Development

News : Development

Demand for Data in Africa is Increasing, Here’s How

Africa has become home to over a billion people and the population is expected to grow in the coming years. The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector is essential for Africa’s development and adequate ICT service deployment and digital connectivity will play a crucial role in the continent achieving economic sustainability. The forecast is that […] (webremix.info)


T-Systems Invites Submissions for Enterprise Supplier Development Program

T-Systems South Africa invites qualifying small businesses to submit their bids to join the T-Systems Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) Program. The closing date for submissions is 12 noon on the 31st of August 2020.  The T-Systems ESD Program is aimed at developing Exempt Micro Enterprise (EME) and Qualifying Small Enterprise (QSE) Suppliers to support […] (webremix.info)


Mining, quarry operators get $9 million in grants

Grants totalling approximately $9 million (EU51,000) have been awarded to 12 mining and quarry operators under phase two of the African, Caribbean and Pacific-European Union (ACP-EU) Minerals Development Programme. The funds are being provided... (webremix.info)


The Challenge of Access to Safe Internet Pharmacies and Medicines During Pandemics

Co-authored by Ron Andruff & Mark W. Datysgeld.

With 300+ sessions and over 7,800 participants from 158 countries across every time zone, RightsCon Online 2020 (July 27-31) demonstrated the importance of convening people worldwide to bring about positive changes in a time of crisis. The Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research (York University, Canada) organized a panel of diverse experts and academics (please see the Panel List at the end of this article) to discuss: Promoting human rights and access to safe medicines during pandemics: The critical role of Internet pharmacies.

Over the last four years, we have been working within ICANN, RightsCon and the United Nations Internet Governance Forums to build out a set of standards and norms on the foundation established by the Brussels Principles. We're seeking to clarify the governance and jurisdictional issues in a human rights context that promotes the good actors while rooting out the rogues, using a balanced approach to global access to safe medicines purchased from Internet pharmacies. This is consistent with the 2017 U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution for "[...] the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including access to essential medicines". The Brussels Principles on the Sale of Medicines over the Internet" were developed by a coalition of stakeholders, Internet experts, and civil society at RightsCon Brussels 2017; and subsequently adopted at RightsCon Toronto 2018. At this most extraordinary time, we were happy to be back working with Access Now and the global rights community to continue this critical conversation.

Our main question is whether standards and norms should be advanced at the inter-governmental level through the arduous process of harmonization of trans-national laws, or whether they are best achieved at the Internet governance level, such as through ICANN policy development. What lessons can be drawn from other industry sectors? And, notably, who is the convener of such important work? Should this issue be raised to the agenda of international institutions such as the World Health Organization?

As panelist Dr. Jillian Clare Kohler rightfully stated, before the pandemic, the question of fair pricing of medicines was already a complex issue, and now that issue has been exponentially compounded. Corruption, Dr. Kohler noted, is the abuse of trusted power for private gain, and it finds its way into these situations. The proliferation of fake medicines has been strongly linked with disturbances such as supply disruption and fear-mongering, which could escalate matters in the context of a poorly coordinated, unfair distribution of potential vaccines and medicines against COVID-19.

Panelist Dr. Aria Ilyad Ahmad, who presented his seminal paper "Digital Governance of Public Health: Towards a Regulatory Framework for Internet Pharmacies” at IGF Berlin 2019, invited stakeholders to consider what are the applicable international human rights norms; where do moral and jurisdictional interests intersect (and clash); and, in particular, which institutions have the mandate and legitimacy to set standards and guidelines.

Exploring legal and regulatory approaches that advance the right to health while confronting the risks posed by rogue Internet marketplaces, further exposed vulnerable communities being disproportionately impacted by the virus, and the surging demand on health systems, which has contributed to critical shortages in access to care.

Dr. Oki Olufuye brought the Global South perspective, focused on Nigeria, asking if there is really justification for medicine price discrepancies between different countries. Africa not only suffers from a lack of access to the Internet (just 47% of Nigeria's population of 200 million are online), it also lacks access to a safe, public health infrastructure — both off- and online. She noted that medicine can be bought by the pill without prescription, sometimes in settings as informal as on a bus. Long queues in hospitals force people to go to pharmacies for their general care instead. As Dr. Olufuye puts it: "Accessibility — in every way you think of it — is the challenge in the Global South." It is not difficult to see how fair access to the Internet, combined with safe Internet pharmacies, could advance progress in public health and basic human rights.

Relative to the nature of the complex jurisdictional challenges, panelist Bertrand de la Chapelle declared that important lessons can be gleaned from the earlier free-for-alls around multimedia distribution over the Internet, with the industry initially fighting costly battles against file-sharing software such as Napster and its users. Only through cooperation and the creation of fairly priced services for film and music streaming was an appropriate compromise achieved.

