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AFRIK-IT  January 1996

AFRIK-IT January 1996

Subject:

Re: Internet in Rwanda

From:

Jeff Cochrane USAID AfricaLink <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Sat, 27 Jan 1996 19:01:48 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (57 lines)

Greetings Afrik-ITers!
 
I wrote earlier:
> >What seems missing in most debates is a clear idea of how donors
> >with investment funds can apply their capital sustainably.  Suppose a
> >donor has, say, US$600,000 to "provide full Internet access" in a
> >country.  How should these funds be spent to "provide" the access?
 
Dr. Lisse responds:
> Wrong assumption. Should not do that, "provide full Internet access" in a
> country.
>
> As soon as you start funding the operating costs you stop any effort
> towards sustainability dead in its tracks.
 
Yes I myself tend to prefer the word "facilitate" or "encourage", for precisely the reason Dr.
Lisse notes.  But I do see the word "provide" in a lot of donor documents.
 
I offered the following address as the location for a budget I worked out for a small business
offering an electronic mail service:
> >http://www.info.usaid.gov:80/alnk/budget.html
 
Dr. Lisse rebukes:
> The document is hardly readable and to ask developing countries to get a
> more modern reader instead of just formatting it properly is downright
> astonishing.
 
I do apologize.  I think the bulk of my audience at a web site will be those who themselves have
access to the web to download a "modern" reader (e.g. the latest Netscape, which they distribute as
shareware).
 
For those who use the webmail or other web-page-by-mail facility, getting the browser might be
difficult, so your point is well taken.  I've amended the text on the web page to offer "offline"
viewers additional options.  Thanks for pointing that out.
 
> Anyway, I have downloaded the file and had a look at the numbers, they
> don't make much sense other to prove my point, that you can not do it
> other than on a non profit basis.
 
The growing number of commercial telematics enterprises in Africa seems to suggest that for-profits
may in many contexts be able to offer quality service at competitive prices.  Indeed, there are
firms that make a "profit" but cost less than agencies supported with large infusions of cash
from donors.  The subsidy that a university offers, for example, in donating staff time, a
facility, utilities, etc. should be considered in the equation.  We economists do have rather funny
ways of looking at these things, I will admit!
 
Dr. Lisse appears to quarrel with quite a few of my numbers.  I do look forward to a review of his
alternative budget.  That was, after all, the reason I published mine.  I'm hoping those with
actual experience will step forward and offer their own numbers for comparison.
 
My own reaction was rather the opposite of Dr. Lisse's.  The fact that a viable (fiscally sustainable)
electronic mail system requires only $20,000 per year to operate strikes me as "nothing
but remarkable".
 
Regards,
Jeff @Washington DC USA

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