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Mar 09, 2016


Documents IP Connectivity in LDCs ITU, Geneva, April 11-12, 2002 – Wireless wonder: Cambodia – Guns for radios: Niger – Small is beautiful: Cape Verde • Conclusions • The L factor • 3 snapshots: Major impediment to conventional Internet access in LDCs

  • Mixed Media in the LDCsMichael.Minges@itu.intIP Connectivity in LDCs ITU, Geneva, April 11-12, 2002

  • IndexThe L factor What is mixed media?3 snapshots:Wireless wonder: Cambodia Guns for radios: NigerSmall is beautiful: Cape VerdeConclusions

  • The L factor

    LDCLeast Developed Nations face special barriers Lack of infrastructureshortage of electricity, telephone lines and PCs to access the InternetLow incomelow incomes means that Internet access will not be affordable Landlockedraises costs of international Internet connectivityLiteracyrelatively low rates of literacy is a barrier to using a text-based medium such as the InternetLanguagesin many LDCs, Internet content in local languages is not widely availableruraLLDCs are predominantly rural and agricultural impacting both distribution and relevance of Internet information Major impediment to conventional Internet access in LDCs

  • Mixed MediaMass media: medium of communication (newspapers, radio, television, Internet) aimed at large numbers of peopleMixed media: combining various communication media to enhance the dissemination of informationMixed media is an attractive way of spreading benefits of Internet in least developed countriesMedia-mixes are more effective than a single mediumNeil McKee

  • Media in LDCsThe radio will probably do more to bring information, education and social progress to the developing world than any other device for a generation. The Times of London, 10 August 1995

    Source: ITU.







    Million sets/subscribers/readers (left scale)

    Per 100 inhabitants (right scale)


    Million sets/subscribers/readers (left scale)Per 100 inhabitants (right scale)






  • Mixed Media in ActionInternet contentdownloaded to radiostationInternet informationbroadcast over radio in local languagesCellphone with radioContent providerscall radio station with information

  • Cambodia11.4 million populationGNP per capita US$ 26084% rural, 82% of population and 50% economy in agricultureMain language Khmer (95%), 65% literacy

  • Media in CambodiaNote: Radio and television refer to 1999, others 1996. Source: National Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Planning.







    Other Urban


    Percentage of households by ownership of amenities


    CambodiaCapitalOther UrbanRural





  • Cambodia InternetFull connection in May 19976 Mbps in, 3.5 Mbps out of international connectivity (all satellite)~ 8000 users (June 2001), 0.07% population

  • Wireless wonderFirst nation where more mobiles than fixedMobile used to transmit pricing information in city marketsTMS2Mail and WEMWireless broadband





    Distribution of telephone subscribers in CambodiaDecember 2000Total=161'427

    Mobile 81%

    WirelessLocalLoop 5%

    1st Qtr


    1st Qtr




  • NigerOne of worlds poorest nations: GNI per capita US$180, 161/162 HDILandlocked79% rural; Agriculture: 39% of economy84% illiteracy20 languages in useSource: World Bank, Ethnologue

  • Niger InternetFull connection to Internet in May 1997 via VSAT128 kbps international bandwidthNationwide dial-up number~12000 users (0.1% of population)

  • Bankilare, NigerThe Bankilare Community Information Center was built in 1999 by community members with help from the Niger government, UNDP & SNV (Netherlands Agency). It houses a community radio station equipped with a WorldSpace receiver. The encircled object is a WorldSpace antenna enclosed in tea box for protection.Radio broadcaster in the Bankilare Community Information Center. The center downloads programming from the Africa Learning Channel for rebroadcast. The CIC often translates the programs into the local language before rebroadcasting them.

  • Satellite Radio

  • Freeplay storiesRwandaSouth AfricaMalawi

  • Small is beautiful?Internet & Population in LDCsHigher Internet penetrationSmallerpopulation



















































    Population (millions)

    Internet users per 100 inhabitants








    Burkina Faso12.220.171849427



    Cape Verde0.4372.745995423

    Central African Rep.3.7820.052882073



    D.R. Congo52.5220.011423784


    Equatorial Guinea0.470.191489362








    Lao P.D.R.5.640.177304965













    S. Tom & Principe0.156



    Sierra Leone4.870.143737166

    Solomon Islands0.4630.433261339










  • Cape Verde4th highest Internet penetration in LDCs (3% of population)434812 population (2000 Census)55% homes have electricity53% urban, agriculture 12% of GDP2 languages, 74% literacy

  • Media in Cape VerdeNote: Data from 2001/02. Source: INE.






    Cape Verde



    Percentage of households by ownership of amenities


    Cape VerdeUrbanRural





  • Internet in Cape VerdePre-commercial launch: October 1996, commercial launch a year later1 Mbps international Internet connectivity~ 12000 users (2.8% population)

  • ConclusionsBecause of income, literacy and linguistic issues, mixed-media may be a more effective way of disseminating information on the Internet to LDCsMore small-scale, grass-roots, community-based projects are needed in LDCs There appears to be relationship between the size of a nation and the level of Internet access suggesting that moves to decentralize in larger nations may yield higher rates of ICT use What about Internet radio?

