Mobile Kills the Telecenter Star?

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Presentation by Helani Galpaya, Sept 30, 2007, ARNIC, USC.
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Mobile Kills the Telecenter Star?

  1. 1. Client Logo Colloquium – based on LIRNEasia research Mobile Kills the Telecenter Star? * Reaching the Bottom of the Pyramid in developing Asia USC, Annenberg School 30 th Sep 2007 * With apologies to Trevor Horn, Courtney Courson, Geoffrey Downs, Bruce Woolley of the Buggles
  2. 2. Table Of Contents <ul><li>Taking ICTs to the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) through telecenters </li></ul><ul><li>What the BOP uses – phones </li></ul><ul><li>What do phones do to the telecenters narrative </li></ul><ul><li>What do we do, if the phone is the only device for the BOP </li></ul><ul><li>Re-thinking e-Gov in this light </li></ul>
  3. 3. ICTs: the hype and hope <ul><li>“ICT, with the ability to use and adapt it, is the critical factor in generating and accessing wealth, power and knowledge in our time” (Manuel Castells) </li></ul><ul><li>In the west, improvement in productivity and related growth due to ICT </li></ul><ul><li>Happening in Asia </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. ICT-enabled outsourcing book contributing to growth in India </li></ul></ul><ul><li>For developing countries, special significance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A chance to catch up (leapfrog) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A chance to take government services to citizens more equitably, reduce corruption </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. The model in the west: fat pipe to the home <ul><li>Fiber/Cable/ADSL or other high bandwidth alternatives </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple devices connected to this pipe </li></ul><ul><ul><li>TV </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Computer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mobile/Fixed phones </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Delivering </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Video </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Voice (mobile, fixed) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data (internet) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Quadruple/Multiple Pay play is what it is about </li></ul>
  5. 5. The equivalent in developing Asia: the telecenters <ul><li>Across the world, despite significant gains, ICT networks are not reaching the poor (ITU 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>In developing Asia, under-developed network infrastructure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If at all, broadband rolled out in urban areas (even with the hype of WiFi) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Connectivity priced for businesses and households with higher income </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unavailable and unaffordable to the poor and the rural </li></ul></ul><ul><li>High cost of PC’s relative to income </li></ul><ul><li>Community Access Model promoted in an attempt to bridge the gap in income and geography </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Telecenters targeting the lower income/bottom of the pyramid or BOP </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rationale Response </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Telecenters come in various forms, and provide a range of services: some “tele” services, other are not <ul><li>Some services dependent on having some telecommunication facilities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Telecommunication services (voice, fax, internet) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Information (e.g. agricultural information for farmers) obtained via the internet to telephone, disseminated locally </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Some services that benefit from connectivity but not dependent on it </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Capacity building for rural communities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. language training, training trade skills for farmers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(often via CD’s that are available or through instructors who physically visit the center). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Often a host of services NOT dependent on telecommunications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Telecenter operator collect bills from villagers, travels to town and pays them. Charges INR5 per bill </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“Telecenter” as village meeting house (simply providing a common facility/space). </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Many services provided for free. Voice, fax among the few services routinely “sold” to use <ul><li>Many services provided for free </li></ul><ul><li>Voice/fax are the only services routinely sold </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Citizens expect to pay for phone calls made at telecenters </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Willingness to pay for Internet untested </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of content? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But all of this s seen as “OK” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most telecenters are donor funded and services nearly fully subsidized </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many are implemented as pilots, without concrete scale-up plans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seen to provide other larger social objectives </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Non-sustainability seen is “OK”? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Telecenters are a highly visible, powerful and inexpensive political tool. They generate much fanfare during early planning and inauguration stages of the programs, but interest in their programs wane shortly afterwards” (Proenza, 2003) </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Most telecenters are already not sustainable; those that are depend on voice (phone calls) for large portion of revenue <ul><li>Systematic studies on telecenter sustainability not available </li></ul><ul><ul><li>South Africa exception (Peter Benjamin PhD thesis and ITU Africa,2001) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>DO know that a telecenter needs to be run “like a business” to ensure financial sustainability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Amin, 2003 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Peter Benjamin’s 4 year evaluation of South African telecenters </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Voice is the only service that is providing steady stream of revenue (not internet) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. e-Sri Lanka’s (planned) 1000 telecenters depend on voice calls to make up 60% of the revenues (World Bank,2003) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many get 100% of revenues from voice </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Telecenters are popular and growing in numbers in PK, IN, LK 500 189 1,000 USAID Sarvodaya E-Sri Lanka/ICTA Sri Lanka 95 20,000 1,020 196 21 30 200 MS Swaminathan Research Foundation ITC (E-Choupal) Drishtee Tarahaat Gyandoot N-Logue Gramdoot India 3,500 400 12,000 200 100 2,000 200 Several 100 Pakistan State Oil Pakistan Telecom Authority Post Office Telecenters Agha Khan Rural Support Program Karakoram Development Authority Allama Iqbal Open University Telecard, Mobilink,Telenor Entrepreneurs Pakistan Number of telecenters to be deployed in the next decade Organization Country
  10. 10. What have telecenters delivered? Not much: urban/rural divide very much alive, specially at the BOP
  11. 11. Most people at the BOP have not heard of the internet….
