Following the Latin American experience, a second wave of Universal Access and Service Funds (UASFs) occurred in Asia and Africa. Nepal (1998) and Uganda (2000) pioneered the concept, and several others, including Mongolia, Pakistan, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Nigeria and Mozambique, are following in their footsteps. This is often with technical assistance from the World Bank or other international donors. The UASF concept has spread to approximately 46 countries by end of 2007 [1
Many of the latest UASF initiatives listed above are following Uganda’s lead by holding technology neutral competitions, which are increasingly being won by mobile operators with existing licenses. These UASFs, as well as the early Latin American funds, are also applying their resources to the financing of Internet Points of Presence (POPs) in rural districts, telecentres and cyber cafés, school connectivity, and other ICT initiatives.
Research indicates that at least 39 countries have already set operator levies as the main means of accumulating resources to their fund. These levies range from less than 1 per cent of operator revenues in South Africa, to 5 per cent in India and Colombia, and 6 per cent on certain revenues in Malaysia [2
]. See figure below, Existing UASF Operator Levies.
A few funds, notably those in India, Malaysia and the Russian Federation are still distributing the largest share of their resources to fixed line operators and some, notably India and Malaysia, initially used their funds as sources for distribution of access deficit awards to incumbent operators. However, as noted in Section 3.1.4
, this practice is now disappearing. The Indian and Malaysian funds appear to be moving their focus onto mobile expansion, while all funds, including the Russian Federation’s, fund Internet POPs and ICT development as well.
The Practice Note Uganda’s Rural Communications Development Fund showcases this country’s best practice approach.
Figure: Existing or planned UASF Operator Levies
Source: ITU-infoDev ICT Regulation Toolkit – UA Module
- A summary and list of current UASFs and their features can be found at www.inteleconresearch.com/pages/documents/UAFunds2007update.pdf
- Malaysia’s USPF levies six per cent of operator “weighted net revenues”, which includes the following services: international calls; call termination service for foreign service providers, freephone service, ISDN, cellular mobile, international roaming, IP telephony, leased lines, other activities subject to an individual or class license. The levy is approximately equal to two per cent of the sector’s total gross turnover according to the regulator, MCMC. However it appears to be much higher than this (around the full six per cent) on mobile operator revenues at least.