CITP Lunch Seminar: David Johnson – Empowering and Connecting Africa with Community Owned Networks
Cellular connectivity has provided impressive Internet growth in Africa over the past decade, but according to the ITU, in 2017, Africa only had 20% of the population using the Internet; a laggard compared to 40% in Asia & the Pacific and the 50% world average. We have connected the easy half of the population and connecting the next half of the world will require new innovative thinking.
This talk demonstrates how community owned network technologies and organizational structures in Africa have been used to provide access in hard to reach places where there is a lack of market incentive or provide lower cost access solutions or where telecomm operators are exploiting their market dominance. In addition, we show how community owned networks aim to move the locus of control of telecommunications infrastructure and content back into the hands of citizens. Some of the alternative connectivity technologies that is discussed include TV and Cellular White Space technology, mesh networks, and micro-clouds. David discusses his current work at CITP on combining blockchain technology and mesh network to incentivise expansion of a mesh network and enable users to easily become Micro-WISPs.