Policy and Regulatory Framework for the Sustainable Community Network Cooperatives in Tanzania

 Policy and Regulatory Framework for the Sustainable Community Network Cooperatives in Tanzania

According to ITU (2020), about 72% of households in urban areas globally had access to theInternet at home in 2019 and only 37% for rural areas households. The urban-rural Internet gap was small for developed countries when compared to that of developing countries. In Africa,28% of households in urban areas had access to the Internetat home and only 6.3% households in rural areas had Internet at home.In Tanzania, there are about 52.9 Million telecom subscriptions and 29.1 Million Internet users as of March 2021 (TCRA, 2021). When comparing Internet access in terms of gender, fewer women have access to communication services compared to men. Similarly, 86% of rural dwellers remainunconnected to the Internet compared to 44.6% in urban areas (RIA, 2018).

Among other reasons, the lack of the affordable last mile infrastructure, high bandwidth cost, digital illiterate and reluctant of mobile network operators as well as commercial Internet service providers to invest in rural areas are contributing to the current digital divide in Tanzania.In order to address challenges related to Internet access, Tanzania Community Networks Alliance and its partners are advocating for the alternative and complementary approaches that includes;the use of low-cost last mile solution, wholesale bandwidth provision, digital literacy programme and human-centred connectivity that embraces the community networks cooperative to empower urban and rural dwellers.

Tanzania Community Networks School of Internet Governance is a nationwide multi-stakeholder’s annual event that brings together members working with community network cooperative and those advocating for community-based telecommunication networks in Tanzania and beyond. Community-owned networks, also referred to as “community networks” (CNs), have existed for many years and provided sustainable solution to address the Internet connectivity gaps that exist in urban, remote, and rural areas around the world. In Tanzania, community networks school of Internet Governance came about in the year 2019 as a result of hosting the largest community networks summit in Africa (4th summit on community networks in Africa) that was co-hosted by the University of Dodoma and Kondoa Community Network. Community networks are designed to address the issue of the digital divide gap in rural Tanzania by providing alternative and cheaper Internet connectivity solutions to the marginalized communities, in the quest to aid them attain goals’ 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth),9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), 10 (reduced inequalities) and 17(partnerships for the goals) of the UN SDGs.

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