Mr. de la Chapelle noted that any action taken at the Domain Name System (DNS) level acts as a very blunt tool, so it needs to be scoped with precision to be effective. Medicines are naturally regulated due to their risk of harm, often at the national/regional level. The jurisdictional challenge arises when a pharmacy is legal in one jurisdiction, but accessible and necessary in another; blocking it at the DNS level creates problems for all involved parties.

That notwithstanding, there are thousands of illegitimate rogue actors gaming the DNS, and all panelists agreed that they must be shut down. Current measures appear to be solely focused on denouncing all Internet pharmacies irrespective of those safe, licensed pharmacies, rather than establishing a set of multi-stakeholder-developed safety standards and norms to enable appropriate trans-national access. Reaching that precise balance is a mission that the global governance community needs to undertake.

These questions, taken together, are fundamentally a human rights issue, which brings with it questions of licensing, distribution channels, and trans-national recognition. There is a need for a multi-stakeholder initiative to discuss the possible ways to enable access to legitimate medicines across borders, in a transparent manner that avoids corruption. This is particularly important considering potential future pandemics or other situations of global health vulnerability.

Invited to intervene from the audience, Tim Smith, Executive Director of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, explained that despite their extensive membership criteria and safety and privacy protocols, as well as a policy of not selling controlled substances such as narcotics or opioids, the Internet pharmacy association continues to face barriers. Not from patients, but barriers imposed by search engines to organic searches and online advertising, and even access to the top level domain ".pharmacy," which is controlled by a U.S. trade association. To this last point, Mr. de la Chapelle added that the ".pharmacy" Registry Operator is subject to U.S. law; bringing in to question whether or not that TLD could potentially be considered an appropriate Internet pharmacy accreditation mechanism.

A recurring multi-stakeholder model challenge is actors pointing to each other's deficiencies, rather than acknowledging the common problems they share. In this case, all of the legitimate actors face the same challenge of dealing with the thousands of rogue actors who exacerbate the problems of access to safe medicines. With COVID-19 casting a long shadow on the shrinking global economy, all of the panelists agreed that the time to engage the multi-stakeholder model to make real the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, including access to essential medicines, is now; so this discussion will continue at the IGF Online 2020 in the session "Pandemics & Access to Medicines Over the Internet: A 2020 Assessment." If this topic has captured your interest, please watch for future announcements. We welcome broad multi-stakeholder participation.

Finally, when we asked the 275 participants who attended our RightsCon panel discussion: "Are standards and norms best accomplished at the inter-governmental level or rather at the Internet governance level?" the poll reported 65% believe that this is an Internet governance issue, relative to 35% who felt it is a trans-national governmental issue.

Good food for thought.

RightsCon 2020 Panel List

Aria Ilyad Ahmad: Global Health Foresighting Research Fellow, Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research

Jillian Clare Kohler: Professor, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy; Director, WHO CC for Governance, Transparency and Accountability in the Pharmaceutical Sector

Bertrand de la Chapelle: Executive Director, Internet & Jurisdiction Policy Network

Oki Olufuye: Health Manager, Consultant; Teraputik Konsulting

Pat Kane: Senior Vice President, Verisign Naming and Registry Services [Unable to participate]

Ron Andruff: President, ONR Consulting, Inc. [Moderator]

Mark W. Datysgeld: Internet Governance and Policies consultant, Governance Primer [Online Coordinator]

Written by Ronald N. Andruff, President at ONR Consulting, Inc.

(webremix.info)


OneWeb Rises From the Ashes – Maybe

OneWeb launching satellites aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. Lift-off occurred on March 21stat 17:06 UTC. (Photo: OneWeb)

A consortium of the UK Government and Bharti Enterprises bought bankrupt OneWeb, a company that had raised $3.2 billion and had acquired valuable spectrum rights, for $1 billion. That is a good start, but a BBC article says experts believe that at least $3 billion is needed to complete the OneWeb constellation.

Will they make it?

The UK government will be a source of further funding. OneWeb's primary goal is closing the digital divide by bringing broadband connectivity to rural areas around the world, including, of course, the UK. That is obvious, but the UK government has other hopes for OneWeb. One frequently mentioned application is global positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT).

With Brexit, the UK lost access to the secure, encrypted Public Regulated Service (PRS) of the European global navigation system, Galileo and the possibility of equipping OneWeb satellites for secure, encrypted PNT has been suggested as an immediate application. Tyler Reid and his colleagues showed that OneWeb satellites could provide excellent PNT performance if they reset relatively cheap atomic clocks once per orbit using the precise clocks of a civilian global navigation system and, while PRS is reserved for European Union governments and defense users, the UK retains access to Galilieo's public civilian service. (Reid is co-founder of Xona Space Systems which plans to offer precision PNT service using a constellation of small satellites).

