Closing the digital divide in Africa: The role of mobile telecommunications and universal access and service policies

Arakpogun, Ogiemwonyi (2018) Closing the digital divide in Africa: The role of mobile telecommunications and universal access and service policies. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Abstract

The liberalisation of telecommunications market in Africa, which was propelled by a sector-wide reform at the turn of the millennium, has led to an unprecedented level of mobile penetration. Despite the progress that has been achieved, evidence also indicates that the market has failed to address the widespread provision of telecommunications, with pockets of digital divides of uneven mobile coverage existing across the continent albeit to varying degrees. The efforts of governments in Africa to close this digital divide have given rise to a range of universal access and service (UAS) policies.

The thesis investigates the interplay between market liberalisation, market failure and UAS to understand why digital divide persists across Africa and how this problem could be mitigated. Adopting a qualitative multi-case study approach, the thesis finds that a set of complex issues interact to impede the widespread provision of telecommunications services. Drawing on the public interest and economic efficiency perspectives of market failure, regulatory capacity and transaction costs emerged as the two key underpinning issues on which a model for closing the digital divide in Africa was then developed.

We find that since regulators across Africa are largely faced with limited human and financial resources, they tend to lack the capacity to formulate robust UAS policies, implement and effectively monitor UAS activities. On the other hand, since mobile network operators (MNO) are profit driven, the transaction costs of network deployment and maintenance is critical in shaping investment decision so much so that they tend to concentrate on commercially viable areas.

The model argues that UAS policy should be formulated in a manner that empowers regulatory authorities with adequate resources to promote widespread access to telecommunication services and, at the same time, facilitate economic efficiency in order to make it feasible for MNO to economically provide infrastructure and services.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: digital inclusion, universal service fund, mobile coverage, market failure, telecommunications regulation
Subjects: N100 Business studies
N900 Others in Business and Administrative studies
Department: University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2019 11:27
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 09:47
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/39643

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