Maldives Case Study
The Republic of the Maldives, a Small Island Developing State
(SIDS), consists of some 1'200 widely dispersed islands that are spread over 820
kilometers from North to South. Given the country's unique geographical
characteristics, it is a noteworthy that the country achieved universal access
in 1999. By then the partially private incumbent, Dhiraagu, was able to provide
telephone service to all inhabited islands.
Mobile cellular subscribers surpassed fixed telephone lines in
2002 and Dhiraagu is focusing investments on the rapidly growing mobile segment,
including plans to launch GPRS. Since much time is spent on boats, mobile
services are more useful and mobile coverage is widely available in sea waters.
Statistics also show that a growing number of mobile users access data services
over their mobiles phones. Thus the development of mobile data networks appears
to be a promising solution for enhancing Internet access.
Liberalization in the telecommunication sector has been slow in
the Maldives and only the Internet market has been opened to a second Internet
Service Provider. The country, which is classified as a Least Developed Country
(LDC), does not have a telecommunication law or a separate regulatory agency.
There are, however, a number of ongoing international development projects in
this area, including an e-government project by the Asian Development Bank.
Another pressing need in the Maldives is in the areas of human resources. While
primary and secondary school enrolment are high, less than one percent of the
population has a tertiary degree
A mission to the Maldives was carried out from 28 May to 3 June
2003, involving Michael Minges and Vanessa Gray. The mission and interviews were
coordinated with the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology.