Saturday, September 22, 2012

CPRafrica / CPRsouth 7 – Africa and Asia collide in ICT policy research in Mauritius

Can we say AGES since my last post?  It is September 2012 and much has happened since forever... we start with progress on a PhD with the Institute for Social Development at the University of the Western Cape  to bouncing around to academic conferences which have kept me up-to-date with recent research in the various areas of ICT4D... including CPRafrica!  Here is a short story about the intellectual experience... outside of the brilliantly blue waters and white sand...

Photo:  Blue Bay, Mauritius, Photo Credit: Kathleen Diga

The blog update is also found on the SIRCA II website!

CPRafrica / CPRsouth 7 – Africa and Asia collide in ICT policy research in Mauritius
By Kathleen Diga (11 September 2012)

As I flew over the recently cut sugar cane fields of the KwaZulu-Natal, a most vivid image when leaving this East Coast, it was hard to imagine that other regions would match in similar flora scene.  But this along with the familiar smell of burning cane then made me realize that Mauritius and Durban are not at all two worlds apart.  Despite being a small island, Mauritius pushes forward as a leader in telecom reform in Africa, yet shares many challenges of the global South, such as lowering broadband costs and using the fibre optic infrastructure to enhance economic growth, making it an ideal venue to bring Asia and Africa together for the first time for the Communication Policy Research conference.

CPRafrica 3 / CPRsouth 7 are two conferences which have joined forces for the first time in the month of September 2012 to discuss the latest research around ICT policy and issues. This includes issues surrounding regulation, content and applications which are affected by the policy choices of Asian and African countries.  The workshop panels discussed some of the latest research work around broadband prices, spectrum allocation challenges and migration of digital TV.  Along with the panels, the stage was shared by the various academics of the global South showing that the regions are getting closer at understanding and speaking the same languages on telecom reform despite the heterogeneity of our contextual issues and that the research continues to improve in our regions.  

Speaking of improving research in the global South, one highlight of the conference is the two day pre-conference young scholar seminar.     SIRCA II members (past and present) were visible at both the young scholar seminar as well as the conference.  At the pre-conference, SIRCA members were part of the delegation including, SIRCA Africa scholar, Achille Tefong, SIRCA Africa officer, Kathleen Diga, SIRCA Latin America coordinator, Roxana Barrantes, and past SIRCA Secretariat member, Sri Ranjini Mei Hua.  Roxana shared with the young scholars the latest work in Latin America in regards to the high prices of broadband amongst a region with the highest inequality in the world.   Along with this, the young scholars had the chance to become more familiar with the issues of the South on telecom research as well as discuss their own research with senior academics.

At the CPR conference, Day one, Paul Plantinga presented a paper written by him, Kathleen Diga and Fortune Nwaiwu, which examined the extent of telecom policy including issues of poverty in three African countries.  

 Substantial feedback was then given by Roxana to the paper as the discussant on this panel.   On Day Two, Ranjini presented a paper on behalf of her team which included SIRCA Asia scholar Ezmerelda Melissa, on reviewing e-governance websites in Indonesia.  Ranjini said that the SIRCA Director, Arul, helped to link the two of them (who have never met before) and work together on this research.  

Clearly, capacity building amongst scholars of the global South is an effort that will bring more voice to the regions which have in the past been neglected.  Programmes such as SIRCA and CPRafrica/CPRsouth play an instrumental role in ensuring a research community continues to grow in the region and allows for policy and impact to occur by the people most affected.  

Photo:  CPRafrica / CPRsouth young scholars, Photo credit:  Christoph Stork - more photos at:

CPRafrica / CPRsouth details: