[This week’s Communications column for the Vanuatu Independent.]
In July 2004, the World Bank presented a report on the state of Vanuatu’s public utilities to the public.
This was a watershed moment. From that moment, the government of Vanuatu formally committed itself to a process that ultimately led to the break-up of the telecommunications monopoly and the creation of the Utilities Regulatory Authority.
The transformation since then has been nothing short of remarkable. Nobody seems to have anticipated just how widespread and immediate the effects of telecoms liberalisation would be. Some of the expectations outlined in the Infrastructure Regulatory Review appear now to be quite conservative, in some cases landing nearly outside the ballpark.
Perhaps most telling is the report’s contention that ‘low income, low population base, low urbanization and low literacy rate are characteristics which suggest that demand for telecommunications services in Vanuatu is likely to be constrained.’
Experience seems to indicate quite the opposite.