PhD Theses

PhD theses from CMI

Analysis of public private interplay frameworks in the development of rural telecommunications infrastructure


The PhD project investigated into the relationships between the Public and the Private sector in the development of Broadband Internet infrastructure in rural areas. These relationships are defined as Public Private Interplay.

Using a combination of Grounded Theory, Actor Network Theory, and Stakeholder Theory, the dissertation showcases different Public-Private Interplay/Public-Private Partnership models. Empirical data are derived from cases in Sweden, USA, Denmark, Ghana, South Africa, India and Nigeria.

The Universal Access and Service of Broadband infrastructure and service respectively has been hampered by the commercial un-viability of rural areas to market forces. Universal Access denotes the universal coverage of telecom infrastructure in a geographical area. Universal Service denotes the level penetration of telecom service within a population or at household level within a geographical area. To supplement the market forces and ensure Universal Access, this research investigates into how Public-Private Interplay (PPI) can facilitate Universal Access of Broadband infrastructure. The point of departure here is that the PPI is used to facilitate bottom-up approaches to Broadband infrastructure development. Extensive discussion on Universal Access and Universal Service, the utilization of PPIs in facilitating both top-down and bottom - up and approaches to Broadband/telecom infrastructure are discussed in chapters 2, 3 and 4.

This is an exploratory, multi-case study qualitative research. The case study comprises of the primary case study and the secondary case study. The   primary cases are namely: Magnolia Road Internet  Coop (USA),  Djurslandsnet  (Denmark),  Hallaryd  Broadband Coop (Sweden), Almhult Municipality Broadband Initiative (Sweden), Johannesburg Wireless User Group (JAWUG) (South Africa), Dharamsala Wireless Network (owned by Airjaldi, India) and Wireless Ghana Project (Ghana). The secondary case study comprised of universality funds of countries with a greater rural population who still utilize universality funding to facilitate Universal Access and Service of Broadband infrastructure and service. The first case was the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication (GIFEC), the Universality funds in Ghana. The second case was the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) Nigeria.

The primary case studies produced different outcomes based on the theory utilized. The Actor Network Theory analysis revealed that people in rural areas, if properly motivated can facilitate cost-effective Broadband Internet solutions for themselves. The result was valid for developed and developing country cases. Results of the Grounded Theory analysis revealed that people in developing countries are likely to implement Broadband Internet infrastructure, if they had the vital resources to implement the infrastructure, they could see the usefulness of the technology and service to them. Another factor was their ability to see the actual usefulness of the technology via a demonstration. In the developed countries, rural dwellers were likely to implement Broadband Internet infrastructure if they could see the possibility of developing the infrastructure themselves,  if they possessed the vital resources needed to deploy the infrastructure and if they felt the technology was useful to them. These results led to the development of the developed and developing country models. These models are useful tools that can help in mobilizing people in rural areas. Results from the secondary case study revealed that in Nigeria, the Private Design-Build-Operate was prevalent, while in Ghana the Public Design-Build-Operate was prevalent. Both universality funds are keen on bottom-up approaches to supplement the top-down approach. The application of the Stakeholder Theory in both cases revealed that certain stakeholders identified in the primary case, such as cooperatives, NGOs, social enterprises, etc., are legitimate stakeholders to the universality funds of both countries.

The overall outcome of the research is the design of the PPP/PPI model and the Municipality Mediated Model aimed at facilitating rural Broadband infrastructure development in developed and developing countries.

Keywords: Public-Private Partnership, Broadband, Rural Areas, Universal Access, Infrastructure Development

Idongesit Williams

Day of defense: October 5, 2015

PhD theses