The Effect of the International Telecommunication Sector on the Formulation of National Telecommunication Policy in Africa: Cases of Ghana, South Africa and Zambia
Abstract: Mobile cellular telephony revolutionized telecommunications in
developed and developing countries and experienced phenomenal growth at a time when it was
accepted that telecommunications was essential for development. In country after country
the number of mobile cellular subscribers quickly surpassed the number of fixed lines that
were available. Mobile cellular seemed ideal for pro... read moreviding universal service in developing
countries. Yet many governments in those countries chose the fixed line as the means to
provide universal service even as it continued to be rolled out slowly. This study
examines why governments in Ghana, South Africa and Zambia did not formulate
telecommunication policies that gave mobile cellular equal status to the fixed line with
similar rights and responsibilities up to 2005. Equal status would have enabled mobile
cellular telephony to play a primary role in the achievement of universal service. The
study focuses on how the treatment of mobile cellular telephony as a complementary network
and service in the international telecommunication sector became a valued group standard
that consequently influenced policymaking in the domestic telecommunication sector. In
this study, I used process tracing to examine the policymaking process in the
telecommunications sector in order to establish how the interaction of the national and
international levels of the telecom sector influences the formulation of telecom policy in
the countries studied. The findings are that whilst international influences on the
government's policy cannot be ruled out, there were also domestic reasons that influenced
the government's policymaking. Governments in developing countries are still in pursuit of
universal service but it is clear that mobile cellular telephony is the primary means to
provide basic telecommunications. As lower income subscribers join the mobile cellular
network the price of the service is burdensome thereby reducing the service's ability to
be a means for empowerment. It is now up to governments to devise ways by which mobile
cellular service could be made more affordable to lower income consumers.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2011.
Submitted to the Dept. of Diplomacy, History, and Politics.
Advisor: Jeswald Salacuse.
Committee: Carolyn Gideon, and William Martel.
Keyword: International relations.read less