Pro-poor ICT Access Toolkit

Business people, community activists and policy-makers have an interest in as many people as possible –including people in the lowest income-brackets- havingInternet access beneficiaries access to the internet, being able to check out important information on websites and communicate cheaply via email or internet phone. In order to reduce poverty and foster inclusive development through affordable access to the internet, APC produced a resource kit for realising a universal access agenda, present promising options, experiences, lessons and opportunities in pro-poor access provision in developing societies.
This kit consists of three modules, each focusing on a different topic:

Connecting the bottom billion: Introduction to the toolkit on strategies and policies to promote and implement community access

1. Introduction
2. Why is pro-poor ICT access important?
3. Information technologies and tools for poverty alleviation
4. Understanding the barriers to pro-poor ICT access
5. The road ahead


1.Introduction
Global experience of poor people using basic communication tools such as mobile phones suggests that information and communication technologies (ICTs) have vast empowering and development potential with huge impact on their quality of life. Use of mobile phones by the poor has increased their security, created more jobs, provided access to information and enhanced the flow of financial resources, thereby advancing social wellbeing and economic development.[1]The knowledge and networking capabilities of interactive and convergent technologies such as the internet present further opportunities for economic growth and social development by increasing access to education and health services and enhancing decision-making powers of the poor.

However, the poor in developing countries are still excluded from many ICT opportunities. Recent International Telecommunication Union (ITU) data show that about 94% of the African population does not have access to fixed telephones, computers and the internet.[2] Gaps also exist in terms of relevant content and ICT applications for social and economic development.
This introduction discusses the importance of pro-poor ICT access, the different tools and technologies available, and the major barriers the poor in developing countries face to bridge the access gap. The modules in this toolkit will look at experiences and lessons in pro-poor ICT access provision in terms of:

What is pro-poor access to ICTs?

Pro-poor ICT access refers to access to and use of ICTs to resolve concrete problems of everyday life[3] by the poor and the groups working for them. Pro-poor ICT access assumes that:

Pro-poor ICT access recognises that the availability and affordability of ICT tools alone cannot close the access gaps. It is essential to tailor ICT tools and services to the needs of the poor and build their capacities so that more people can use them, regardless of their economic status, sex, social class, language, ethnic group or other factors. Experience in Africa shows that the availability of cheaper mobile handsets such as Nokia 1100 coupled with short message service (SMS) and mobile banking were the major drivers of cellular network usage by the low-income population.[4] The use of the internet requires that people not only get access to it but also know how and when to use tools such as email, search engines and web portals for different purposes.
A careful examination of the terms “poor”, “ICT” and “access” provides a better understanding of the significance of pro-poor ICT access.  

Looking beyond income poverty: Poverty refers to the deprivation of economic, social and political wellbeing by a large majority of the world population. Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate, argues that in individual freedom lies the capacity for political participation, economic development and social progress.[5] Thus poverty is not only lack of adequate income (income poverty) but also the absence of the freedom and the ability to function at one’s full potential as a human being (“capability” poverty). Poverty could also be seen as the absence of wellbeing and happiness (wellbeing poverty), which to a great extent depends upon limited income and political freedom.[6]

The notion of income below USD 1 per day as a measure of poverty was also popularised by international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank. But assessing poverty levels involves complex calculations that measure access to health and education, and factors such as the rate of employment, child and maternal mortality rates and life expectancy are also often used to define the incidence of poverty. For example, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provides a striking list of over 200 indicators for building its annual Human Development Index that ranks countries according to levels of poverty.[7] The index illustrates the complexity and the multidimensional nature of poverty. It also highlights the importance of putting the cause, extent and alleviation of poverty at the centre of the access debate, not the ICTs themselves.  

ICTs in the pro-poor context
: The term ICT refers to a wide range of tools, applications and services that help to produce, store, process, distribute and exchange information. It refers to both the “old” ICTs like radio, television and telephone, and the “new” ICTs such as networked computers, satellite and wireless technologies and the internet. Pro-poor ICT access is concerned with the ability of the poor to get access to a wide spectrum of ICT tools, applications and services.  

Access:
The main objective of universal access is to reduce the divides that arise from geography (rural/urban), gender, physical disability, socioeconomic issues (income, race, caste and class) and skills (education). The notion of access covers the ability of, for instance, the urban poor, women, children and those with physical disabilities to enjoy similar benefits to those less marginalised.
In sum, while providing access to ICTs is critical, physical access alone cannot bridge the pro-poor ICT access gaps. ICTs will be insufficient if the technologies are not used effectively because they not affordable; if poor people do not understand how to put them to use or if they are discouraged from using them due to policy and regulatory constraints; or if the local economy cannot sustain their use.

2.Why is pro-poor ICT access important?


Access to ICTs by the poor has become a key focus of policy makers and leaders of development institutions in recent years. This recognition is due to the significant potential impact of new technologies on economic growth and social development.
The main social and economic benefits of ICTs arise from their impact on governance. Enhanced government efficiency in service provision is directly relevant to the poor. ICT use in business, government and entertainment as well as by non-governmental organisations already has an influence on almost everyone’s lives. ICTs could play a key role in:
ICTs are also becoming crucial in terms of improving knowledge of human and constitutional rights – such as freedom of expression, political participation, ownership of land and accountability – which underpin sustainable poverty reduction. Mobile phones have become the major tools for organisation of voting in many developing countries. Progress has also been made in harnessing ICTs for community empowerment through the development of community databases, use of the internet for greater access to data and improved information flows between local communities and the government, and the dissemination of appropriate information to members of the community.    

Labour time, land and energy are often the only “productive” assets of the poor. Thus tools that save their time have a significant economic potential. Mobile phones and the internet have shown that they can reduce valuable travel time for poor people. ICTs have also shown potential to reduce traditional dependence on intermediaries and exploitative market structures. For instance, rural farmers can check for prices of the grain they produce on global markets; women artisans can sell handicrafts directly to the consumers through the internet. Pro-poor ICT access can promote opportunities for livelihoods by increasing agricultural productivity and improving market access. The value of ICTs for poverty reduction comes also from their potential for generating income. E-commerce initiatives that link small and medium enterprises directly to global markets through the internet have the potential for increasing income and economic development.
The other impact of ICT has been in the flow of financial resources from the “wealthy” to the “poor”. Access to ICTs has cut the transaction cost and time of the flow of remittances; mobile banking has made the easy and low-cost transfer of credit and finances possible. A study by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in 2006 indicates that worldwide remittances now exceed development aid. Over 150 million migrant workers sent more than USD 300 billion home in 2006 compared with USD 104 billion in aid from donor nations and direct foreign investment of USD 167 billion.[8] IFAD says: “New technologies, such as prepaid cards and the use of mobile phones, provide cheaper alternatives for transferring money, as well as lower account-to-account transaction costs.”[9]

Globally, there has also been recognition for tapping into ICTs to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs aim to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.[10] ICTs are regarded as key instruments for enabling these goals. Target 5 of MDG 8 emphasises the need for public and private partnerships for expanding access to ICTs.
ICTs play a major role in teaching and learning, especially in delivery of course materials, facilitating research communications, and improving management and administration of schools and universities. Innovations in online learning and virtual laboratories have already empowered individuals and institutions to continue education without the barriers of distance and time. Opportunities in the health sector include health education and information dissemination. ICTs can bring communities and health facilities closer to each other through regular and systematic information exchange, and offer simple solutions for collecting and analysing information about disease to help make health interventions effective and relevant. ICTs have also been applied to promote better access to AIDS advice, counselling and test results without fear of being stigmatised.

3.   Information technologies and tools for poverty alleviation

A wide range of ICT tools and technologies are available for the poor in their fight against poverty. These include low-cost and low-power computers, mobile and fixed wireless networks, fixed-line and fibre connections, internet and web services, traditional media like radio and television, and a host of content development tools and applications. These technologies have been undergoing significant changes that support their application by the poor.  
The major trends in technologies and tools that favour poverty alleviation include:

Convergence: The convergence of broadcasting, computing and communications has been the key driver for the plummeting costs and greater availability of a wide range of services to the poor. Convergence is driving traditional telecommunication operators and broadcasters to move into each other’s markets by offering a bundle of voice, data and image services. Cable companies are buying into broadcast services; mobile companies are acquiring internet service providers; equipment companies such as Apple are venturing into content and mobile phones; and content companies like Google are looking at satellite services for developing countries. The net benefits are positive to the poor due to better choice, higher quality and lower costs.
One of the main benefits of convergence has been the availability of cheap telephony over the internet. Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) telephony has driven the cost of communication down and disrupted the traditional regulation and business models of the traditional incumbents. The advent of digital television and radio is yet another potential benefit of convergence that brings benefits such as clearer sound and pictures, the possibility of receiving more channels, and flexibility for interaction and storing the broadcast for later use. The transition from analogue to digital is also expected to contribute to the “digital dividend”, or the availability of spectrum that was used in the analogue world for delivering digital services to the population.
Convergence is also pushing investment in broadband infrastructure. In Africa, for example, a number of national backbone projects have been proposed by countries such as Burkina Faso, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, along with submarine cable projects including the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) and SEACOM. The availability of cheap broadband access will contribute to meeting the communications needs of the poor.

Wireless technologies:
The expansion of wireless technologies is another major trend that has brought opportunities for connectivity in rural and underserved areas. New broadband wireless standards like Wi-Fi[11] and WiMAX[12] are overcoming challenges of terrain, infrastructure and cost and are being deployed in underserved areas. Wi-Fi and WiMAX supply a large share of growing markets and public service use of the internet in communities, schools, health facilities, etc.
Low cost, mass production and ease of integration with computers have made Wi-Fi one of the most-used wireless solutions for connection to the internet.[13] WiMAX is following suit and increasingly becoming the choice for backhaul connection and interconnecting users in large cities across geographic distances of up to 50 kilometres. Moreover, wireless technologies are:

Mobile applications: Significant progress has also been made in the mobile sector in recent years in terms of network coverage, price of the handset, functionality and applications for social and economic development. The number of mobile subscribers has passed the 50% mark and was expected to reach over 61% of the world’s population by the end of 2008.[15] The mobile phone is slowly improving its storage capacity and battery life. It is facilitating internet access and taking over its competitors as a prime media device for downloading, storing and playing all kinds of media. The use of mobile phones for payments and transfer of resources is fuelling social and economic development, adding to the security of poor people.
Progress in the rolling out of third generation (3G)[16] mobile networks has also been impressive in recent years. The total number of 3G subscribers using WCDMA and CDMA2000 grew by 45% in 2007 over the previous year to cross the 600–million mark, according to the ITU. While the use of 3G may not have a direct impact on the poor due to the high costs involved, innovations around broadband mobile access will likely have a significant impact for those working with poor people.

Low-cost, low-power computing
: Innovations around low-cost and low-power computing have been progressing over the last five years, in particular in schools and in connecting “the next billion”. The One Laptop per Child[17] programme and Intel classmate PC[18] are among recent initiatives that have fuelled interest and innovation around low-cost and low-power solutions.  
Handheld computers ranging from small pocket computers to notebooks are now being offered for prices lower than USD 400. The ASUS Eee is one the most ultra-portable popular handheld computers in this price range. Many applications are being deployed to improve the lives of people living in remote areas by allowing them access to global information. For example, farmers may use handheld computers to access information on food prices and new agricultural techniques. Another example is the use of portable computers by healthcare workers to organise information on individuals in poor areas and transmit symptoms of diseases to a specialised doctor.  

Sustainable community development networks
: Great hope has been invested in community centres that provide communications (telephone, fax), internet and other auxiliary secretarial-related services as a way of enabling the poor to benefit from ICTs. Commonly known as “telecentres”, they have often failed to achieve this goal. This is frequently because attention was paid only to the hardware, and not to content or to the social context – a typical mistake in development interventions.

Recent adoption of wireless technologies, lessons from failures of community centres and experience of micro-financing have shown that community-based entrepreneurship models can sustain communication networks in underserved areas. Community-run networks that provide voice telephony, community radio, data networking and internet using wireless technologies have proved to be catalytic for employment, self-reliance and improved access to low cost communication. These networks not only enhance entrepreneurship and foster access to information and communication, but also help to retain the income and profit within communities.[19]

Web 2.0
: Web 2.0 is a transition from an information resource web (Web 1.0) to a participatory web that allows users to control the web to get things done and form social networks. Web 2.0 websites allow users to do more than put information on the web or just retrieve information. Users can build on the interactive pages, run software applications entirely through a browser, or own the data and exercise control over that data.
The proliferation of user-generated content over the internet such as blogs, video sharing, social networking and podcasting has created a more socially connected web in which people can contribute as much as they can consume. Although the tools of Web 2.0 are developed and used by active users, there are significant opportunities for adapting Web 2.0 tools to collect, organise and share indigenous knowledge. This is important for sustainable development and economic growth.

These examples make it evident that new ICTs provide a multitude of choices for the poor if they are used effectively. However, many of the opportunities have not been tapped into due to a host of barriers, such as lack of awareness of the potential by policy makers, absence of the necessary regulatory frameworks, low levels of infrastructure and skills, and financial constraints. 

4.    Understanding the barriers to pro-poor ICT access

Pro-poor ICT access in developing countries faces a number of constraints. The absence and high cost of basic infrastructure such as roads, electricity and communication as well as illiteracy and social factors such as gender and ethnic disparity still remain the key barriers.

Infrastructure challenges:
Access to basic communications networks is still a challenge to the majority of the poor, especially in countries with large rural communities. The combination of geographic distance, difficult terrain, lower population densities and economic hardships leaves little commercial incentive for undertaking the huge investments that are required to extend telecommunications infrastructure in rural areas. Progress in achieving universal access to ICTs has been slow in almost all developing countries either due to absence of strategies or inefficiency in disbursement of universal access funds.

Electric power
: To implement ICT solutions in disadvantaged rural communities it is essential that the electric power to operate equipment is made available. Lack of electric power and its unreliability, when available, are major challenges to developing nations. Lack of cheap electricity in rural areas is one of the major contributors to the high cost of communication. Solutions including solar photo-voltaics (PV), small wind-electric turbines, micro-hydro systems and clockwork induction motors were proposed to address the rural power generation and usage gaps, but these were unable to scale up and integrate into rural development plans.

Cost of hardware and software
: The high cost of hardware, software and connectivity is another barrier to pro-poor ICT access. High cost can result in a significant proportion of poor people’s overall incomes being extracted and diverted from meeting basic needs such as paying for school fees. The popularity of Nokia 1200 (an under-USD 30 mobile handset) and less than USD 1 of air time shows that connecting the next billion requires a considerable cost-cutting in ICT tools and services.

Social and cultural challenges:
ICTs can service specific development goals, but this requires both knowledge of appropriate technologies and appreciation of how these technologies can be deployed to address concrete development problems. The problem of illiteracy in developing countries is a main concern, especially as ICTs are very much text-based in nature. Illiteracy also goes hand in hand with poverty, and limited education can be a key barrier that prevents disadvantaged segments of the population from accessing ICTs, ultimately exacerbating information and poverty gaps. Innovations that use intermediaries and provide technological solutions such as text-to-speech and touch screens are important to promote access to the illiterate. Other related social factors include unfamiliarity with the dominant languages of the internet, absence of training in computer skills, and the fact that the information delivered by ICTs is not that valuable to them.

Gender and other barriers
: Although the gap is narrowing, there is also a significant polarisation of access to ICTs along the contours of gender and physical disability. This was exacerbated by a lack of initiatives to correct the imbalances between men and women and those with and without physical disabilities at policy and programme implementation levels.

Policy and regulatory frameworks
: Policy and regulatory provisions in many countries are still far behind the potential of ICTs discussed above. Government regulations often fail to recognise the possibilities offered by ICTs. A substantial number of developing countries still control access and protect incumbent operators. In other countries there is a tendency for a few operators to collude on prices and services, thus creating barriers to competition.  
While sector reform in some countries has increased access to basic communication, especially mobile phones, the underlying policy goals of delivering affordable access to the population have not been realised in most countries. The rush towards privatisation of inefficient incumbents has not yielded the expected results due to a lack of other reform elements, such as competition and effective regulation. Similarly, the enthusiasm for development of national ICT policies and e-strategies aimed at overcoming the digital divide did not produce the expected digital opportunities, due to an overemphasis on blueprints with less attention to institutional capabilities, resources, markets and governance and policy coordination issues at national levels. The focus of e-strategies on lists of activities at the national level has also been one of the major obstacles for investment in core aspects such as capacity building, infrastructure and innovations at the community level.  
There has also been a significant divergence between sector reform agendas and efforts to develop national ICT policies in recent years. Sector reform efforts failed to recognise the implication of integrated ICT policies, while national ICT strategies fell short of capitalising on ICT sector reform efforts for creating competitive environments for affordable access. The deviation between the two routes and failure to integrate policy objectives for affordable access with that of application and content was one of the major shortcomings of policy processes over the last decade.

Policy and managerial capacity
: There is a significant lack of policy and managerial capabilities in developing countries that has often resulted in inadequately planned and executed ICT projects. On one hand, there is a lack of demonstrated benefits from ICTs in addressing ground-level development challenges. On the other hand, there has been a significant focus on pilot projects that were unable to scale up and make a significant long-lasting impact. This has been exacerbated by the lack of participation by poor and pro-poor groups in public policy and decision-making processes. A focus on ICT-based solutions by technology experts means that information and knowledge that arise in poor communities are often ignored.
The absence of adequate financing is another challenge to pro-poor ICT access. Donor funding has been the main source of financing for ICT initiatives in most countries, but a few donor-funded projects have proven to be self-sustaining once external assistance (financial and material) has run out.

5.   The road ahead

The ICT opportunities and trends discussed above and the challenges of poverty necessitate creative approaches to pro-poor ICT access that are grounded in community participation, appropriate choice of technological tools and relevant content. A number of barriers still stand against widening the potential of ICTs for poverty alleviation, including unfavourable policy and regulatory environments, absence of adequate applications and tools, and lack of financial resources.
Government policies and regulation are perhaps the most constraining barrier of all. It is difficult to mobilise resources and forge public and private partnership without enabling government policies, laws and regulations. Policies also affect ICT infrastructure provision (including in the last mile) and investment in applications, services and content. One major area where policy and regulation have considerable implication is spectrum management for the deployment of broadband wireless networks in rural areas. Another area pertains to the rules regulating micro-payments and mobile banking.

Pro-poor ICT access requires concerted efforts in addressing these policy challenges through capacity building and advocacy at all levels. A community-driven approach supported by an enabling policy environment will have potential for mobilising resources, promoting public and private partnerships, and utilising complementary tools and technologies to bridge the access gaps of the poor.  



