View Thread > Development and the Internet > Entrepreneurship - Question 2 > Three levels of "credibility and accountability"
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?
Laws that will make VOip widely available will be critical to the near term success of Busy Internet. In my opinion, Laws towards internet cafe standartization will also be critical. In addition laws that eases the funding process for incubators will be critical and laws for tax reduction may be critical for the success of the Franchise model.
In the long term, laws may be needed to monitor the national sectorial clusters which will include criterias for eligibility and standartization. This should also be taken into account for financial auditing systems that will increase credibility and accountability for companies' operations and a requirement for involvement in the international affiliations programs.
In keeping with the ecosystem analogy offered by the authors of this module (Moore et al.), achieving the right framework to optimize the value-add of VOIP may equate to incenting the right keystone species. In essence, keystones shape what an ecosystem does (while niche species are what it does).
For details, see Keystones and Dominators: Framing the Operational Dynamics of Business Ecosystems, by Harvard Business School professor Marco Iansiti et al.
One of the limitations of H2O's attempt to insure equity in the asking and answering of posts is that the assignment system can result in someone getting a post that evokes nothing but placid and passive agreement, and such agreement does not make for interesting dialog.
As the writer of this post says, we will need laws.
How to respond? Laws are needed. Steve's observation is valid, but I have no improvement to recommend...
VOip is cheaper and more reliable. I think regulating it so as to reder its exercice less difficult and free for cybercafés is a very good deal. But this project counters the interest of state monopolies, which grant a lot of benefit in the sector of International telecommunication. Addressing this challenge is very difficult, because it supposes a certain number of prior adjustments.
Taking the example of Cameroon, although there is an independent regulatory agency, VOip is always forbiden, because CAMTEL oppose to the project. So, I think this should be a first step in the overall liberalisation of the sector, as well as providing cyber café, which are in general small businesses, an important source of income.
To the near term it is very iportant. But notice that small Internet cafe continue to run this business, what BusyInternet cannot do given its importance
If we approach your statement within the context of development we face a contradiction. Of course universal access to VoIP could significantly lower the cost of long distance and international communication and boost development by reducing transaction costs. However those with Internet access tend to learn about international VoIP services and ignore the law while their compatriots without Internet access often lack access to phones and electricity as well.
I wonder if the block to the development of sustainable local Internet hubs across developing countries lies in the rates which the local telecoms monopoly charges for the use of bandwidth. They have to finance the extension of basic telephone services and high margins on premium services are part of this strategy. Privatisation may not be the answer either since early competitors tend to cherry pick the high value added services and leave the former monopoly with the telephony development costs unless the new firms are specifically required in terms of their contacts to act responsibly.
I would follow this context with the extension of financial auditing practices to enhance credibility and accountability of companies' operations. Criterion that suit the contention and decrease of administrative barriers, and their repercussions in terms of real costs (increased ones) on developing countries.
By promoting the establishment of such standards and norms, matters of transparency can strengthen and fasten the establishment of procedures vis-a-vis the implemementation and operations of foreign or domestic investments.
1. Creating the "culture" of accountability
2. Creating the structures of formal financial auditing practices
3. Creating the structure of law and enforcement
Based on what I've read, I'm not entirely clear if VOip is needed for BusyInternet to turn a profit and grow. I hope not--approvals for this activity could possibly take quite a bit of time.
While I think that nations do require a framework, as proposed in the course materials, I'm not sure that the regulation should reach down to specifically targeting, with an eye toward supporting, the structural activities of incubators and/or franchises. While laws should not overly DIScourage this or any other form of business, my preference is to let the market determine which business model or model(s) work best to serve local needs.
Structural encouragement of one sort of model over another could direct money towards one kind of activity vs another; perhaps not in the best interests of the people or the country. (Read last week's Economist for an interesting commentary on EU structural funds' effects.)
And as you might guess, I am similarily disinclined towards laws 'standarizing' possible internet cafe offerings or towards mandating sector activity or affliations.
From Germany to the former Soviet states to many so-called economic development projects in the US (some I know quite well from govt exp in CA), mandated sectoral development (especially when they are nationally mandated) and mandated affiliations have been a notable sinkhole for money; though providing lots of junket opportunities for the officials in charge.
I strongly believe in social, civil society and economic frameworks as important to establish the rights, responsibilities and expectations that provide a fertile field for economic activity.(See some of my prior posts.) But it is dangerous to have the hand of inflexible govt regulation reach down too deeply into the pockets and lives of its citizens....
If there is one lesson I am learning from my colleagues with far more expertise in development than I have, it is that there is not one single 'best approach' for every situation. Government intervention can be helpful in some situations, in some countries, at some times. But not always. Who decides when and where? Using what criteria for analysis? Which values?