SAJIC Issue 3, 2002

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    Understanding the international ICT and development discourse: Assumptions and implications
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2002-12-15) Wilson, Merridy
    This paper seeks to understand the assumptions underlying the international public ICT and development discourse and the implications of these assumptions for policy makers and development practitioners. The argument is situated within a power-knowledge framework and in broader critiques of the development industry. A discourse analysis of the public ICT and development discourse was conducted. Three main themes have been explored: 1) the construction of the category of ‘information-poverty’, 2) the construction of what counts as legitimate/valuable information and knowledge, and 3) the developmental aims of these programmes, in particular models of progress and catch-up to industrial country ideals. The paper argues that assumptions of technological determinism and a view of technology as a neutral tool for development underlie the ICT and development discourse. The use of technology as an index of development reproduces the binary opposition between the developed and the underdeveloped that has been widely critiqued within the field of development. The commonly assumed model of ICTs and development is grounded in these assumptions of technological determinism, which allow the complex political factors influencing poverty and inequality at local, national and international levels to be hidden, or at least go largely unquestioned.
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    The Next Step for Telecom Regulation: ICT Convergence Regulation or Multisector Utilities Regulation?
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2002-12-15) Henten, Anders; Samarajiva, Rohan; Melody, William
    This paper critically examines the multiple rationales for telecom, IT, media (ICT) convergence regulation on the one hand, and multisector utility regulation on the other, and the practical questions of implementation they pose, with a view to contributing to informed policy and regulatory decisions that are now underway in many countries. The conditions that may affect the creation of convergence and multi-sector regulation, ranging from underlying commonality of inputs and the behaviour of regulated firms to considerations that are specific to the regulatory process such as scarcity of regulatory resources and safeguards for regulatory independence, are examined. The paper concludes that ICT and media convergence issues are primarily about improving the efficiency of market economies, and how changes in regulation can facilitate this process. It is likely to be of primary interest for countries that already have an established effective independent telecom regulator. Multisector regulation issues are primarily about establishing the efficiency and effectiveness of regulation so it can be a catalyst for network and economic development. It is likely to be of primary interest to countries that have not yet established effective telecom regulation. Each regulatory option arises from an initial diagnose of different problems, and represents different priorities and pathways to achieving a very similar set of development objectives.
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    Technical and Policy Advances in Rural Telecommunications
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2002-12-15) Westerveld, R.; Maitland, C.F.
    Providing access to telecommunications services in rural areas continues to challenge policy makers and telecommunication operators alike. The problem is complex and solutions require an understanding of the technical issues as well as the policy instruments used to create incentives for rural service providers. To that end this article presents a brief overview of both technical and policy innovations in rural telecommunications. Technologies discussed include both wireline and wireless networks while policy instruments are presented as following either an ‘obligation’ or ‘incentive’ strategy.
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    Evolution of Telecommunications Policy Reforms in East Africa: Setting New Policy Strategies to Anchor Benefits of Policy Reform
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2002-12-15) Mureithi, Muriuki
    This paper is a strategic evaluation of telecommunications policy reform over a ten-year period 1993-2002. The focus of the paper is the three countries of East Africa - Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The evaluation is framed against policy objectives set out by the three governments and their outcomes as measured against relevance to stakeholders, performance by implementers based on the space created by the reforms, and success in terms of sustainability and impact. The paper finds that the short term gains of fast expansion of the communications system cannot be sustained in the long term. The policy design based on foreign capital and skills at the expense of local entrepreneurial capacity building exposes the region to vulnerabilities of the international market. The policy design did not provide tools to intervene in the market in the consumer interest. A further finding is that competition has resulted in a significant consolidation of market power with a consequent shift of monopoly power from government to the private sector. Finally, in practice the private sector operations have increased the disparity in the distribution of the infrastructure between urban and rural consumers. A new policy design should focus on long-term local entrepreneurial capacity building, effective policy tools to sustain competition and universal service programmes to address rural disparity.
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    Telecom Reform and Poverty Alleviation in Kenya
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2002-12-15) Kane, Sean
    Eradicating poverty is perhaps the single most important global development challenge. As rural areas are typically home to the majority of the poor in developing countries, the success of poverty alleviation interventions in rural areas will be important in determining if this challenge is met. This paper examines the relationship between telecom reform and poverty alleviation in Kenya, documenting how investments in poverty alleviation are made significantly more effective if basic telecom network services are available. It demonstrates that ICTs have the potential to maximize the multiplier effect of rural poverty interventions by empowering disadvantaged individuals and improving their immediate economic environment. In this context the national telecommunications policy framework and its impacts on the accessibility and affordability of ICTs in rural areas is increasingly important to poverty alleviation institutions. As a case study, the reform of the telecommunications sector in Kenya and its implications for that country’s rural poor are assessed. It is concluded that the current policy and the market structure it has created is resulting in a bypassing of rural areas in terms of access to ICTs and suggests some remedies for this situation. Finally, it is recommended that, given the importance of ICTs to their work, poverty alleviation institutions should consider making low cost investments in ICT infrastructure when appropriate while using their leverage as possessors of development assistance funds to lobby for changes in telecommunications sector policy regimes that hinder access to ICTs in rural areas.
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    The Status of B2B E-Commerce in the South African Manufacturing Sector: Evolutionary or Revolutionary?
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2002-12-15) Moodley, Sagren
    While B2B e-commerce represents a major technological innovation and marks a significant development in organisational interconnectivity (i.e., the ability to network both internally and externally), it is premature to categorise e-commerce in the South African manufacturing sector as ‘revolutionary’. A technological revolution implies a historic transformation bringing about profound, pervasive change in business processes. The research findings reveal that rather than a ‘great event’ having occurred, the reality of e-commerce in the South African manufacturing sector appears to be more mundane, i.e. the result of an evolutionary process of IT integration into existing work practices. Therefore, e-commerce cannot claim to have radically changed the way most business is conducted on a day-to-day basis. Moreover, a technology-focused approach to e-commerce tends to deflect attention away from farreaching systemic changes that need to be made in the South African manufacturing sector.
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    The Triumph and Tragedy of Human Capital: Foundation Resource for Building Network Knowledge Economies
    (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg, 2002-12-15) Melody, William H.
    A fundamental transformation to a global information and knowledge economy is underway, driven by dramatic changes in technologies, markets and government policies - the combination of pervasive applications of information and communication technologies and services, and the world-wide movement to market liberalisation and deregulation. People are expected to be the central resource attracting investment because knowledge is essentially produced, stored and applied by humans. Although many indicators suggest the economic well-being of people today is better than at any time in human history, global – and particularly youth - unemployment continues to increase. More balanced global liberalisation policies will tighten regulation of financial markets and liberalise agriculture, textile and labour markets. For the future, increased investment in human capital, and in access to education and training institutions is essential. The next generation Internet will make possible expanded educational networks and the global sharing of university resources. New programmes must build more productive linkages between universities and other societal institutions, and broaden the disciplinary foundations of traditional programmes. The LINK Centre is now prepared to join the international network of leading ICT policy centres, and crack the training dependency syndrome in this field. Through its support for an African network of similar centres, LINK will help create the foundation for the ultimate triumph of human capital in 21st century knowledge economies.