  12. 12. …. let alone have access to it *excluding FANA/FATA – Tribal Areas; **excluding N&E Provinces 10.40% 8.80% 1.50% 0.30% 1.90% % at BOP who have accessed the internet 23.44% 46.07% 20.00% 23.74% 46.67% BOP population as % of total population 15 41 4** 260 77* Target BOP population of study in millions Thailand Philippines Sri Lanka India Pakistan
  13. 13. Table Of Contents <ul><li>Taking ICTs to the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) through telecenters </li></ul><ul><li>What the BOP does use – phones </li></ul><ul><li>What do phones do to the telecenters narrative </li></ul><ul><li>What do we do, if the phone is the only device for the BOP </li></ul><ul><li>Re-thinking e-Gov in this light </li></ul>
  14. 14. Majority of the BOP have access to and use phones *excluding FANA/FATA – Tribal Areas; **excluding N&E Provinces 23.44% 46.07% 20.00% 23.74% 46.67% BOP population as % of total population 15 41 4** 260 77* Target BOP population of study in millions 95% 93% 92% 94% 98% % of those approached who have used a phone in the preceding 3 months Thailand Philippines Sri Lanka India Pakistan
  15. 15. The BOP use public phones when a (fixed or mobile) phone is not owned
  16. 16. Even for those who do no own a phone, one is accessible quickly Time taken to access a phone
  17. 17. Phones are accessible, even in rural areas Time taken to access a phone, urban vs. rural Rural Rural Rural Rural Rural
  18. 18. And ownership is likely to increase: 232 million at the BOP will own phones by mid 2008
  19. 19. …they will mostly purchase mobile phones or those with mobile-like capabilities (e.g. CDMA) Type of phone the BOP say they will purchase
  20. 20. And they are willing to pay up to USD 5 per month for the service Expected monthly spend on phone services
  21. 21. Table Of Contents <ul><li>Taking ICTs to the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) through telecenters </li></ul><ul><li>What the BOP uses – phones </li></ul><ul><li>What do phones do to the telecenters narrative </li></ul><ul><li>What do we do, if the phone is the only device for the BOP </li></ul><ul><li>Re-thinking e-Gov in this light </li></ul>
  22. 22. Voice is making telecenters sustainable. But that revenue stream is running out telecenters are already not sustainable; those that are depend on voice (phone calls) for large portion of revenue <ul><li>The BOP is spending money at telecenters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But on voice </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But soon this money is now going to be spent on a phone they (or their family members) own </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Money going to telecom companies, not telecenters </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Also resulting in less ‘traffic’ walking into telecenters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>lowering even other revenue streams </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Already public access phone model under threat </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bangladesh mobile phone ladies losing over 50% of their income (Shaffer, 2007) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Senegal's public call centers experiencing declining revenues (Le Soleil, 2007) </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Table Of Contents <ul><li>Taking ICTs to the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) through telecenters </li></ul><ul><li>What the BOP uses – phones </li></ul><ul><li>What do phones do to the telecenters narrative </li></ul><ul><li>What do we do, if the phone is the only device for the BOP </li></ul><ul><li>Re-thinking e-Gov in this light </li></ul>
  24. 24. Develop Phone Centric Models that do not discriminate, and do not delay <ul><li>Telecenters a long way from rolling out in mass numbers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>wait for them to become sustainable? Or for them to roll out in sufficient numbers? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Phones here, now, and in use </li></ul><ul><li>Put the phone at the centers </li></ul><ul><li>Solutions may lack sophistication </li></ul><ul><li>But they will benefit the BOP NOW, not at some distant point in the future </li></ul>
  25. 25. Table Of Contents <ul><li>Taking ICTs to the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) through telecenters </li></ul><ul><li>What the BOP uses – phones </li></ul><ul><li>What do phones do to the telecenters narrative </li></ul><ul><li>What do we do, if the phone is the only device for the BOP </li></ul><ul><li>Re-thinking e-Gov in this light </li></ul>
  26. 26. e-Government: taking government to the BOP <ul><li>G2G e-Government initiatives promise to increase </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Transparency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Efficiency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Citizen centric service delivery </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To act as a media to facilitate citizen consultation, policy discussion & increased democratic input into policy process </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Dominant model to take e-Gov to citizens have 2 parallel strategies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>@ the Back-end: the re-engineering and automating of government services so that they are accessible online, and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>@ the Front-end: the installation of telecenters (community Internet access centers) for citizens to access reengineered government e-Gov services via the Internet </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Government presence online evolves: inform  interact  transact INFORM INTERACT TRANSACT Level of Sophistication of e-Government Low High Information about government services made available via government websites 94% of UN member countries have some kind of online presence (UNPAN,2005) Full govt. transactions (including payment) completed online 24% of UN member countries offer online payment on certain govt. services Govt. presence online allows citizens to send/receive information (e.g. email govt. office, receive response) 88% of UN member countries offer interactive services for citizen (UNPAN,2005) TRANSFORM Govt. uses online presence to as a tool to improve governance 15% of UN member states encourage participatory deliberative decision-making & engage with citizens in open debate online
