Private Utilities and Poverty Alleviation
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Private Utilities and Poverty Alleviation

Market Initiatives at the Base of the Pyramid

Edited by Patricia Márquez and Carlos Rufín

Drawing on cases from electricity distribution and other infrastructure industries, and from experiences spanning Asia, Africa and Latin America, this book examines new business models to bring basic utility services to the four billion people comprising the base of the socio-economic pyramid.
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Chapter 4: Information and Communication Technologies and the Base of the Pyramid: Lessons from the Philippines’ Last Mile Initiative

Gigo Alampay


Gigo Alampay From March 2005 to July 2008, the Last Mile Initiative–Philippines (LMIP), a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)funded project that supported the Philippine government’s efforts to bridge the digital divide, set up and provided training for 30 telecenters in rural and underserved communities throughout the Philippines. LMIP was organized not so much to increase the number of such telecenters in the Philippines – indeed, the government’s Community e-Center (CeC) Program had already committed to establishing at least 1500 such centers all over the country by 2010 – but rather to conceptualize, test, identify and document best practices that could both promote local development through CeCs and provide options to ensure the sustainability of such telecenters at the base of the pyramid (BOP) – that is, in poor, remote and unserved communities that, almost by definition, could not afford their services. The experience of implementing LMIP provides lessons and validates the underlying premise that telecenters – even those established in poor and underserved communities – can be run sustainably, and perhaps even profitably, as pay-per-use facilities. Case studies from the program demonstrate how such telecenters can and do promote income-generating opportunities for distressed communities and their constituents. Despite the successes, however, immense challenges remain for remote and small communities, even if they are connected to the Internet. Aggregation of CeCs may be one means of encouraging greater private sector participation and investment in them and thus enhancing their long-term sustainability. 69 M2533 - RUFIN PRINT.indd 69 25/01/2011 09:30 70 Private...

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