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An Exploratory Study of Strategies to Improve Africa's Least Developed Economies; Telecommunications Infrastructure: The Stakeholders Speak

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2 Author(s)
Victor W. Mbarika ; Coll. of Bus., Southern Univ., Baton Rouge, LA ; Terry Anthony Byrd

To enjoy modern information technology applications for development, such as e-medicine, tele-edcuation, e-government, and e-commerce, the engineering management and information systems literature have vastly argued that there exist technological and nontechnological precursors to successful diffusion of such applications. Factors such as training local expertise and open competition that could be taken for granted in developed nations cannot just be ignored in the case of developing economies. The main measure of a nation's telecommunications infrastructure is teledensity-the number of main telecommunications landlines per 100 people. Africa's Least Developed Economies (LDEs), home to 33 of the 48 LDEs of the world, continue to suffer from poor telecommunications infrastructure. For most countries within this region, less than one telephone line is shared among 100 inhabitants, a serious hindrance in building other basic infrastructure such as the Internet and related technologies. For example, Congo and Eritrea still have less than 0.5 line per 100 people. This study examines the perceptions of Africa's technology stakeholders to solve the poor telecommunications infrastructure problems that hinder diffusion of relevant applications within the region. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected and reported in this study. Findings reveal six pertinent factors (strategies) that would impact teledensity growth in Africa's LDEs. 1) Promote domestic and foreign investment in information and communications technologies. 2) Develop wireless and satellite infrastructure as a compliment (and not a replacement) to landlines. 3) Strive to be self-sufficient. 4) Enact governmental regulatory policies. 5) Build local capacity. 6) Privatize the telecommunications sector.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management  (Volume:56 ,  Issue: 2 )