Training Regulators in Africa
University of Witwatersrand, LINK Centre; University of Namur, CRIDS
November 1, 2008
infoDev Working Paper No. 18
The need for training amongst African policy makers, parliamentarians, regulators and judges is clear and accepted. However, it is less clear that the systems are in place to identify the true scale of demand and to ensure that those participating in training are not subsequently lost to industry or to the brain drain to developed countries. The challenge is to find mechanisms that are appropriate, cost-effective, scalable and anchored in Africa.
The use of consultants as trainers is neither cost-effective nor scalable and not anchored in Africa. Much of the commercial training available today is located outside Africa and unrelated to African markets or to the policies and practices developed within the continent. Some of it may even be counter-productive. Moreover, it is often part of a business model involving the subsequent sale of consultancy services.
While there are many academics in Europe, North America and East Asia who might teach short or long courses, they have little or no experience of Africa. Their models, case studies and examples are unrelated to and untested on the continent. Within Africa, academic research in telecommunications policy and regulation is extremely limited and could take years to develop the research necessary to underpin teaching capacity at the high level of professionalism required.
Training needs cannot be met at a continental level. Travel is too expensive and too difficult. National circumstances vary greatly, requiring different courses addressing different issues and in different languages. Moreover, there are few examples of pan-African networks that might be used or copied.
It is better to embed training within the regional associations of regulators, though even these cover large areas and countries with very different policy and regulatory histories. The associations can identify needs, publicize events and review their success. For the most part technology training appears now to be sustainable at the continental level. However, individuals in many countries with smaller or less well developed markets may have to travel elsewhere in Africa for training.
The pieces that might be put in place to build capacity begin with the teaching materials (e.g., case studies). These would document the experiences, good as well as bad, of the last decade of African policy reforms and regulation. A significant number of influential ministers and regulators have now retired so that they and their experiences can be used in training the next generation.
With that it would be possible to look to commercial trainers and university teachers to deliver courses at different levels and of different durations. For example, it would be possible to embed policy and regulatory modules into existing degree courses at bachelor’s and master’s levels. It would also be possible to deliver short courses for continuing professional development for officials in ministries and regulatory authorities. A very small number of existing teaching programmes within Africa could be replicated at other locations. This would be neither simple, nor fast, for lack of good 'host' institutions.
The creation of a small number of infoDev professors of telecommunications policy at universities could greatly enhance capacity for teaching, training and research. There is also a requirement for a mechanism to provide regular briefings and discussions amongst leaders concerning new challenges. Examples from Africa and, more often elsewhere, are often presented as 'global best practice.' Leaders need to understand these issues and the factors affecting the appropriateness and applicability for their national markets.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 65
Keywords: telecommunications, regulation, education, capacity building, Africa
JEL Classification: I21, J45, K21, K23, I52, I96, O19Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 13, 2009 ; Last revised: February 12, 2010
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