Much of the interest around the upcoming parliamentary hearings on the cost of data has centred around local radio personality Tbo Touch and his #DataMustFall movement, but now international foundation the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) has said that it will present an argument to South African lawmakers too.
The A4AI was by the World Wide Web Foundation and comprises members from around the world.
Calls for submissions to present at the hearing were made earlier this month and the A4AI will be among those making presentations alongside in front of the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services.
“We decided to make a submission because the A4AI is committed to bringing governments, businesses and citizens together to drive down the cost of internet access around the world,” Dillon Mann, communications director for the Web Foundation, told htxt.africa.
“We will make a 10-15 minute presentation to the Committee and then take questions afterwards,” Mann said.
Onica Makwakwa, A4AI’s Africa regional coordinator, will be leading the presentation.
We’ve had a peak at the presentation that A4A1 will give to parliament (you can read it too at the A4AI website). Below are a few choice paragraphs:
While mindful of and excited by the economic benefits of affordable access, we are equally motivated by the broader benefits. In 2014, the web’s inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote: “The web is now a public resource on which people, businesses, communities and governments depend. It is vital to democracy and now more critical to free expression than any other medium.”
As members of the Committee review submissions and help to shape future policy, we urge that you bear in mind that universal access can help to reduce injustice and inequality of all types, and recognise that the rights it enables citizens to exercise — such as access to information and free expression — are underpinnings of a healthy democracy.
The UN’s Broadband Commission has set an affordability target for broadband services — that 500MB of data should cost no more than 5% of monthly incomes.
At first glance, South Africa seems to meet this measure comfortably, with 500MBs of data priced at around 1.48% of monthly incomes.
However, as in many other nations, income inequality skews this picture, as A4AI’s 2015-16 Affordability Report shows.
Average income (as measured by GNI per capita in 2014) was US$6 790, but 60% of the population actually earn less than half of that amount.
In practice, this means that a seemingly affordable mobile internet connection (1.48% of “average” monthly income) actually costs the majority of South Africans anywhere between 6-19% of their income.