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Economic Incentive for Telecom Infrastructure Investment

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama identified government investment in infrastructure as a key antidote to the U.S. economic doldrums. This is not a new concept. During the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration spent $7 billion over a three year period to construct buildings, roads, parks, and bridges, bringing short-term jobs and long-term competitive advantage.

Nor is it strictly a U.S. strategy. During the recent downturn, multiple countries have started taking the same tack, but instead of dams and highways, they’re funding telecommunications network infrastructure.

According to a 2009 speech by Taylor Reynolds, an economist with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the numbers are impressive for countries both large and small:

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Africa: No Longer the Dark Continent

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

After writing several recent posts on the telecom infrastructure efforts of Connect Africa, I’ve gotten a much better sense of what’s going on there from an ICT standpoint. The conventional wisdom for places like Africa states that it has the potential to achieve telecom parity more quickly than the U.S. and Europe did.

Why? Because it can skip the cost of wireline installations and go straight to wireless. An easier infrastructure, a faster deployment, a more rapid road to the connected life. The question, perhaps, is that optimism unfounded?

You might think so if all you saw was the political news coming out of Africa over the last weeks of 2010: bombings in Johannesburg; a disputed election in Ivory Coast; secession in Sudan; Kenyan politicians named in a drug dealing scandal. Telecom operators are no different than any other business — they’re attracted by stability and repelled by instability.

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Connect Africa: Approaching the Halfway Point (Part 2)

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

In part one of this story, we looked at the strategic and tactical goals of Connect Africa, a group founded in 2007 intending to “bridge major gaps in information and communication technology across the region” by 2015.

In part 2, we look at its progress at the halfway point.

Connect Africa’s eleven flagship projects represent an ambitious stride toward bringing parity to the continent in relation with the rest of the world when it comes to interconnection and education.

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Economic Development Goals for 2011

Local governments are now eagerly discussing how to utilize information and communications technology (ICT) investment to advance their economic development plans. Topic awareness has increased, and yet total  comprehension and plan execution is still a work in progress. Regardless, we’ve seen notable progress.

Back in 1997 I managed the public sector account teams for US West in the state of Arizona. It was my responsibility to understand and support the ICT needs and wants of our local government, education and public safety customers.

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Connect Africa: Approaching the Halfway Point

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

A century ago, Africa was looked upon as a continent with great resources. All the great European powers cast imperialistic eyes across its vast landscape.

Today, the story has shifted. Africa still has vast resources and potential, but efforts to capture these capabilities and resources are primarily in the hands of Africans themselves, and they are working to “mobilize the human, financial and technical resources required to bridge major gaps in information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure across the region.”

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