A model for telecommunication technology transfer /diffusion into rural areas

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A Model for Telecommunication Technology Transfer/Diffusion into Rural Areas of South Africa

Technology transfer is a complex process that, if not managed wisely, can become a burden on national development. When transferring technology from one country/company to another, at different levels of technological know-how, the process holds many problems that need to be overcome.
The telecommunication industry is a high-tech fast moving field with ongoing technology transfers taking place. Problems do exist and a solution is needed to plan proactively for future technology transfers. If not planned systematically the transfer process can lead to unsuccessful allocation of resources.
The Model for Telecommunication Technology Transfer/Diffusion into Rural Areas of South Africa forms the core of this dissertation. This chapter provides the telecommunications industry with systematic guidelines (model) for technology transfers, which includes both parties (source and receiver). The situation in South Africa will also be discussed on the basis of the transfer model in Chapter 5.
The model is divided into two parts shown in Figure 4.1 and Figure 4.2. The interaction between Figure 4.1 and Figure 4.2 is shown through the lines: To “A”, From “A”, To “B”, and From “B”. The sub-elements of both figures will be described below. The reason for the division is purely because of paper size and no official technical meaning was attached to the separation.

Identification of Stakeholders or Interest Groups

The policy maker identifies the stakeholders or interest groups whose actions may influence, or who are influenced by, the technology transfer process. A team is then formed evaluating and recommending the policy maker the appropriate technology to transfer. The team of stakeholders consists of people such as:

  • People directly involved in the technology implementation,
  • People involved in adaptation and modification,
  • Corporate personnel of the receiving telecommunication firm,
  • Corporate personnel from the technology supporting and supplying,
  • The end users, and
  • The Governmental regulator.

The active participants identified by the policy maker forms the stakeholders. If their participation is actively integrated into the decision-making process, the implementation of technological decisions reached by the team will be enhanced.
It is also important to identify the stakeholders’ views and their cultural values. One needs to determine these values and viewpoints because they will definitely have an impact on the transfer process. The difficult part however is to integrate these aspects into the decision-making process.
It is extremely important to view the end users as stakeholders and to incorporate their ideas and needs into the transfer of technology. One of the biggest mistakes made is to only conduct a market research and then to believe that all useful inputs are accounted for. It is however still of importance to know as much as possible about the end user’s preferences and to draw up a profile. To know your customer is a cardinal key to client satisfaction in the service industry.

Identify and Define the Development Problem

Each country/company is unique in a sense and therefore the development problem, while many similarities might exist, will also be unique in many ways. The development problem definition is a clear outlay of all the factors/problems that limit the overall growth or development of the involved country/company. To be able to identify the right development problem the stakeholders need to have vision and must be comfortable with the local conditions. One must be extremely careful when using outsiders during this process. They are often unrealistically expensive and not always in tact with the country/company’s situation.
The use of foreign consultants are only advised when the country/company’s personnel does not have sufficient capabilities, and then it must be done in collaboration with local stakeholders which will still allow them to give their inputs.

Define Needs (Short- and Long-term), Based on Cultural Value System, Availability of Resources, Socio-Economic Factors, etc.

In this phase of the technology transfer model the LDC needs to set up most of the modified relevance tree diagram (MRTD) (discussed earlier). The standards included in the MRTD are defined later in the transfer model. Setting up a MRTD forces the stakeholders to define an overall company goal, mission, and the purpose or reason for existence. When the LDC’s objectives, strengths, and weaknesses (constraints or limitations) are clearly defined the stakeholders can make decisions, recommendations, and analysis based on the right foundation. These objectives are then used to establish standards for achieving the desired outcome. The needs of a country can be determined using the Need-Capability Matrix as discussed in Chapter 3.
A sufficient quantity of information is available in the literature on the subject of determining needs using the Needs- Capability Matrix. The method was not repeatedly described here because the author feels the topic was thoroughly covered during the literature study (3.3.1.1, Chapter 3). The reader is therefore referred to Chapter 3 for more in-depth information concerning this topic.