References

Gómez, Ricardo and Juliana Martínez Internet... Why, and What For? San José: IDRC/Acceso, 2001 www.acceso.or.cr
Howard, Ian Unbounded possibilities: Observations on sustaining rural ICTs in Africa Montevideo: APC, 2008 www.apc.org/en/system/files/SustainingRuralICTs_0.pdf
International Telecommunication Union African Telecommunication/ICT Indicators 2008: At a crossroads Geneva: ITU, 2008
Mukhopadhyay, Swapna “ICT and Poverty in East Africa: A Conceptual Framework” Paper presented at the Workshop on ICT and Poverty Reduction, Nairobi, Kenya, 17-19 January 2006
Sen, Amartya Development as Freedom Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999
Smyth, Gerard “Wireless Technologies Bridging the Digital Divide in Education” International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning 1, 1 (2006) www.mlearn.org.za/CD/papers/Smyth.pdf
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Report 2007/2008 New York: UNDP, 2007 hdr.undp.org
World Bank The Role of Mobile Phones in Sustainable Poverty Reduction Washington: World Bank, 2008 siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTINFORMATIONANDCOMMUNICATIONANDTECHNOLOGIES/Resources/The_Role_of_Mobile_Phones_in_Sustainable_Rural_Poverty_Reduction_June_2008.pdf
________
[1]World Bank The Role of Mobile Phones in Sustainable Poverty Reduction (Washington: World Bank, 2008) siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTINFORMATIONANDCOMMUNICATIONANDTECHNOLOGIES/Resources/The_Role_of_Mobile_Phones_in_Sustainable_Rural_Poverty_Reduction_June_2008.pdf
[2] International Telecommunication Union African Telecommunication/ICT Indicators 2008: At a crossroads (Geneva: ITU, 2008)
[3] Ricardo Gómez and Juliana Martínez Internet... Why, and What For? (San José: IDRC/Acceso, 2001) www.acceso.or.cr
[4]Ken Banks “Mobile Phones and the Digital Divide” PC World 29 July 2008 www.pcworld.com/article/149075/mobile_phones_and_the_digital_divide.html
[5]Amartya Sen Development as Freedom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)
[6]Swapna Mukhopadhyay “ICT and Poverty in East Africa: A Conceptual Framework” (paper presented at the Workshop on ICT and Poverty Reduction, Nairobi, Kenya, 17-19 January 2006)
[7]United Nations Development Programme Human Development Report 2007/2008 (New York: UNDP, 2007) hdr.undp.org
[8]BBC News “Remittance cash ‘tops world aid’” BBC News 18 October 2007 news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7047304.stm
[9]IFAD website: www.ifad.org/events/remittances/maps/remittance.htm
[10]United Nations Millennium Development Goals: www.un.org/millenniumgoals
[11]Wi-Fi is a two-way high-speed radio communication network to connect to the internet without cables and wires. Wi-Fi is a popular term for wireless local area network, also known as IEEE 802.12, which is intended to link computers spanning a distance of about 100 metres.
[12]WiMAX is a wireless digital communications system, also known as IEEE 802.16, which is intended for wireless networks spanning relatively long distances. WiMAX can provide broadband wireless access up to 50 kilometres for fixed stations, and 5-15 kilometres for mobile stations.
[13]Several large-scale capacity-building initiatives have been implemented in Africa, Latin America and other regions, where proliferation of community wireless networks can improve communities' access to ICT infrastructure, as well as control over a wide range of services enabled by access to the internet (VoIP communication, content production, etc.). Examples of such multi-partner initiatives are the regional training projects Capacity Building for Community Wireless Connectivity in Africa (www.apc.org/wireless) and the TRICALCAR project (www.apc.org/en/projects/lac/wireless-lac-tricalcar).
[14]Gerard Smyth “Wireless Technologies Bridging the Digital Divide in Education” International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning 1, 1 (2006) www.mlearn.org.za/CD/papers/Smyth.pdf
[15]ITU Statistics Newslog, 30 September 2008: www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/newslog/default,date,2008-09-30.aspx
[16]Third generation (3G) mobile technology offers high-speed communication while on the move.
[17]laptop.org
[18]www.intel.com/intel/worldahead/classmatepc
[19]Ian Howard Unbounded possibilities: Observations on sustaining rural ICTs in Africa (Montevideo: APC, 2008) www.apc.org/en/system/files/SustainingRuralICTs_0.pdf

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Policy and Regulatory Issues Module: Overview Paper

Policy and Regulatory Issues Module: Overview Paper
Seán Ó Siochrú

1. Introduction
2. Emerging issues and trends in pro-poor ICT policy and regulation
3. Strategic policy and regulatory options
4. Case Studies


1. Introduction

This overview synthesises key issues and emerging options in the area of ICT policy and regulation as they affect access and affordability for poor people and communities.

It looks at both policy and regulation, though the two are not always easy separated. In general, policy provides the broad thrust of what is to be achieved, and regulation creates the mechanisms to achieve it. This is usually done with the oversight of a government ministry or an independent regulator. Some policies are detailed and prescriptive, leaving regulation little room for manoeuvre; others are open, even vague, with ample scope for innovation at regulation level. Effective outcomes require a combination of good policy and good regulation, the one reinforcing the other.

ICT policy makers and regulators can influence pro-poor developments by:

    2. Emerging issues and trends in pro-poor ICT policy and regulation

    Issues and trends in policy and regulation are outlined below, beginning with those most directly associated with pro-poor potential.

Universal access policies

The goal of universal access, often set down as precise targets in policy and regulation, includes the provision of affordable telephony and – now almost always – internet.[1]

Achieving universal access is an objective of virtually all telecommunication regimes, monopoly or otherwise. This comes from the recognition that telephony and increasingly the internet are regarded as basic services to which everyone is entitled.

The “standard” approach to universal access policy, as recommended by the European Union and World Bank, includes the establishment of a universal access fund (UAF), to be administered by an independent regulator and financed by the main operators in the sector. This is often in combination with other measures designed to roll out access to areas that are underserved by markets. There are many ways of administering UAFs. [2]

These include management by government ministries; by purpose-built, even multi-stakeholder, trustee funds; or by dedicated vehicles separate from a regulator. Financing may come directly from government, from spectrum auctions, or from postal, media and courier services.

From the mid-1990s, especially in Latin America, the principle UAF mechanism deployed to achieve universal access has been the lowest-subsidy auction. Through this mechanism, licences to extend services into underserved rural areas are awarded to those seeking the lowest subsidy in a competitive bid. This led in a number of cases to rapid commercial viability of the new services and to significant growth in access. Among the success factors was the selection of target areas using a bottom-up approach. In Chile, for instance, local authorities, community organisations, and telecom companies together submitted lists that were then short-listed by regional authorities. [3]

However, the extent to which “smart subsidies” can achieve rapid commercial viability for network providers in rural areas falls as remaining underserved areas become progressively poorer and more remote. The positive experience in Latin America was to some degree the result of early underestimation of the demand and willingness to pay for telephony, even among poor people. There is also evidence that ongoing supporting policies, after the initial subsidy, are needed to achieve sustainability, such as asymmetrical interconnection charges[4] (implemented in Chile, Colombia and Uganda, for example) and continuing firm regulation against anti-competitive behaviour by dominant operators. [5]

The use of UAFs to provide internet access has in most cases proved more commercially challenging, as the service lacks the same degree of pent-up demand and potential income is far less. However, internet provision is now an accepted component of universal access and has spread in some places to including access in schools, NGOs, health centres and other social services.

Recent approaches to universal access are going further. They are, for instance, funding broadband services, experimenting in technology-neutral approaches (eliminating restrictions on technology, such as VoIP, that can be used), and encouraging experimentation in low-cost delivery platforms such as broadband wireless access networks. For instance:

There is also movement towards making more unlicensed spectrum available. Dedicated licences are now also available in many countries for small-scale local telecom companies to provide the full range of services.

Some continue to argue that liberalisation will, given sufficient time, offer the complete solution to universal access. Exponential growth in mobile phone access across most developing countries adopting a pro-market approach, and even some that did not, offered support to this view. Mobile growth remains strongest in Africa – an annual 39% for the two years to the end of 2007 – and Asia also saw a healthy 28% annual growth during the same period. [9]

Some of the value-added services becoming available on mobiles, such as financial services (“m-banking” or “m-money”) including remittance payments of direct relevance to poor communities and families (successful examples are found in Kenya – almost two million users – Tanzania, South Africa and the Philippines), have also been facilitated, if not actually driven, by policy and regulatory actions.[10]

Yet large access gaps remain, especially in poorer, sparsely populated areas. Mobile telephony, despite growing data functionality and applications, still offers limited internet access, usually at tariffs beyond the reach of the poor. The affordability of mobile telephony has not been adequately addressed and its use remains beyond the reach of many poor people even where network access is available. Despite services being available on mobile phones, universal access, some would argue, must in key respects go beyond the market approach to support a public good approach to ICTs.[11]

Such an approach would argue for widespread affordable internet and ICTs based on the idea that the public good is maximised and most efficiently achieved only if virtually everyone is connected.

A pro-poor approach

A key challenge with universal access policies and regulation is to ensure that they can successfully target poor people and poor communities and are not just benefiting the wealthier sections of what are, overall, relatively poor communities (i.e., that it is not only the better off who can actually afford to utilise the services). From this perspective, a pro-poor approach may be viewed as a convergence between ICT policy and development policy, where the goal is not simply to ensure access to ICTs, or even to render them affordable to the poor, but also to build on the capacity of ICTs to empower poor people and poor communities.[12]

The manner in which poverty is addressed can vary. South Africa, from the earliest days, pioneered telecentres as a means to achieve universal and affordable access for telephony and internet use by the poor, often offering a range of other services. Success was mixed, [13] but telecentre programmes have become a part of universal access policy in many other countries.

Some initiatives build in features targeted at poverty. In India, the Kerala state’s Akshaya project, launched in 2002, [14] started as a pilot and is now state wide. It aims to build a network of rural community “kiosks” in every village. What is notable in the approach is that the state offers subsidised broadband to social entrepreneurs to set up these centres. The pro-poor mandate derives from a legally sanctioned role of the village elected bodies (panchayats) in governing the kiosks, including some influence in setting different tariffs according to need, as well as a requirement that one member of every family in the village is given ICT training.

Other examples following similar principles of community participation and socialised benefits can be found in telephony cooperatives in Argentina and Poland, and the unusual case of a community-owned irrigation board in Peru setting up and running a Wi-Fi based telephony and internet service.[15] Such community-driven networks are intended to build capacity within the community in terms of managing an enterprise, to retain the profits within the community, and to redirect surpluses towards development activities.[16]

A detailed discussion on various government-driven, public/private sector and community-based entrepreneurial models can be seen in the Implementing Projects at the Community Level module of this toolkit.  

Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda are among countries that have opened regulatory spaces in national policy for these kinds of initiatives. Such small-scale local initiatives may not be inherently pro-poor in nature, but policy and regulatory measures can be taken to encourage and enable them in poor areas, including the participation of poor communities themselves. For instance:

A pro-poor approach focuses on the needs of the poor, and these extend beyond ICT access and affordability. Policy measures can help deliver appropriate content and services to address these wider needs. Many poor rural communities are beyond the effective reach of social and public services, and ICTs can facilitate remote delivery, reducing delivery costs in the long term. For example, the National e-Governance Plan in India includes a well-funded programme, already launched, to establish up to 100,000 Common Services Centres (CSCs) in rural areas, seen as front-end delivery platforms for government, private and social services.[19]

Small-scale village entrepreneurs and NGOs are contracted to offer the services and establish the centres, charging agreed tariffs. The idea is that subsidies for the provision of key government services will underpin the viability of the centres, enabling them to offer a wider range of services at affordable charges. If this were more firmly linked into a community empowerment approach, the impact could be even greater.[20]

Affordable access to high-speed internet brings further policy possibilities, both because it allows for the simultaneous provision of a variety of different services and because it supports high-speed broadband services. Areas such as agricultural extension, basic literacy and numeracy, education, disease prevention, hygiene and small business development can all be supported through ICTs, driven by cooperation across different policy domains. The health sector, in particular, can benefit from broadband access, with high-quality video and data transmission linking community health centres with centralised and specialised diagnostic centres. Early diagnosis is often the key to local and effective treatment, and yields major savings both for people and for the health service. Existing universal access policy moves to link health centres and schools to the internet would, with the availability of broadband, come significantly closer to realising such possibilities.

ICT strategies

A pro-poor policy convergence between universal access and development policy may also in principle be reinforced through the adoption in numerous countries, most still in the process of implementation, of national strategies variously titled ICT strategies, ICT4D strategies or e-strategies. [21] These give shape and direction to the body of policies and provide a coherent framework for implementation, premised on the idea that the benefits of ICTs are to be achieved horizontally across many sectors and generally encompassing a range of government ministries, institutions and other actors. [22]

The development of such plans was strongly encouraged from the late 1990s by regional and global entities such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Summit on the Information Society, and by donors at national level. Most include e-governance measures, sectoral actions in health and education, training and capacity building, support for small and micro businesses, as well as infrastructure and service extension, each of which may contain pro-poor measures.

The impact of such initiatives on poor people is difficult to judge as there have been no systematic evaluations. Few ICT strategies were backed up with funding; a number comprise little more than a collated set of project ideas to be brought before various donors and sectoral ministries. Some fail to prioritise, and indeed a few countries have produced overlapping ICT plans and strategies, each funded by a different donor. Rwanda's NICI 2010 Plan (extended to 2020) is amongst the most ambitious and explicitly places ICTs at the centre of its overall development plan, and therefore attracts a considerable proportion of development funding. India's National e-Governance Plan, mentioned above, is another example.

However, the availability of this scale of funding to implement ICT and e-government strategies is the exception, not the rule; nor was it always the intention. The possibility of reaping indirect benefits was also part of the rationale for such strategies. A goal was to nurture a wider multi-level strategic ICT dialogue between traditional telecommunication ministries and IT institutions, and sectoral ministries in industries, health, education, rural development and so forth; and to involve as much as possible wider stakeholders. Efforts directed at such mainstreaming of ICTs at the policy level can claim some success in a number of countries such as Mozambique.

If the trend now appears to be away from overarching strategies towards sectoral-level policy on ICTs – e-governance, e-health, e-education, etc. – this may reflect a measure of success. Thus strategies that maintained a top-down approach have made little progress, while those that are based on an organic, incremental approach “with a focus on building blocks such as national educational capacity, policy and regulation, infrastructure, content and public sector delivery” [23] have met with more success.

Building out high-speed networks into poor areas

Many policies apart from those explicitly geared towards achieving universal access and poverty alleviation influence affordable access to ICTs.The lack of optical fibre backbone networks in many countries acts as a bandwidth bottleneck, driving prices beyond the reach especially of poor people and limiting the functionality of the services available. Remote delivery of educational, health and other content-driven services is heavy on bandwidth. Universal access policies aimed at empowerment through supporting, for instance, the emergence of community-driven networks and low-cost broadband wireless access systems also require significant bandwidth. Satellite access, the only option in many poor and rural areas, is very costly, has high latency (i.e., time delay between sender and receiver) and is unreliable in certain weather conditions. Ubiquitous low-cost, reliable, high-speed networks open up opportunities for everyone, but especially for innovative approaches to pro-poor ICT solutions. The paucity of national backbone fibre is particularly evident in Africa, but also affects poorer Asian countries.

Policy deficiencies are to some extent behind the problem.[24]

The type and extent of liberalisation, overlaid onto existing rigid yet frail telecommunications institutions and fixed-line operators, resulted in shortcomings in the nature of the ICT regimes and services that emerged. For example, the fixed-line network, far from achieving the expected growth, shrank in some countries. This was the result of strategic short-sightedness, policy and institutional hurdles, and unavoidably high initial fixed costs. In much of sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, liberalisation reinforced or encouraged vertically integrated operators with end-to-end networks. Although backbone networks are extensive, the majority comprise microwave and satellite owned by mobile operators designed primarily for voice traffic. Furthermore, some governments restrict the types of technologies that can be deployed, and prohibit operators from selling on excess bandwidth capacity. As a result, the prospects for universal broadband are on hold in many developing countries. People in low-income countries, representing 38% of the world’s population, currently make up only 1% of the world’s fixed broadband subscribers.[25]

Where the backbone issues have been partially addressed, for instance in Kenya and Nigeria, bandwidth has been freed up and new backbone providers attracted, expanding capacity and reducing prices. In Kenya, the lifting of restrictions on VoIP in 2004 resulted in a fall of almost 80% in the cost of international calls; [26] and India expects to see national long-distance call tariffs halved and a fifth off international calls. [27]

This will benefit many poor people deriving economic and social benefits from contacting relatives and friends abroad. However, such developments tend to be confined to main urbanised centres, where fibre already exists and the best market opportunities arise. Market incentives alone, even with supportive regulation, are unlikely to deliver the investment needed for broadband access in more rural areas.

The policy and regulatory question is how to get high-speed backbone into rural areas and how to ensure it addresses the needs of the poor. Here additional action is needed, and some have been attempted. [28]

A crucial factor in the success of these is the implementation of an “open access” approach whereby all players (including at local level) can connect into a technology-neutral environment, at cost-based non-discriminatory charges with the subsidy ensuring they are affordable.

Maintaining strong regulatory or public control over service price and quality and applying positive discriminatory measures are critical to ensure that benefits reach poor communities. This suggests that the third model above might be most effective, with a strong role for public interests. The consortium could comprise a number of public entities active in the area with communication needs, such as educational and health institutions. Indeed the government and public services could become an “anchor tenant”, underpinning viability by guaranteed purchase of a significant proportion of available bandwidth in the context of the implementation of wider e-governance strategies.

India, on the other hand, offers an example of a nationally owned incumbent carrier, BSNL, recently building a modern and extensive rural fibre network. According to one Ministry of IT official, every village in India is within 25 kilometres of an optical fibre cable.[29] 

BSNL owns the great majority of the backbone and is pursuing an ambitious policy of laying fibre to every exchange in the country, giving extensive rural coverage (though currently it is hugely underutilised). At the same time, it is obliged to sell backbone leased lines on a regulated basis – though not perhaps as much as it might. [30]

This reinforces that a key factor in success is firm regulation of BSNL regarding cost-based prices and quality of service.

Shared infrastructure

An additional policy dimension can be added, depending on the local conditions, to encourage, enable or even mandate the sharing of components of national infrastructure. Sharing can be of “passive” (physical) infrastructure, or of “active” (fibre or other medium) infrastructure.[31]

A key goal in relation to rural access is to reduce the capital cost, and sometimes the current cost, of both passive and active components, thereby enabling network extension beyond where it is otherwise commercially feasible.

