comes to serving the rural areas, we need to bring in innovation.
Because sometimes it cannot be the technology issue. It could be, for example, the innovation that we need to bring in, to come up with a different set of business models that strategies that can reduce the price or can make the services affordable. So, these are the areas that we are working on and we are very glad to have worked with, for example, some of these operators and stakeholders like TCRI and UNICEF. And right now we are working with the government in the TV-wide space that is one of the technologies that could bring the cost of connectivity down, especially for rural areas.
And what we are doing exactly now is to look at how can TV wide space come in and bring down the cost. The affordability is the key issue here. How can we make the connectivity in broadband services affordable and that is an area that we are working and we are glad that different initiatives are coming on board and we are extending a helping hand as well and that could be a short cut for us also to ensure that we achieve this goal. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much for the respective on bringing stakeholders to the call of the research. You can do the research but now stakeholders feed into the process. So, more of getting just information, like that would be helpful for whatever you want to rule out. And great work on the alternative to connectivity, like exploring right spaces and seeing how that can make connectivity also affordable. That's spot on and thank you for sharing and for right choicing that research is helpful for us to be able to find what is the problem, which I understand it and (?) properly to be able to solve assistance.
We have gone into the conversation and if you are joining, we are talking about connectivity, everything about it, from the device angle to the research, to funding, to policy, even underlining stuff like partnerships, too.
So, we want to allow the flow for people to speak briefly and we wanted to have questions so that our speakers can attempt them. And then you can give your suggestions. In you have any questions online, please tap your hand we will give you the floor to speak. If you have any questions in the room, kindly put on your hand and move towards the microphone would allow you the chance to ask your questions. Any questions at the moment or contributions?
Not online. In the room, anyone with best practices. I -- connectivity? If you don't have any, we will go back to the speakers. Oh, you have one. Kindly move closer to the microphone and we can take your contribution.
>> AUDIENCE: Good afternoon. My name is Roberto. I'm a core director with (?) at the AHERINet. Our experience, I think there are some reflections I would like to share on our experience in Kenya.
The first one is to reiterate that this is not something that one entity can do. We have to identify our room about the institutions and what aspects or parts they need to contribute to achieving connectivity.
And I will draw parallels probably with Tanzania and Kenya, which I am relatively knowledgeable about. And we have to speak to power and ask the powers that be that they need to support connectivity. It is to their own benefit. It's to the benefit of the society.
Secondly, as much as we have spoken about the freemium model, I don't think from a development perspective that there's anything that is free. It could be free, but somebody has to pay for it. And this is the challenge that we have with the communities, particularly rural communities because the gaps are so diverse, if you think of one entity sorting it out, it may not be possible. One school may not have a fence. The next school doesn't have electricity. The next school doesn't have a teacher who is knowledgeable.
And that brings me to the last point I want to reflect, that whatever solutions has to be flexible to meet the various needs of each community. We are talking about the vast communities. But we have seen also a process where we want to -- a convergence of approaches, which may not necessarily work towards our objective.
And finally, I would like us to consider internet as a public good and just like roads, there's nobody who builds its own road or at least generally, there's nobody who builds his own hospital. And there's nobody who provides their own water system. So, internet is a public good and we should then contribute and all partners need to contribute to this.
And finally, we need to have a policy framework to be able to accommodate all this, because then, like we are talking about connecting communities. And the community -- it's not just about connectivity. What are they using the connectivity for? We have schools which will then use it for running management systems. If it's communities, that they will use it for economic benefit or improving economic status. If it is health, that we will be able to share health information appropriately.
So, at the end of it all, let's look at usability of the connectivity. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much. So, that's a lot and all the points really drive home the need to partner for us looking the diverse conversations or the diverseness of people to be able to provide for them what will help them and to ensure what they are doing is helpful for what's the intent to do is, education or development.
Now, while you were speaking, signal, you wanted to ask something too, what he said, I guess, so --
>> In order to avoid the interference, we have one microphone in the room.
>> MODERATOR: Yeah.
>> JOSEPH NOLL: Robert, thanks a lot for your input on the internet as a public good. You know, from my experience, having been in the telecom business, and I am looking forward to our friends from Vodacom saying how do you earn money? Because in my old times in the telecom services, money was done by international roaming, by SMS and, let me be rude, by sex and drugs and rock and roll. There is a good sales market for these kind of services. Whereas, if you don't sell on health, you don't sell on education, you don't sell on any governmental services. And that subdivision made me always think of, yes, I can get boys to pay for soccer. I can get, sorry, being a bit gender biased, to get girls get paid on washing sales for clothes, for Bollywood or the newest whatever. How do we bring these public goods discussion into the discussion of what really empowers the community?
