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Publisher

The Association of Digital Forensics, Security and Law (ADFSL)

Abstract

The liberalisation of the telecommunication industry in Africa, and the further development of the region’s physical infrastructure was accompanied by the further development of Africa’s information, communication and technology infrastructure. Competition within the industry stimulated heavy economic investment in other sectors of the economy. The outcome of liberalisation also included the establishment of community-based structures that continue to enable communities to manage their own development and gain access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) in an unprecedented manner. The telecommunication infrastructure further stimulated the fast development of other related services, for example, ecommerce and mobile commerce (m-commerce), e-government, internet banking, mobile banking etcetera. Latest reports and statistics disclose that in Africa m-commerce is set to even overtake the development of e-commerce, through the popular use and penetration of mobile telephony whilst ecommerce development is constrained by difficulties in rolling out speedily fixed telephone lines. These new methods of communication have so intensified that there is hope that further penetration of mobile telephony would leap-frog economic growth and development in Africa, especially in rural communities. Therefore, innovations and investment in ICT’s are changing the world in a number of ways, resulting in a globally connected digital economy. However, there are regulatory challenges that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Certain sections of the continent’s population, especially those in rural areas, have very limited access to ICT’s. This prevents them from exploiting opportunities offered by ICT’s. The main barriers to ICT access relate to inadequate regimes and their supporting legal frameworks, high cost of internet access, connectivity problems, the lack of technical skills to support maintenance and low number of computers with internet connectivity at schools, libraries and other public places. In this paper such challenges are identified and further reforms suggested. The ultimate recommendation is the one that states that a SADC telecommunication independent regulatory agency be established, independent of any government ministry, though consulting with a SADC Ministerial Council. Already, some countries in West Africa have developed a harmonized regulatory framework designed to integrate the Acts covering ICT markets in the sub-region and to keep policy and regulatory frameworks in line with the constant evolution of technologies, applications and services.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.15394/jdfsl.2009.1067

 

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