In new-build situations, the legal and financial costs of obtaining common rights of way can be shared between communication, electricity, railways, highways and other infrastructure suppliers. Poles, ducts and power supplies can also be used for multiple purposes. As early as 1999, Brazil's three regulatory agencies, for telecoms, electricity and oil, decided to specify a common regulatory framework for sharing infrastructure. In Cameroon and Nigeria, several utilities have been put under the telecoms regulator, facilitating measures ranging from mandatory sharing of passive infrastructure to financial incentives and guidelines. The newly created regulator in Lebanon has similarly declared its intention to promote passive infrastructure sharing in areas where multiple operators cannot viably build infrastructure and where environmental or social concerns are particularly important. [32]

Network sharing between mobile phone operators of masts, power, physical space and cabling is encouraged in India and elsewhere, [33] and the Indian regulator policy recommendations include financial incentives such as tax exemptions and licence subventions. [34]

There are also several approaches to sharing active infrastructure, usually fibre capacity, depending on the circumstances. Some countries have regulated for the wholesale or retail use of fibre owned by electricity and railway companies, or the multiple use of fibre along existing and new electricity (Ecuador, El Salvador, Kenya, Tanzania) and train (Ghana) network lines. A transnational example is the Cameroon-Chad oil pipeline, where twelve of the eighteen fibre cables installed will be available for use by telecoms operators, traversing many rural areas. [35]

There is, however, some resistance to sharing common infrastructure. Concerns include that commercially sensitive knowledge will become available to competitors in the case of mobile operators sharing elements of active infrastructure; or that forced sharing will facilitate direct competition in a core area of business. But the incentive of considerable gains has led to solutions being found around these issues. In Tanzania, for instance, a neutral partner carrier in the form of an equipment vendor manages shared active infrastructure for several operators in what might otherwise be marginal rural areas, thereby avoiding the issue of commercially sensitive information. [36]

Open standards, open hardware, open source, open spectrum

Open standards are about enabling all communication technologies – and people – to interact with each other by recognising and adopting common standards. Open hardware means the public availability of technical specifications of ICT equipment. Open source is the term for software that makes its “source code” freely available to all, thus allowing programmes to be tailored to local needs and giving birth to a global community of software engineers helping each other out; free and open source software (FOSS) is the wider movement that also emphasises the availability of software for free. Open spectrum is essentially making wireless bandwidth available without the need for a licence.[37]

Together they can facilitate a pro-development approach and, particularly in a local context, pro-poor aspects can emerge. Open standards can help to avoid vendor “lock-in” where customers are obliged to stick with the same equipment, ensuring that all equipment can interconnect. This allows for greater customer choice, including the choice of local equipment. Open hardware facilitates small-scale manufacture and assembling of hardware locally, to suit local conditions and needs and generate employment. A major policy lever in relation to open standards and open hardware is government procurement policy for government services.

Open source not only saves money, but in the right circumstances can help build up local software skills. The success of Wi-Fi at the local level, where it has been deployed by poor communities to build their own networks, can in part be attributed to the emergence of a Wi-Fi open source community enabling new business models to emerge. [38]

Open spectrum policies have been at the root of the Wi-Fi revolution, greatly simplifying the bureaucratic barriers involved in legally accessing spectrum and eliminating licence fees. The potential and actual benefits of FOSS for development in general have been widely documented, [39] though the subject will undoubtedly remain hotly contested given the power, resources and massive user platform of commercial software companies, notably Microsoft. Quite a number of countries and regions are implementing policies to support FOSS, as part of a development approach or sometimes integrated within ICT strategies, from Brazil and Venezuela to the Indian state of Kerala. The last is in the process of setting up an International Centre for Free and Open Source Software with wide-ranging functions to support and implement FOSS. [40]

Ecuador joined the list in May 2008, when the president issued a decree that establishes, with few exceptions, the mandatory use of FOSS in the public administration and institutions, and pilots are underway in two ministries. The case is interesting as these measures anticipated the proposed new constitution, finally adopted in October 2008, which includes an explicit commitment to the right to universal access to ICTs.

Broadcasting policy and regulation

Radio and television are sometimes thought of as technologies of the past. Yet they continue to evolve and change and exert major influence, sometimes in new areas. They can be technologically innovative, and are increasingly intertwined with their telecommunication and internet-based cousins. Apart from their economic role, the fact that most countries retain relatively strict regulation – and sometimes direct government control – in an era of deregulation is testimony to how important these media are in political and cultural spheres. Broadcasting globally is by far the dominant means by which people receive information from outside[41] and, most importantly, this is especially true in poor and remote communities.

Broadcasting, if properly regulated, has the potential to give voice to poor communities, opening a door to wider influence in society's structures and institutions. Yet broadcasting is too often neglected in current ICT policies and strategies, and its pro-poor potential lies largely dormant.

The growth in the past decade in community radio– the cheapest and most accessible of all ICTs – is probably the most striking feature of the sector. Every continent has been affected. In Africa, from Mali to Cameroon, Senegal to the Democratic Republic of Congo, through Togo, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Niger and Chad, all have witnessed an explosion of community radio stations to the extent that their numbers now run into the thousands. Latin America has a history of community radio dating back over half a century, in the beginning outside the law, but in recent years Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Mexico and Argentina, amongst others, have developed policy and are regulating the sector . The experience in Asia is more recent, but Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand, India and Indonesia now give out radio licences to communities.

However, the policy and regulatory processes that have accompanied this flowering of stations is highly uneven, and whether the future will live up to its undoubted pro-poor potential is uncertain.

Nepal is a case in point, illustrating some of the risks. Community stations played a key role in the restoration of democracy to Nepal and, partly in reward, the new government “fast-tracked” applicants for new licences. Dozens were granted within weeks, with more applicants joining the queue all the time. Yet the licence does not distinguish between commercial and community stations and both have to pay a 4% tax on income and a significant annual broadcasting levy. There are also few regulatory protections to ensure that the public interest is kept to the fore. In this circumstance, commercial stations are consolidating their base and crowding out the community stations; and politicians and political parties can manipulate channels for propaganda. [42]

Television is also growing as a medium in poor communities. However, community television, because of the higher costs and wider set of skills required, has had little impact so far, with the possible exception of a couple of Latin American countries. But there has been a major shift in policy and regulation in the last decade. A pronounced decline in direct government control of broadcasting is evident, including television, especially in Africa and to a lesser extent in Latin America and parts of Asia.[43]

Taking its place, however, is the emergence of sometimes unregulated commercial television, often tacitly supporting the government and intent on maximising profits. At the same time, the publicly held aspiration of many of these governments is quite the reverse: to promote public interest television.

The creation of a policy and regulatory environment in broadcasting that focuses above all else on the public interest has the potential of being a central plank of a wider pro-poor agenda. The challenges are significant:
The challenge for regulatory bodies

In 1995, just 43 countries had established national regulatory authorities for telecommunications. By the year 2000 this figure had risen to 106, and in 2008 it stood at 149.[44]

However, even with enlightened and innovative policy and regulation on the statutes, effective regulatory implementation confronts a number of serious challenges. Perhaps chief among these are the limitations in capacity in regulatory bodies, many of them recently established in a radically altered policy environment. Not only must new skills be found and institutionally embedded, but they often quickly confront highly resourced private sector operators with decades of experience in thwarting the best efforts of regulators. Asymmetries of information – for instance, around pricing – between the regulator and regulated are difficult to overcome in the best of circumstances, [45] and regulatory “capture” is common. Gaining independence and credibility involves a complex interaction, and must be earned over time by the actions of the regulator and the reactions of the government, the incumbent and the courts. [46]

One trend in this regard is also worthy of mention: the emergence and expanding roles of regional associations of regulatory bodies. Examples include the Communications Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) in Southern Africa and Regulatel in Latin America. In other cases, cooperation takes place under wider regional political alliances, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Their agenda initially includes formulating regional policies, research and sharing of experiences and capacity. ECOWAS in 2007 adopted an agreement that covers ICT policy, the legal regime, interconnection, numbering, spectrum management and universal access.

3. Strategic policy and regulatory options

The experience and trends outlined offer a number of policy and regulatory options with the potential to alleviate poverty and contribute to empowerment, some more tested than others.

1.Extending network and service access more deeply into poorer and more remote areas may be possible through a range of additions and variations on the basic lowest-subsidy auction model:

            a)    Allowing the use of technology-neutral solutions and supporting a degree of experimentation in low-cost technologies suitable for dispersed                           populations and remote and difficult terrain – even where these are prohibited nationally – can reduce costs, in some cases dramatically.
            b)    Making unlicensed spectrum available in the appropriate GHz bands.
            c)    Sustainability and/or affordability can be enhanced through allowing asymmetrical interconnection charges, even beyond that justified by cost            
            differences, as an ongoing subsidy to the poorer community.

2.UAFs and policy can also be deployed to support wider development goals, through measures to promote employment creation and capacity building:

a)    Licensing and supporting small-scale local and cooperative enterprises offering a range of services including telephony, internet and others can generate local employment and enhance skills.
a)    UAFs may be used to provide access to credit, equity capital or grants to micro-enterprise retail phone providers along the Grameen phone model, or more ambitiously to licensed local cooperative enterprises as above.
b)    Where available, subsidised bandwidth is an option as a support for community social enterprises.
c)    Support for both internet access and content development could be given, in the areas of education, health, NGOs/CBOs and development activities, working in close collaboration with community interests.
d)    The UAF could support the setting up of community radio stations: a community radio channel can be built and equipped for less than the cost of a single tower of a single mobile telephone network,[47] and priority could be given to pro-poor communities in licensing.
Given the trend towards including wide-ranging actions under universal service policy and regulation, it has been credibly suggested that the concept of the UAF should be superseded altogether with that of the Universal Communication Fund.[48] Such a fund would be given greater flexibility in terms of the forms and goals of funding, adopting a “bottom-up” approach to supporting community and local enterprise in poor areas, and in moving some services from universal access to universal service. Such a broader role would, in most countries, quickly run up against the capacity limitations of policy makers and regulators, but may be ripe for consideration in some situations.

3.The limited availability of broadband backbone, especially fibre, in rural areas can be addressed through a number of regulatory measures, depending on the circumstances:

          a)    Regulating to oblige operators to share or sell spare backbone capacity may be an option, including for instance mobile backhaul.
b)    Regulating to promote and facilitate passive and active infrastructure and facilities sharing, such as rights of way, pilots and masts and pipelines, as well as fibre and wireless facilities.
c)    Introducing “open-access” regulation of existing and new fibre, and opening the market for a diversity of small, medium and large value-added services.
d)    Offering policy support, depending on the circumstances, for the creation of public policy-driven consortia to build fibre, including public investment.

4.E-governance and ICT strategies could be coordinated more closely with both development and universal access policies. The use of ICTs to provide e-government services in remote areas can generate demand for bandwidth that can be aggregated with other local users to bring down costs. These services can be coordinated with support for community cooperative ICT-based enterprises.

5.Open standards, open hardware, open source and open spectrum are each in their own way, and in various combinations, capable of reducing costs, supporting capacity building, and helping to tailor service provision to the needs of poor communities. Policy can play a significant role in encouraging these approaches, for instance through procurement and guidelines, and in more active policy decision to favour their implementation.

6.Broadcasting, both radio and television, can enable poor and marginalised communities to have a voice in the public sphere and gain influence on policy more widely if policy and regulation are specifically designed and implemented towards that end. Evidence suggests that an appropriate balance between commercial, community and public service broadcasting can achieve this. Such an approach covers a vast area of law, regulation and policy. Movement towards such a system must ultimately help to address issues of poverty and exclusion, particularly through the community sector.

Increasing the take of the universal access fund through, for instance, raising the percentage contribution should, if the money is spent wisely, ultimately benefit the poor, although care must be taken not to undermine mainstream ICT activities. Broadening the scope of those contributing might be possible, for instance to include courier, broadcasting and other communication-related sectors, where these are stable and profitable.

However, lack of funding is not always the issue and there are cases in which finding useful ways to dispose of funds collected is the greater challenge, bringing back up the issue of capacity. Fundamental to building capacity in many cases is the need for firm government support and determination that the regulator will become independent, capable and authoritative.

4. Case Studies

Three case studies have been provided for this module as well as a list of additional resource material. The policy and regulation case studies are outlined below:


Project Project Description Highlights
Providing Universal Access: FITEL, Peru This programme provides mechanisms for minimising the subsidy required for commercial telecoms companies to extend the network into non-commercial areas by awarding the contract to the bidder seeking the lowest subsidy FITEL in Peru offers an early and successful example of a universal access fund adopting an innovative approach to achieving access in rural areas, now widely replicated: the lowest-subsidy auction. Despite shortcomings, this pioneering programme brought various social benefits, and activities have since expanded from public telephony to include internet access.
Rural Broadband Backbone: A case study of different approaches and potential A look at different approaches to extending fibre backbone into rural areas This case study lists various options for the provision of rural broadband backbone, from direct investment by a government-owned operator (as in India), to the provision of “open access” fibre backbone through a public/private consortium (as proposed in parts of Africa), to mechanisms that encourage infrastructure sharing and build complementary infrastructure.
Digital Inclusion Policies: Some lessons from India A review of digital inclusion policy in India, particularly the Common Services Centres (CSC) scheme of the National e-Governance Plan This case study looks at a range of digital inclusion initiatives in India. It includes an analysis of the challenges faced by the CSC scheme in ensuring the delivery of development services in a socially inclusive manner using the ICT-based rural infrastructure it is building.


There are case studies in other modules of this toolkit which are relevant to policy and regulation:


Project Project Description Highlights
Using Mobile Networks for Low-Cost Data Exchange:
The Mozambique Health Information Network (MHIN)
Health workers use mobile networks and PDAs to implement government commitments to provide affordable health services to communities The use of ICTs by the Ministry of Health in Mozambique to deliver a wider development (health) objective is an example of mainstreaming ICTs across development sectors.




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__________


Footnotes:



[1]For the distinction between “universal service” and “universal access” see the infoDev/ITU ICT Regulation Toolkit:
www.ictregulationtoolkit.org/en/Section.3160.html We are concerned here with the latter.

[2]
For a summary description of universal access funds in 46 countries, see Intelecon Universal Access and Service Funds, Update December 2007 (Vancouver: Intelecon, 2007) www.inteleconresearch.com/pages/documents/UAFunds2007update.pdf; for a summary of best practice in UAFs, see Peter A. Stern and David Townsend New Models for Universal Access in Latin America: Summary of Main Report (Regulatel/World Bank/ECLAC, 2006), 12 www.regulatel.org/miembros/publicaciones/ESTU%20DIOS/SERV%20UNIV/PPIAF/i...  

[3]See for instance Björn Wellenius Closing the Gap in Access to Rural Communication: Chile 1995–2002 (Washington: World Bank, 2002) www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2002/03/22/000094946_0203070403326/Rendered/PDF/multi0page.pdf and Juan Navas-Sabater, Andrew Dymond and Niina Juntunen Telecommunications and Information Services for the Poor: Towards a Strategy for Universal Access (Washington: World Bank, 2002) www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2002/05/03/000094946_02041804225061/Rendered/PDF/multi0page.pdf

[4]Interconnection charges refer to the amount that different operators pay each other for completing calls. In this case of asymmetrical charges, rural operators pay less to urban operators than vice versa, yielding a surplus.

[5]Harsha De Silva and Ratna Kaji Tuladhar “Chapter 7: Smart Subsidies – Getting the Conditions Right”, in Diversifying Participation in Network Development: Case Studies and Research from WDR Research Cycle 3 eds. Amy Mahan and William H. Melody (Montevideo: IDRC/infoDev/LIRNE.NET/Comunica, 2007) www.comminit.com/en/node/270757/307; Andrew Dymand Telecommunications Challenges in Developing Countries: Asymmetrical Interconnection Charges for Rural Areas (Washington: World Bank, 2004)

[6]Joji Thomas Philip “Broadband to go free in two years” The Economic Times 26 April 2007 economictimes.indiatimes.com/Broadband_to_go_free_in_2_yrs/articleshow/1955351.cms; Ken Wieland “India’s TRAI calls for broadband subsidies” Telecommunications Online 18 September 2007 www.telecommagazine.com/newsglobe/article.asp?HH_ID=AR_3478

[7]Stern and Townsend New Models for Universal Access in Latin America, 36

[8]For more information see www.ictregulationtoolkit.org/en/PracticeNote.aspx?id=3175

[10]International Telecommunication Union Report on the World Summit on the Information Society Stocktaking (Geneva: ITU, 2008), 3 www.itu.int/wsis/stocktaking/docs/2008/WSIS-Stocktaking2008-e.pdf

[11]See infoDev resource page “m-Banking for the poor” at www.infodev.org/en/Project.35.html

[12]Pablo Accuosto and Niki Johnson Financing the Information Society in the South: A Global Public Goods Perspective (Montevideo: ITeM, 2005) www.choike.org/documentos/wsis/book02.pdf

[13]Seán Ó Siochrú and Bruce Girard Community-based Networks and Innovative Technologies: New models to serve and empower the poor (New York: UNDP, 2005) www.propoor-ict.net; see also www.ictregulationtoolkit.org/en/Section.3184.html

[14]Sarah Parkinson Telecentres, Access and Development: Experience and Lessons from Uganda and South Africa (Ottawa: Practical Action Publishing/Fountain/IDRC, 2005) www.idrc.ca/en/ev-87255-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html

[15]For more information see 210.212.236.212/akshaya/online.html and the case study in this toolkit module.

[16These case studies can be found in Ó Siochrú and Girard Community-based Networks and Innovative Technologies; the latter is also one of the case studies included in the toolkit module on Implementing Projects at the Community Level.

[17]Ian Howard Unbounded possibilities: Observations on sustaining rural ICTs in Africa (Montevideo: APC, 2007) www.apc.org/en/system/files/SustainingRuralICTs_0.pdf

[18]Stern and Townsend New Models for Universal Access in Latin America, 30

[19]Ó Siochrú and Girard Community-based Networks and Innovative Technologies, 46-52

[20]Seán Ó Siochrú “Empowering Communities through ICT Cooperative Enterprises: The Case of India”, in The Political Economy of the Information Society: A Southern View eds. Parminder Jeet Singh, Anita Gurumurthy and Mridula Swamy (Bangalore: IT for Change, 2008) itforchange.net/media/ISSS/Political_Economy_of_IS.pdf

[21]See the Advocacy Strategies and Approaches module of this toolkit for an analysis of specific advocacy techniques for implementing pro-poor ICT strategies.

[22]Some examples can be tracked at the Communication Initiatives page: www.comminit.com/en/taxonomy/term/308%2C323 and in ITU Report on the World Summit on the Information Society Stocktaking. For Asia, examples can be found at www.apdip.int and in Section 4.2 of the abovementioned ITU report.  

