CPRsouth7/CPRafrica 2012 was held in Balaclava, Mauritius this past week (5-7 September 2012). The 3-day conference brought together approximately 100 researchers from around the globe including places like Fiji, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Philippines, Australia, Canada, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Peru. The relatively small number of conference participants allowed for informal mentoring between junior and senior researchers and many interesting cross-cultural ICT research discussions. The intimate setting also helped to foster very open discussions and critical analysis of the research being presented.
One of the most reoccurring themes during the conference was mobile services price and capacity issues. It was noted that regulation can be key in order to get access, quality, and affordability to people. Several times, participants also raised that local content is important to continue to improve, especially in developing tech sectors in Asia and Africa. Rohan Samarajiva, CEO of CPRsouth, stated, "decentralized innovation is needed for new products, services, hardware, and policies/regulations."
Research ICT Africa (Gillwald & Stork 2012) presented an engaging presentation about the impact of mobile termination rates on retail prices in 3 African countries. Termination rates are the charges which one telecommunications operator charges to another for terminating calls on its network. Despite arguments by dominant Mobile Service Providers (MSPs) that if termination rates are lowered, the retail prices will increase, the research found that prices in the 3 countries studied did not go up; rather, overall, there was a net improvement since interconnection revenues went up, and expenses went down.
Various methods, software, and methodologies were presented including a new way to estimate Internet users in countries which have not conducted demand-side surveys on ICT users (Gunaratne & Samarajiva 2012); time transcripts and mobility mapping (Jaime Manalo 2012); an online analytical software, Alexa.com (Hua & Melissa 2012); concept analysis software, Leximancer; and a triangulation methodology (Breit, Fitzgerald, Liu, and Neal 2011) to test if international journalists are reporting Freedom of Information as a news issue in its own right.
The perspectives gained from the international research community that came together helped to highlight some of the most important aspects of ICT in development. Applications and innovations are critical, but we also cannot neglect the fact that the underlying infrastructural basis must also be kept in mind (availability of capacity for voice, SMS, data, etc.).
The next CPRsouth/CPRafrica conference will be held in India in 2013. Keep an eye out for the call for papers at http://www.researchictafrica.net/. For more information about CPRsouth, visit http://www.cprsouth.org/about/.