>> MODERATOR: I love the conversation going on. And the Vodacom team is smiling. Did you want to react to this?
>> NGUYU KOMANDO: Have brought a very good challenge with regards to how community publicized something we need to pay. And, definitely, the cost of really producing one MB even now in Tanzania is (?)
However, as you heard from my colleague, Sandra, when comes to school, a special area. For us, as I say, it's a purpose-led organization whereby we believe in connecting for better future. And there's no better future than addressing the path education, especially in the public school.
So, we have a platform that's called Connect You whereby as we speak in Tanzania, we have 20 websites. Out of those, seven are from education, three from health. And this happened all the way when we had the pandemic. So, we have a way on how we can really deliver our purpose and how can we empower our community. And that we have been doing not only on issuing free connectivity, but also we do have another programme that is addressing, again, the community by empowering their knowledge. So, we do also run a special programme for free to get youth in Tanzania who are eager to innovate and attain their dream without any cost.
So, we have another programme that called Vodacom Digital Acceleration that also addresses not only connectivity. So, I really like to recommend and I really like the comment from Robert that we need to go beyond connectivity. And for us, we are more than a (?). So we go beyond connectivity. We provide more use cases that are addressing and gets the users to believe that enhance, adopt as a solution.
We have seen when we introduced mobile services, the adoption was remarkable. Like, which fire all the way from Addis to the rural areas. We have the (?) and make the same on the internet adoption point of view.
So, we have the way to get those -- not for the lack of better term, not available, but those who are on the disabled side when it comes to accessing internet. As Robert said, I think internet, even Madam Justina, reiterating that internet now is the new oxygen. So, for us, we understand that and for sure using what you have said and what our fundamental when it comes to social contract we will be able to deliver while providing back to shareholders for sustainability. Otherwise, we don't want to cross our company in the near future. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Like I said, the conversation is ongoing in this room. We also have Mr. Barrack wanting to submit this conversation. So the floor is yours at the moment.
>> BARRACK OTIENO: Thank you very much, Madam Chair. Just to pick up from where the previous speaker has left, we are dealing with a very complex subject and I want to touch on a few things. If you look up the history on the progression of the internet and connectivity, initial deployment was heavily funded or subsidized by public money or public interest money. And I think as you move on, one of the things that is evident is that, first, spectrum is a public good. And the interest of the public should come first when we are deploying spectrum. And there should be an element of openness in how spectrum is handled at local. It needs a bottom-up approach for lack of a better word. Because when you think about it and when you look at the scenarios we are dealing with, where the confusion is coming in in most of the economic models that we are using are not homegrown, even when it comes to deployment of the infrastructure that we are talking about.
Currently we are talking of the Universal Service Fund. The truth of the matter is, and I hope Madam Chair can correct me here, most of the countries in the African region and in the Global South are struggling with how to put this Universal Service Fund into proper use. Not because the funds have not been collected. But because there is -- we do not have adequately mechanisms of ensuring that this fund is actually utilized at the ground.
And we at AHERI in Kenya are engage working group the communication authority and, of course, the other community networks and the community network initiative to make sure that we rethink the way the Universal Service Fund is, actually, used for the benefit of the citizens.
The elephant in the room has been those who have been contributing to the Universal Service Fund feel that they are the ones who should be able to utilize this Universal Service Fund, which is fair enough.
But, on the other hand, most of the time these are corporates whose core business is return on investment, not infrastructure. And I underline, return on investment.
So, I am struggling to figure out how they will go into these areas that do not have any return on investment. And we see cases of a lot of infrastructure deployed across the continent which is unused, dead infrastructure. We set up towers and we switch them off as soon as we have set them up. And community members still have to climb on trees or walk long distances to find connectivity. In this day and age when we are talking of 5G. Yet we are talking about public resources or public money, which is very opaque.
So, I think the issue of spectrum has to be bottom-up, just the way we discussed boundaries of land, we should discuss spectrum and related boundaries.
Currently we are -- most community networks are using the industrial, scientific and medical band 2.4, 5.8. They are clogged, yeah. Most of these, there's too much noise in those spectrums. There are conversations around opening up 6G and 5G. These are public resources. They should be subjected to public participation processes so that the public then determines how best they can be used.
In any case, most of these regulatory bodies are a creation of constitutional processes that are in themselves put in place by citizens.
So, I think what I am trying to drive at is community has to come first when we are discussing infrastructure. Community has to understand the spectrum that is available and what is being done about the particular spectrum. And community has to be involved from the onset in any solutions that are then designed for them.
And I think if you are talking about that, the little Universal Service Fund that we are struggling with, we will triple it or quadruple it to millions or trillions and the grass will be enough for all of us. We would not be fighting about who should be apportioned of what amount of Universal Service Fund. I submit.
