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Benin, Botswana climb on affordable internet ranking

Benin, Botswana climb on affordable internet rankings

The 2017 Affordability Drivers Index rankings by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) shows that two of the five countries that have made the biggest improvements in their scores since 2016 are in Africa.

In its Affordability Report released last week, the global coalition working to make broadband affordable for all notes that Benin and Botswana recorded changes - alongside Jordan, Ecuador and Vietnam - that stemmed primarily from the introduction of new or updated policies or the effective implementation of existing ones.

The report seeks to measure progress toward affordable internet and highlights related changes made to drive prices down and expand access in some 58 low- and middle-income countries.

The 2017 Affordability Report looks at the policy frameworks in place across the countries and what areas they should focus on to enable affordable connectivity for all. The ADI does not measure actual broadband prices or the affordability of broadband. Rather, it scores countries across policy groups for comparisons.

Benin moved up nine places from its 38th place ranking in 2016. This jump was as a result of the incremental and separate improvements across a range of policy areas, and not the introduction of any single major reform, the report states, adding:

"For example, the regulator now publishes more information on its regulations and decisions — a move which can help improve transparency in decision-making. It has also made further effort to hold operators accountable to providing good quality of services. Efforts to improve public consultation — including the ability to submit comments regarding proposed policies and regulations online — are promising, however, in a country where just 7% of the population reported using the internet in 2015, other necessary forms of public consultation on regulatory decision making are still rare."

In Botswana, the new rules introduced by the government in late 2015 improved and simplified the existing multi-service licensing regime and ensured technology and service neutrality - without restricting operators from holding different types of licenses (e.g., network, services, or content providers). Though A4AI notes that further reforms are required to achieve a unified licensing framework, the new rules represent a step in the right direction. It adds that Botswana's regulator also established a USAF in 2014, which has since been used to support several public access initiatives.

A4AI is an alliance of over 80 member organisations from across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors in both developed and developing countries, dedicated to ensuring affordable internet access for all through policy and regulatory change.

It states that the world will mark a significant milestone in 2017 with 50% of global internet penetration. "This milestone will mark the first time the scales have been tipped toward more people connected than not, and speaks to the impressive growth of the internet — just ten years ago, barely over 20 percent of the world's population was online," the report reads.

Colombia, with ADI score of 72.87%, tops the list followed by Mexico (71.47%) and Peru (70.84%) while Yemen sits at the bottom in 58th position, while Haiti is second from the bottom.

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