At the recent launch of the African ISP Association (AFRISPA) at ACT 2000, Eric Osiakwan was nominated as its interim spokesman. We interview him about the purposes and plans of the Association.

Eric Osiakwan is an Internet specialist in research, education and consulting. He is a tireless advocate of ICT matters through his journalism in Ghana’s press and his own talk show ICT World on a local radio station. He is also a web developer and the Secretary to the Ghana ISP Association.

On what areas of policy do you hope to be able to influence government and the regulators? Basically we want to create an enabling environment for the Internet to be evenly distributed national and regionally and we would do this by making governments see the need for it.

Are the current members of AFRISPA interested in local and regional Internet exchanges? I think so based on our interaction during the Forum (at ACT 2001). But I’d be less sure about regional exchanges. However once we have the "social engineering" at a regional level, the technical engineering would follow eventually.

Do you think the use of mirror sites would help bring down access costs? Of course that would be indirect way of bringing down costs but more directly I see it being a good benchmark for bandwidth usage per time.

Are your members interested in co-location (for example, where an ISP locates its servers alongside a TELCO)? That is happening in Gambia and I am very happy about it but not in other environments since the relationship is not the best.

How many ISPs have signed up for the Association so far? Give me some examples of the larger ones. For the national ISP Associations, we have Ghana ISPA, Telecommunications Service Providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK) and the South Africa ISPA.

Where are there currently gaps that you’d like to fill? We have identified other areas on the continent where they have ISPAs and it is our intent to reach them. Our immediate focus is outreach to these areas but since there is not a list we are limited in one way or the other. However we will sort things out.

If an ISP wants to join, who do they contact and what does it costs? It does not cost anything for now and anyone wanting to join should simply send me an e-mail on (Webmaster's Note: Join here)

Why do you personally believe that Internet access charges in Africa are relatively speaking so high? Because the cost of operating a business in Africa is high. Because our economies are not competitive. However I am very optimistic that these obstacles are a function of the environment.

What can be done to change this? Run a competitive economies and create dynamic business environments which adhere to today’s wealth creation models which are predominately about information and knowledge

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