  • ReferencesBruce Girard. The Challenges of ICTs and Rural Radio. The Bankilare Experience: An Example of a Successful Collaborative Effort to Bridge the Digital Divide. Andrew W. Shepherd. Farm Radio as a Medium for Market Information Dissemination. ITU. Cambodia, Cape Verde Internet Case Studies.

    *Mixing media may be the most powerful and relevant way for spreading Internet in the least developed countries (LDCs). There is already a relationship between different media and its getting more mixed up. A telephone line is often used to access the Internet but can also be done through cable TV network. And radio and TV content is streaming on the InternetThe main benefit of the Internet is its wealth of information that can be used to lift people out of poverty. So the issue is not so much having direct access to the Internet but how relevant information can be extracted, transformed and put to use. The Internet should not be viewed as an abstract concept but as a tool to spread useful information.* While the focus of the workshop is on international IP connectivity, this presentation focuses on downstream connectivity. In other words, how can the riches of the Internet be disseminated to users without either the infrastructure (e.g., PCs) or infostructure (e.g., computer literacy)? The socio-economic situation of the LDCs suggest that access to the Internet as we know itvia a connected PCis not a viable short-term option. This presentation looks at some other ways of delivering the Internet to LDCs.*Useful may be an arbitrary term. I remember a grandmother in Luang Prabang, Laos glued to watching a medieval Thai soap opera on the TV set in a textile shop. Maybe mass mass media (i.e. radios and TVs) are more prevalent in LDCs because people want entertainment!**The L factor refers to the fact that various aspects which inhibit conventional access to the Internet in LDCs begin with the letter L. To start, the term used to refer to the poorest and most marginalized nations begins with L: Least Developed Countries. A Lack of infrastructureshortages of electricity, telephone lines and PCs means that LDCs cannot access Internet in traditional ways. Low income means that most LDC citizens cannot afford Internet access. In Cambodia, a US$20 prepaid Internet card (the lowest denomination) is equivalent to 10% of the average annual per capita income. A number of LDCs are landlocked, raising the cost of Internet connectivity (and the sense of isolation and remoteness). Literacy is a barrier because the Internet is primarily a literate mediait requires some functional literacy to log in, use a keyboard, surf the web. In the LDCs adult literacy is 51.6 compared to 72.9 for all developing countries.A related issue is Language. In most LDCs, the worlds major languages which tend to dominate Internet content (e.g., English, French, Spanish) are not spoken as a mother tongue. Content in local languages is not widely available. A related problem is the difficulty of creating content in languages with non-Roman character sets. LDCs are predominately rural (almost 75 % of the population as a group). On the one hand, this makes access to the Internet more problematic since rural areas are more difficult and expensive to connect. On the other hand, rural areas demand different type of content (e.g., agricultural information).**Radio is by far the most prevalent mass medium in the LDCs. There are around 115 million radio sets in use in the LDCs or one for about every six people. Radios are also widely shared providing even higher levels of access. The fact that radio is also an oral medium makes it more practical for conveying information in different languages and to the illiterate.Relatively low levels of literacy combined with relatively few newspapers means that newspaper as a mass media is severely constrained in LDCs.*This is one example of how information on the Internet can be disseminated to a large number of people using mixed media.

    ****Box 8, Collection and Dissemination by a Local Radio Station in Cambodia The most farmer-relevant market information was provided by a private FM radio station in Phnom Penh which sent a reporter every day to one of ten markets in the city. The reporter identified prices of a list of 49 products which he reported live from the market, compared them with prices from the previous day and then interviewed some of the traders about the market conditions. Transmission from the market to the radio station was by mobile phone and the programme was sponsored by a mobile phone company. At that time the station had a range of around 150 km and claimed that a high proportion of farmers listened to the price information. Source:

    *Niger is one of the poorest nations on earth. It ranks 161 out of 162 countries in the 2001 UNDP Human Development Report. This landlocked nation of over 10 million is predominantly rural. Its land area of around 1.3 million km2 makes it almost twice the size of Texas. Desert plains and sand dunes make up a large part of the landscape. Less than 3% of the land is arable and there are ongoing droughts. It is one of the hottest places on earth. Apart from low incomes and a severe geography, Niger also faces literacy and language challenges in trying to overcome the digital divide. Even though almost half the population is under 15, only around a third are in school. Niger has a high rate of illiteracy. Although French is the official language, hardly anybody speaks it as a first language. Some 20 languages are used, with Hausa spoken by around half the population.

