Access to basic services plays an important role in both individual well-being and a country’s economic development. For this reason, general availability of these services to citizens, regardless of income level and geographical location, has generally been viewed as an important public policy goal. However, the precise definition of this goal and the means of attaining it have provoked controversy.
Uganda's Approach to Universal Access to Telecommunications
This chapter presents Uganda’s approach to universal telecommunications services and universal access and evaluates both the government’s strategy and its impact.
India's Experience with Universal Service Obligations in Telecommunications
This chapter describes India’s success in its efforts to ensure universal access and universal service, particularly to poor rural areas.
Universal Access in the Water and Sanitation Sector
This chapter presents an overview of the question of access in the water and sanitation sector. It draws attention to problems of definition, discusses sectoral reforms and their impact and mechanisms for developing a framework of universal service. It looks at contract stipulations, pricing devices and consumer subsidies and evaluates their effectiveness in terms of increasing provision for the poor. Possibilities for alternative technologies are considered. The chapter also discusses the role of regulatory bodies and the sustainability of reforms involving the public and private sectors.
Reflections on the Goal of Universal Access in the Water and Sanitation Sector
This chapter offers reflections on the goal of universal access, drawing on insights from experience in Ghana, Senegal and Nepal, as a way to help water and sanitation professionals see more clearly the nature of the challenges posed by a goal of universal access in the sector. The costs of providing improved piped municipal water and sanitation services are also examined.
Efficiency, Equity and Liberalisation of Water Services in Buenos Aires, Argentina
This chapter traces Argentina’s decision to privatise its water and sanitation services and describes in detail implementation of the privatisation scheme, including the many problems encountered with respect to the contract with the provider and regulatory issues as well as those attributable to the financial crisis, and the effects on access to water and sanitations services for the poor. Ultimately, the contract was rescinded. The experience offers useful lessons on pitfalls to be avoided.
Universal Access to Financial Services
This chapter reviews the evidence on the importance of finance for economic well-being, provides data on the degree of access by households and firms to basic financial services across a sample of countries, assesses the desirability of more universal access and summarises the macroeconomic, legal and regulatory obstacles to access using general evidence and case studies. The data show that universal access is far from prevalent in many countries, especially developing countries.
Provision of Financial Services in South Africa
This chapter explores the extent to which South African retail financial markets can truly be considered "liberal" and the factors that have contributed to the development of more liberalised markets. The main focus is on two sub-markets – transaction banking and credit – which appear relevant to a discussion of universal service provision. Both have been the subject of prominent initiatives in South Africa
Regulatory Aspects of Universal Access to Financial Services in India
This chapter focuses on access to finance for the rural and urban poor in India. It provides a brief overview of the current situation, including some measurement issues. It discusses various dimensions of access relevant to universal access and describes India’s current regulatory approach. Some policy initiatives that might have an impact on universal access are suggested.
Power Sector Liberalisation, the Poor and Multilateral Trade Commitments
This chapter examines how the application of liberal trade principles can complement domestic reform programmes that seek to improve the performance of electric power supply. It argues that trade commitments can strengthen domestic reform initiatives designed to improve the efficiency and performance of electric power systems. With certain caveats, it also finds that trade disciplines in the GATS do not constrain the ability of governments to pursue pro-poor policies intended to improve affordability and access to electricity. The findings suggest that WTO member countries can benefit from trade commitments with ongoing domestic electricity sector reform programmes, if they are made part of an integrated set of policies that include market-based reforms, consumer protection and well targeted safety nets.
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