[23]Lishan Adam Policies for equitable access (Montevideo: APC, 2008) www.apc.org/en/pubs/research/openaccess/world/policies-equitable-access

[24]Mark Williams Broadband for Africa: Policy for Promoting the Development of Backbone Networks (Washington: infoDev/World Bank, 2008) www.infodev.org/en/Publication.526.html

[25]ITU Report on the World Summit on the Information Society Stocktaking, 4

[26]See the Catalysing Access to ICT in Africa (CATIA) project report at www.gamos.org/icts/catia-catalysing-access-to-ict-in-africa.html

[27]Business Standard “Ease norms for internet calls, TRAI tells government” Business Standard 19 August 2008 www.business-standard.com/india/storypage.php?autono=331865

[28]Williams Broadband for Africa

[29]See slide 13 of a presentation by an IT ministry official at www.cu.ipv6tf.org/casos/mcit-ipv6-2004.pdf

[30]Harsha Vardhana Singh and Rohan Samarajiva “Chapter 7: One Backbone, or Two?”, in ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks eds. Rohan Samarajiva and Ayesha Zainudeen (New Delhi: LIRNEasia/IDRC/SAGE Publications, 2008) www.idrc.ca/openebooks/378-2

[31]Susan Schorr “What Do We Mean by ‘6 Degrees of Sharing’?” (discussion paper presented at the International Telecommunication Union [ITU] 8th Global Symposium for Regulators, Pattaya, Thailand, 11-13 March 2008) www.itu.int/ITU-D/treg/Events/Seminars/GSR/GSR08/papers.html

[32]Tracey Cohen and Russell Southwood “Extending Open Access to National Fibre Backbones in Developing Countries” (work in progress, presented for discussion at the International Telecommunication Union [ITU] 8th Global Symposium for Regulators, Pattaya, Thailand, 11-13 March 2008) www.itu.int/ITU-D/treg/Events/Seminars/GSR/GSR08/discussion_papers/Cohen...

[33]Camila Borba Lefèvre “Mobile Sharing” (discussion paper presented at the International Telecommunication Union [ITU] 8th Global Symposium for Regulators, Pattaya, Thailand, 11-13 March 2008) www.itu.int/ITU-D/treg/Events/Seminars/GSR/GSR08/documents_presentations...

[34]Cohen and Southwood “Extending Open Access to National Fibre Backbones in Developing Countries”, Box 4

[35]Ibid. Box 3

[36]Ibid. 10

[37]Alberto Escudero-Pascual Tools and technologies for equitable access (Montevideo: APC, 2008) www.apc.org/en/system/files/APC_EquitableAccess_ToolsAndTechnologies_Iss...

[38]Steve Song A Commentary on Tools and Technologies for Equitable Access (Montevideo: APC, 2008) www.apc.org/en/system/files/APC_EquitableAccess_ToolsAndTechnologies_Com...

[39]For case studies see Nah Soo Hoe Breaking Barriers: The Potential of Free and Open Source Software for Sustainable Human Development. A Compilation of Case Studies from Across the World (Bangkok: UNDP-APDIP, 2006) www.apdip.net/publications/ict4d/BreakingBarriers.pdf

[40]S. Anandan “Free software centre likely by December” The Hindu 2 August 2008 www.hindu.com/2008/08/02/stories/2008080253780400.htm

[41]Steve Buckley et al. Broadcasting, Voice and Accountability: A Public Interest Approach to Policy, Law and Regulation (Ann Arbor: World Bank Institute and University of Michigan Press, 2008), 31-33 www.digitalculture.org/broadcasting.html

[42]Kunda Dixit “The Rescuing of Democracy”, in Fighting Poverty: Utilising Community Radio in a Digital Age (Montreal: AMARC, 2008 www.amarc.org/wccd/index.php)

[43]Buckley et al. Broadcasting, Voice and Accountability, 69

[44]ITU Report on the World Summit on the Information Society Stocktaking, Table 4

[45]Alison Gillwald and Christoph Stork Towards an African e-Index: ICT access and usage across 16 African countries (Johannesburg: LINK Centre, Witwatersrand University, 2006) www.researchictafrica.net/images/upload/Cairo.pdf

[46]Amy Mahan and William H. Melody, eds. Stimulating Investment in Network Development: Roles for Regulators: Case studies and research from WDR Research Cycle 2 (Montevideo: IDRC/infoDev/LIRNE.NET, 2005) www.infodev.org/en/Publication.12.html7)

[47]Bruce Girard “Community Radio, New Technologies and Policy”, in Fighting Poverty: Utilising Community Radio in a Digital Age (Montreal: AMARC, 2008),  www.amarc.org/wccd/index.php

[48]Stern and Townsend New Models for Universal Access in Latin America, 43

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Case Study: Rural Broadband Backbone

This case study looks at different approaches to extending fibre backbone into rural areas. Market forces alone are unlikely to extend optical fibre backbone into rural areas, where access to high bandwidth and reliable internet access can contribute significantly to a comprehensive pro-poor ICT policy. Even more than in urban areas, high bandwidth services such as videoconferencing can open opportunities to poor communities in terms of service provision and communication and can also support the aggregation of usage of low-bandwidth services such as e-banking, VoIP telephony and delivery of some public services.
There are various options for the provision of rural broadband backbone, from direct investment by a government-owned operator (as in India), to the provision of “open access” fibre backbone through a public/private consortium (as proposed in parts of Africa), to mechanisms that encourage infrastructure sharing and build complementary infrastructure. Funds can be raised through a variety of universal access mechanisms, and significant savings are possible through providing shared backhaul services to mobile operators who otherwise tend to build low-bandwidth dedicated solutions. Once fibre is available to rural communities, further mechanisms can be designed to extend the services and benefits to poor users.



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Case Study: Providing Universal Access: FITEL, Peru

Providing Universal Access: FITEL, Peru
Roxana Barrantes Caceres

FITEL in Peru offers an early and successful example of a universal access fund adopting an innovative approach to achieving access in rural areas, now widely replicated: the lowest-subsidy auction. This is an efficient mechanism for minimising the subsidy required for commercial telecoms companies to extend the network into non-commercial areas, by awarding the contract to the bidder seeking the lowest subsidy. Despite shortcomings, this pioneering programme brought a number of social benefits, and activities have since expanded from public telephony to include internet access.


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Case Study: Some Lessons From India

India is known as an IT powerhouse but still has the greatest number of poor people of any country in the world. India’s experience with policies for digital inclusion therefore may offer some useful lessons for other developing countries. This case study provides an analysis of the ambitious Common Service Centres (CSCs) scheme of the National e-Governance Plan. It looks at the challenges faced by the scheme in ensuring the delivery of development services in a socially inclusive manner using the ICT-based rural infrastructure it is building.

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Policy and Regulatory Module: Web Platforms and Resources


    Balancing Act News Update and Archive Balancing Act Weekly [From their Website] “Balancing Act’s News Update is a weekly e-letter (in English) and a fortnightly e-letter (in French) that goes out to over 9,000 subscribers. It covers telecoms, Internet and computing and is read by decision-makers in: operators, Government, regulatory agencies, equipment vendors and consultants.” Although a commercial enterprise, their newsletter can be accessed on line for free and the information is current, of high quality with numerous policy and regulation related articles. The full archive is also available. They also publish reports for sale.  Live as of October 31st 2008
    ELDIS: Resource Guide in ICT for development Institute of Development Studies Regularly updated. Eldis is a resource to share development, policy, practice and research and is run by the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, UK. This resource guide (Eldis is organised by resource guides and by Dossiers) offers annotated summaries on numerous policy and regulatory related reports, many with a focus on poverty. It is updated regularly, and includes sub-themes on ICT Policy and ICT and Poverty.  Live as of October 31st 2008
    Equitable access to ICT Infrastructure: Papers and commentaries APC 2007 and ongoing This set of resources is part of a series on equitable access to ICT infrastructure commissioned by APC. A series of papers and commentaries cover the following themes: business models, policy and regulation, tools and technologies and people, networks and capabilities. Live as at November 3rd 2008
    Free & Open Source Software Portal UNESCO 203-2005 This is a UNESCO portal, part of their main website. It does not appear to have been updates much since 2005, and a search quickly leads into more general UNESCO concerns in communication. But it has some useful content.  Live as at October 31st 2008
    Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) The Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) promotes the use of Free and Open Source software in Africa by bringing multi-stakeholder partners together for the development of African societies using open source software. < http:>Live as at November 4th 2008
    ICT Policies and Studies Communication Initiative (CI) “Theme” Website with Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) Regularly updated. This is a thematic “window” into CI resources about ICT policies. Its content include strong sections on ICT4D policies. The CI Website also has an ICT4D section, ranging well beyond the policy and regulatory area, but is worth searching for additional material of relevance.  .  Live as at October 31st 2008
    ICT Regulation Toolkit InfoDev and ITU 2007 initially but regularly updated. Although an individual publication, it is very well organised as a Web based resource with Live as at links to a very wide variety of resources. Taken as a whole it is a comprehensive guide for regulators, and includes sections on all aspects of regulation, as well as innumerable Practice Notes and further references. Live as at October 31st 2008
    International Open Source Network International Open Source Network: UNDP Resources on open source relevant to Asai and pacific region, including some policy analysis. < http:>Live as at October 31st 2008
    Regulatory Forum, The International Telecommunications Union Regularly updated. The ITU's Regulatory Forum contains some useful resources for regulators and those interested in the topics, including links to relevant reports (e.g. see links to reports on universal service). The annual Global Symposium on Regulators (GSR) produces guidelines for regulators on different topics, including most recently on infrastructure sharing. Live as at October 31st 2008
    Studies, Toolkits, Handbooks and Knowledge Maps infoDev Various dates Although some are dated, the resources available at the infoDev website include many useful policy and regulation related report, briefings, handbooks and so forth. They cover areas from universal access to open sources and open access.  Live as at October 31st 2008
    World Dialogue on Regulation for Networks Economies RegulateOnline.org: World Dialogue on Regulation for Network Economics Last updated 2007. Describes itself as “concerned with regulation and governance for network economies. We conduct research, facilitate online dialogue and discussion among experts, and publish and distribute papers, reports and other relevant information.” This Website contains a high quality set of resources developed by partners worldwide. Regulate online is a central activity of LIRNE.NET (Learning Initiatives on Reforms for Network Economies), a worldwide independent consortium of ICT research organisations. Live as at October 31st 2008
Individual Reports The following comprise a selection ofreports, some of which can be found on the Web sites above.
General Reports
    World Summit on the Information Society Stocktaking Report. International Telecommunications Union 2008 This fully updated report on the 2005 version is a compendium of activities that fall understand the Action Lines of the WSIS. The introduction is a useful overview of activity in the area, and there are numerous short descriptions given of ICT and e-government strategies, infrastructure policies, policies to promote ICTs spread among the differential Action Lines. Descriptions are short and uncritical, but with some links to other resources.  Live as at October 31st 2008
    Universal Access Community-based Networks and Innovative Technologies: New models to serve and empower the poor Seán Ó Siochrú, Bruce Girard UNDP 2005 The makes the case for community-owned networks, as cooperative enterprises offering voice, data, internet and other media services to their communities, including detailed policy recommendations and a number of commissioned case studies. At the website there are also feasibilities studies in four east African countries: Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.Live as at November 3rd 2008
    Diversifying Participation in Network Development: Case Studies & Research from WDR Research Cycle 3. Amy Mahan, Bill Melody (eds) RegulateOnline.org: World Dialogue on Regulation for Network Economics 2007 A useful set of case studies and analyses covering Village Phone (Chapter 6); Smart subsidies in Nepal (Chapter 7); Micro telecos in Latin America and Caribbean (Chapter 8).  Live as at October 31st 2008
    ICT Infrastructure in Emerging Asia Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks Rohan Samarajiva, Ayesha Zainudeen (eds) LIRNEasia. SAGE 2008 Section 3: Regulation: To Stifle or Enable focuses, in four chapters, on many aspects of regulation in Asia including an analysis of the roll-out of fibre backbone by BSNL and the role of the regulator; a critical review of India's universal access policy and of access deficit charges; and an examination of the least subsidy auctions in Nepal, comparing it with Latin America. A final section includes three responses from high level practitioners with divergent viewpoints.  Live as at October 31st 2008
    Information Society for the South: Vision or Hallucination ITeM 2005 This collection of essays includes two that bring a 'public goods' perspective to the issue of universal access to ICTs, (Accuosto and Johnson; and Fernando Prada) and a third that argues the case for a global universal access fund (Carron).  Live as at November 3rd 2008
    New Models for Universal Access in Latin America Paul A. Stern, David Townsend Regulatel/World Bank/ECLAC August 2006 The objectives of this report are: “(i) review and assess current and planned universal access programmes in the 19 countries; (ii) estimate the market efficiency and universal access gaps, and the public sector investment/subsidy needed in order to reduce the universal access gap; (iii) identify new models for universal access programs and provide concrete policy recommendations; (iv) assist policy-makers and regulators worldwide to develop a new generation of universal access programs and policies based on the experience of Latin America.” It goes a long way towards achieving these.
    Summary Report:
     Full Report:

    Live as at October 31st 2008

    Universal Access Funds. Update Intelecon December 2007 This consists primarily of two tables summarising description of universal access funds around the world. The first describes the fund status, funding sources, how it is administered, and what the money is spent in a total of 46 developing countries in all global regions. The second table offers a little more detail on ten of these. Live as at October 31st 2008
National ICT Strategies, ICT4d Strategies, e-Strategies
    E-Governance in Africa: from Theory to Action. A Handbook on ICTs for Local Governance. Gianluca Misuraca. Africa World Press/IDRC. 2007 The report includes case studies, analysis and recommendation regarding e-governance at local policy level, including policy related aspects. Case Studies are from Senegal, Uganda, South Africa and Uganda. Live as at October 31st 2008
e-Governance &e-Government
    APDIP Final 2007 Quite a good set of reports on e-governance in the Asia Pacific region, including case studies, an primer and analyses. .  Live as at October 31st 2008
    ICT Policy Formulation and e-Strategy Development: A Comprehensive Guidebook, UNDP Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme (APDIP) 2005 As the title says, this is a comprehensive guidebook on how to develop an ICT policy and e-strategy. It is “people-centred” and covers sectoral strategies, including e-government, e-business and e-commerce, e-health, ICTs applied to learning at all levels, ICTs for scientific research and development, and ICTs for local and community development.Live as at October 31st 2008
Broadband backbone and regional cooperation
    Broadband for Africa: Policy for Promoting the Development of Backbone Networks, Mark Williams. InfoDev and World Bank 2008 A report outlining in some detail the current situation for broadband service and Infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa, makes the case for their introduction, and offers policy and regulatory suggestions to achieve it. Live as at October 31st 2008
    Multisector Utility Regulation R. Samarajiva, A. Mahan, & A. Barendse, WDR Discussion Paper 0203 2003 A useful early paper on conduit sharing and multisector regulation Live as at October 31st 2008
    Stimulating Investment in Network Development: Roles for Regulators; Case studies and research from World Dialogue on Regulation Research Cycle 2; A.K. Mahan, W.H. Melody (Editors). RegulateOnline.org: World Dialogue on Regulation for Network Economics 2005. Focusing on the issue3 of network investment, this volume contains seven national case studies, analyses of a variety of issues form radio to interconnection and regulator websites; and an afterword on pro-poor pro-market ICT policy and regulation. Live as at October 31st 2008
    Open Access Models Options for Improving Backbone Access in Developing Countries (with a Focus on Sub-Saharan Africa) Spintrack infoDev. 2005 Although developments have overtaken its specific focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, this influential report is still a good introduction to policy in open access models in backbone access. Live as at October 31st 2008
    Telecommunications Challenges in Developing Countries: Asymmetrical Interconnection Charges for Rural Areas Andrew Dymand World Bank Working Paper No. 27 2004 . Makes a case for the use of asymmetrical interconnection cha5rges for rural telecom operators, and outlines steps towards implementing them in practice..
    Towards an African e-Index: ICT access and usage across 16 African countries Alison Gillwald and Christoph Stork LINK Centre, Witwatersrand University 2006 This summarises the extensive and ongoing analytic and survey work of the ResearchICTAfrica team into trends, policy and regional development in ICTs in Africa. Live as at October 31st 2008
BroadcastMedia  
    Broadcasting, Voice and Accountability: A Public Interest Approach to Policy, Law and Regulation. Buckley, Steve, Kreszentia Duer, Toby Mendel and Seán Ó Siochrú 2008 World Bank Institute and University of Michigan Press. The handbook gives innumerable examples of policy law and regulation in the public interest, and contains a lengthy (nearly 120 pages) set of annotated links to resources at the back. The first section also includes a review of policy and regulatory trends in broadcasting. Live as at October 31st 2008
    Fighting Poverty: Utilising Community Radio in a Digital Age AMARC 2008 A mixed set of resources on community media and poverty, mixed in both form (there are video and audio clips included) and content (a mixture of short pieces, resource documents etc.). A number of items are relevant to policy on community radio. Live as at November 4th 2008

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Advocacy Strategies and approaches: Overview

Advocacy Strategies and Approaches: Overview Paper
Steve Buckley

1.  Introduction
2.  Techniques for effective advocacy
3.  Advocacy planning and implementation
4.  Case studies


1.  Introduction

Advocacy is the active support of an idea or cause expressed through strategies and methods that influence the opinions and decisions of people and organisations.
In the social and economic development context the aims of advocacy are to create or change policies, laws, regulations, distribution of resources or other decisions that affect people’s lives and to ensure that such decisions lead to implementation.[1]Such advocacy is generally directed at policy makers including politicians, government officials and public servants, but also private sector leaders whose decisions impact upon peoples lives, as well as those whose opinions and actions influence policy makers, such as journalists and the media, development agencies and large NGOs.
By “pro-poor advocacy” we mean advocacy for political decisions and actions that respond to the interests of people who directly face poverty and disadvantage. For those pursuing the goal of equitable and pro-poor ICT access, advocacy as a means to bring about change can be appropriate in a range of circumstances, including:

(a) Where ICT policies could have the effect of reinforcing poverty and discrimination. For example, “e-government” projects that use the internet to improve access to public services may, for those without internet access, have the reverse effect, unless they are complemented by other measures to enable universal access to the internet.
(b) When appropriate ICT policy change could be expected to improve poor people’s lives and livelihoods. For example, the adoption of broadcasting policies that enable community-based organisations to establish their own radio or television services.
(c) As part of a wider programme of support for pro-poor ICT access. For example, the impact and effectiveness of investment in public ICT access centres may be improved by advocacy efforts to adopt and mainstream good practice such as community participation in management or use of free and open source software.

There is much that has been written on advocacy and how to gain influence. Some of the basic tenets of the art of persuasion, found in political science and communication studies, appear also in early Greek and Chinese philosophy.[2] It is widely recognised, for example, that change comes rarely from force of logical argument alone or from the presentation of irrefutable evidence in support of the changes required. The latter is most starkly demonstrated by the slow response to climate change warnings. Much depends on the character, approach and credibility of those seeking change and the receptiveness of those they are seeking to persuade. Advocacy is inherently political and an understanding of political dynamics is at the heart of effective advocacy.

Even the most clear-minded advocacy for pro-poor ICT policies can meet resistance for various reasons, including lack of political will, bureaucratic inertia, and counter arguments from well-resourced interest groups pursuing their own advocacy efforts. Effective advocacy therefore requires research to map out the policy terrain, the principal actors, the political relations and the interests at stake. In the ICT policy field this terrain typically will include government departments, communications regulators, telecommunications service providers, media organisations, sector associations and growing numbers of civil society interest groups. Careful planning and a strategic approach are therefore needed if results are to be achieved.