    **Last summer, while at the annual Internet Society conference in Stockholm, I attended a session featuring the winners of the annual InfoDev awards. One of the presentations was about redistributing Internet content using community radio in a remote village in northwestern Niger. I put the presentation in the back of my head but it kept surfacing as I became frustrated at the lack of relevant Internet applications and access models for developing nations. Finally my curiosity got the best of me and intrigued, I decided to research the project in more detail. The deeper I looked, the more I found out and the more hooked I have become on the concept. This is what I have to report.*The village of Bankilare is around 4 hours away from the capital Niamey in northwest Niger. It is inhabited by around 2000 people plus some 10000 nomads in the surrounding area. The Information Technology for Rural Communications using Radio and Internet (RADNET) project started in 1998 with the donation of some 100 self-winding radios to the local community. However Bankilare residents wanted to do more than receive information; they also wanted to create their own content. In 1999, steps were taken to establish a community radio station. A radio license was granted leading to a whole new category of license for community radio stations. With overseas and local support, the village built a Community Information Center (CIC). Solar-powered and self-winding radios were distributed to villagers. They use the station for things like announcing they have lost an camel or goat. Rebroadcast over FM radio.Range of 25 km. Meanwhile the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD), working with the World Space Foundation, arranged for Bankilare to receive World Space digital satellite broadcasts over the Afristar satellite. A digital satellite receiver was obtained. Content from the African Learning Channel was then rebroadcast in local languages over FM radio. Freeplay Foundation donated 12445 radios to Niger as part of a UNDP project called Radios for the Consolidation of Peace. [Resulting from the aftermath of a 5-year Tuareg insurgency in the early 1990s].Bankilare is one of 20 community radio stations in Niger which are expected to grow to 160 over the next few years.**Love the Freeplay motto! Energy for Life!Though it seems a decidedly low-tech device, the self-winding radio is actually a recent invention. It came about when a British inventor, Trevor Baylis, watched a documentary in 1993 about educating Africa about AIDS. Although radio could play a big part since in many regions it is the only media, there were many problems with affording batteries or having access to electricity. So Baylis invented the self-winding radio based on the concept of the winding clock. One minute of cranking and youve got thirty minutes of radio!Popular with Survival Crowd.Used for education, farming, electoral and disaster relief applications. South Africa . The Open Learning Systems Education Trust in South Africa runs a programme using Freeplay radios to support English language teaching. Many of the schools are under-resourced and few have electricity - here particularly Freeplay radios have a special role to play. Evaluation results suggest that there were 20% greater learning gains in radio supported classes than in non-radio based classes.Malawi. Farmers have access to crucial information in Malawi using Freeplay radios donated by the European Union. Tailored programmes broadcast bulletins on rural finance schemes, crop planting, harvesting and environmental protection. These provide farmers with instantaneous information on issues that affect their lives and those of their families. Freeplay radios help to keep rural communities better informed. Prior to the civil elections of 1999, a broad awareness campaign was launched to inform citizens of their electoral rights. The National Institute for Civil Education and GTZ, a German non government organisation, joined efforts to supply radios to community listening groups across the country. The campaign has evolved into a forum for a broad range of current events ranging from politics to health affairs.Rwanda. In 1998, the World Bank assisted the Rwandan Ministry of Health in launching a rural health campaign. Each health worker was assigned 100 families and a Freeplay Radio. The worker listens weekly to a primary health broadcast and goes into homes to share the message. Today, over 10 000 radios are in use, educating over a million families weekly. These numbers will continue to grow. Shared information is building healthier communities.Over 65 000 households in Rwanda are headed by a child who can be as young as 12. Many are girls without access to education. They receive little or no support for themselves or their siblings. The non-government organisation, Refugee Trust, Ireland distributed Freeplay radios which had been donated by the British Embassy. Radios in the household bring information, security, and contact with the outside world. As a result of this success, the British non government organisation War Child has united with Refugee Trust to expand this initiative into a full scale project.

    *This section is a departure from the earlier discussion. It aims to highlight the observation that the LDCs with the highest Internet penetration tend to have the smallest populations. The tiny nation of Tuvalu has the highest Internet penetration of the LDCs. Around one tenth of its population of some 10500 is online. The Pacific nation has seen fast Internet growth since coming online in 1999. One reason is licensing of its catchy Internet domain name (dot-TV) which will bring the government some [US$ 50] million over a [ten year] period. Another is a high literacy rate of 99%.Tuvalu reflects the tendency in LDCs for low population nations to have higher Internet access. The seven smallest LDCs (in terms of population) all have an Internet penetration of over one. Their average penetration of 3.2% is 17 times the LDCs average Internet penetration of 0.2%.Smaller populations tend to have a cohesive identity. There are fewer languages in use, simplifying education and literacy. These points suggest that larger LDCs might pursue policies that encourage greater decentralization and community control in order to raise Internet access. This is tied into the earlier discussion of community radio which gives local communities control over the airwaves.*Cape Verde is an example of the Small is Beautiful concept. With a population of 434812, it is the seventh least populated LDCs. It also scores well on the other L factors. It has relatively high levels of infrastructure and literacy. Urban population is 53% and agriculture only accounts for 12% of economy. **Cape Verde will be the subject of the next ITU Internet Case Study. One factor that seems to have played a role is the large expatriate community (perhaps as many Cape Verdeans live abroad as live in Cape Verde). This Diaspora appears to be influential in pushing for Cape Verdeans in Cyber Space in order to keep in touch. **

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