News Releases

UWI and DIRSI explores the use of Telecommunications by the underprivileged

For Release Upon Receipt - March 10, 2008

St. Augustine

The University of the West Indies (UWI), in collaboration with the Diálogo Regional sobre Sociedad de la Información (DIRSI), a network of Latin American and Caribbean researchers on March 4, 2008 hosted a meeting to discuss telecommunication research needs and priority areas for future research.

One of the focus points of the meeting was a review of current research, including the results for a 2007 survey, which was conducted with the support of DIRSI. The Lead Trinidad and Tobago DIRSI researcher was Dr. Kim Mallalieu, Head of the UWI St Augustine Campus’ Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Coordinator for that department’s MRP (Telecommunications) programme. Dr. Mallalieu led a local team of analysts and researchers who explored links between poverty and access to telephony in Trinidad and Tobago.

This regional research project aimed to identify and understand the strategies used by the poor and socially excluded in Latin America and the Caribbean to access and use mobile telephony services. The Trinidad and Tobago fieldwork was carried out between April and June 2007, with similar studies simultaneously conducted in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico and Peru. The regional study comprised over 7,000 face-to-face interviews.

The results of this research support findings from other countries and suggest possible areas of focus for increased opportunities for mobile use. Around the world, mobile telephony has been extensively deployed to overcome limitations in fixed-line telephone access and has been found to contribute tremendously to the building of networks and reinforcing of social ties. There is also considerable evidence of its capability to enhance business and employment opportunities.

The meeting, which was held at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Institute of Critical Thinking, brought together invited representatives of key stakeholder groups, including the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, the Ministry of Public Administration and Information, the Tobago House of Assembly, the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organizations, the Ministry of Social Development, The Central Statistical Office, and the host organizations, DIRSI and UWI.

DIRSI network members represent several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Their research supports policy-making to promote effective participation of poor and marginalized communities in the Information Society throughout the region. The network has produced a number of investigative reports and a series of background papers on ‘Mobile Opportunities: Poverty and Telephony Access in Latin America and the Caribbean’.

For further information on DIRSI, please visit the website, or contact Aileen Agüero García at