Policy change rarely happens overnight and is often linked to broader change in the political environment. Effective advocacy requires long-term as well as short-term thinking, an understanding of the points of resistance and the means to gain traction, the readiness to form alliances, and the flexibility to seize windows of opportunity.

This overview describes some of the more commonly used advocacy techniques, from critical engagement such as policy monitoring and policy dialogue, through organised campaigns for policy change, to pathfinder and demonstrator projects that can inform and influence future policy making. It highlights the importance for people facing disadvantage to be able to assert their own needs and interests. It explains step by step how to devise an effective advocacy strategy for ICT policy reform. It is accompanied by case examples and signposting to further tools and resources.

2.    Techniques for effective advocacy

Policy monitoring and public accountability
Almost all effective policy-related advocacy efforts commence with observation and monitoring of the implementation and effectiveness of policies already in place. These might include, for example, commitments to ICT infrastructure roll-out, universal access policies, support for community-based ICT access centres, public interest broadcasting policies, or regulatory mechanisms to ensure fair pricing of services.
High profile ICT policy monitoring by civil society advocacy groups can, on its own, contribute to improved policy implementation and effectiveness by highlighting public policy targets and drawing public attention to under performance or to policy failure. Governments and public bodies, especially in democratic societies, are sensitive to critical reports, and more so when these are based on robust evidence and analysis, come from a credible source, and are widely published and disseminated.
Policy monitoring by civil society groups may be in the form of one-off investigation into a particular area of interest; it may consist of a baseline study, perhaps at the commencement of a new policy, and a follow-up study later to establish what results were achieved; or it may be a periodic monitoring report, such as an annual review.
Policy monitoring and public accountability are made easier where government departments and other public bodies, including regulatory organisations, maintain and publish data and reports in a timely fashion and undertake research and consultation to facilitate decision making in the public interest. Where this is not the case, where the information is poor or unreliable, or where independent data is needed, civil society organisations and coalitions may organise their own research and data gathering, or they may rely on third party sources such as commercial and academic research.
Right to information laws can help and, in countries where such laws are weak or absent, their adoption or improvement has itself been a key demand of civil society organisations, not only those working in the communication policy field. In some cases investigative journalism may be needed to root out and expose policy failings.
Impact may often be enhanced by involving citizens and civil society organisations in the process of policy monitoring and review and by gathering demand-side data using techniques such as citizen surveys, social audits and participatory policy review. Such social accountability mechanisms[3] have gained increasing recognition as effective means of strengthening civic engagement in policy making and policy monitoring.

Policy dialogue – ICT and mainstream development policy

Policy monitoring alone may prompt corrections to policy failure or lead to improved policy implementation, but most civil society groups concerned with ICT policy also carry their own ideas about what policies are desirable. They are interested in gaining influence earlier in the policy-making process. At its most straightforward this involves engagement in policy dialogue with bureaucrats and politicians.
The Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET),[4] for example, has a core programme activity on “gender and ICT policy advocacy” with a focus on equitable access to ICTs and engendering ICT policy making. Their priorities include not only a focus on existing ICT policies such as the Rural Communications Development Fund (a levy applied to telecom providers to support areas that are underserved by markets) but also engaging in policy development processes such as the review of the National ICT Policy. WOUGNET participates actively in government-organised stakeholder consultations on ICT policy, it contributes its own studies and reports, and it responds to draft policy proposals.
Civil society organisations like WOUGNET, whose field of interest is in the development of the use of ICTs, tend to focus their policy dialogue efforts on areas of policy making that are explicitly and primarily concerned with ICT policy: universal access arrangements, national e-strategies, etc. This may seem an obvious strategy but, on its own, it can also have the drawback of limiting policy dialogue to a relatively narrow range of actors – especially those who already share a similar outlook or others perhaps more interested in ICT growth than in pro-poor development.
Strategic engagement in policy dialogue on pro-poor ICT access can also be gained by taking, as a primary focus, areas of mainstream development policy – education, health, rural livelihoods, and so on – and contributing to more strategically framed development policy making such as the preparation of National Development Strategies.[5] This perspective can assist in gaining traction for a pro-poor ICT access agenda across a broader political and policy-making spectrum. It can also assist better understanding of the real world policy choices that politicians and their constituents face – cleaner water or faster connectivity, more clinics or more ICT access centres – and better articulation of the role of ICTs in poverty reduction.
For effective pro-poor ICT policy dialogue, engagement on both fronts may be the most productive strategy: ensuring that ICT policy making is informed by a pro-poor perspective and strengthening that position by building support across government, especially those most engaged with poverty reduction and pro-poor development.

Campaigns for policy change

In India, in 1996, the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI)[6] was founded by social activists, journalists, lawyers, professionals, retired civil servants and academics. Its goal was to campaign for a national law facilitating the right to information. Its first step was to produce, with the Press Council of India, a draft right to information law. After years of public debate and the passage in several Indian states of right to information laws, the government of India passed the Freedom of Information Act 2002. The Act was weakly drafted, subject to widespread criticism and never brought into force.[7] Continued campaigning and a change of government led eventually to adoption of the Right to Information Act 2005.
Civil society campaigns for policy change rarely achieve rapid results. They require patience, tenacity, courage and conviction. There is no blueprint for success, but there are some common denominators to almost all successful advocacy campaigns.[8] It is essential, for instance, to maintain clarity in communications: goals should be clear and achievable; messages should be compelling for those to whom they are intended; calls to action should be specific and concise. Good planning and organisation must combine with the ability to mobilise broad coalitions of public and political support towards a common goal.
Policy campaigning is goal-oriented advocacy in which civil society groups and coalitions aim to set the policy agenda rather than simply to monitor or respond to government policy making. It involves taking action and initiative. It can be exciting and empowering for those involved, but it can also be hard work, frustrating, and ultimately unsuccessful. Before adopting a campaigning orientation it is worth asking whether the goals could be better achieved by dialogue or quiet negotiation.
Campaigns for policy change draw on a wide range of tools and tactics, including public demonstrations, protests, letter writing, lobbying, use of media and the internet, and legal action. Campaigning is often confrontational in nature. After all, a campaign would not be needed if the government or private company was receptive to the policies being advocated. Conversely, it is often the dynamic of conflict that gives a campaign momentum, spurring media attention and recruiting public support.
Campaigns are often built in response to particular opportunities or threats arising in the context of the process of policy change. For example, the transition from analogue to digital distribution systems for television is moving ahead rapidly worldwide, with only limited time for civil society organisations to gain guarantees of access to the new channels. In Uruguay, a law first drafted in 2005 by a coalition including community broadcasting activists, journalists and labour unions was adopted in 2007, guaranteeing an equitable distribution of frequencies between private, public and civil society organisations. The law has ensured that civil society groups have a legal entitlement to use part of the digital television spectrum.
In Ecuador, the process of adopting a new constitution that began in 2007 under the presidency of Rafael Correa was seen as an opportunity by civil society groups engaged in media and ICT advocacy to challenge the existing political economy of the communications environment and to propose a new communication rights framework. The new constitution adopted in 2008 included the explicit entitlement of all persons to universal access to information and communication technologies, together with a right to the creation of social media, including equal access to radio frequencies.[9]
Some civil society advocacy organisations may have several campaigns running at the same time, each with distinct goals requiring different alliances and strategies. In other cases a single-issue organisation, or a coalition of like minded groups, may form to campaign towards a single policy goal, as in the example of India’s campaign for a right to information law. International campaigning organisations, such as Amnesty International and Greenpeace, have tested their campaigning methods over many years. Some of the lessons learned are also relevant to ICT policy advocacy.[10]

Building the advocacy capacity of stakeholder groups

As noted in the introduction to this toolkit, poor people face systemic barriers in their access to information and in their means to exercise their right to freedom of expression. The lack of “voice” of disadvantaged groups is a challenge at the core of pro-poor advocacy on ICT access.[11] It is one of the reasons why advocacy for equitable access to ICTs is important. At the same time, it compromises the ability of disadvantaged people themselves to advocate for their own communication needs.
This is a critical issue that demands the attention of any organisation engaged in pro-poor ICT advocacy. We stated earlier that “pro-poor advocacy” means advocacy for political decisions and actions that respond to the interests of people who directly face poverty and disadvantage. They are the primary stakeholders. Their lack of voice can be overcome in two distinct ways. As Drèze and Sen describe it: “One is assertion (or, more precisely, self-assertion) of the underprivileged through political organisation. The other is solidarity with the underprivileged on the part of other members of the society, whose interests and commitments are broadly linked, and who are often better placed to advance the cause of the disadvantaged by virtue of their own privileges (e.g., formal education, access to the media, economic resources, political connections).”[12]
There are a great number of “pro-poor advocacy” organisations that are not, by any means, populated by people with first-hand experience of poverty. Rather they are run by well-educated middle-class professionals for whom pro-poor advocacy is a vocation. This is as much a reality in the ICT policy field as in other development sectors. That such people have chosen to work for and in solidarity with those who face the daily struggle of poverty and deprivation is, of course, to be welcomed – social solidarity is very often an important component of advocacy and political action – but, on its own, it is also “a somewhat undependable basis of authentic representation of the interests of the underprivileged.”[13] Solidarity has multiple motivations, is not always accompanied by shared perspectives, and may be more effective at attracting support when it conforms with dominant ideologies.
Thus building the advocacy capacity of self-help groups of the disadvantaged and of community-based and working-class organisations is at least as important as doing advocacy for the poor. Effective pro-poor advocacy on access to ICTs must include strategies likely to lead to an increase in the voice and influence of the underprivileged sections of society in ICT and other policy making. This may include, for example, strengthening the communications capacity of disadvantaged people’s organisations and support for development of grassroots communication initiatives like community radio. Such strategies can be effective in enabling people who are disadvantaged and marginalised to speak out directly on the issues that affect their lives and livelihoods.
The Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC),[14] for example, is a national network that combines a programme of advocacy in ICT policy areas such as right to information, community broadcasting and e-governance, with practical support for rural knowledge centres and community radio stations.
Deccan Development Society (DDS)[15] is a grassroots organisation working with women's sanghams (self-help groups) in about 75 villages in the Medak District of Andhra Pradesh, India. The 5,000 women members of the Society are mostly Dalit, the lowest group in the Indian social hierarchy. As part of a broader strategy in pursuit of “autonomous communities”, the women of DDS established the DDS Community Media Trust, including a video production unit and Sangham Radio, the first rural community radio in India and the first women’s radio in South Asia.[16]
The right-to-information movement in India drew, among other inspirations, on empowerment-based approaches to public accountability pioneered by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in Rajasthan, including public hearings where accounts, including public expenditure records, were read aloud at independently organised village meetings and local people were invited to give testimony.[17]

Pathfinder and demonstrator projects

New ideas in policy are not always easy to communicate to those who influence or make decisions, particularly where they involve new or unfamiliar uses of ICTs. It may not be until an idea has been demonstrated in action that it is fully understood.
“Pathfinder” or “demonstrator” projects can therefore be an effective alternative strategy for ICT policy advocacy. If success can be demonstrated in practice, it can have the dual impact of mobilising further demand and interest and of motivating policy makers to take decisions that encourage replication and scaling-up. Such initiatives can be resource intensive. They may require certain policy decisions before they can proceed, but policy makers may also be more receptive to allowing a limited experiment to test and demonstrate an idea than to agreeing a major policy change.
RITS (Rede de Informacão para o Terceiro Setor)[18] was founded in Brazil in 1997 to strengthen civil society organisations’ communications capacity. The organisation has built an impressive network for monitoring ICT policy and campaigning on equitable access. A demonstrator project organised by RITS in partnership with Sampa.org led to the establishment of 128 community-based telecentres in São Paulo, with an estimated half a million users per month. The model offers free public access and training support, is based on free and open source software, and promotes community involvement in management and development of the centres as a space for community organisation. With support from Petrobras, it has been replicated in 50 locations across Brazil. The Brazilian government is now considering investment in 10,000 new telecentres drawing substantially on the experience of the RITS demonstration.
The Nigeria Community Radio Coalition, launched in 2003, has mobilised broad support for its campaign goal of seeing community radio services established in Nigeria. As part of its strategy for opening the door to community radio development, it has proposed a pilot scheme in at least six locations to be distributed across the country’s geopolitical zones. The proposal for a pilot scheme has been supported by the National Broadcasting Commission and by the National Fadama Development Programme, which has committed funding for preparation and infrastructure.

3.    Advocacy planning and implementation

In this part we look at the practical steps involved in ICT advocacy planning and implementation. The stages outlined draw on principles of strategic planning and project management combined with political analysis and communications.[19] For each of the stages we set out some key considerations to be addressed. At several points we pose questions rather than solutions. There is no single template for pro-poor ICT advocacy. The questions are intended to assist the process of planning and design.

A.    Preliminary steps

(i)Identifying the problems and the policy issues
What is the pro-poor ICT access issue to be addressed? Why is it important and to whom? This may have been highlighted through research, expressed as a demand by grassroots organisations, or it may have a normative basis, for example, it has been identified by comparison with good practice elsewhere. Does this problem have a policy dimension? What current policies reinforce the problem? What changes in policies could lead to improvement? Who is responsible for those policies?

(ii)Defining the advocacy goal
It can be helpful, at the preliminary stage, to define the goal of the proposed advocacy initiative. What positive change can be expected to result if the initiative is successful? Is the initiative intended to improve access to information, to promote dialogue, or to strengthen voice and influence? Or will it contribute to all of these things? Or to broader development goals? Who will be the primary beneficiaries of the initiative?

(iii)Consulting and building relationships
Building relationships is intrinsic to any successful advocacy effort and should also commence at an early stage. Before engaging in detailed policy analysis and planning it can be important to consult with other organisations, especially those which share similar goals and interests. Has any similar initiative been tried before? If so, what were the results? Is anything similar being considered or planned? Are there opportunities to build a partnership-based approach from the outset?

(iv)Establishing credibility as an advocate
The credibility of the organisation, partnership or coalition that is advocating change is likely to be a key factor in its success. Does it have a mandate to speak on behalf of those who are expected to benefit? Does it have specialist expertise? Does it have influence with decision makers? What could be done to strengthen the credibility of the initiative – for example, further research and consultation, better alliances?

B.    Analysing the policy environment

(i)Identifying relevant policies, laws and regulations
Having decided, in principle, to consider advocacy as a strategy to achieve pro-poor ICT access and having undertaken some preliminary work to define the advocacy goals, the next stage involves closer analysis of the policy environment, starting with an audit of the relevant policies and political institutions. What policies are already in place (for example, national e-strategies, e-government, media development, digital divide initiatives)? How are these reflected, or not, in current laws and regulations? It is important also to be aware of relevant international treaty obligations, laws and standards.

(ii)Mapping relations of power and decision making
Where are policy decisions taken and who has influence over them? For example, is the focus on government policy and, if so, which ministries and departments are responsible? What other ministries have an interest in the impact of the current or proposed policies, for example, rural development, education? Are there other public bodies with relevant influence or responsibility, such as a communications regulator or a national media council? What about the legislature or parliament – are there interest groups in the policy area? Can support be usefully mobilised across different political parties? Who else has influence over the key political decision makers?

(iii)Considering the options for policy change
Would a change in policy alone be sufficient to achieve the advocacy goal? Or might the proposed policy change also require legal and/or regulatory change? What about the economic impact – are there taxation or public spending implications that should be taken into account? Are there alternative approaches to be considered? Could the goals be achieved incrementally or do they require a fundamental change in policy? What policy options are most likely to attract support, or generate opposition?

C.    Developing the strategy

(i)Focusing on the goal and objectives
In developing the strategy, and in the light of more systematic analysis of the policy environment, it is advisable to return to the advocacy goal and to set specific and realistic objectives that can be achieved within a reasonable, defined timeframe. It should be possible at the end of such a period to say whether or not they were achieved. If the goal is ambitious it may be necessary to set more limited and incremental objectives – for example, raised awareness, commitments of support, pilot projects – that can contribute to achieving the goal over a longer timeframe.

(ii)Identifying the target audiences
It is useful to distinguish between primary and secondary audiences. The primary target audiences are the institutions, and the individuals within them, who have authority to make the policy decisions that are sought. These are generally determined by the policy goal and objectives. The secondary audiences are those who are best placed to influence the decision makers. These may include politicians, public servants, the media, development agencies, influential NGOs and so on.

(iii)Identifying allies and opponents
It is important to identify both the potential allies and the likely opponents. What other organisations share similar goals and concerns? Would they support the initiative, be open to partnership or to joining a broader coalition? Are there already coalitions in place? What risks might there be in alliance or coalition building? What groups or organisations might feel threatened by the proposals? Could this coalesce into organised opposition? What can be done to reduce the risk of opposition?

(iv)Selecting the advocacy approach
What advocacy strategies are most likely to influence the target audiences? Will it be effective to work through dialogue and negotiation with policy makers? What is the likely impact of public pressure – can it be expected to lead to a positive response or to resistance? What sort of treatment can be expected from the media: supportive, hostile, or indifferent? Are there incremental strategies that might be more likely to achieve results? Through what mechanisms might competing interests be brokered?

(v)Identifying the key messages
In relation to the goal and objectives, what messages are likely to be persuasive with the primary audience? What about the secondary audience – are different messages needed for different audiences? If the approach taken is public or based on a broad coalition, what key messages are likely to mobilise the broadest support, gain traction in the media, or have a viral effect, with the audience itself acting as a multiplier?

D.    Framing the plan

(i)Preparing a plan of action
Effective advocacy requires good organisational planning. Having defined the goal, objectives and strategic approach, it is important to be systematic in mapping out the actions to be taken to achieve results, including timelines and milestones. This is best brought together in a logical framework including measurable progress indicators.

(ii)Budgeting and identifying resources
Cost considerations are likely to influence the approach to be taken. Policy monitoring and dialogue, for example, may be achieved with just limited staff or volunteer time and the means to publicise the results. A media-oriented advocacy campaign might require substantial publicity costs from the outset: preparing news releases and placing stories, commissioning photographs or a video, designing posters and other campaign materials. A capacity-building project or a demonstrator project might require significant investment in equipment and training. Organisations working in ICT policy advocacy will frequently have the skills and know-how to harness new ICTs in their advocacy work – for example, using email, text messaging and Web 2.0 technologies to assist with data gathering, coalition building and mobilisation. Funds and other resources will need to be sufficient to sustain the project for its duration.

(iii)Risk assessment
What are the main risks to successful project implementation? Risk analysis involves assessing the impact of each particular risk and the likelihood of it happening. It is useful to rate both impact and likelihood (e.g., low, medium, high). How can the high and medium risks be managed to reduce their impact and/or likelihood? Particular attention needs to be paid to any risk of harm to individuals. In many countries, media workers, internet activists and freedom of expression defenders have faced threats, harassment and violence in the course of their work. Might the planned advocacy provoke state repression? Are there non-state actors that pose physical dangers?

