ICT FOR TEACHING, LEARNING AND RESEARCH
BANDWIDTH TERMS OF REFERENCE
In Addis Addis Ababa, conference participants
agreed that bandwidth is a critical issue for African universities.
Without better bandwidth, there can be no meaningful utilization
of ICT for teaching, learning, research, or management.
The activity proposed below is designed to respond to the interest
of the Partnership presidents in assisting to leverage additional
bandwidth for the universities that the Partnership supports in
Africa by directly approaching one or more satellite companies.
If the presidents are to use their influence in a productive way,
they need to have sufficient information on four issues:
Which companies are selling bandwidth to Africa
or would be able to do so;
Which companies have spare bandwidth to donate
or sell cheaply for use in African universities;
Which companies might be amenable to an approach
from the Partnership; and
Whether access to more bandwidth could be tapped
by the universities that the Partnership supports, using their
existing or planned infrastructure.
These questions are complicated by the fact that economic, market,
and regulatory conditions differ in the six Partnership countries.
In South Africa, the university network has been able to work
with the government, the higher education sector, Telkom, and
the donors to create TENET. In Uganda, there appears to be a burgeoning
local market and competition, which is lowering bandwidth costs
for everyone. In the remaining countries, universities primarily
rely on VSAT systems. It is important to have a better understanding
of conditions on the ground in the countries in which the Partnership
is active to determine the feasibility and usefulness of intervention.
The objective of this activity is to ascertain whether there
is a useful role for the Partnership, particularly the foundation
presidents, in leveraging cheaper bandwidth from the satellite
companies. At this time, no further Partnership action is envisaged.
At the conference in Addis Ababa, the University of Dar es Salaam
volunteered to be responsible for coordinating a follow-up bandwidth
activity and for hosting a secretariat. The group will take responsibility
for the investigation outlined here.
Terms of reference include:
Identifying the ways in which telecommunications
regulatory conditions, pricing, and marketing impact the higher
education community. Highlighting the kinds of policy and regulatory
frameworks that must be in place to ensure that the universities
can take advantage of any offers made by the satellite companies.
Assessing much bandwidth is being used now,
how much bandwidth will be required in one year, how much in
five years. Projecting to the extent possible bandwidth requirements
and what activities bandwidth might be used for. (For example:
How much library needs; teaching and research applications)
Estimating the types and magnitude of human
resource requirements to manage bandwidth and maintain increased
Identifying how universities might sustain
the use of bandwidth. (Can they use the promise of free or cheaper
bandwidth to leverage more cooperation within the universities
and outside of the universities-within the educational sector,
with the government, etc.?)
Determining the types of training that will
be necessary-technical, managerial, and for academic applications.
(Are appropriate mechanisms within the university already in
place? If not, what needs to be done?)
Assessing the sufficiency of current university
infrastructure to support increased bandwidth. (The campus backbone,
local area networks, computers, etc.)
Assessing the potential for collaboration between
universities within and across countries to create national
or regional economies of scale for reducing bandwidth costs
and increasing opportunities to share material.
Assembling material on ICT status in the relevant
Partnership countries, to complement the work carried out by
the university representatives to the bandwidth task force.
Identifying satellite providers with surplus
bandwidth that could be donated or sold more cheaply to the
Partnership countries and universities.
Determining whether any satellite providers
have previously provided free or discounted bandwidth and, if
so, how these contracts were negotiated.
Making recommendations on how best to approach
the satellite companies, including identifying the key points
of leverage and the decision makers within the bandwidth companies
with whom the Presidents might interact.
Some of this material already exists in print and on the Web.
Mike Jensen, a well-known ICT consultant, who maintains the most
up-to-date Web site on ICT in Africa, recently completed a case
study of Ethiopia for the International Telecommunications Union
(ITU), which is a model for the kind of assessments required.
ITU also commissioned a similar study for Uganda in 2001. Both
studies are on the ITU home page: http://www.itu.int/osg/spu.
In addition, UNECA's Africa Information Society Initiative has
country information for each Partnership country. These entries
can be found at: http://www.uneca.org/disd/ict.
Finally, UNECA collaborated with UNESCO and UNDP in convening
an ad hoc ICT experts meeting in Nairobi in 2001. Several of the
papers prepared for this conference are relevant, including one
on ICT for higher education in Ghana and one that examined lessons
from Asia and their relevance for Africa.
The investigation will begin on 1 February 2003 and conclude
on 31 July 2003. Implementation involves the following components.
Creation of a small committee, with representation
from each of the Partnership countries:
Tanzania: Beda Mutagahywa, Director of
the University of Dar es Salaam Computer Centre, and Tolly
Mbwette, Professor, Civil Engineering and the Built Environment,
University of Dar es Salaam
Ghana: Mumuni Dakubu, Director, University
of Ghana ICT Centre
Mozambique: Venancio Massingue, Deputy
Rector, Eduardo Mondlane University
Nigeria: Mamman Ibrahim Aminu, Director,
University ICT Activities, National Universities Commission
South Africa: Derek Keats, Executive Director,
Information and Communication Services, University of the
Uganda: F.F. Tusubira, Director, Directorate
for ICT Support, Makerere University
Each of these individuals was previously
selected for the task force at the Addis Ababa meeting in
In addition, Aida Opoku-Mensah, who is UNECA's
Team Leader for Promoting Information Technology for Development,
and Mike Jensen, will be added to the committee as resource
people. Jensen will concentrate on the political economy and
technology of bandwidth from an international perspective. Lisbeth
Levey, Partnership Facilitator, will also be appointed, as an
ex officio member.
University of Dar es Salaam will establish an e-mail list in
February 2003 to begin delineating the parameters and specific
terms of reference for country/university surveys.
University of Dar es Salaam will host a meeting in Dar es Salaam
in March 2003. Each member of the group will come to the Dar
meeting with a draft document for discussion.
the March meeting, committee members will return to their institutions
to continue to work on their assignments. Draft documents will
be circulated for review using the email list. Each member's
report should be finalized by early May.
University of Dar es Salaam will draft a report to the Partnership
following receipt of every member's final report. This report
will be ready for review by the team in mid May. At this point,
the group might be widened to include one or two experts in
the United States.
this investigation provides sufficient basis for consideration
of an intervention strategy by the Partnership, there would
be a second meeting in New York in June 2003. This gathering
would focus specifically on appropriate interventions by Partnership
presidents and officers. Up to four members of the investigative
team from Africa would attend the New York meeting. One or more
outside specialists outside Africa would also be invited to
the New York meeting.
final report, which will be a collaborative effort of the entire
team and coordinated by the University of Dar es Salaam, will
be written and sent to the Partnership in July 2003.
2003 Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Ford Foundation, the John
D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.