Related to this question:

> 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?

I just came across the latest issue of Telematics and Informatics
<> - Volume 21,
Issue 1 - Telecommunications Development in Africa. Besides offering
some real empirical research (how refreshing!), there is an excellent
article titled "The Washington Consensus' in relation to the
telecommunication sector in African developing countries" by Jorn

Here are a few snippets below, but I strongly encourage people
interested in universal access to give this article and the entire issue
a read. What the Washington Consensus paper points to, from my
perspective, is the critical importance of civil society involvement in
national telecom policy and regulatory reform - and the role of donors
in building the capacity of civil society organizations, particularly
those with rural constituencies (such as farmer organizations and rural


"...The actual practices--e.g. using the public operator as a domain for
extended family employment, siphoning operator surplus off through sub
delivery contracts, political-administrative use of communication
without pay, etc.--are difficult to document, but the cumulative effects
are clearly a lower performance than if the [incumbent operator] had
been managed on strict commercial conditions in a market context.

"Transparency on a level playing field is also necessary for
deregulation to obtain the benefits of competition. For these forces, to
work they must be implemented within capable regulatory frameworks. In a
context of neo-patrimonial practices, the rationale simply does not work
as in a situation based on good governance premises. Typically, the
dominant elite or the main operator may have long established relations
to the state department and may try to capture regulatory reform

"What sets the mobile cellular sub sector apart was the introduction of
market forces in the form of competition. The construction of duopoly
and oligopoly has in a number of countries resulted in competition. The
market dynamics were established through the introduction of a number of
new entrants... The fact that more players have been introduced into the
once docile monopoly area is going to strengthen the regulatory
institutions. The mobile cellular operators are (mostly) united in the
need for a level playing field and transparent relations to the main
operator. Over time, the plurality of players will strengthen regulatory
institutions. Thus, even in structures and institutions with elements of
patrimonial practices, the market dynamic may curb such effects."


Don Richardson

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