|Chapter 4: Identifying Appropriate Organizational Models
4.8. Case Study: Micro-Telcos in Peru—A Community-Based Social Enterprise (11)
Local ICT Environment
More than 60 percent of Peru’s population, which is concentrated in the country’s urban centers, lives in Lima, and 71 percent of the total population lives in urban areas.(12) The concentration of people living in urban areas makes communication difficult for those living in rural areas because the small market size and the difficult terrain make running telephone and cable lines to remote areas expensive and unprofitable for private businesses.
To address this challenge, the government has promoted deployment of cabinas (public telephones) through a universal access fund. Beyond these cabinas, a number of micro-telcos—small-scale telecom operators that combine local entrepreneurship, municipal efforts, and community action—play an important role in expanding information and communication technology services to rural, underserved areas of Peru.The Chancay-Huaral River irrigates large areas of heavy farming in Peru, in areas that are relatively close to markets in Lima. The area is also home to a number of food processing companies and specialized agricultural educational and experimentation centers. The villages spread along this valley have precarious access to communication facilities.
A group of institutions collaborated to plan and execute a project to address these villages’ specific needs, which included not only agricultural information but also VoIP telephony. The area’s primary economic activity is agriculture, and river water for irrigation is essential to sustain it.
In many rural areas of Peru, the Board of Irrigation Users is the most important social organization. Boards of irrigation users are local organizations that help regulate the use of river water for irrigation. In the Chancay-Huaral valley, the board of users felt an obligation to provide telecommunication services to the farmers in the valley. It was important for the project to be financially viable, but profiting from the network was not the primary aim.