>> MODERATOR: I like the mention of -- right, how complex this is and the conversations going with and who should be involved. And even the particular mention of things that have been deployed but probably not been used and what happens after these funds have been secured.
So, while you were speaking, I got a signal that Madam, who is a CEO of UCSAF wants to respond and then we will go to Catherine. To say that online folks we are asking if you have any questions. Please be prepared to do so.
>> Thank you. I want to start with Barrack when he was talking about the Universal Service Fund that is available in Tanzania, in running short of fund. What I can say, I'm telling you, I'm running out of fund because we have a lot and we are doing a lot in Tanzania.
For us, we have a very good cooperation of the operators. We don't have any white elephants. In Tanzania don't with any white elephants. Because what we normally do, we engage with operators and we discuss and agree on a way forward. So we don't go and put an infrastructure and no one is going to use it.
So, and I guess maybe Tanzania, USF is one -- the USF that is doing very good because we have a lot of benchmarking visits in Tanzania, like last week we had somebody from Uganda and we have a request from Sierra Leone and everyone. So, I think it's one of the USF that we are really trying very good to engage operators and stakeholders in whatever that we are doing.
And what I can say when you are talking of population in rural areas, we should really think of -- when you are talking of internet a person don't have a shilling to buy a bread and now you're telling them to go buy internet and whatever.
From this point I think it's very important to keep on educating the society, keep on engaging the society so that at the end of the day when we go and roll out the project in the villages, in the rural areas, it will be easy for them to accept and, you know, sometimes be reeling to trigger some amount in getting the service.
So, what I can say, then for those who are doing business, we know that it's a business, but at the end of the day, as one of the contributors was saying, it's like -- it's now a public service. When we are talking of public good, it should be very cheap that everyone can afford. But once you make it expensive and when you are talking of rural population, I am 100% that at the end you are getting a lot of white elephant and no one is using it. So, thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much for that. And the conversation is ongoing. Catherine, we want to take you quickly and then is there any question online?
>> CATHERINE KIMAMBO: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you all for joining this session. Have you interactive. So, again to you, Madam Justina, since you represent the government on this panel, I think most of us have been a victim of policy, the policy and regulations that still back us up in a corner when it comes to connectivity in rural areas mostly, and the reluctance of the government to change the policies and regulations in terms of I would speak in regards to school connectivity. Because the programme itself involves digital, digital learning to students. And then you have a programme such as co-connectivity involves multisectoral or different ministries, Ministry of Education and Finance. But at the end of the day you have policies being made from all these different places who don't speak to one another when it comes to sustainability of the programme, implementation of the programme, even the lifeline of the programme after the (?) exit from the goodwill of Vodacom or after the exit plan, what comes next.
And also we have different policies that are still working against us in terms of sustainability of the programme. But there again, even implementation, because we have good policies on paper or in some countries we don't even have good policies on paper. But still they elect of the government to change in accordance with times that we change, how do we embrace digital learning in schools, because I think there's one time we attended a meeting in the ministries and they would ask us if you are to choose between building a class and paying for internet, what would you select?
So, I think it's questions like those that still made -- makes us question, like, is the government really embracing technology in this time and era or is it still a battle from your end? What's your take on that?
>> JUSTINA MASHIBA: Thank you, Catherine, that is a difficult one, but I will really try to answer your question. You know, as I said before, (?) in a village don't have a shilling to buy bread. Now when you are talking about internet, we are now trying to change the mindset. And in Tanzania, for instance, because of the need or the importance of having an ICT, that's why we have now a full-fledged ministry. You can do remember. Before it was just a section, what I can say, it was just a section within the ministry. But now we have a full-fledged ministries that is dedicated in issues related to ICT.
So, when you are talking of -- for instance, school connectivity, you have, like, how many minutes would you have to go? Three minutes because we have ministry of finance, a local government -- Ministry of Education, local government and then we have ministry of ICT. So, it is really sometimes very tough. Everyone has its own priorities. When you go to the local government are Gore them, they want to give classrooms. When you come to the ICT, now we have ICT the ministry they can stand and you say we have to put this agenda of ICT.
When you go to Ministry of Education, he's interested in getting maybe the books, whatever that is important for the ministry.
What I can say, stakeholders engagement is key and I do remember Catherine when we were starting this project, we really needed to engage all the stakeholders. If you don't have -- engage the stakeholders and they don't understand what you are doing, it will be very difficult to, you know, sail through.
What I can say on the issues related to policies and way of doing business, it is very difficult friendships in our country of 31 region and more than 6 million population, you can see how difficult it is. But nowadays, the government is flexible. We are really open to engage with private sector so that at least we can see things are moving.
