A research project of the Port Vila, Vanuatu based Pacific Institute of Public Policy on the social and economic impact of telecommunications and internet usage in the country has revealed, “Modes of communication are changing, new business ventures are emerging, and mobile phones are becoming a part of everyday life,” in the country.
The report, released recently, is the third in a series of studies on telecommunications use, benefits, and constraints in Vanuatu. The institute has been mapping developments and changes in this area since 2008.
Some key findings from the research, according to the report are:
• Mobile phones are used extensively in business in both rural and urban areas, particularly at the ‘supply’ (placing orders with wholesalers) and ‘distribution’ (to confirm transportation arrangements) stages of the value chain.
• The overwhelming majority of households in Vanuatu have access to a mobile phone. Four out of five respondents reported personally owning a mobile phone and an increasing number of households have access to three or more mobile phones.
• Mobile phone usage is higher in urban areas than in rural locations, reflecting issues of more limited coverage, cost (whether actual or perceived) and reliability of service.
• Gaps in complementary infrastructure affect people’s ability to get maximum benefit from mobile telephony; people have phones but may have difficulty getting access to electricity to charge up batteries or can use their phones get information about current prices for commodities but be unable to get those goods to market because of a lack of shipping or roads.
• Use of the internet, whilst growing is still very much in its infancy but people in both urban and rural areas are keen to know more about this technology and are already anticipating the advantages it will bring them both socially and economically.