Protocol for Policy and Regulatory Framework for NEPAD ICT Broadband Infrastructure Network For Africa.




We, the African Ministers responsible for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and/or Telecommunications and herein representing our respective countries;

ENJOINED as Member States of the African Union;

CONSIDERING the principles and objectives stated in the Constitutive Act of the African Union;

INSPIRED by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)’s recognition that;

(a)  new ICT platforms have opened up new windows of opportunity for African countries as tools that can accelerate their economic growth and development;

(b)  the goals for a common market within the African Union can benefit immensely from the revolution in technology;

(c)  the use of ICT can bring unprecedented competitive advantages to the African continent; and

(d)  that the need for the  promotion and involvement of the private sector in meeting African’s development challenges is  imperative;

RECALLING the decision of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee of March 2003 in Abuja, Nigeria, to prioritize, inter alia, the AU-AU-NEPAD ICT Broadband Infrastructure Network;

NOTING positive efforts that the various African countries in their respective territories, regional trade blocs to which such countries are members and NEPAD through the e-Africa Commission and other international development organisations such as the United Nations, African Telecommunications Union, the International Telecommunication Union, the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organization have taken and are taking to improve connectivity in  Africa and to develop appropriate ICT policy and regulatory  frameworks;

NOTING FURTHER positive efforts made by African and non-African telecommunications companies to facilitate the implementation of broadband network infrastructure in Africa;

RECOGNIZING the need to build on the momentum already generated by the various stakeholders to fast-track the realization of broadband ICT infrastructure in order to boost broadband connectivity in Africa and to reduce international connectivity costs;

RECOGNIZING further that lack of adequate submarine and terrestrial broadband infrastructure to support high-speed, high-quality, reliable and affordable electronic communications in Africa is one of the major obstacles to economic and social development; 

DETERMINED to alleviate poverty through greater use of ICT which is of high-speed, high-quality and reliability through an approach based on a competitive provision of services anchored on broadband infrastructure operating on open access principles;

CONVINCED of the need to mobilize our own and international resources and to ensure the involvement of the private sector in the implementation of inter-state, and/or regional policies, programmes and projects with a view to addressing the acute shortage of broadband capacity in Africa and to tackle legal, policy and regulatory obstacles to cross-border provision of infrastructure and services;

APPRECIATING the critical importance and relevance of Article 63 of the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community mandating Member States to develop, modernise, coordinate and standardize their national telecommunications networks in order to provide reliable interconnection among Member States; establish a Pan-African Telecommunications Network and ensure its utilization and maintenance;

INTENDING to facilitate the formation of one or more Special Purpose Vehicle or Vehicles (“SPV/s”) to participate in the construction, ownership, operation and maintenance of a AU-AU-NEPAD ICT Broadband Infrastructure Network in Africa comprising submarine and terrestrial networks;

INTENDING FURTHER that the SPV/s formed in terms of this Protocol operates in accordance with the NEPAD Objectives and Principles set forth in Annex 1 of this Protocol and that it should conduct its business in accordance with Open Access Principle as set forth in Article 11;

IN FURTHERANCE of the principles of the African Union stated in Article 4 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union being in particular the promotion of self-reliance within the framework of the African Union and the promotion of social justice to ensure balanced economic development;

IN PURSUANCE of Article 3 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union which mandates Member States to coordinate and harmonize policies between existing and future Regional Economic Communities;

BEARING IN MIND that this Protocol is an instrument to facilitate the coordination and harmonization of the ICT policies and regulatory frameworks of African countries;

BEARING IN MIND FURTHER the principles of international law governing relations between States; and

WISHING to contribute to the harmonious, balanced, equitable and sustainable development of the High Contracting Parties’ territories and African countries by facilitating a speedy establishment of the AU-AU-NEPAD ICT Broadband Infrastructure Network on Open Access Principles and harmonization of policies and regulatory frameworks of the High Contracting Parties to achieve these objectives.