What matters more than ICTs: As one the members of the Presidential International Advisor Council on Information and Development, Esther Dyson took a lead in a Q&A session instead of giving a presentation. With Mark, and the Deputy Minister she spent the past weekend with President Thabo Mbeki. She highlighted some optimism from people in developing world, and said that there is a need to move forward and not wait for everything to come together. Most members believed that , the question of regulation is inevitably the most cutting edge topic. Most of the questions had in one way or the other questioning the notion of accessibility, affordability, bandwidth and making internet free as the deputy minister claimed. One thing Esther stressed was creating a desire in the public, the consumers for more Internet services and them lobbying government to reduce access costs.
Topic: Challenges and strategies in ICT regulation in Africa:
Mark Shuttleworth made his first appearance at iWeek and provided delegates with the lessons from other emerging markets. If South Africa is to succeed in providing Internet access in a more affordable manner we can learn a lot from South Korea. They have the world’s cheapest broadband access. Spain is successful use of computers in classrooms running on free and open source software. In addition Brazil have more multimedia telecenters for teaching digital literacy and allow the creations of multimedia for that highlights there cultural history. Indonesia believes Open Source is central to to ICT strategy. Some of the leading role models in emerging markets on ITCT usage globally is India, China and Taiwan.
Mark touched on some more pressing topical issues within a growing community of ISP in South Africa. He reminded the ISPA that if South Africa is to succeed , skills development should be the most important issue addressed. The need to broaden participation in the regulation of the Internet remain critical. Traditionally, government have dominated the market making it harder for new role players in the industry.
As most ISP are concerned with their own survival, the question of making profit should be measured in line with the idea of putting people first. In other words, the ISP should also drive towards social responsibility and thus broadening access to this technologies. Even more pressing is the need for management skills and not only technical skills. As communities continue to tell their stories through technologies, ISPs and government must work closer together to speed up the roll out of Internet access.
Today iWeek 2006 kicks off with a bang. Mark Shuttleworth is making a first ever guest speaking appearance at this annual Internet industry event. The conference was moved to The Castle, Kyalami, north of Sandton, this year. The purpose is to discuss trends and development of the Internet industry. Greg Massel, ISPA co-Chairman opened the first session by asking the participants a question relating to the importance internet, he said “imagine a world without the internet”-what will this information Age look like, would it then be called as such – could the words global village, information haves and have not, digital divide and others be used the same way they are being used?Equally important, Massel remarked of the idea of an “inclusive and open spirit of the internet” as the driving force behind the conception of the Internet as we know it today. Which began as a self-regulated industry but as the population of internet users grew more formulation of policies emerged.
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Mr Padayachie addressed the opening session of the iWeek 2006. Since the advent of the Internet in South Africa, the government and ISPs played a ‘hard to get’ sort of politics. His views represent a shift of old politics to a an idealistic and consultative one. The Deputy Minister gave us some some feedback on the latest meeting, this past weekend, of the President’s International Advisory Council on Information Society and Development, which include Mark Shuttleworth and Esther Dyson (also speakers on this day) was part of.
Government and ISPs need to work together, in light of this he warmed of inherent “contradictions of sources”, depressing features, high cost to technologies include Telkom monopoly over the Telecommunications industry and predicted some “hopes for the future”. The most important element he touched one is that South Africa should develop strategies and programs to bring about digital technologies. Secondly the deputy minister talked about the need to increase access to ICTs in SA by ensuring that ICTs are effectively used become much more affordable from both government associated policies (for example tarrifs). The third point is that of the application of technologies, and fourthly to raise the level of skills development particularly in the education system beginning at early childhood.