Increasing Regulatory Capacity: the Role of the Region in Shaping National ICT Policy in Southern Africa

Open Access
van Gorp, Annemijn Fleur
Graduate Program:
Information Sciences and Technology
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
November 30, 2007
Committee Members:
  • Carleen Frances Maitland, Committee Chair
  • John Watson Bagby, Committee Member
  • Andrea H Tapia, Committee Member
  • Richard Denny Taylor, Committee Member
  • regional economic community
  • regulators association
  • telecommunications policy
  • Africa
  • regionalization
  • regulation
Since the 1990s regional economic communities (RECs) are increasingly developing model information and communication technology (ICT) policies and regulations in cooperation with semi-autonomous regional regulators’ associations (RRAs). As the capabilities of regional authorities such as the European Union (EU), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) continue to grow, the level of influence on national ICT policy and regulation making is likely to increase. This study investigates this influence of the region on national ICT policy and regulation making, with a particular focus on the role of the regional regulators’ association, which to date has gained little attention. To this extent, a model grounded in Levy & Spiller’s (1994) regulatory governance framework is developed and subsequently tested in the context of SADC in order to answer the following overarching research question: How do regional economic communities (RECs) and their Regional Regulatory Associations (RRAs) influence national ICT policy and regulation in member states? This research finds that SADC’s Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) has two primary mechanisms of influence on national ICT policy and regulation making in its member states, namely through capacity building and policy lobbying. The learning processes that take place through these mechanisms can potentially lead to converging perspectives across the region about regulatory principles that in turn will be used in national regulation and policy making processes. The study has shown Levy & Spiller’s (1994) framework to be a suitable framework for analyzing regional, as opposed to purely national, regulatory policy making. Further, by integrating concepts of governance structure and regulatory processes from the domains of public policy and organization science, together with the more formal approach of regulatory governance commonly taken by telecommunications policy scholars, side effects to regional regulatory governance are identified. The study contributes both to new institutional economics research in the telecommunications policy realm, as well as the broader field of regionalization research. The study extends the domain of regionalization research, which is dominated by studies of the EU, to include a developing region. As such, the study has implications for resource-constrained regions that unlike the EU have the potential to play an important role in basic regulatory capacity building for both regulators and policy makers.