View Thread > Development and the Internet > Entrepreneurship - Question 2 > Dangerous to Generalize about 'Africa,' Also similar issues often at play in DCs
Please refer to the BusyInternet case study.
What dimensions of the law are likely to be most critical to the near term success of BusyInternet? How about longer term?
Near term,legalisation of VOIP would have a major impact on BusyInternet, both for its own telephone use and because it would have a new public service to offer.
Longer term, as BusyInternet looks to expand to other countries, there are many issues.
The main ones seem to be those relating to telecoms itself, monoplies etc.
The others issues are more general and were reflected in the problems faced in negotiations over the lease, with government officials and customs.
Although it is an oversimplification to assume that delays are always by-products of corrupt practices, it is none the less true that where there are no corrupt practices certain unnecessary delays simply do not occur. Laws against corrupt practice are meaningless if they are not implemented. Similarly poor record keeping (regarding property rights etc) casual attitudes to business agreements, and so on are unlikley to improve untill there is some kind of 'legal muscle' to make change happen.
The kind of changes mentioned above would help BusyInternet to realise its dream of a franchise operation across Africa, instead of a one-off operation.
How can an enterprise like BusyInternet compete for local government interest. The incumbent interests (monopolies, state run ICTs), almost seem untouchable due to long-standing and often familial ties. Any enterprise considering expansion or entry in Africa would seem to face two competitors. Business and the local government may be competing to maintain a hold on the market.
It reminds me of a question in Pride and Prejudice: "How is such a man to be worked on." In that instance, they had to buy him off at a very high price. What will be the price in this instance? Who will pay it? How will such a sum ever be repaid?
I'd like to make a few short comments here:
-first, it is very dangerous to generalize about 'Africa;' it is a continent rather than a homogenous social or cultural entity.
-second, to varying degrees, those same factors of nepotism and long-standing power relationships are present in every country, even in the US, Britain, Germany, France etc. ; - )
-third, the critical success factor is whether the personal/familial/tribal/regional self interests can be either overridden or influenced so that frameworks can be developed that allow greater opportunities for a wider specturm of the population.
Perhaps the transparency of the global village helps with this.
; - )
Let's hope enlightened self-interest, donor pressure, pressure from the local population can support l