E.    Implementation

(i)Getting the message across
Good communications is at the core of effective advocacy. This requires attention to the message, the audience and the means of delivery. The message needs to be clear: it should explain what is being proposed, why it is needed, and what difference it would make. It also needs to be compelling: it should be crafted to the interests and knowledge of the audience. The means of delivery must ensure it is received and heard – whether, for example, a written proposal, face-to-face presentation or public demonstration. It is rare that a single advocacy message will be received and acted upon. The message needs to reinforced, by repetition and through the influence of secondary audiences.

(ii)Using the media
The media – radio, television, press and online media – have a particular role to play in public advocacy initiatives, especially campaign-based approaches. Not all advocacy work uses the media, and a media-based approach carries risks as well as opportunities. The media can bring a mass audience, potentially increasing profile and credibility, but they can also bring bad publicity and may contribute to mobilising opposition as well as support. Using the media requires planning and skills, including building contacts, knowing the media audience, writing press releases, placing stories, being interviewed, providing visual imagery and organising newsworthy events.

(iii)Building partnerships and coalitions
Most advocacy initiatives involve some degree of mobilising public support behind the proposal. What partnerships and alliances are most likely to assist in mobilising broad-based support? What processes can best achieve trust, collective ownership, and effective collaboration? Should the initiative operate as an open coalition and, if so, what mechanisms are needed to enable participation and to assure accountability? Is support needed to build the advocacy capacity of partner organisations? Media and the internet can also be used to recruit and mobilise broad-based public support.

(iv)Employing tactics and negotiation
Advocacy is rarely a one-way communications process. Some advocacy work is more reactive than proactive towards policy makers, or is explicitly dialogical. In any case, policy and decision makers may well respond to advocacy proposals with their own questions or alternative proposals. Other interested parties may launch strategies to counter the proposals being made. It may become necessary to modify the proposals to achieve results. What alternatives might be considered? What counter proposals can be expected? What is non-negotiable and what could be up for discussion?

(v)Monitoring and evaluation
Throughout the implementation phase it is important to monitor the process, the results and the policy context. Mechanisms are needed to track activities such as meetings and communications and to monitor results such as media coverage and expressions of public support. Data needs to be maintained on the target audiences: contact details, positions they have taken, offers of assistance and so on. The process and results should be evaluated not only at the end of the planned timeframe but on a regular basis so that adjustments, if needed, can be made to the strategy and plan of action. Advocacy invariably takes place in a dynamic environment, especially when the focus is on ICTs. The policy terrain can change for social, political or economic reasons that are independent of the advocacy initiative underway. The ability to react quickly and flexibly, to spot windows of opportunity, and to anticipate new challenges requires close monitoring of the policy context and of broader trends.


4. Case studies

Three case studies have been provided for this module as well as a list of additional resource material. The advocacy case studies are outlined below:

Project Project Description Highlights
São Paulo Telecentres Project A successful example of how practical ICT demonstration at a local level can support national advocacy for policy change This partnership-based project mobilised policy, investment and technical support leading to the establishment of 128 community-based telecentres. It eventually influenced national-level digital-inclusion policies.
Advocacy for community radio in Nigeria A five-year advocacy project seeking policy change to enable the establishment of community radio services

This case study illustrates their approach and the challenges when campaigning for ICT policy change. It also highlights the lessons learned: for instance, how commitments to change policy mean little without political will.

Rural Knowledge Centre Movement The story behind the “Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre” vision that has the goal of extending the benefits of rural ICT access to 600,000 villages in India This case study documents how a project has evolved into a mass movement in India and influenced similar initiatives in Asia and Africa, and has mobilised high-level support from public, private and civil society organisations.

There are also case studies in other modules of this toolkit which are particularly relevant to advocacy:
Project Project Description Highlights
The Huaral Valley Agrarian Information System, Peru This project is providing phone and internet access for poor farming communities and access to an agrarian information system

This case study illustrates the importance of leadership and vision to ensure that lobbying and advocacy are undertaken both within communities but also with the government. The community, through its irrigation board, was able to lobby for changes in the existing restrictive ICT policy and regulatory frameworks.  

Nepal Wireless Networking Project Low-cost and easy-to-maintain wireless networks used in harsh and remote locations in Nepal to provide phone and internet access to dispersed and marginalised communities

The advocacy efforts of the local champion, Mahabir Pun, resulted in the government changing its restrictive telecoms policies that previously prohibited the use of wireless networks, while also dropping the costs of licences to under USD 2.



References

Amnesty International Amnesty International Campaigning Manual London: Amnesty International, 1997 www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT10/002/1997
Betancourt, Valeria Access to ICTs as a right: The case of the constituent process in Ecuador Montevideo: APC, forthcoming
Drèze, Jean and Amartya Sen India: Development and Participation New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002
IFEX (International Freedom of Expression eXchange) Campaigning for Free Expression: A Handbook for Advocates Toronto: IFEX, 2005 www.ifex.org/download/en/IFEXCampaignHandbook.pdf
Jenkins, Rob and Anne Marie Goetz “Accounts and accountability: Theoretical implications of the right-to-information movement in India” Third World Quarterly 20, 3 (1999): 603-22
Malena, Carmen, Reiner Forster and Janmejay Singh Social Accountability: An Introduction to the Concept and Emerging Practice Washington: World Bank, 2004
Mendel, Toby Freedom of Information: A Comparative Legal Survey 2nd ed. Paris: UNESCO, 2008
Narayan, Deepa Voices of the Poor: Volume 1: Can Anyone Hear Us? Washington: World Bank, 2000
Pavarala, Vinod and Kanchan K. Malik Other Voices: The Struggle for Community Radio in India  New Delhi: Sage, 2007
Rose, Chris How to win campaigns: 100 steps to success London: Earthscan, 2001
Sprechman, Sofia and Emily Pelton Advocacy Tools and Guidelines: Promoting Policy Change Atlanta: CARE, 2001
Wolf, Kirsten Now Hear This: The Nine Laws of Successful Advocacy Communications Washington: Fenton Communications, 2001

_________
Footnotes:

[1] Sofia Sprechman and Emily Pelton Advocacy Tools and Guidelines: Promoting Policy Change (Atlanta: CARE, 2001)
[2] Notably in the writings of Aristotle and Confucius.
[3] Carmen Malena, Reiner Forster and Janmejay Singh Social Accountability: An Introduction to the Concept and Emerging Practice (Washington: World Bank, 2004)
[4] www.wougnet.org
[5] The 2005 World Summit on Aid Effectiveness included a commitment by developing countries to prepare National Development Strategies incorporating the Millennium Development Goals.
[6] www.righttoinformation.info
[7] Toby Mendel Freedom of Information: A Comparative Legal Survey 2nd ed. (Paris: UNESCO, 2008)
[8] See, for example, Chris Rose How to win campaigns: 100 steps to success (London: Earthscan, 2005) and Kirsten Wolf Now Hear This: The Nine Laws of Successful Advocacy Communications (Washington: Fenton Communications, 2001)
[9] Valeria Betancourt Access to ICTs as a right: The case of the constituent process in Ecuador (Montevideo: APC, forthcoming)
[10] See, for example, Amnesty International Amnesty International Campaigning Manual (London: Amnesty International, 1997)
[11] See, for example, Deepa Narayan Voices of the Poor: Volume 1: Can Anyone Hear Us? (Washington: World Bank, 2000)
[12] Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen India: Development and Participation (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002), 29
[13] Ibid. 30
[14] www.bnnrc.net
[15] www.ddsindia.com
[16] For a case study on Sangham Radio see also Vinod Pavarala and Kanchan K. Malik Other Voices: The Struggle for Community Radio in India (New Delhi: Sage, 2007)
[17] Rob Jenkins and Anne Marie Goetz “Accounts and accountability: Theoretical implications of the right-to-information movement in India” Third World Quarterly 20, 3 (1999): 603-22
[18] www.rits.org.br
[19] Among others, this section draws from the advocacy research and experience of Amnesty International (1997), Sprechman and Pelton (2001), Wolf (2001), Rose (2005) and IFEX (2005).


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Case Study: Community Radio Development in Nigeria

This case study reports on five years of advocacy for policy change in Nigeria to enable the establishment of community radio services. It has been included in the toolkit as an illustration of the challenges of campaigning for ICT policy change. At the time of writing there is still no community radio in Nigeria. A well-organised campaign, launched in 2003, has built a substantial civil society coalition and gained commitments of support from government, politicians, the broadcast regulator, civil society organisations and international development agencies. Yet the goal of the campaign remains elusive and the advocacy effort has required continuing renewal.

The case study highlights some lessons learned: the pace of change can be uneven and unpredictable; key decision makers in government may be replaced, requiring new relations to be established; commitments to change may not translate into action, particularly when they are not backed by political will; advocacy campaigns require sustained access to resources if they are to maintain consistent and effective pressure.

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Case Study: Grameen Gyan Abhiyan Rural Knowledge Centre Movement

Grameen Gyan Abhiyan (Rural Knowledge Network) is a multi-stakeholder alliance advocating the use of ICTs to empower rural communities through the establishment of rural knowledge centres. This case study illustrates planning, implementation and development of a mass movement-oriented advocacy campaign to bring ICT access to rural India. Building on an initiative of the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in South India in 1998 that tested the concept of Village Knowledge Centres, the project evolved into the campaign “Mission 2007: Every Village a Knowledge Centre” with the goal of extending the benefits of ICT access to 600,000 villages in India. The case study describes the evolution of the campaign from small beginnings into a mass movement that has influenced similar initiatives in Asia and Africa and has mobilised high-level support from public, private and civil society organisations.

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Case Study: São Paulo Telecentres Project

casestudy_GCA This case study is about the involvement of RITS (Rede de Informacão para o Terceiro Setor) – a Brazilian civil society organisation involved in ICT policy monitoring and advocacy – in setting up community access centres (telecentres) in São Paulo which inspired various policies to roll out telecentres in Brazil. The São Paulo Telecentres Project was selected for inclusion in this toolkit as a successful example of how practical ICT demonstration at a local level can support national advocacy for policy change. This partnership-based project mobilised policy, investment and technical support leading to the establishment of 128 community-based telecentres. The São Paulo model was based on free public access to facilities and training, community participation in management, free and open source software, and development of the community telecentre as a venue for social organisation. RITS provided support for the São Paulo telecentres right from the conceptual stage. RITS was instrumental in pioneering new and innovative approaches and ensuring results were widely disseminated. The project has influenced national policies on digital inclusion and free and open source software and has inspired proposals to roll out community telecentres across Brazil.

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Resources

Advocacy Strategies and Aproaches Module

    New Tactics in Human Rights: A Resource for Practitioners Written and edited by Tricia Cornell, Kate Kelsch and Nicole Palasz and published in 2004 by the New Tactics in Human Rights Project, this workbook promotes tactical innovation and strategic thinking within the international human rights community, including new and innovative approaches to advocacy in challenging environments. The project is coordinated by the Center for Victims of Torture.
    Amnesty International Campaigning Manual Published by Amnesty International in 1997, this manual remains a classic reference book aiming to pass on the experience of 35 years of Amnesty International campaigning for the protection and promotion of human rights. Although the manual is primarily written for Amnesty International campaigners, it is useful for all involved in human rights advocacy and for people in other campaigning organizations.
    Now Hear This: The Nine Laws of Successful Advocacy Communications Written by Kristen Wolf and published by Fenton Communications (2001), this pamphlet provides "a strategic marketing and communications perspective " on advocacy with mainly US-based campaign examples.
    Global Information Society Watch The Global Information Society Watch monitors the implementation and follow-up of key international agreements about ICT policies and their relationship to development, including WSIS and other information and communication policy processes at international, regional and national level.
    Women of Uganda Network SAVE: Gender and ICT Policy Advocacy Campaigning for Free Expression: A Handbook for Advocates SAVE International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) members handbook published in 2005, with a focus on freedom of expression and advice on how to develop and execute a campaign strategy including campaign tactics, case studies and links to more resources and tools
    The Community Tool Box Developed by the Work Group for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas, The Community Tool Box describes itself as the world's largest resource for free information on essential skills for building healthy communities. It contains a series of six chapters (Part I) on Organizing for Effective Advocacy 
    Advocacy Tools and Guidelines: Promoting Policy Change This is a manual on advocacy authored by S. Sprechmann and E. Pelton and published by CARE International, 2001. It is designed to familiarise development practitioners and programme managers with key advocacy concepts and techniques. It looks at the most appropriate strategies to influence policy decision-makers. It recognises the frequent need to incorporate advocacy into projects in order to tackle the root causes of problems faced by communities.

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Community Module: Overview

community_module_overview Implementing Projects at the Community Level: Overview Paper

Tina James, icteum consulting, South Africa

1.1.1  Introduction

1.1.2  Innovative technology options
        Mobile telephony and applications
       Wireless technologies

1.1.3  Business models and options for community ICT projects
        3.1    Community-owned and community-driven models
        3.2    Cooperatives
        3.3    Government-driven models
        3.4    Private sector-driven models and community-based entrepreneurial development

1.1.4  Recommendations for successful project implementation


Case studies



1.1.1  Introduction

In recent years there has been increased interest in the empowerment of the poor through the provision of low-cost and more affordable information and communication technologies (ICTs). This requires pro-poor supportive policies and regulatory frameworks to ensure a conducive environment for the development of appropriate and affordable ICT infrastructure in underserved areas; the upscaling of such initiatives to provide services which are easily accessible and affordable to the poor on a larger scale; the ongoing sustainability of the projects through sufficient funding, ownership and commitment; the allocation of sufficient human resources to maintain them; and the provision of relevant content which is seen as having value to the poor to improve their livelihoods and quality of life. This overview provides a synthesis of the emerging possibilities and issues for implementing innovative technology options in community-level projects, and particularly in poor, marginalised and underserved communities.

Equitable access can seldom be achieved through the initiatives of an individual institution or government ministry, nor can it be seen as the territory of only public utilities or large private telecoms operators – the scale of required effort to reach unattractive markets (generally the poorer and more remote areas) is just too large in most cases, with little financial return for the traditional providers of telecoms services. This calls for a pro-poor policy approach in order to reach the bottom-most sections of developing societies. A detailed analysis on the need for a pro-poor approach can be seen in the Policy and Regulatory Issues module of this toolkit.

What has however emerged to address the needs of underserved communities has been the development of a range of innovative business models involving different owners and players such as municipal and local governments, cooperatives, community-owned and/or community-driven models, and those driven by the private sector, both large companies and small local entrepreneurs. These new models are generally implemented on a smaller scale; make use of low-cost technologies such as wireless networks and the incorporation of open source software; and show strong community commitment through various means, such as the contribution of “sweat equity” to install equipment or the purchase of shares by community members to provide start-up capital.

Implementing ICT access projects in poor and marginalised communities presents many challenges: lack of access to ICT infrastructure; lack of power supplies to operate ICT equipment; lack of knowledge about available and rapidly changing technologies; lack of human resource capacity to develop, install and maintain technologies; lack of access to financing to upscale projects; lack of public awareness of the benefits of ICT access; navigating through local bureaucracies; and unsupportive policy and regulatory environments. In addition, gender inequities are generally evident in accessing ICTs, with specific interventions required to redress this situation. We will therefore include examples of how community projects have addressed such issues and provide lessons that could be adopted elsewhere, through the presentation of three case studies:
This overview addresses implementation from each of the following perspectives:
1.1.2  Innovative technology options

ICTs refer to a wide range of old, new and emerging technologies which include radio, television, voice and data transmission through fixed-line and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) telephony, and more recently the rapid development of new and emerging technologies in mobile telephony and a range of wireless technologies. Recent ICT developments and the possibilities emerging from combining technologies such as the internet and mobile technology have threatened traditional mainstream (“old”) media, resulting in lowered public consumption. This has resulted in them increasingly turning to the use of mobile and web-based applications to reach their audiences, as well as to allow their audiences to contribute content, thereby increasing the level of interactivity available to citizens.  

The choice of technologies can play a major role in determining the extent to which ICTs are appropriated by the poor. Radio is generally still the most accessible of technologies, and the rise in community radio has played a significant role in providing locally relevant information to poor communities.

Since the 1990s much attention has been given to providing telephone and internet access to underserved communities through the provision of public internet access points (PIAPs). Universal service and access funds have been created in many countries through government-driven mechanisms to provide the necessary funding for implementing access mechanisms such as public kiosks and community telecentres,[2] where phone and internet services are provided at an affordable cost. On the whole, telecentres have faced enormous challenges and have had limited success in achieving universal access for a number of reasons: unreliable and expensive access to the internet through fixed-line connectivity and satellite communications, unreliable power supplies, and lack of commitment and ownership, to mention but a few.[3] The advent of wireless technologies has opened up new and affordable ways to provide widespread access to ICTs and more equitable access by the poor.    

Technology-neutral options and solutions (i.e., deliberate policy measures not to favour one or a few particular technological options) such as open standards, open hardware and open source are increasingly promoted to provide better options to encourage community-level innovations. (For a detailed analysis, refer to the Policy and Regulatory Issues module overview.)

Mobile telephony and applications

Mobile communications have seen remarkable growth worldwide, with over two billion subscriptions expected by the end of 2008. The uptake in developing countries has been dramatic, with Africa showing an annual growth of 39% for 2006-2007 and Asia with 28% growth during the same period.[4] About 45% of sub-Saharan African villages were connected by mobile in 2006. Mobile telephony has also emerged as the predominant form of access in the Latin American and Caribbean countries with usage increasing from four million in 1995 to over 300 million ten years later.[5] In many cases, this is the only form of communication available to the poor. This penetration has in many cases been achieved in the absence of universal service and access policies.[6]

The increasing affordability and flexibility of mobiles, and the evidence that pro-poor usage is contributing to the large-scale pervasiveness of uptake, point to a changed economic model for the provision of telecommunications despite low revenue returns per user in these markets. The provision of mobile telecommunications, however, requires costly installations within managed regulatory frameworks, with ownership in the hands of private and/or government-owned companies. This makes community ownership an unviable option, but what has developed are innovative approaches by the poor to reduce the costs of mobile usage through the extensive use of prepaid systems, shared use of mobile phones, use of call-back, the informal “selling” of phone services by those who own mobiles, the extensive use of text messaging, and a range of micro-financing schemes for mobile vendors. Listed below are some examples to illustrate the varied use of mobile to serve the poor:

An extended range of services and applications is being offered to benefit poor communities, in areas such as the provision of market information to farmers through text messaging, mobile banking for the poor, and the use of PDAs (personal digital assistants, or handheld computers) in the provision of improved health services (see the case study on the Mozambique Health Information Network). To illustrate the range of applications, we present a few examples below:


While mobile phone penetration has been very significant, there are still many areas where mobile operators are highly unlikely to provide services, particularly in remote and sparsely populated areas with poor communities who cannot afford to spend much on communications costs. New entrants into the mobile field are also unlikely to find such areas attractive, and the inherently centralised structures of mobile networks (a top-down model with few players) and high installation costs also present further challenges.

