Mongi Marzoug, Minister of Information and Communication Technologies reviews the progress of Internet governance and puts forward proposals to better meet the challenges associated with it while clarifying the role of the Tunisian Internet Agency “ATI”.
How is the situation of Internet governance in Tunisia?
We have started introducing governance in the field of internet in Tunisia with the launch of works of the national Internet Governance Forum in Tunisia that took place on September 4.
Already, the creation of an Office of the National Financial Management Institute “IGF” for 2012-2013, would be an opportunity to provide relevant recommendations on the Internet in Tunisia and more specifically on its governance.
What could be the role of the Tunisian Internet Agency in this process?
The ATI has the role of a Hub. It is a centralized network that connects all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Tunisia, and it is the agency that uses the International bandwidth of “Tunisie Telecom” to connect to the world. It also plays historically a role of the ISP for the State. For example, if the state needs an Internet address, it can go through the ATI. Other historical roles could be played by the ATI. And for the moment, efforts are continuing so that the ATI would have only the role of address management and internet provider and XP, that is to say, a network of connectivity between providers themselves (they are 5 private and 7 public ones) and among them internationally by using the bandwidth of Tunisie Telecom.
What is your approach to meet this challenge?
When it comes to network, good governance requires sufficient capacity, good quality with affordable rates to enable all citizens to access the Internet. These rates should be around 5% of the average income of a citizen.
We have to activate, as we have noted, the volume of traffic which is already low in Tunisia compared to what we import. Moreover, as we import a lot of things, we import much alternative content. Therefore we work to produce lots of content for the Internet in Tunisia and even produce for both local and external use. This is a more comprehensive framework that can even go up to a legal framework through the National Constituent Assembly. We should put in place a regulatory framework allowing open access to information.
Will it be possible to establish good governance in this area, in this uncertain climate?
In the current situation of transition in Tunisia, we must begin by creating institutions to lay the groundwork for the development of good governance of the Internet. These institutions will be more competitive, independent from political developments, respect the rights of access to the Internet and meet some transparency and some competition and also try to promote the production of Internet content.
So, it is time to start and this takes time. A year of government is not enough, but we must begin the work that needs to be completed because there are certain steps where we must necessarily pass by the ANC to change the legislative framework. Already, the current framework, if respected, provides some protection, but we must go beyond and well develop the regulatory framework to ensure this quality and affordable free access.