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Dr. Lisse writes:
 
> I usually apply the Mother in Law test :-)-O. ...
> I reckon they could put a phone in there, but she says there is one
> at the hospital, so if she needs to phone she goes there...
 
I believe we're saying essentially the same thing.  My friends in the
village in Sierra Leone wanted a single public phone for the entire
village, just as Dr. Lisse's mother-in-law has access to a phone when
needed through the local hospital.
 
In the Sierra Leone village, farmers wanted access to the phone so
that they could do these kinds of things:
 
1. Receive orders from the Freetown market for fresh vegetables so
that the market sellers would not have to make the physical round
trip each day -- the vegetables could simply be placed on a lorry and
shipped.
 
2. Call a doctor.
 
3. Chat with relatives.
 
When the phone rings in the village, anybody would answer, and then
would shout to the house of the person being called.  I've watched it
happen with the public phone on the Fourah Bay College campus.
 
I imagine a small office in the village with the phone in it, similar
to the ubiquitous telecommunications bureaus I see everywhere in
Ghana.  The office might also have a computer in it.  The village has
electric power whenever Freetown has power.  On the counter in the
office are neat stacks of tomato tins, bags of sugar, and email
forms.
 
A phone call to Freetown would probably cost about US$0.10 per
minute.  A phone call to the USA (to relatives) or to Namibia to
consult with Dr. Lisse would probably cost about US$3.00 per minute.
 
An email to Freetown would probably cost about US$0.25 per half
page, including labor to type in the message delivered to the office
in hand-written form.  An email to the USA or Namibia would cost
about the same US$0.50 per page.
 
One advantage of the email is that neither sendor nor recipient
needs to have a phone, nor do they have to prearrange times when
both ends will be present for the call.  Both need only a local
telecommunications bureau to save the email message in a poste
restante.
 
Cheers!
Jeff @ Washington, DC USA
 
AfricaLink -- http://www.info.usaid.gov/alnk
Tel 1-703-235-5415
Fax 1-703-235-3805