[bestbits] [governance] The unintended consequences of Free Basics campaign in India

Deirdre Williams williams.deirdre at gmail.com
Fri Jan 15 11:06:26 EST 2016

Hi Mwendwa,
Perhaps I'm using an inaccurate definition for the "next billion". It's
within that context that I've been thinking about "free basics". If it is
necessary to "connect the next billion" then it seems to me that they must
be currently un-connected.
I'm very interested to see the prices that you quote. Things are rather
different here.And I'm not sure that solar chargers have made it to Saint
Lucia, except possibly to the well off.
You don't answer my point about ISP subscription - but I expect this is
probably because you are thinking of people who already have and use an
appropriate type of phone, and therefore already pay a subscription
Finally we may need to be a little careful about statistics. Mobile phone
penetration in Saint Lucia is greater than 100% (I think this is true
generally across the Caribbean) but that DOES NOT mean that everyone has a
It would be instructive to be able to do more comparison among different
parts of the world - thank you for sharing your perspective with me.
Best wishes

On 15 January 2016 at 11:31, Mwendwa Kivuva <Kivuva at transworldafrica.com>

> On Jan 15, 2016 4:57 PM, "Deirdre Williams" <williams.deirdre at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >
> > Please forgive the cross posting.
> >
> > Thank you Parminder. I've shared the article with colleagues in the
> Caribbean.
> > One thing that concerns me though - in all the discussion about "free"
> services it seems to be generally ignored, by both sides of the argument,
> that the service is not accessible unless the user has access to an
> appropriate communications device, a subscription to an ISP of some type,
> and a source of electricity.
> > It is surely dangerous to assume that potential users already have these
> things.
> > I tried to offer reminders of this in appropriate workshops in Joao
> Pessoa, but I'm not sure that anyone paid attention :-)
> > I would be very interested to learn what other people think.
> > Thanks again for an interesting article
> > Best wishes to everyone for 2016
> >
> Deidre, what demographic is that?
> For example, when we talk about free basics in Kenya, we base the
> arguments on current users. Mobile penetration is nearly 90%, and a feature
> phone that can support free basics cost less than $10, a price within the
> reach of everybody. Yes, everybody. Even beggars on the streets have this
> phones. There are also very innovative energy solutions in these parts of
> the world. That $10 feature phone would probably come with a solar charger
> bundled together, or you would need about $5 to get a solar charger.
> Regards

“The fundamental cure for poverty is not money but knowledge" Sir William
Arthur Lewis, Nobel Prize Economics, 1979
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