The UK expects OneWeb to be profitable. Science, research and innovation minister Amanda Solloway said "This investment is likely to make an economic return, with due diligence showing a strong commercial basis for investment" and she added that "The deal contributes to the government's plan to join the first rank of space nations, and signals the government's ambition for the UK to be a pioneer in the research, development, manufacturing, and exploitation of novel satellite technologies enabling enhanced broadband through the ownership of a fleet of low-Earth orbit satellites." Perhaps the OneWeb investment will encourage efforts like this potential ground-station service.

What about Bharti? Bharti Airtel is India's second-biggest telecommunications firm, holding about a third of its market with 320 million customers and they are Africa's second-biggest mobile operator with more than 100 million subscribers across 14 countries. They also offer Internet service in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Channel Islands. They obviously bring marketing and operating experience and a distribution channel with terrestrial Internet partners and government regulatory bodies in underserved nations to the new OneWeb consortium.

They also bring deep pockets. Bharti Enterprises is a global conglomerate with interests in telecom, insurance, real estate, education, malls, hospitality, agriculture, food and other ventures. Their ISP business in India faces fierce competitors, and they obviously believe in diversification. (They were previously an investor in OneWeb).

When they filed for bankruptcy, OneWeb attributed their failure to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the handwriting was on the wall before that. In Senate testimony on October 25, 2017, OneWeb's Greg Wyler said they would launch their first ten satellites in May 2018, offer service throughout Alaska by 2019 and cover the entire US in 2020. While they had 74 satellites in orbit by the time of their bankruptcy and had signed an ISP distributor for Alaska and Hawaii, they were not offering service in Alaska or anywhere else let alone covering the entire US and were having problems with Russian launch and distribution partners. Furthermore, SpaceX was launching more satellites each month than OneWeb had in orbit, and their launch cost was significantly lower. OneWeb was in serious trouble and having trouble raising capital with or without COVID-19.

Now OneWeb has the backing of a government and a strong developing-nations partner and I assume their deals in Alaska and Hawaii and other previous arrangements with maritime companies, airlines, and other nations remain in place. On the other hand, they need to launch satellites quickly and they face stiff competition. SpaceX has a clear launch advantage, Amazon and China have deep pockets, and Telesat has a geostationary-satellite base as well as assets in the north.

I don't know if they will make it, but I hope they do. Billions of people remain to be connected to the Internet, so there is room for all of these companies and competition is healthy.

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

(webremix.info)


Rotterdam, Sundance Team With Realness to Support African Producers

The Rotterdam Film Festival’s facilitation and talent incubator wing IFFR Pro has teamed with the Sundance Institute, European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs and the Realness Institute for Creative Producer Indaba, a year-long professional development initiative aimed at supporting producers from Africa. The inaugural batch of 17 emerging producers was announced Monday. They will participate in online workshops […] (webremix.info)


Mastercard Foundation Partners with USIU-Africa to Expand Higher Education Access in Africa

USIU-Africa and the Mastercard Foundation have partnered to enable 1,000 high-performing students to receive a quality education and leadership development over the next 10 years under the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme. The partnership provides scholarships for high potential students facing financial, gender, displacement or disability constraints. At least 70 per cent of the young people […] (webremix.info)


Is Africa Ready for Digital Enablement?

The World Economic Forum (WEF) believes that there are five hotspots that need to be targeted by the public sector in Africa and the theme that underpins them all is… digital. Digital is the infrastructure that the public sector needs to enable skills development, innovation, connectivity, economy and data-driven insights. Digital enablement is the firelighter […] (webremix.info)


‘Monster Hunter’ Video Game Adaptation With Milla Jovovich Moves Back to April 2021 (webremix.info)


Is the Global Pandemic an Opportunity to Reimagine Urban Development in Africa?

The need for social distancing and better sanitation could leapfrog development of African cities into a more sustainable future. This is according to Duncan Bonnett, Director of Market Access & Research at Africa House, and research partner of exhibition organiser Messe Muenchen South Africa. He says that, while Africa’s architects and planners have long been […] (webremix.info)


Angola Committed to Meeting Energy Objectives Amid Worldwide Pandemic

Africa Oil & Power, the African Energy Chamber and the U.S-Angola Chamber of Commerce presented the webinar: Powering Forward – The Pathway to Grid Stability, Increased Capacity and a Diversified Angolan Economy, on Thursday. This webinar addressed how Angola can continue to prioritize its development of national transmission and distribution capacities in the long-term, with […] (webremix.info)


Margot Robbie, Christina Hodson to Partner on New ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Film (webremix.info)


Huawei Partners with SovTech to Develop HMS Apps

Huawei has partnered with software development company, SovTech, to assist with refiguring the core services of some of South Africa’s most used mobile apps to be able to function fully on its mobile ecosystem – Huawei Mobile Services (HMS). “SovTech is responsible for developing a new Android Package File (APK) that would work on the […] (webremix.info)


