Living Timorously: Further and further behind
It is worth noting that the first private sector
investment in most post-conflict countries is in
mobile telecom. Within 36 months of the fall of
the Taliban Afghanistan had issued three licenses
and had cellular phone coverage over a large part
of the country. In the first year of operation
there were over one million subscribers. In
2004, the head of our London office called me (in
the USA) from the Khyber Pass, with the call routed through Kabul.
The system is very democratic. Two days ago a
New York Times reporter noted in an article that
he tried to call a Taliban spokesman for comment
on his report. The problems of implementing a
network – geography, security, income levels –
are significantly less in Timor-Leste than in
Afghanistan, which also had no infrastructure
when the fighting ceased and still has no
electricity in many parts of the country. A
cellular system offering competitive calling rates will be used in Timor-Leste.
At 08:19 10/3/2007, you wrote:
> Living Timorously
> An Irreverent Look at Goings-On in East Timor,
> Asia’s Newest Country – A State Failed, But Not (Yet) A Failed State
> Monday, 1 October 2007
> >Further and further behind
> In the recent Doing Business survey of the
> easiest places in which to do business, East
> Timor came 168th. No surprises there, although
> it has notched up a few places. Indeed, an http://www.thejakartapost.com/yesterdaydetail.asp?fileid=20070928.C08>editorial
> in The Jakarta Post rued how Indonesia (ranked
> 123) had been overtaken in the ratings by
> Vietnam (91), and even expressed concerns that
> it might be overtaken by ‘new kids on the block,
> like Cambodia, Laos, or even Timor Leste’. They
> need not worry, it will be years before East
> Timor becomes like Singapore or Hong Kong.
> East Timor’s leaders, however, should feel
> anything but complacent, least of all the new
> Minister for Infrastructure, Pedro Lay. The
> communications infrastructure in Dili not only
> compares unfavourably with other cities in the
> region, but now it compares unfavourably with Ta
> Van, one of the poorest and most remote places
> in Vietnam, up in the mountains near the Chinese border.
> According to http://www.eetimes.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=201808146
> >this article, Intel has set up a wireless
> broadband covering the whole village, using
> IPSTAR satellite broadband from Thailand.
> Yes, yes, I know there are people who will say
> that “there are other priorities”, but there is
> something patronising about this idea that poor
> people don’t need to communicate with the
> outside world. Even some East Timorese in the
> diaspora seem to think that the folks back home
> are happy with using smoke signals or word of mouth.
> When I told one about how an Australian NGO,
> Connect East Timor, which has set up radio
> networks in remote villages where even the
> mobile phone signal didn’t reach, he remarked
> “people in the villages don’t make phone calls”!
> Now that he’s back there, in the Lospalos area,
> I hope he’ll be disabused of that notion.
> So congratulations and best wishes to the people
> of Ta Van – you may be poor and remote, but
> you’ve overtaken the whole of East Timor in the IT and communications stakes.