Some quick answers...
Don Richardson


> 1. What specific elements does a policy environment need in order to
> encourage the private sector to expand access to poor, isolated,
> underserved areas? Where do such policies exist?

The World Bank's Global Information & Communication Technologies
Department provides some excellent publications on universal access
policy measures. See for example:

"Telecommunications and information services for the poor - toward a
strategy for universal access" by Juan Navas-Sabater, Andrew Dymond and
Niina Juntunen:

"Closing the gap in access to rural communications - Chile 1995 - 2002"
by Bjorn Wellenius:

Another excellent source of the latest evidence for what policies that
work - Intelecon Research and its reports and publications -

> 2. What lessons have we learned about the risks and rewards of creating
> public-private partnerships to expand access to the underserved? Where
> have these lessons been applied, and where have they worked?

One of the best papers I have read recently:
"ICTs: Poverty Alleviation and Universal Access Policies (Review of
Current Status and Issues) by Andrew Dymond and Sonja Oestmann:
[this paper also highlights rural telecom developments in Uganda as a
potential model for other developing nations]

> 3. What are specific, unexploited opportunities for public-private
> partnerships to expand access to the underserved? Please provide
> examples where these opportunities can be exploited effectively.

Remittance economies and increasing their significance in supporting
revenue generating universal access initiatives. Remittances are both a
source of revenue for private operators, and a strong source of demand
for telecom services. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates that
Asian countries alone received US$75 billion from workers abroad in 1995
compared with US$54 billion in official foreign aid. Despite the
significance of remittance economies for telecommunications development,
this is a relatively unexplored area. Micro-finance institutions ought
to be strongly encouraged to get more involved in universal access
initiatives - Grameen Telecom's VillagePhone initiative is a clear case
where the importance of remittances is linked to rural ICT access. One
of the leading proponents of links between remittance economies, rural
development and ICTs is Scott Robinson. See: "Rethinking Telecenters in
the Second World -- Knowledge Demands, Remittance Flows, and Microbanks"
by Scott Robinson:

> 4. What concrete lessons have we learned about stimulating/supporting
> local businesses to extend access to the underserved? Please be
> specific. Where have these lessons been applied effectively?

See the Uganda Rural Communications Development Policy and its related
Rural Communications Development Fund -
One outcome can be seen through MTN Uganda's rural payphone operations -
 MTN Publicom in Uganda -

> 5. Within underserved communities, women often face special difficulties
> becoming ICT providers (e.g., lack of capital, education, competing
> demands for time). Are there particular approaches that can be used to
> support women entrepreneurs who want to offer ICT access to underserved
> communities, beyond the 'Grameen cell phone' model?

The Grameen model invites further replication. The replicable elements
of this model are poorly understood. The Grameen Telecom experience is
not simply about providing rural women with cell phones. It is about
linking existing and successful micro-credit organizations with telecom
operators (fixed line and/or wireless) to expand Public Calling Office
coverage in rural areas. Small loans to rural entrepreneurs (Grameen's
experience shows that women are excellent candidates for operating
successful businesses and repaying loans) can enable entrepreneurs to
establish PCOs providing a range of services including telephone, fax,
email and even web, photocopy and computer word-processing services. It
is a public-private partnership model that works effectively, and
leverages remittance economies. MTN Uganda is already partnering with
Grameen to establish 5,000 Village Phone operators in rural Uganda.

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