Policy options for digital infrastructure strategies: A simulation model for broadband universal service in Africa

by   Edward Oughton, et al.

Internet access is essential for economic development and helping to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, especially as even basic broadband can revolutionize available economic opportunities. Yet, more than one billion people still live without internet access. Governments must make strategic choices to connect these citizens, but currently have few independent, transparent and scientifically reproducible assessments to rely on. This paper develops open-source software to test broadband universal service strategies which meet the 10 Mbps target being considered by the UN Broadband Commission. The private and government costs of different infrastructure decisions are quantified in six East and West African countries (Côte D`Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda). The results provide strong evidence that `leapfrogging` straight to 4G in unconnected areas is the least-cost option for providing broadband universal service, with savings between 13-51 results also demonstrate how the extraction of spectrum and tax revenues in unviable markets provide no net benefit, as for every 1 taken in revenue, a1 infrastructure subsidy is required from government to achieve broadband universal service. Importantly, the use of a Shared Rural Network in unviable locations provides impressive cost savings (up to 78 benefits of dynamic infrastructure competition in viable urban and suburban areas. This paper provides evidence to design national and international policies aimed at broadband universal service.


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