The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) last week named Rwanda as the highest ranked Least Developed Country in this year’s Affordability Drivers Index (ADI), which was issued in their 2015-2016 affordability report.
This, according to the report, means that having in place the framework and ambitious policies is most likely to be able to drive down Internet prices in the country.
The 2015-16 Affordability Report looks at the affordability environment across 51 countries, considers the effects of poverty and income inequality and takes a close look at gender inequality in access.
“Rwanda is the highest ranked LDC in this year’s ADI. Its success is due, in part, to the ambitious policies the country is pursuing. The SMART Rwanda Master Plan 2015-2020, builds on the previous National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) plans, and puts ICTs — especially broadband — at the heart of the national socio-economic development agenda,” reads part of the statement.
Rwanda tops the sub Saharan Africa list with 53.13 composite score followed by Uganda, Gambia and Tanzania.
According to the report, the A4AI’s Affordability Drivers Index looks at the policies, incentives, and infrastructure investments in place across 51 developing and emerging countries, and assesses the extent to which they are being implemented.
Meaning of ADI
It is the combination of policy measures and other vital factors that determine how likely a country will be able to drive broadband prices down. It looks at infrastructure and access.
Infrastructure sub-index measures the current extent of infrastructure deployment and operations, alongside the policy and regulatory frameworks in place to incentivise and enable cost-effective investment in future infrastructure expansion. While access sub-index measures current broadband adoption rates and the policy and regulatory frameworks in place to encourage growth and ensure provision of affordable and equitable access.
Commenting on the report, minister for ICT and Youth Jean Philbert Nsengimana, explained that the purpose of the index, is to recognise those who are doing a good job in driving the market in the right direction, looking also at the number of people online.
“Rwanda has been ranked top of other countries in our region because of our policy and regulatory environment that is conducive for driving access to affordable broadband. Some of the unique things that Rwanda is recognised for include our telecom infrastructure sharing policy that has reduced the cost of providing network coverage hence reducing the price for end users,” he said.
Adding that, “The other important element they look at is the existence of a clear broadband policy which Rwanda has had for a long time, updated every 5 years,”
Nsengimana noted that the report provides a way to evaluate the country’s efforts by pointing out what matters most. “The report is widely distributed and accessed by prospective investors who make their decision based on the same factors that Rwanda is performing on very well,” he said.
Rwanda aims to become a knowledge-driven, middle income country by 2020, with ICT as a central engine to fast-track the country’s transformation. Initiatives like Smart Rwanda are driving this transformation by providing affordable internet.
Meanwhile, the report recommends that countries develop and work toward a more ambitious affordability target, reduce the cost of mobile phones and ICT devices, increase investment in and availability of public, subsidized access, create specific, time-bound targets to close the gender digital divide, and integrated approach to policymaking, among others.
A4AI is the world’s broadest technology sector coalition with over 70 members, including technology corporations Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, and Ericson.