South Africa’s President Praises Amazon’s Job Creation Efforts

South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa has commended Amazon for its commitment to creating over 3000 jobs for locals. Ramaphosa notes, in his weekly newsletter, that this development comes at a time when many businesses are doing all they can to stay afloat in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. “Our economy is […] (webremix.info)


Ericsson Aims to Enable Financial Inclusion and Development Across Africa

As the world grapples with the COVID-19 health crisis, the desire for mobile money and contactless payments is on the rise to avoid infections and disease transmission. With mobile money, customers can make payments anywhere at any time with their mobile devices connected to the Internet which decreases exposure to physical money, Point of Sales […] (webremix.info)


Arthur Ashe Biopic in Development From ‘Da 5 Bloods’ Writer Kevin Willmott (webremix.info)


Universal Music Group Opens Shop in Morocco, Israel

Universal Music Group (UMG) has expanded its Middle East and North Africa operations by launching new divisions in Morocco and Israel. Universal Music Morocco will operate from Casablanca, led by business development executive Serena Safieddine, who will work alongside UMG’s regional headquarters in Dubai, and report into Patrick Boulos, CEO of Universal Music MENA. The […] (webremix.info)


4 Ways Digitisation Can Unlock Africa’s Recovery from COVID-19

The UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development estimates that an additional $109 billion in investment is required to achieve universal, affordable, and good quality broadband internet access by 2030. To put this number into context, Vodafone – one of the biggest investors in African telecoms infrastructure – spends around $1 billion annually on network upgrades […] (webremix.info)


Networks Unlimited Africa Continues to Nurture IT Skills On-premise

Networks Unlimited Africa has a long history of supporting skills development for young people in the ICT arena. Having taken on board two technical interns in April 2018, Charles Rebele and David Monkwe, both young men are now furthering their careers with the company and going from strength to strength. CEO Anton Jacobsz notes, “We […] (webremix.info)


UK moving to boost Caribbean trade, help businesses recover from COVID fallout

The United Kingdom (UK) has launched a plan of action to support trade in several Caribbean states to help them maximise the benefits of their Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Conceived by the UK’s Department for International Development and... (webremix.info)


Unisa Confirms Postponement of Online Exams Due to Overworked Servers

The University of South Africa (Unisa) has been forced to postpone several exams after technical issues interrupted last week’s set of online exams. Affected modules whose exams have been postponed include those studied by criminology students, as well as those in development studies. The University of South Africa (Unisa) has been forced to postpone several […] (webremix.info)


Public and Private Infrastructure Investment Alternatives (webremix.info)


Karlovy Vary Cancels 2020 Film Festival Over Coronavirus Fears (webremix.info)


Strengthening Caribbean Internet Capacity to Support Local Online Services (webremix.info)


This COVID-19 Crisis Proves the Internet Is Indeed a Caribbean Right (webremix.info)


COVID-19 News: Johannesburg Hospital Innovates Device that Protects Healthcare Workers from Infection

Emergency doctors at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, in Johannesburg, South Africa, have innovated a new way to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19, reports Times Select. The development team managed to secure private sector funding within two days, and have already begun rolling the device out in their own hospital. Future plans involve sending the device out […] (webremix.info)


How Blockchain Is Revolutionizing the Educational Sector in Africa

The importance of education for further career development cannot be underestimated. Intelligent and educated youth is fundamental for economic and social stability and growth. This statement is true for any country in the world. But it especially applies to Africa, where 20% of the total population are young people. However, getting an education in Africa […] (webremix.info)


CDB wants COVID-19 tax breaks for private sector

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) is making the case for regional governments to provide tax relief to the private sector, even as it stands ready to provide financial assistance to weather the onslaught of COVID-19 which is ravaging Caribbean... (webremix.info)


New Site Debuts Automotive Community Built on Consumer Trust

According to the Journal of Global Information Technology Management, Africa has become one of the fastest-growing regions in the world in terms of cyber-victimization and cybersecurity threats. In 2018, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development found online shoppers across the continent grew at a rate of 18% annually since 2014, higher than the […] (webremix.info)


New Site Helps Protect Private Car Buyers From Potential Scam

The development of Africa’s private car buying market is rising, with a growth potential of between three to four million car sales between 2020 and 2025, according to market research and consulting firm Mordor Intelligence.  Growing at an even faster pace is the continent’s Internet usage. In July 2019 alone, more people in Africa (525 […] (webremix.info)


Twitter CEO’s weak argument why investors shouldn’t fire him

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey might not spend six months a year in Africa, claims the real product development is under the hood and gives an excuse for deleting Vine before it could become TikTok. Today he tweeted, via Twitter’s investor relations account, a multi-pronged defense of his leadership and the company’s progress. The proclamations come […] (webremix.info)