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.