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New Cellular Networks in Malawi: Correlates of Service Rollout and Network Performance

In: African Successes, Volume III: Modernization and Development

Author

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  • Dimitris Batzilis
  • Taryn Dinkelman
  • Emily Oster
  • Rebecca Thornton
  • Deric Zanera

Abstract

Cellular technologies have become increasingly important in the developing world; infrastructure for mobile networks has expanded dramatically over the past two decades giving access to remote areas without previous phone service. Despite this expansion, relatively little is known about the correlates of the rollout of cellular phone networks or the performance of these networks. Since the rollout of cellular networks has been largely spearheaded by an active private sector in telecommunications, how demand-side and cost-side factors affect the timing of rollout and quality of network service is of particular interest. In this paper we use new data to estimate the correlates of cellular phone access and network performance across rural areas of Malawi. We compile a dataset which combines administrative data of the entire cellular network of Malawi with geographic and Census data to describe the rollout and the performance of the cellular network measured by the dropped call rate. We find that both demand-side and cost-side factors are important in determining the timing of network access, while demand-side factors appear most relevant for the dropped call rate, one metric of network quality.
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Suggested Citation

  • Dimitris Batzilis & Taryn Dinkelman & Emily Oster & Rebecca Thornton & Deric Zanera, 2014. "New Cellular Networks in Malawi: Correlates of Service Rollout and Network Performance," NBER Chapters,in: African Successes, Volume III: Modernization and Development, pages 215-245 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:13366
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Taryn Dinkelman, 2011. "The Effects of Rural Electrification on Employment: New Evidence from South Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3078-3108, December.
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    5. Buys, Piet & Dasgupta, Susmita & Thomas, Timothy S. & Wheeler, David, 2009. "Determinants of a Digital Divide in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Spatial Econometric Analysis of Cell Phone Coverage," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(9), pages 1494-1505, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aker, Jenny C. & Clemens, Michael A. & Ksoll, Christopher, 2011. "Mobiles and mobility: The Effect of Mobile Phones on Migration in Niger," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 2, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    2. Raul KATZ & Pantelis KOUTROUMPIS, 2012. "The Economic Impact of Telecommunications in Senegal," Communications & Strategies, IDATE, Com&Strat dept., vol. 1(86), pages 21-42, 2nd quart.
    3. Bernard, Tanguy & Torero, Maximo, 2011. "Randomizing the "Last Mile": A methodological note on using a voucher-based approach to assess the impact of infrastructure projects," IFPRI discussion papers 1078, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Jenny C. Aker & Marcel Fafchamps, 2015. "Mobile Phone Coverage and Producer Markets: Evidence from West Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 29(2), pages 262-292.
    5. Elodie Djemai, 2017. "Roads and the Spread of AIDS in Africa," Working Papers DT/2017/16, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O20 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - General
    • O25 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Industrial Policy
    • R39 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Other

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