The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) is today hosting its first Mozambican country forum in Maputo, bringing together leaders from the public, private and non-profit sectors to discuss and develop policy for bringing down the cost of internet access to spark innovation in a number of areas.

HumanIPO reported in April Mozambique became the third African country after Nigeria and Ghana to join the A4AI, pledging to collaborate with the members of the alliance with a view to driving down the cost of internet access through policy and regulatory reforms.

The country joins over 50 private sector, public sector, and civil organisation members of the A4AIwhich was launched in 2013 – with the Mozambique-based Science Innovation and ICT Research Institute (SIITRI) also already a member of the alliance.

The A4AI said the first country forum in Mozambique would discuss providing affordable access to the internet in order to encourage innovation in vital areas such as agriculture, health and education, with attendees including minister of transport and communication Gabriel Muthisse and representatives from SIITRI, Vodacom, Internet Solutions, IREX, UK DFID and USAID.

“The insight and experience of these attendees – and other senior figures from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors – will be harnessed as they discuss and debate concrete policy areas that can reduce the cost of internet access,” the A4AI said.

“Thereafter, they will work to form a national coalition and hammer out a plan of action for reducing the cost of access in Mozambique. Guided by the global experience of its 60+ members – which include the likes of Cisco, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Omidyar Network and Yahoo – and international best practice, A4AI will then work alongside the national coalition to support the development and implementation of the changes needed to make affordable broadband access for all a reality.”

International Telecommunication (ITU) figures say less than five per cent of Mozambicans use the internet, largely due to cost. The country is the 15th poorest in the world, yet the price of a fixed broadband connection is the fourth most expensive globally, while a basic mobile broadband subscription costs over 65 per cent of average monthly income.

“The Ministry of Transport and Communications is pleased to welcome the first A4AI Forum in Maputo, Mozambique. While the country is experiencing staggering economic growth and internet penetration rates continue to rise, the number of citizens using the internet is still below desired levels,” Muthisse said.

“To address this, the government is undertaking a series of regulatory reforms to boost development and access to telecommunications services, information technology and internet through the ongoing revision of the Telecommunications Act and the Telecommunications Strategy.

We intend to accelerate this process by engaging all stakeholders at national and international levels in the development and implementation of a national broadband strategy sector. We hope that this forum – as well as the subsequent events of this alliance – serves as fertile ground for inclusive discussions to ensure an affordable internet for all.”

Sonia Jorge, A4AI executive director, said today’s meeting in Maputo is an important step on Mozambique’s path towards universal access.

“By starting this process of open dialogue between the government, the private sector, and the range of other in-country stakeholders, Mozambicans will have the opportunity to work together to implement the regulatory changes needed to ensure a more affordable and accessible internet for all,” she said. “We are excited to embark on this journey together with the newly-formed Mozambican national coalition of A4AI, and are confident that increased access to affordable broadband will have positive effects for citizens across the country.”

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