Spectrum for democracy and development

9 November 2012 - A Workshop on Internet Governance for Development in Baku, Azerbaijan


The events of the Arab Spring brought into focus the profound impact of communication technologies, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. The transition toward democratic governments has created an opportunity in many of these countries to reshape their communications infrastructure and redefine policies in order to promote democratic access to new and old media. Increased access to spectrum for new and old media will facilitate development and the growth of media, advertising, and related ventures. Sound spectrum policies provide a number of benefits in terms of political and economic development. Democratic spectrum regulation can lead to growth in broadband internet penetration, widespread sharing of information and exchange of ideas, technological innovation, and long-term economic growth. The management and allocation of spectrum will likely have significant implications for the effective transition of post-revolutionary countries. Spectrum can yield short term economic gains. In many countries, spectrum has contributed to economic growth through the practice of spectrum auctions, whereby governments open a bidding process on available wireless frequencies and sell licenses to telecommunications companies as a source of revenue. However, while this practice produces short-term economic gains, it would be far more beneficial to countries like Tunisia to promote licensing practices that facilitate democratic access and maintain sufficient bandwidth for innovative uses. This panel will explore ways in which spectrum policy can be reshaped to suit a new and global democratic era and further development.