For instance, now in Tanzania we have a spatial programme where quality digital Tanzania. When we are talking about digital Tanzania it's the responsibility of ICT to make sure that everything that has to deal with ICT pass through the ministry of ICT. Before it was scattered everywhere. You go to the ministry of finance, they have the ICT department and they think their ICT department is even higher than the other ICT department.
So, I think right now the government is in a very good track or on the right track of making sure that, like, now, everything when you are talking of any issue related to ICT, you just go to the ministry responsible for ICT. It is tough, I know, Catherine, but we are heading there. And I hope soon we will be in a different world than to be talking now of digital Tanzania in Tanzania. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. We are running out of time. Will say something and then there is a question. You can --
>> AUDIENCE: Thank you, Madam Chair. My apologies for coming late. I attended another session.
So, let me -- before my salvation, let me quickly use this opportunity to invite every one of you to citizen boots, African open research. We, actually, had a discussion here talking about internet backpack that you can take to your remote villages, rural, to connect the people in your remote environment. So, you (?) we don't have electricity so we have an option for that. Please visit our booth and, actually, look at the demonstration of the internet backpack. And also we are also having a launch of that. Please, we invite you to that.
My questions or my submission when we talk about connectivity, we tend to forget about the rural urban poor and how to communicate in terms of language barrier. So, these are the things that we need to actually bring to the table when we talk about connectivity. So, look at content.
If you had to have that impact, we must think like the rural urban poor and their needs, their wants and the affordability of that and the sustainability of it. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Do you want to respond now?
>> JOSEF NOLL: Yeah, I can jump in on that. And I love your input, because I really think when it comes to internet and mobile, we need to think differently in Africa. Because the story is, Africa is so big. And building infrastructure and then you and Justina will agree, is building the infrastructure is so expensive.
At the same time, the earnings is a lot lower than we have invested in economies. To give you an example, I pay like $50 for the fixed, plus another $30 for the mobile. That means $70 per month and that is just the internet for mobile and fixed in Norway.
Now, when I think of that further and I say I have $1, $2 a month for connecting, doesn't it mean that we have to rethink differently? That we need to empower a lot more, what we call, a decentralized internet where we in our communities build what we call the community learning living labs where people can come to and where they can find local content and they can contribute to local content, what is of importance and have the free access. And that one will lift the economies and hopefully then also lift the uptake of mobile broadband and also the deployment of the expensive network.
But that is a different work where we currently, together with Barrack and Robert and some others, work on a scientific paper. And I am inviting in you to join us there with some data from Vodacom. I also got the commitment here from safari Ethiopia to help us with some data so that we really from the science perspective can underlie the different culture.
>> MODERATOR: Right. On that background and essentially what you have heard about thinking differently when it comes to Africa continent, I know we were sharing the reports on this session. So people who are looking at expansion or looking at extension of connectivity to rural areas, we have some points here, which are pretty generic because contextualized for your specific communication. Invitation to join a research paper and exercising to see what we found out by way of just moving forward in connectivity and especially connectivity in schools and rural areas.
A special thank you to all speakers. Those online, Vodacom team. And also Professor Ismail. And now come to speakers here who will give us one sentence. Second round on that because our time is already up.
So, anything which should remember after this session, Mr. Barrack, you go first, in one line.
>> BARRACK OTIENO: Thank you. Research should precede policy and policy should guide infrastructure deployment. Those are my concluding remarks.
>> MODERATOR: Can someone Tweet this quickly. Yes. You go.
>> JUSTINA: What I can say is partnership is key.
>> MODERATOR: Professor Noll.
>> JOSEF NOLL: For me it's really the youth empowering our dreams.
>> MODERATOR: Absolutely. So, thank you so much. Vodacom team, one line each, Sandra and Nguvu.
>> NGUYU KOMANDO: I think for us connectivity or technology that human is nothing. We continue connecting for better future and changing people's life through our technology and then we go beyond the connectivity.
>> MODERATOR: Right. That in a Tweet.
Now, Sandra, one line.
>> SANDRA OSWALD: For us, we believe that technology can address some of the most pressing issues in our country.
>> MODERATOR: Absolutely. Professor Ismail, one line.
>> MOSES ISMAIL: Yeah. So, for me, basically, it's innovation. We know the solutions existed. They keep on existing. Technology advance. But, of course, African challenges can be solved through innovation and not reverting the way. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. On that note, we just want to appreciate you all for being awesome. I thank the audience for just listening and contributing. Thank you all.
>> JOSEF NOLL: I forgot to thank Catherine for organizing this session.
>> MODERATOR: Yes, and the support team and everybody. Thank you.