The advent of new types of wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi and WiMAX and the building of grassroots, community-driven (bottom-up) wireless networks have, however, created new opportunities for reaching the rural poor.   

Wireless technologies

The most significant group of technologies which has developed since the early 1990s is referred to as Wi-Fi, a wireless networking platform based on an international standard called 802.11 and operating in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz spectrum range, with a limited range of about 150 metres. It was originally developed to function in indoor environments using unlicensed spectrum and allowed local wireless networks to be set up in buildings. In the late 1990s this gave rise to the IEEE[13] 802.11b standard which provided interoperability and allowed different computers and laptops to be linked in a network without the hassle and expense of cables. This was rapidly extended to deployment in outdoor environments, allowing computer equipment to be linked wirelessly between buildings and over short distances.

The fact that Wi-Fi operates on open standards has meant that service providers have choices in terms of which technologies and software they deploy in setting up their networks and that they are not locked into using proprietary software and equipment. For poorer communities, this creates opportunities in establishing low-cost networks with locally available technology that can be purchased off the shelf and at relatively low cost. The flexibility in technology combinations also enables smaller players to play in the telecommunications space, allowing them to offer telephony and internet provision to local communities. In many countries, however, regulatory frameworks have prohibited the provision of such services, and advocacy actions need to be undertaken to ensure that these are changed to accommodate the deployment of Wi-Fi networks. Two of the case studies developed for this project implementation module (on the Huaral Agrarian Information System and the Nepal Wireless Networking Project) both illustrate how lobbying for changes in regulations has resulted in the successful provision of telecoms services in poor communities. In the case of Huaral, the irrigation board, a local community-based organisation serving farming communities, is allowed to offer telecoms services to its members, which was not previously allowed. In the case of the Nepal project, the cost of licence fees was substantially reduced (from USD 2,000 to under USD 2), thus enabling these community-driven networks to be affordable and more likely to be economically sustainable.

In the past five years, a new standard has been developed – IEEE 802.16, more commonly known as WiMAX – which operates over a larger range of frequencies (between 2 and 11 GHz) and has the ability to provide improved broadband offerings over a longer distance of 35 to 40 kilometres. It is, however, not as yet an affordable technology and is still subject to regulatory restrictions in many countries.[14]

Wireless networks have been successfully implemented across a range of projects and are proving to be sustainable and affordable in providing access to communities, particularly because of their reduced maintenance requirements. Online communities of enthusiastic wireless network specialists have also evolved which can provide assistance in terms of know-how.[15] The following examples illustrate the variety of ways in which wireless networks are being implemented in community projects:


1.1.3  Business models and options for community ICT projects

The availability of innovative technology options has also opened the field for the emergence of new types of business models to establish more affordable ICT access for the poor. The barriers to entry have been lowered as a result of the lower start-up investment costs required; the availability of information (and an increasing range of case studies) on bottom-up approaches to establish community networks and ICT access programmes; and technology convergence, which has opened up new and more affordable possibilities. There has also been widespread interest from the international donor community in exploring whether community-owned models are likely to have a place in the implementation of ICT-enabled projects.  

3.1    Community-owned and community-driven models

Community participation in projects can be placed along a continuum of levels of involvement.[20] These do not necessarily apply to implementation in poor communities only, as the models can also be found in projects outside the development context, nor are they only applicable to projects underpinned by the application of emerging ICT technologies.

Modalities for community involvement
  • Community contributions through “sweat equity”, where community members see benefit in offering their time in project implementation. This could be through the setting up of equipment,
  • the building of infrastructure, the provision of security at community centres to safeguard ICT equipment, or the contribution of volunteer training to other community members.
  • Community management through the use of culturally appropriate decision-making processes, which could take the form of consultation with local leader groups, the establishment of management structures such as community forums, or the use of existing or specially convened community structures such as women’s groups or church groups.
  • More formal management structures such as the creation of a hierarchical structure with employed staff (voluntary and/or paid), or the establishment of a board of directors, advisory committees, or elected local officials who are bound contractually to provide strategic direction for the project. The irrigator commissions comprising locally elected farmers in the Huaral case study would fall into this category.
  • Community ownership through various mechanisms such as cooperatives (see the section on cooperatives below), where community members or workers own shares and have voting rights
  • in the project, as in the case of unions.    

Emerging community-driven models

The ease of deployment and relatively low-cost investment for wireless networks for voice and data services have led to numerous pilots and feasibility studies to determine whether these can be applied in poor communities, with community ownership and ongoing maintenance provided through partnerships and support from the community. The Huaral and Nepal case studies are both examples of community-driven models where ownership resides in local community structures (farmer-owned irrigator commissions and schools, respectively).

A series of studies recently commissioned by UNDP explore the feasibility of various types of community-driven models in four East African countries.[21] The studies, undertaken as collaborative projects between governments, communities and local research institutions in Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, present business plans and estimated costs for the installation and maintenance of community-based wireless networks, including energy requirements and costs, a critical factor often neglected in implementation.[22] The studies also point to the need for policy and regulatory frameworks to take cognisance of bottom-up community-driven approaches to the provision of telecoms services in underserved communities.

3.2    Cooperatives

The establishment of cooperatives to meet the cultural, economic and social needs of communities has long been in existence, whether in the building of infrastructure such as electricity and irrigation systems, for mutual benefit in farming communities through the purchase of seed and agricultural equipment, or for achieving political gains such as the cooperatives formed during the apartheid struggle in South Africa.

Telecoms cooperatives have generally developed in rural and remote communities where traditional telecoms operators have no interest in providing services. Cooperatives can play a significant role in providing ICTs to poor and remote communities, although they have been implemented in only a few countries, but with widespread success. The model has been successfully adopted in countries such as the USA, Argentina and Bolivia.23 Although a cooperative model, the situation in Poland is somewhat different in that the Telecommunications Act of 1990 allowed the creation of 44 licences which were in competition with the government-owned operator.[24] In South Africa, specific licences are being awarded for services in underserved areas (USALs).  

All were first established to provide fixed-line services before the advent of mobile and the possibilities opened up by wireless networking. The earliest examples of ICT-based cooperatives can be found in the late 1950s/early 1960s in rural USA and Argentina, where the roll-out of telecommunications infrastructure was largely achieved through the establishment of rural community cooperatives – through financial contributions and shared ownership, and the provision of “sweat equity” to install shared infrastructure for the provision of telecommunication services. Many of these cooperatives still exist today and continue to provide a range of voice and data services to small, rural and underserved communities; the fact that they provide multiple services has been a key element in their sustainability. The successful implementation of the cooperative has also been dependent on the creation of favourable interconnect agreements with incumbent telecoms operators and/or the provision of subsidies, as in the case of the USA. Most of the cooperatives were also initiated before the advent of mobile telephony, which has had a significant effect on their ability to sustain operations.

3.3    Government-driven models

Numerous initiatives to address pro-poor ICT access have been driven through government efforts, the most well known in use being the establishment of universal service or access funds. Models take various forms, whether through the provision of subsidies to needy persons directly, subsidies to telecentre operators to ensure some measure of financial sustainability, or grants and subsidies to telecommunications operators for the provision of ICT infrastructure in areas where market forces do not operate. These public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been put in place largely through procurement processes for the establishment of pro-poor access.[25]

Municipal broadband networks

The establishment of municipal broadband networks has been an interesting recent development, where a non-market model has been adopted to provide a broadband facility for communities in much the same way that roads are provided for the common good.[26] Efforts have sprung up throughout the developed world, and particularly in the USA, with examples of residents building and maintaining their own networks, such as in Bristol, Virginia. Examples from developing countries include Knysna, South Africa and the Nepal Wireless Networking Project (see the case study in this toolkit). The advent of low-cost wireless networks, or combined fibre-wireless networks, has resulted in competitive services to communities which rival those in larger cities.[27] There have also been statements from the government of India that it intends to offer free broadband connectivity at a speed of 2 Mb per second across the country, using its Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to provide the financing.[28] Whether this will include service provision in poorer and more remote areas remains to be seen.
   
Service delivery to communities

Beyond universal service funds, various examples exist where governments have taken the lead in ICT service delivery to communities, with or without external partners. For example, the government of India has undertaken numerous activities to provide services to the poor:
3.4    Private sector-driven models and community-based entrepreneurial development

The private sector is increasingly starting to show an interest in reaching previously unreached communities. The existence of social networks within local communities, coupled with the extended range of low-cost wireless and converged technologies now available, present an opportunity to provide a range of services to the mutual benefit of poor communities and the private sector. Notable examples can be found in banking and a variety of innovative applications emerging in agricultural production. These emerging models illustrate how communities can benefit from the organisational capacities, market reach and capital investments brought in by the private sector, as well as a new range of services on offer in communications and services. This is underpinned by support mechanisms to grow entrepreneurial skills in the community through mentoring, skills support networks and technical skills transfer. The creation of new entrepreneurial opportunities through partnerships between small business and communities also provides models for mutual benefit, where entrepreneurs bring their business skills to the table to support social development activities. Some examples to illustrate the application of the model are presented below:

1.1.4  Recommendations for successful project implementation

  • Universal service funds (where they exist) and the provision of subsidies and/or infrastructure roll-out to support ICT provision to underserved communities.[34]
  • Low- or no-interest loans, as was the case in the US rural cooperative model.
  • The “embedding” of a project through partnerships with other institutions to create alternative sources of income such as access to credit through unions or micro-finance businesses (as in the case of the Grameen Village Phone project).
  • The introduction of mechanisms for cost recovery from the community for service delivery, such as:
  • i.member subscriptions
  • ii.the levying of monthly fees from users
  • iii.pay-as-you-use income from services rendered
  • iv.the provision of “sweat equity” by community members for the installation of networks and ICT equipment
  • v.the use of volunteers to provide support and training
  • vi.in-kind contributions such as the provision of buildings or computers
  • vii.the pooling of community resources to provide start-up capital.
  • Requesting donations from the international public, such as the Nepal Wireless Networking Project has done in setting up a fundraising effort in partnership with a US-based university for one-dollar donations, which provides another interesting model.
Case studies

Three case studies have been provided for this module as well as a list of additional resource material. The community projects case studies are outlined below:

Project Project Description Highlights
The Mozambique Health Information Network (MHIN) Health workers use mobile networks and PDAs to collect, transmit, and manage health data as part of implementing government commitments to provide affordable health services to communities The technology users are health workers who are often older in age and less prone to the adoption of new technologies. With proper training, health workers collected information and data from the field that benefited people. The case study illustrates a number of critical elements required for moving a project from prototype to pilot and eventual sustainable roll-out.
The Huaral Valley Agrarian Information System, Peru The project is providing phone and internet access to poor farming communities and access to an agrarian information system Although originally planned as an ICT installation to manage the network of irrigation canals for local farmers, the project has evolved into the provision of telecoms and internet access for poor farming communities that would otherwise have been excluded from such resources.
Nepal Wireless Networking Project Low-cost and easy-to-maintain wireless networks used in harsh and remote locations in Nepal to provide phone and internet access to dispersed and marginalised communities A combination of strong community support and effective local leadership is delivering much-needed communications, community and entrepreneurial services. This case study serves as an excellent example of how a community-based project can be implemented with few resources but was able to challenge existing policy frameworks to allow for the use of innovative technologies to provide ICT access to poor communities.

There are also case studies in other modules of this toolkit which are relevant to projects being implemented at a community level:

Project Project Description Highlights
Providing Universal Access: FITEL, Peru This programme provides mechanisms for minimising the subsidy required for commercial telecoms companies to extend the network into non-commercial areas Evidence has shown that the installation of public phones has enabled people to save on transportation costs. The project reduced the distance to the nearest public phone from more than twenty kilometres to less than five kilometres for over one million people. Anecdotal evidence has also shown that rural phones have increased the incomes of store owners who provide public phone services.


References

Benkler, Yochai The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006

Escudero-Pascual, Alberto Tools and technologies for equitable access Montevideo: APC, 2008 www.apc.org/en/system/files/APC_EquitableAccess_ToolsAndTechnologies_IssuePaper_20080730.pdf

Galperin, Hernan and Bruce Girard “Chapter 8: Microtelcos in Latin America and the Caribbean”. In Diversifying Participation in Network Development: Case Studies and Research from WDR Research Cycle 3 edited by Amy Mahan and William H. Melody. Montevideo: IDRC/infoDev/LIRNE.NET/Comunica, 2007 www.comminit.com/en/node/270757/307

Gillwald, Alison and Christoph Stork Towards an African e-Index: ICT access and usage across 16 African countries Johannesburg: LINK Centre, Witwatersrand University, 2006 www.researchictafrica.net/images/upload/Cairo.pdf

infoDev and ITU ICT Regulation Toolkit www.ictregulationtoolkit.org/en/Section.3195.html

International Institute for Communication and Development ICTs for Agricultural Livelihoods: Impact and Lessons Learned from IICD Supported Activities The Hague: IICD, 2006 www.ftpiicd.org/files/publications/IICD-agri-impact-2006.pdf

International Telecommunication Union Measuring Village ICT in Sub-Saharan Africa Geneva: ITU, 2007 www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/material/Africa_Village_ICT_2007.pdf

International Telecommunication Union Report on the World Summit on the Information Society Stocktaking Geneva: ITU, 2008 www.itu.int/wsis/stocktaking/docs/2008/WSIS-Stocktaking2008-e.pdf

Kinkade, Sheila and Katrin Verclas Wireless Technology for Social Change: Trends in Mobile Use by NGOs Washington: United Nations Foundation-Vodafone Group Foundation, 2008 mobileactive.org/files/MobilizingSocialChange_full.pdf

Kithuka, James, Jacob Mutemi and Ali Hassan Mohamed Keeping Up With Technology: The use of mobile telephony in delivering community-based decentralised animal health services in Mwingi and Kitui Districts, Kenya London: FARM-Africa, 2007 www.farmafrica.org.uk/documents/212.PDF

Mariscal, Judith Market Structure and Penetration in the Latin American Mobile Sector Lima: DIRSI, 2007 www.dirsi.net/files/finals/070215--mariscal.pdf

Navas-Sabater, Juan, Andrew Dymond and Niina Juntunen Telecommunications and Information Services for the Poor: Towards a Strategy for Universal Access Washington: World Bank, 2002 www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2002/05/03/000094946_02041804225061/Rendered/PDF/multi0page.pdf

Ó Siochrú, Seán and Bruce Girard Community-based Networks and Innovative Technologies: New models to serve and empower the poor New York: UNDP, 2005 www.propoor-ict.net

Ó Siochrú, Seán “Empowering Communities through ICT Cooperative Enterprises: The Case of India”. In The Political Economy of the Information Society: A Southern View edited by Parminder Jeet Singh, Anita Gurumurthy and Mridula Swamy. Bangalore: IT for Change, 2008 itforchange.net/media/ISSS/Political_Economy_of_IS.pdf

Porteous, David Banking and the Last Mile: Technology and the Distribution of Financial Services in Developing Countries Somerville: Bankable Frontier Associates, 2006 www.bankablefrontier.com/assets/banking-andthe-last-mile.v1.0.pdf

Porteous, David The Enabling Environment for Mobile Banking in Africa Somerville: Bankable Frontier Associates, 2006 www.bankablefrontier.com/assets/ee.mobil.banking.report.v3.1.pdf

Song, Steve A Commentary on Tools and Technologies for Equitable Access Montevideo: APC, 2008 www.apc.org/en/system/files/APC_EquitableAccess_ToolsAndTechnologies_CommentarySong_20080728.pdf

Stern, Peter A. and David Townsend New Models for Universal Access in Latin America: Summary of Main Report Regulatel/World Bank/ECLAC, 2006 www.regulatel.org/miembros/publicaciones/ESTU%20DIOS/SERV%20UNIV/PPIAF/informe%20final/draft%20vf/Ab%20%20Summary%20v%209.pdf

Williams, Mark Broadband for Africa: Policy for Promoting the Development of Backbone Networks Washington: infoDev/World Bank, 2008 www.infodev.org/en/Publication.526.html

Wishart, Neville Micro-Payment Systems and their Applications to Mobile Networks Washington: infoDev, 2006 www.infodev.org/en/Publication.43.html

Women’sNet and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa Mainstreaming ICTs: Africa lives the Information Society Johannesburg: Women’sNet and OSISA, 2005 www.osisa.org/files/mainstreaming_icts.pdf

World Resources Institute What Works: ITC's E-Choupal and Profitable Rural Transformation Washington: World Resources Institute, 2003 www.digitaldividend.org/case/case_echoupal.htm

________
Footnotes:
[1] CEPES, the organisation responsible for supporting the system, is also a member institution of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC).

[2] Refer to the module on policy and regulatory issues for a more detailed discussion.

[3] For an overview of the situation of public internet access points in 25 countries, see: www.cis.washington.edu/landscape. This research, completed in October 2008, covers a range of access options such as kiosks, libraries, telecentres, cybercafés and community projects, including an overview of the policy and regulatory environments.

[4] ITU statistics: www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics and www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/hardware/page7216.cfm

[5] Judith Mariscal Market Structure and Penetration in the Latin American Mobile Sector (Lima: DIRSI, 2007) www.dirsi.net/files/finals/070215--mariscal.pdf

[6] ITU Measuring Village ICT in Sub-Saharan Africa (Geneva: ITU, 2007) www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/material/Africa_Village_ICT_2007.pdf

[7] For more information see: www.grameenfoundation.org/what_we_do/technology_programs/village_phone

[8] Neville Wishart Micro-Payment Systems and their Applications to Mobile Networks (Washington: infoDev, 2006) www.infodev.org/en/Publication.43.html; see also David Porteous The Enabling Environment for Mobile Banking in Africa (Somerville: Bankable Frontier Associates, 2006) www.bankablefrontier.com/assets/ee.mobil.banking.report.v3.1.pdf

[9] Ethan Zuckerman “Mobile Phones and Social Activism: Why cell phones may be the most important technical innovation of the decade” TechSoup 20 June 2007 www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/hardware/page7216.cfm

[10] The Hub: hub.witness.org and Corinne Ramey “Using Mobile Phones to Advance Human Rights” MobileActive.org 10 December 2007 mobileactive.org/hub-using-mobile-phones-advance-human-rights

[11] Stephanie Hayes “Congolese radio show gives war victims a voice” The Christian Science Monitor 22 March 2007 www.csmonitor.com/2007/0322/p20s01-woaf.html?page=1

[12] Sheila Kinkade and Katrin Verclas Wireless Technology for Social Change: Trends in Mobile Use by NGOs (Washington: United Nations Foundation-Vodafone Group Foundation, 2008) mobileactive.org/files/MobilizingSocialChange_full.pdf

[13] Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

[14] Alberto Escudero-Pascual Tools and technologies for equitable access (Montevideo: APC, 2008) www.apc.org/en/system/files/APC_EquitableAccess_ToolsAndTechnologies_Iss... For a more detailed discussion of the technology options see also: Seán Ó Siochrú and Bruce Girard Community-based Networks and Innovative Technologies: New models to serve and empower the poor (New York: UNDP, 2005) www.propoor-ict.net

[15] The International Summit for Community Wireless Networks: www.wirelesssummit.org 

[16] www.tslab.ssvl.kth.se/csd/2007/fall/system/files/Online-Water-Quality-Mo... and www.spidercenter.org/project/online-water-quality-monitoring

[17] The Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM), developed by the Association for Progressive Communications Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP), was used to provide possible solutions to engender the provision of wireless network services in the community. For more details, see: www.apcwomen.org/gemkit/en/practitioners/reports_2d78.htm

[18] www.apcwomen.org/gem/?q=gem_users

[19] Wireless Africa “Building a Rural Wireless Mesh Network: A do-it-yourself guide to planning and building a Freifunk based mesh network” wirelessafrica.meraka.org.za/wiki/index.php/DIY_Mesh_Guide

[20] See Ó Siochrú and Girard, Community-based Networks and Innovative Technologies for a more detailed discussion of various models of community ownership.

