Stakeholders’ Consultation on the Draft New USF Strategic Plan, USF Principles & Guidelines, and the USF Operating Manual for the period 2022-2026.
We commend CA for aligning the USF strategy to recommendations from both the 2021 Access Gap report as well as the Licensing and Spectrum Sharing Framework for Community Networks3 and recognizing that “The community networks will offer opportunities for capacity building, besides providing centers to serve special interest groups like PWDs, Women, and the Youth. CA, through the support of the USF, needs to further embrace technologies on a micro-scale and small scale solutions in closing the access gaps”.
We applaud the decision to include and provide support for the development of community networks within the USF strategy. We also commend the broad-based consultations that resulted in the USF Strategy in line with the constitutional requirements for public participation. In order to maximise their chances for success and their potential impact, we encourage CA to adopt a holistic approach to their support which includes the necessary capacity-building to develop the technical, organisational, and community-building skills needed to grow healthy and vibrant community networks that will deliver meaningful connectivity where it is needed most.