Centre for Strategic Planning
Funding for the preparation of this Toolkit was provided by the
info Dev Program of the World Bank
This Toolkit is available electronically at
(World Bank Publication information)
Andrew DymondSonja Oestmann
I ntelecon Research & Consultancy Ltd.
Telecommunications & Information Technology Consultants
AFRICAN C ONNECTION – R URAL ICT TOOLKIT
RURAL ICT TOOLKIT FOR AFRICA
The African Connection (AC) is a region-wide, African led and managed initiative to harmonize
improvements in telecommunications and ICT across countries.The AC has the support of many
stakeholders and donors, in particular from the African Telecommunications Union under whose
auspices its program has been developed. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development
(NEPAD) has endorsed ICT as a crucial component of sustainable development and poverty
eradication in Africa, and has nominated AC as one of the platforms for accelerated ICTdevelopment and diffusion.
AC is seeking to accelerate the development of rural ICT markets, initiatives and strategies
across the continent. It aims to create a positive business environment for attracting expanded
private investment and new operators into telecommunication infrastructure and information
technology, as key planks in a broader effort to foster socio-economic development and growth.This has been perceived as a mammoth task. For example, in 2001 it was estimated that
reaching a fixed teledensity of 2% by 2005 would require investments totalling about US$ 8 billion
into telecommunications. However, the good news is that more than this is even now being
invested every year in African telecommunications. Two-thirds of this is accounted for by
investment in mobileinfrastructures. By the end of 2001 mobile services had already achieved a
penetration of almost 3 percent of population, outstripping fixed penetration and growing at over
100% annually in half the countries. Much of this development is benefiting the poorer countries,
bypassing the old order and creating new market structures.
How does this affect rural areas? Mobile is making surprisingly rapid advancesinto rural areas in
some countries and, combined with innovative satellite solutions, the potential of voice-over-IP,
innovative investment/development approaches and partnerships and some visionary policy and
regulatory tools, no region of Africa need be left untouched for long. From another perspective,
the potential revenue generating capacity of Africa’s rural telecom and ICT markets arein excess
of $3 billion annually and this alone could justify investments of more than $ 8 billion per year into
However, to date the rural market is still largely untapped, the investments are perceived as risky
and the key players who must ‘collaborate’ to bring about change – operators and entrepreneurs,
financiers, governments and regulators, and technology suppliers – are along way from seeing
the opportunity in a mutually cohesive way. Of course rural Africa has its own unique problems.
However the explosion in the use of mobile communications, including in rural areas, is providing
indications that ICTs that are perceived as useful tools for both socio-economic development and
business could attract much more revenues than previously seen and could alsogreatly impact
the lives of rural inhabitants for good.
The African Connection Centre for Strategic Planning (ACCSP), the Secretariat for the AC
Program, commissioned a study entitled “Development of Programs and Funding Mechanisms to
accelerate rural ICT development in Africa”, financed by the World Bank. After a competitive
tender, Intelecon Research & Consultancy Ltd. was selected to undertake...