OECD Development Centre Working Papers

The OECD Development Centre links OECD members with developing and emerging economies and fosters debate and discussion to seek creative policy solutions to emerging global issues and development challenges. This series of working papers is intended to disseminate the OECD Development Centre’s research findings rapidly among specialists in the field concerned. These papers are generally available in the original English or French, with a summary in the other language.

English, French

Providing Low-cost Information Technology Access to Rural Communities in Developing Countries

What Works? What Pays?

Rural areas of the developing world are the last frontier of the information technology revolution. Telephone and internet penetration there remains a small fraction of what it is in the developed world. Limited means of electronic communication with the outside world are just one source of isolation of rural communities and economies from the forces of national and global integration, albeit an important one. Without roads and electricity, the benefits of extending ICT access would be greatly diminished. Conversely, where these other elements of infrastructure are in place, those benefits can be multiplied. The costs of ICT provision to rural areas tend to be higher than to more densely populated urban areas, and the ability to pay of potential subscribers lower. In recent years, a number of interesting experiments has been initiated to extend low-cost telephone and, in some cases, internet access to low-income rural communities. This paper reviews some of these, with a particular ...


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