[21] Muriuki Mureithi and Albert Nsengiyumva “Community-Driven Networks, Cooperatives and Enterprises: An Emerging Access and Development Model for Rural Areas?” (PowerPoint presentation at the CRASA 10th AGM workshop, Windhoek, Namibia, March 2007) www.crasa.org/docs/10agm/Pro-Poor%20ICT-rev%20-%20Mureithi%20&%20Nsengiy...

[22] See www.propoor-ict.net for the four country feasibility reports.

[23] Ó Siochrú and Girard, Community-based Networks and Innovative Technologies, 10

[24] infoDev and ITU ICT Regulation Toolkit, Section 3.5.1. Rural Cooperatives (updated 21 November 2008) www.ictregulationtoolkit.org/en/Section.3195.html

[25] See the PowerPoint presentation by Ned White, Institute of Public-Private Partnerships (IP3), 27 February 2007, which provides an overview of PPPs in ICT initiatives, including guidelines for establishing tender and procurement procedures. A case study on Chile’s Universal Development Fund is presented. www.escwa.un.org/divisions/ictd/events/2_6NedWhiteTendering.pdf

[26] For a practical and simple guide on how such municipal networks work, see: computer.howstuffworks.com/municipal-wifi.htm

[27] Yochai Benkler The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 405-406 books.google.co.za/books?id=TZmkG2y-vBsC

[28] Joji Thomas Philip “Broadband to go free in two years” The Economic Times 26 April 2007 economictimes.indiatimes.com/Broadband_to_go_free_in_2_yrs/articleshow/1955351.cms

[29] Simone Cecchini and Monica Raina Village Information Kiosks for the Warana Cooperatives in India web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTINFORMATIONANDCOMMUNICATIONANDTECHNOLOGIES/EXTEGOVERNMENT/0,,contentMDK:20486701~isCURL:Y~menuPK:702592~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:702586,00.html

[30] www.apdip.net/apdipenote/11.pdf

[31] David Porteous Banking and the Last Mile: Technology and the Distribution of Financial Services in Developing Countries (Somerville: Bankable Frontier Associates, 2006) www.bankablefrontier.com/assets/banking-andthe-last-mile.v1.0.pdf

[32] World Resources Institute What Works: ITC's E-Choupal and Profitable Rural Transformation (Washington: World Resources Institute, 2003) www.digitaldividend.org/case/case_echoupal.htm; see also www.itcportal.com/agri_exports/e-choupal_new.htm for a more detailed explanation of the model.

[33] Tectonic “New Tuxlab looks to community for sustainability” Tectonic 15 May 2006 www.tectonic.co.za/wordpress/?p=997

[34] The toolkit module on policy and regulatory issues covers detailed approaches that could be adopted.

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Case Study: The Mozambique Health Information Network (MHIN)


The MHIN case study was selected for inclusion in this toolkit because it illustrates the fulfilment of a number of critical requirements for moving a project from prototype to pilot and eventual sustainable roll-out:
1)The application of an innovative and affordable technology solution involving mobile networks and the use of PDAs by individuals unfamiliar with the use of ICTs, in this case health workers, who are often of an older age and therefore more resistant to the adoption of new technologies.
2)Government commitment to providing better health services to communities, while benefiting from the better availability and accuracy of health data from the field.
3)Cost savings and increased productivity in terms of data collection from districts, including the monitoring of paper-based versus digital data collection systems.
 4)The gradual upscaling of a development project through a collaborative partnership between an NGO (AED-Satellife) and the Ministry of Health, Mozambique.




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Case Study: The Huaral Valley Agrarian Information System, Peru


The Huaral Valley project has been included in this toolkit to illustrate a type of community ownership model in which farmers are directly involved in the decision making and implementation of an agrarian information system. Although originally planned as an ICT installation to manage a network of irrigation canals for local farmers, the infrastructure enables telecoms and internet access for poor farming communities that would otherwise have been excluded from such resources. The project also illustrates the importance of leadership and vision to ensure that lobbying and advocacy are undertaken, both within communities and also with the government. In this case, the community, through its irrigation board, was able to lobby for changes in the existing restrictive ICT policy and regulatory frameworks. The result has been more affordable and widespread ICT access for local communities.

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Case Study: Nepal Wireless Networking Project


The Nepal Wireless Networking Project serves as an excellent example of how a community-based project can be implemented with few resources, but through a display of local leadership and vision was able to challenge existing policy frameworks to allow for the use of innovative technologies to provide ICT access to poor communities. The project illustrates how low-cost and easy-to-maintain wireless networks can be used in harsh and remote locations to provide telephone and internet access to dispersed communities. Under local leadership and with strong community support, local communities are able to provide much-needed communications services as well as other types of services that are run as small businesses (communication centres) or as community services (telemedicine, school networks). Strong local capacity building efforts in ICTs have resulted in the development of a cadre of local experts who can provide technical assistance. In addition, the advocacy efforts of the local champion, Mahabir Pun, resulted in the government changing its restrictive telecoms policies that previously prohibited the use of wireless networks, while also dropping the costs of licences to under USD 2.

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Resources

community_module_resources Implementation of Projects

Nepal wireless networking project: case study and evaluation report. 
Wireless networking for rural development


Authors: M. Pun; R. Shields; R. Poudel; P. Mucci
Publisher: Electronic Networking for Rural Asia/Pacific
Date: September 2006

This paper provides an evaluation of the Nepal Wireless Networking Project. The main aim of the project is to bridge the digital divide by mean of wireless technology benefitting the rural population of Nepal. The project is a tangible example of the successful implementation of ICTs that has helped to reduce poverty, create job opportunities, improve communication, encourage e-commerce and increase the quality and availability of healthcare in the rural communities.  
Tags: Nepal, wireless technology, rural, communities, ICTs

Women connect! The power of communications to improve women’s lives
Communications capacity building for African women's NGOs
Authors: Pacific Institute for Women's Health
Publisher: Pacific Institute for Women's Health
Date: 2002

The following report entails the findings of a three-year programme dealing with women’s NGOs in Africa. The project’s main aim was to enable women’s NGOs to communicate better by means of traditional media (posters and brochures), mass media (newspapers, radio, magazines and television) and ICT (email and Internet). The NGOs used these various means of media to communicate and campaign against problems facing women in these areas. The countries included in the project were Zambia, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Tags: women, ICT, mass media, traditional media, NGOs

Keeping up with technology: the use of mobile telephony in delivering community-based decentralised animal health services in Mwingi and Kitui Districts, Kenya
Have mobile phones improved animal health services in Kenya?
Authors: J. Kithuka; J. Mutemi; A.,H. Mohamed
Publisher: Farm Africa
Date: 2007
This working paper provides a report of FARM-Africa’s Kenya Dairy Goat and Capacity Building Project (KDGCBP), a project focused in the implementation of mobile and pay phones in the marginalized and resource-poor districts of Mwingi and Kitui, to improve animal health services. These areas have been affected by policy changes by the Kenyan Government, which has resulted in a decline of veterinary personnel over the last twenty years. The paper concludes with the successes of the project with regard to animal health services.
Tags: mobile phones, pay phones, Kenya, animal health services, pro-poor

Sustainable ICT case histories.  Detailed case studies on ICT project successes and sustainability
Authors: S. Batchelor; P. Norrish; N. Scott; M. Webb; Gamos; Big World
Publisher: Department for International Development, UK
Date: October 2003
This report provides 12 detailed case studies that illustrate that ICTs can benefit developments projects. The main aim of the case studies was to implement ICTs in a way that would increase local communities’ access to jobs, improve education and government policy, or expand the reach of current projects in the areas.   The results are not conclusive in terms of sustainability but significant developmental impacts are evident.  The projects fell under five general categories: Information Technology training and telecenters; networks and partnerships; e-commerce; e-services; and radio and education.
Tags: development, ICTs, sustainability, education, government, telecenters

Community-based networks and innovative technologies: New models to serve and empower the poor
Authors: S. Ó Siochrú and B. Girard
Publisher: United Nations Development Programme
Date: 2005
This report looks at how innovative technologies such as wireless networks can be applied in communities where there is a focus on integrating access and connectivity into development models. Various forms of ownership models are discussed, including cooperatives, community-based networks, and empowerment models.   It also examines the policy and regulatory environment and possible financing mechanisms. Pro-poor case studies are included to illustrate various community-owned models.
Tags: community networks, ownership models, pro-poor, policy, regulatory frameworks

A Survey of Rural Communities’ Attitudes on the Use of the SMS and Pod-casting Technology to Promote Human Rights
Authors: L. Mtshali, A. Naidoo and N. Zungu
Publishers: HIVOS
Date: 2007
This survey focuses on the use of mobile phones and pod-cast technology for reporting human right violations. The survey was conducted in five rural areas in the province of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa. The UmNyango project aims to use new technologies such as SMS and Pod-casting to report domestic violence; women’s exclusion from access and control of land; participation in government; conflict; and access to justice. A survey was conducted to find out in-depth details about the communities’ use of mobile phones and their attitudes towards using these phones to promote human rights.
Tags: mobile phones, SMS, pod-cast, human rights, survey, South Africa
 
Livelihood Changes Enabled by Mobile Phones: The Case of Tanzanian Fishermen
Author: J. Myhr and L. Nordström
Publisher: Uppsala University
Date: 2006
This report deals with a field study entailing interviews with Tanzanian fishermen and their use of mobile phones. The study aims to find out if the mobile phone improves the livelihood indicators of empowerment, opportunity and vulnerability to risk, with groups such as Tanzanian fishermen, who have previously been excluded from any means of technological communication. The report reveals that increased access to information by means of mobile phones can impact all the indicators positively.
Tags: mobile phones, livelihoods, fishermen, access, Tanzania, ICTs

Mobile Phones and Development: The Future in New Hands?
Author: R. Heeks and A. Jagun
Publisher: id21 insights
Date: September 2007
This issue of id21 insights covers topics related to mobile phone use within marginalized areas or groups, and the economic advantages associated with mobile phones in disadvantaged communities. Articles include the dissemination of information in Bangladesh villages by means of mobile phones, mobile banking, the impact of mobile phones in Jamaica, and Nigeria’s textile sector, in addition to other articles related to the topic. The policies related to mobile phone use, and their implications are also covered in the issue.
Tags: mobile phones, mobile banking, marginalized communities, policies

Wireless Technology for Social Change: Trends in Mobile Use by NGOs
Author: S. Kinkade and K. Verclas
Publisher: (Kinkade) ShareIdeas.org, (Verclas) MobileActive.org
Date: April 29, 2008
This report provides 11 case studies where mobile technology has been used by NGOs and other groups to implement changes in health, the environment and humanitarian relief. The case studies are included to illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of mobile technology, focusing on social, political, civil and economic factors. In addition the report includes a survey of mobile technology use in relation to NGOs, where statistics are provided on the use of mobile applications and their perceived benefits.
Tags: NGOs, mobile technology, health, environment, humanitarian relief

Leveraging Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to Support Public Health Workforce Communications and Capacity Development in Central America
Author: CDC Coordinating Center for Health Information and Services
Publisher: CDC
Date:  2007
This short report discusses insights from the implementation of ICTs for health emergencies. The report was supported by the Guatemala branch of the United-States-based Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC). The report found that email was the most preferred method of receiving information in a public health emergency.  The implementation of ICTs, in this case, is useful due to the speedy communication and instructional capabilities available during health emergencies.
Tags: health emergencies, ICTs, email, Guatemala, communication

Computerising agricultural cooperatives: a practical guide
Authors:  UN System Network on Rural Development and Food Security
Publisher: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Date: 2006
This manual provides a reference for agricultural cooperatives that are considering computerization, providing the advantages and disadvantages of the process. The manual is aimed at managers, trainers and policy makers guiding them in a manner that will ensure successful computerization at a local level. The manual is based on experiences in Asia, Africa and South America. The manual also lists “The 10 commandments of Computerisation” outlining the basic rules to follow with regards to computerization.
Tags: agricultural cooperatives, computerization, Asia, Africa, South America, manual

A rural ICT toolkit for Africa
Best practices for the planning, financing and implementing of ICT projects in rural Africa
Authors: Intelecon
Publisher: Infodev
Date: 2003
This toolkit is a collection of prerequisites, best practices and checklists with regard to the planning, financing and implementation of telecom and informatics projects in Africa. The experiences are based on a survey of ten African countries, with specific focus on the rural regions.  Some of the topics covered include: market dynamics and demand analysis, business planning, funding principles and processes, monitoring and evaluation; and best practices for ICT policy in rural areas.
Tags: toolkit, project planning, telecommunications, informatics, Africa, rural, ICT, best practices

Making information and communication technologies work for food security in Africa
How can governments promote food security through ICT development?
Authors: R. Bertolini
Publisher: International Food Policy Research Institute
Date: 2004
The following report deals with ICTs (specifically fixed-line, mobile phones and Internet services) that enable the reduction of poverty in Africa. The report focuses on the current availability of ICTs in Africa, opportunities for ICTS in promoting food security and suggestions for improving the promotion of ICT development though government, private and civil society collaboration. In addition the report advises on the private sector’s role with regard to ICTs in development.
Tags:  ICT, development, Africa, food security, poverty

Pro-poor wireless networks (Powerpoint presentation)
This powerpoint presentation by Vic Hayes, the father of wireless networks, provides an easy-to-understand overview of the concept of wireless networks, how they work and where they have been applied.  The powerpoint includes some interesting data on the availability of spectrum, which clearly illustrate the problematic situation regarding unfriendly policy and regulatory environments in Africa as compared to other continents.   
Tags: wireless networks, case studies, spectrum, statistics, Nepal, Ecuador, Denmark

Digital Poverty - Latin American and Caribbean Perspectives
Editors: H. Galperin and J. Mariscal
Publisher: Practical Action Publishing/IDRC
Date: 2007 (ISBN: 978-1-85339-663-2; e-ISBN: 978-1-55250-342-3)
This book deals with the problem of lack of access to ICTs in Latin America and the Caribbean, in addition to the need for ICT policies to focus on pro-poor interventions. The book illustrates how a failure of market reforms has resulted in marginalized areas experiencing a lack of benefits from ICTs, where they are excluded from the Information Society.

Chapter 6 (Selecting sustainable ICT solutions for pro-poor intervention) by Mallalieu and Rocke deals exclusively with an effective model to ensure that communities do not become digitally excluded. The Percolator model is introduced as a framework within which ICT solutions for the poor and marginalized communities can be implemented by means of a ‘distillation’ process, that can be applied on other technologies if need be.

Chapter 7 (Conclusion: ICT and pro-poor strategies and research) by Mahan provides conclusions in relation to ICT demand and supply side issues, regulatory reform and the private sector, consumer advocacy, new ownership models for network service provision and emerging network technology solutions, focusing specifically on the pro-poor aspects.
Tag: ICTs, Latin America, Caribbean, pro-poor, business models , networks


 ‘Open Access’ - An approach for building and financing pro-poor ICT infrastructure
Authors: D. Okello
Publisher: Wougnet
Date: August 2006
This power point presentation provides an open access approach that attempts to build sustainable community-led ICT networks.  The presentation outlines the need for pro-poor ICT networks, the challenges faced by rural communities, and an explanation of the open access approach, with regard to infrastructure, regulation and financing.  The models covered include the promotion of communities to set up their own networks, although regulatory frameworks are essential to ensure corporate companies are forced to adopt open access models.  
Tags: open access models, pro-poor, ICT, wireless, rural, Uganda
 

Tools and technologies for equitable access
This is one of four papers in a series on equitable access to ICT infrastructure commissioned by the APC. The paper presents an overview of five technology areas, dealing with the issues and strategies as well as providing recommendations.  The five areas covered are:  wireless access; low-cost and low-power computing; open standards, hardware and software; local services and content; and open access and open networks.  
Author:  Alberto Escudero-Pascual
Publisher: Association for Progressives Communications
Date:  November 2007
Tags:  equitable access, ICT, infrastructure, wireless, open networks, open access, low cost computing


Building a Rural Wireless Mesh Network - A do-it-yourself guide to planning and building a Freifunk based mesh network
This manual provides a do-it-yourself guide to installing a mesh network in rural areas. It is based on the practical experience of the Meraka Institute, South Africa.  It covers all areas of planning as well as a section on regulatory aspects and service provision.  A planning sheet is provided for managing such an installation.
Author:  David Johnson et al
Publisher:  Wireless Africa, Meraka institute, CSIR, South Africa
Date: November 2007
Tags:  wireless, mesh networks, manual, building, planning, rural, ICTs


Tools and Resources for Support

 Feminist Technology Exchange
The Feminist Technology Exchange helps feminist and women’s rights movements to develop women’s understanding of new technologies. The main aim of the organization is to improve the lives of women by introducing a space where skills and knowledge can be shared in terms of the implementation of ICT. The organization also aims to creative partnerships between advocates of women’s rights, and to develop a community of trainers to sustain lessons learnt from successful partnerships.
Tags:  women’s rights, feminist, ICT, skills, knowledge, partnerships

Choike.org – A portal on Southern Civil Services
Choike.org is a portal representing work done by NGOs and social movements in Southern developing countries. The site provides a list of Southern NGOs, divided into categories and sub-categories. A search function has been implemented for ease of use. The site provides in depth reports, news items and information resources, in addition to information on NGO actions and campaigns.  
Tags: NGOs, developing countries, portal, resources, reports

ShareIdeas – Global
The ShareIdeas website is aimed at teachers, health care professionals, environmentalists, development professionals and others that are interested in sharing resources and ideas with regard to mobile communication, and its ability to bring about positive social change.  The website’s main aim is to bring people across the world together to achieve development goals by means of sharing information through the interactive components of the site, or explore the resources and case studies that are archived.
Tags: sharing, knowledge, mobile communication, social change, interactivity

The International Summit for Community Wireless Networks
The International Summit for Community Wireless Networks is an annual global conference that brings together many of the greatest experts in the world on wireless networking technology, information activism, and community empowerment.


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