Table of contents
Part 1
What are ICT and internet policies?
Part 2
The internet, markets and access
Part 3
National ICT and internet policy and regulation
Part 4
Specific issues in internet policy and regulation
Part 5
Organisations active in ICT

 11. ICT policy, legislation and regulation: tools for national development

- From policy to legislation and regulation
- The broad objectives of policy
- The scope of policy
- An example from Mauritius

From policy to legislation and regulation

Policy is the key determinant of legislation and regulation. It sets out the vision for ICT and its links to national development goals. Legislation establishes how policy is implemented by providing the statutory foundation for the required institutions (for example, consultative, advisory and regulatory bodies) and processes (for example, licensing).

Legislation specifies the financial, staffing and reporting regimes under which the regulator operates and which define its functions and degree of independence. Regulatory agencies are responsible for developing regulations that lead to the implementation of policy and policy objectives, such as, for example, new tariff structures and universal access programs.




Policy (the vision)

The Ministry of Communications develops a new national policy aiming at establishing a liberalized telecom environment, opening telecom markets to competition (eg., long distance and basic services)


A new telecom Act is passed establishing the new regulator as an independent government agency and establishing target dates for opening each market to competition


The regulatory agency implements a new tariff structure (slowly eliminating cross-subsidies among long-distance and local services) and starts the process to license new operators

The broad objectives of policy

The main objective of national ICT policy is to balance the benefits and the risks of expanded ICT use in a way that is consistent with national development goals. Generally, this broad goal translates into a number of specific policy choices:

  • What to privatize? And when?
  • When to introduce competition in each market?
  • When to introduce regulation?
  • What to regulate and what to leave to market mechanisms?

These choices will be explored further in chapter 16.

The scope of policy

While policies must address the extension of the communications infrastructure through telecommunications reform to stimulate private sector growth and create job opportunities, this is a necessary but by no means sufficient condition for an effective ICT contribution to national development goals. ICT policy must also incorporate social goals by building human capacity and creating the conditions for the development of relevant applications and content.

ICT policies have to do with education, health, agriculture, culture and all other areas of activity that impact on quality of life. They can be integrated into sectoral as well as broad national policies; for example countries may commit to introducing ICTs into schools in order to expand educational opportunities and increase the supply of ICT-literate graduates; they may extend internet access to rural clinics to improve the delivery of health services. As the use of the internet expands within countries a host of specific issues emerge: privacy and security, intellectual property rights, access to government information are examples.


E-Sri Lanka is a vision that will help heal the divisions of the past

Sri Lanka has captured a window of opportunity to harness the ongoing information and communication technology revolution in support of enduring peace, accelerated growth and fair equity. The e-Sri Lanka miracle has become a model of an ICT-enabled development strategy whereby information technology is exploited for broad-based growth involving all key sectors of the economy and society.

An example from Mauritius

The Mauritius government began the reform of its telecommunications sector in 1997 with the publication of a discussion paper (Green Paper); following extensive consultation the policy (White Paper) was published; a new Telecommunications Act was passed in 1998.

The Policy of the Republic of Mauritius with respect to the telecommunication sector establishes a vision:

"To develop Mauritius into a modern nation and to enhance the nation’s competitiveness in the global market place so as to improve the quality of life of the people…”

Including a set of principles to govern development of the sector:

• The active promotion by government of an informa-tion-based economy;
• The promotion of competition and network interconnection as circumstances permit;
• An effective and independent regulatory body with clearly defined powers and responsibilities;
• Private sector participation to the greatest extent possible;
• The termination of all exclusivity provisions by the end of 2004.1

The regulator – the Information and Communication Technologies Authority – was established by the Information and Communication Technologies Bill which identified its objectives, structure, powers and functions. The bill also created advisory and dispute settlement mechanisms.

The Mauritius legislation addresses both economic and social goals through the creation of a telecommunications regulatory authority as well as a national advisory body and appeals board. It aims to democratise access to ICTs and at the same time increase competition and link Mauritius firmly to the global information economy.

Mauritius’ information and communication technologies bill (No. 38 of 2001)

Explanatory Memorandum
The object of the above Bill is to provide for –
(a) the establishment and management of an Information and Communication Technologies Authority;
(b) the regulation of the information and communica-tion technologies sector including

-the use of the Internet;
-the enhanced development of an information societyand online services;

- the protection and security of data;
- the facilitation of convergence; and
- the establishment of ICT Advisory Council and of an ICT Appeal Tribunal

(c) the democratisation of information and communication technologies for the promotion of a knowledgebased society.
(d) the transition towards a fully liberalised andcompetitive market in the information and communication sector. 2

The legislation sets out the structure, objectives, powers, functions and tools of the regulator, in this case the Information and Communication Technologies Authority. The legislation makes provision for the creation of an Internet Management Committee, which, inter alia, is responsible for organising stakeholder input into discussions related to the internet and for advising the Authority on internet issues. It is the responsibility of the regulator to implement the policies detailed in the legislation. Chapter 15 looks more closely at the nature of regulation.



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