Determine All Applicable Governmental Regulations and Conduct an Impact Analysis

The telecommunication industry plays a very important role in the provision of the infrastructure needed for national development. The government therefore have a certain regulatory function to fulfil. Through regulations Icasa delimits the borders of the telecommunications playfield. The task of the regulator is however to steer the industry in the right direction and not to set unrealistic goals and expectations. Section 2 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act is a tool with the primary object to provide regulation and control of telecommunication matters in the public interest. If not wisely managed, the regulations can be a burden on the industry and limit the technology utilisation. The regulator should therefore have the latest news available and should do periodic evaluations on the impact of the regulations on the industry. Only then can Icasa have a positive influence on the industry.
This influence from the regulator on the industry can be noticed when observing the fixed line telecommunication industry of South Africa. The situation will now briefly be discussed.

Define Capabilities That the Company/Country has in the Specific Field

The ability to receive a transferred technology depends on certain capabilities that need to be vested within the country/company. Focussing on ones capabilities and strengths is a recipe for success. A country must use its competitive advantage while still not neglecting its weaknesses and limitations. The Need-Capability Assessment Matrix is a useful tool for making technology decisions based on defined capabilities.

Form a Mission, Goals and Objectives, Based on Needs, Capabilities, Expectations, Tradeoffs, Priorities and Aspirations

Once a country knows its needs, capabilities, strengths, weaknesses, and limitations, it can form goals and objectives to solve the defined development problem. Only the local stakeholders can truly assess the expectations and aspirations of the people. There will always be tradeoffs between different alternatives and goals, which should also be defined clearly. Once the objectives are well defined and all limitations and capabilities well understood set criteria could be established to achieve these objectives.

Define Standards to Choose & Evaluate Technology

Once the technology is in place and operational its success must be evaluated continuously. The standards on which one chooses a specific technology are derived from the needs and capabilities determined earlier in the transfer model. These standards are also included in the modified relevance tree diagram (MRTD).

Search And Generate A List Of The Different Potential Types Of Technologies That Will Best Satisfy The LDC’s Needs Given Its Capabilities, Maximizing Social Welfare, And Allocating Its Limited Resources

Because of the fast moving technological nature of the telecommunications industry many alternatives will often be possible, which could fulfil the need of LDCs and help them in reaching their goals. As each technology poses different constraints, the focus of this block in the transfer model should be on identifying as many alternatives possible. The more alternatives one have, the better decision can be made on choosing the most appropriate technology for the specific country’s situation. When generating the list of alternatives a country should only identify technologies and try not to evaluate them in the same exercise. The decision on which technology to transfer will be dealt with at a later stage in the technology transfer model when most of the deterministic factors are known.

Conduct Technology Assessment To Determine The Future Of Technology And Future Technologies

Conducting technology assessment to determine the future of technology and future technologies is a difficult task, which requires experience. Many LDCs with limited experience make use of foreign consultants to fulfil this function. Several authors [44] have presented useful techniques, such as technological progress functions (S-curves), trend extrapolation, the Delphi method, and scenario development.
One way of forecasting technology is to determine the technology being applied in military applications. In this method of forecasting, the user determines the average lag time for technology to be diffused from a military application into commercial markets. One assumes then this calculated average lag-time and uses it to predict the future technologies. In Figure 4.3 the acceptance and urge to apply the technology is shown on the vertical axis. Time is given on the horizontal axis with contours of the two application positions (military and commercial markets) shown. The lag time is then the average time a technology takes to be accepted into the commercial market from the point in time the same acceptance was experienced in the military.

