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Mozambique could be a model for Internet access and telecommunications in Africa if innovative gender equality measures are implemented, executive director of the Alliance for Affordable Internet Sónia Jorge says.
New regulations for the telecommunications sector passed a few months ago are a result of the Alliance’s work with industry and government entities on facilitating equal access to and use of telecommunications and the Internet.
There are other ideas, too.
“Work is underway to allow the sharing of infrastructure, through better planning and operations, so that the investment is more coordinated and effective, and so that users’ costs are lower,” Jorge told Lusa.
The high price of communications remains one of the factors in the exclusion of a large part of the population, so some of the proposals seek to identify “creative and interesting ways” of reducing costs by making the operators’ use of resources more efficient.
“In Mozambique there are three operators, and sometimes they have surplus capacity. They could share this and expand the network where there is no infrastructure, instead of duplicating networks in the same area where there is enough infrastructure, simply in order to compete,” she said.
Another area where the Alliance, which is linked to the Web Foundation created by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, is promoting access to the Internet, is in reducing the difference in access between women and men.
“We are working, as in other countries, to ensure that public policies are responsive to this difference. Technology is not neutral: it reflects gender relations and differences in society, and this is pronounced in Mozambique at various levels,” she says.
The “Women’s Rights Online” programme is being developed with partners in the country, firstly to gather data and arrive at a correct view of reality, and then work with decision-makers “so that public policy is more responsive to the reality of the gender gap in Mozambique”.
“Mozambique can be seen not as a poor country, affected by corruption and financial crisis, but as a model for the African region, with interesting and advanced measures,” Jorge argues.
Jorge, who is Portuguese and works from Boston, USA, spoke to Lusa about the text published by Tim Berners-Lee on Sunday to coincide with the 29th anniversary of the Internet.
In the text, he says that half of the population should be connected to the Internet this year, but criticised inequalities and says that but global access will only become a reality by 2042.
“The division between people who have access to the internet and those don’t deepens existing inequalities, inequalities that pose a serious global threat,” he complains, noting that lack of access mainly affects women, inhabitants of rural areas and less developed countries.
“To be ‘offline’ today is to be excluded from opportunities to learn and succeed, to enjoy access to important services and to participate in democratic debate. If we do not seriously invest in narrowing this gap, the last billion people will not be connected before of 2042. It’s a whole generation left behind,” Berners-Lee says.Source: Lusa
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