Last Mile Initiative Innovations - Research Findings from the Georgia Institute of Technology

In the fall of 2005, under the supervision of Principal Investigator, Dr. Michael Best, thirteen students from the Georgia Institute of Technology came together as USAID Last Mile Initiative (LMI) Innovation Fellows. This activity took place within the framework of USAID's Last Mile Innovation Committee managed by dot-ORG. The students' job was to provide fresh and dynamic new perspectives into LMI programs in Africa, S.E. Europe, and Latin America. These student research fellows came from every major discipline represented at Georgia Tech, including International Affairs, Computer Science, Industrial Engineering, Engineering Psychology, Mechanical Engineering, and Industrial Design. The results of these activities are contained in a volume titled "Last Mile Initiative Innovations: Research Findngs from the Georgia Institute of Technology".

The research papers utilize a wide range of disciplinary methodologies and many important topics that relate to LMI and the ICT-for-development community as a whole. For example, several papers provide practical strategies for improving the enabling environments in which the LMI programs operate. They do so through sharp analyses of national and regional telecom regulatory institutions (e.g., Ethiopia, or the West AFrica Telecommunications Regulators Assembly -WATRA) and by exploring how one USAID Mission (Macedonia) created a vibrant and constructive environment for its ICT-for-development programs to flourish.

Other papers look at the essential intersections of ICT access and sector-specific development, here concerning LMI programs designed to strengthen rural Rwandan coffee cooperatives and Peru's rural primary health care centers. These papers offer refreshingly realistic and nuanced observations of appropriate technology solutions and business models and highlight the important potential offered by handheld devices (cell phones in particular).

Moreover, this edited volume makes an important contribution to our understanding of urban public communication access by exploring how cyber cafes in Abuja, Nigeria both shape and are deeply embedded within existing social and business networks and relationships. These networks and relationships produce a diverse set of cyber cafes and related business/operational models, each conforming to the needs of their users.

The individual papers included in the compilation are listed below:

  • Information and Communication Needs of Rwandan Coffee Stakeholders

  • Evaluating the Impact and Affordability of ICTs in Rural Primary Health Care Centers of Peru

  • Influences on the Partial Liberalization of Internet Service Provision in Ethiopia

  • Whither or wither: Sustainability of Regional Regulatory Bodies

  • Lessons from the Macedonia Connects Aid Model

  • USAID Impementing Networks: A Macedonian e-Case Study

  • Connecting the Rwandan Coffee Cooperatives: Economic Analysis of Network Deployments for Rural Rwanda

  • 3G in China: A Resource-Based Examination of Telecom Firms in China

  • Relating Regulatory Independence to Telecommunications Sector Performance: A Study of the ECOWAS REgion

  • Portal, Pedagogue, Worksite: Cybercafes as Second and Third Place

For More Information, Contact:
Michael Tetelman
Director, dot-ORG, Academy for Educational Development
Tel: (202) 884-8856

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