1. INTRODUCTION 
1.1. Research Objective
1.2. Research Approach
2. BACKGROUND
2.1. Technology Transfer
2.2. The Role of Technology in National Development
2.3. Possible Advantages that Telecommunication Might Offer Rural Communities
2.4. Technologies to transfer
2.5. Channels of Technology Flow
2.6. Linkages Between MNCs and Local Firms
2.7. Generating Technology
2.8. Telecommunications Industry of South Africa
3. LITERATURE STUDY: HOW TO TRANSFER TECHNOLOGY? 
3.1. Critical Factors Needed for Successful Technology Transfer
3.2. Malfunctions in the Technology Transfer Process
3.3. Need- and Capability Assessment
3.4. Generating a Technology Transfer Model
4. A MODEL FOR TELECOMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER /DIFFUSION INTO RURAL AREAS
4.1. Identification of Stakeholders or Interest Groups (1)
4.2. Identify and Define the Development Problem (2)
4.3. Define Needs (Short- and Long-term), Based on Cultural Value System, Availability of Resources, Socio-Economic Factors, etc. (3)
4.4. Determine All Applicable Governmental Regulations and Conduct an Impact Analysis (4)
4.5. Define Capabilities That the Company/Country has in the Specific Field (5)
4.6. Form a Mission, Goals and Objectives, Based on Needs, Capabilities, Expectations, Tradeoffs, Priorities and Aspirations (6)
4.7. Define Standards to Choose & Evaluate Technology (7)
4.8. Search And Generate A List Of The Different Potential Types Of Technologies That Will Best Satisfy The LDC’s Needs Given Its Capabilities, Maximizing Social Welfare, And Allocating Its Limited Resources (8)
4.9. Conduct Technology Assessment To Determine The Future Of Technology And Future Technologies (9)
4.10. Identification Of The Sources For Technology Transfer (10)
4.11. Apply Management and/or Statistical Techniques To Narrow Down the Possible Alternatives (11)
4.12. Evaluate and Develop Domestic Capabilities Needed for Technology Utilization (12-16)
4.13. Choose a Technology And a Technology Source (17 – 24)
4.14. Develop Appropriate Educational and Training Systems (26)
4.15. Install and Implement Technology, Inform users, & Implement It Gradually (27)
4.16. Conduct Technological/Need Assessments and Forecasts (28)
4.17. Evaluate Transferred Technology (29-36)
5. RESEARCH DESIGN 
5.1. Postulate
5.2. Sample Survey design
5.3. Taking precautions to assure reliability of the collected data
6. ANALYSIS 
6.1. Identification of Stakeholders or Interest Groups (1)
6.2. Identify and Define Development Problem (2)
6.3. Define Needs (Short- and Long-term), Based on Cultural Value System, Availability of Resources, Socio-Economic Factors, etc. (3)
6.4. Determine All Applicable Governmental Regulations and Conduct Impact Analysis (4)
6.5. Define Capabilities That the Company/Country Has in Specific Field (5) 120
6.6. Form Mission, Goals and Objectives, Based on Needs, Capabilities, Expectations, Tradeoffs, Priorities and Aspirations (6)
6.7. Define Standards to Choose & Evaluate Technology (7)
6.8. Search and Generate a List of Different Potential Types of Technologies Which Will Best Satisfy LDC’s Needs Given Its Capabilities, Maximizing Social Welfare, and Allocating Its Limited Resources Wisely & Conduct Technology Assessment to Determine the Future of Technology and Future Technologies (8 & 9)
6.9. Identify Sources for Technology Transfer / Apply Management and/or Statistical Techniques to Narrow Down Possible Alternatives (10 & 11)
6.10. Evaluate and Develop Domestic Capabilities Needed for Technology Utilization (12-16)
6.11. Select Technology and Technology Source (17 – 24)
6.12. Prioritise All Possible Regions and Choose Region(s) Which Will Benefit Most From Technology Application & Transfer Technology From Most Desirable Source (24, 25)
6.13. Develop Appropriate Educational & Training Systems (26)
6.14. Install and Implement Technology, Inform Users, & Implement it
Gradually (27)
6.15. Conduct Technological/Need Assessments and Forecasts & Evaluate Transferred Technology (28-36)
7. CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS 
7.1. Suggestions
7.2. Conclusions
APPENDIX

Department of Engineering and Technology Management

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