  28. 28. The dominant e-Gov requires re-engineering, requires the internet. But have disadvantages, specially in developing Asia <ul><li>We’ve already seen that the internet reach @ the BOP is negligible </li></ul><ul><li>Transacting online requires credit cards. The BOP have none </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. Less than 4% of the TOTAL population of India and Sri Lanka + India have a credit cards </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Re-Engineering is extremely difficult </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Over 50% of e-Gov projects fail. Another 35% are partial failures (Heeks) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Key reason for failure: re-engineering government attempts to radically change the way the government (and its employees) work. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A large gap between existing (manual) system, and new (re-engineered and automated) system </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cost benefits analysis for government automation unproven in the developing world </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It works for the west. Cost of investment in ICT more than off-set by savings in labor cost (Stanforth, 2006) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In the developing world, labor is ten times cheaper, and software+hardware much more expensive </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But developing countries, specially developing Asia, have undertaken LARGE re-Gov initiatives along with telecenter programs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sri Lanka, India </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. How can governments (and donors) do e-Gov with just a phone? Examples already exist <ul><li>Inform </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Government Information Center (Sri Lanka) enables dialing 1919 from any phone and finding out the procedure for obtaining government services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Highly used service; used by citizens where ever there are phones. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interact </li></ul><ul><ul><li>State of Gujarat passport example </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Passport application has 7 stages. Citizens kept informed of progress (or lack of) at each stage via SMS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduced queues reduced from 900 (previously) to 350. Most came just to inquire about the state of their passport </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Transact </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SMS tax payment in Philippines via g-Cashs “payBIR” service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Taxes (income tax, fines, stamp duty) of up to P10,000 (USD 180) can be done via mobile phone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SMS receipt sent to citizen for records </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Why is this helpful? <ul><li>Avoids the pit-falls of large-eGov initiatives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Projects less likely to fail </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Face less resistance from government employees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Employees likely to view further re-engineering more positively </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Phones are here, now, and available to the BOP </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enables the BOP to benefit now, not at a distant time in the future </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t have to wait for tele-centers to roll-out </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Unlikely to face sustainability issues in the end-delivery (people willing to pay for phone service. Not telecenters) </li></ul><ul><li>Enables a full range of e-Gov services including transactions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not just information service provision, but full transaction (0% of BOP with credit cards, vs 124 million at the BOP who have transaction-capable mobile phones in Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>People ALREADY USED to transacting via the phone – just not with government (e.g. cash transfer via phone, paying for goods through phone minutes) </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Does NOT mean internet (via telecenters) and re-engineering of Government services are not needed <ul><li>Some services will always need high-bandwidth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Uploading a picture + filling out an online passport application, then submitting online </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Many more services (and benefits) brought by broadband </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rural Business Process Outsourcing, creating of jobs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But these are for the future: at least 5 – 10 years to REALLY reach the BOP </li></ul><ul><li>Do we keep them on the other side of the digital divide till then? </li></ul><ul><li>Its time for governments, donors and civil society to re-think immediate ways to empower the BOP using mobile-centric models </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not just in e-Gov, but other initiatives (e.g. agriculture, fisheries) </li></ul></ul>
  32. 32. Our mission <ul><li>To improve the lives of the people of Asia Pacific by facilitating their use of information and communication technologies; by catalyzing the reform of the laws, policies and regulations to enable those uses; by building Asia Pacific based human capacity through research, training and advocacy </li></ul>[email_address] www.lirneasia.net

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