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4.2.8. ICT for Conflict-Affected Environments

Special Considerations for ICT in Conflict-affected Environments

When there is violent conflict, telecommunications infrastructure is often the first to shut down since its wires and towers are easily destroyed. However, it is also one of the first sectors to rebound—particularly when wireless connectivity enables quick start-up—as fierce competition pushes mobile operators across borders and into post-conflict areas quickly. In conflict-affected areas mobile networks and radio can sometimes be integrated into other infrastructure projects. Ideally fiber wire will be laid during road or railroad construction or in tandem with an energy project as is currently happening in Afghanistan.

All donors want Internet access or cell phone coverage, creating the potential for collaboration with other donor- or government-funded projects to consolidate demand and create a market for telecommunications service providers.

Global positioning systems (GPS) can be very powerful tools because they allow for the determination of exact locations based on satellite coverage which is helpful for coordinating services and distribution networks. In conflict situations, military units often make an investment in good GPS coverage, producing maps that can be obtained and used for ICT network purposes. With a favorable regulatory environment, the private telecommunications sector will make most major investments, minimizing donor investment requirements in infrastructure. There may be a lack of political will on the part of the government to make changes in the regulatory environment or break the monopoly of an incumbent provider, but efforts must be made to increase competition since this will reduce prices and extend ac-cess as providers seek broader markets.