Digicel Revolution, The Global Voices Show & Mothers' Day

Cell Phone Costs Decrease in Haiti/ Could He Be Talking about Digicel?
  • I came across this blog entry today on Moose's Adventures Abroad. Moose did not name his employer but could he be talking about Digicel, the new Caribbean Telecom Giant who recently made its grand entrance on the Haitian market, much to the chagrin of its competitors?
    The company I work for invested $130M into Haiti - this is the largest foreign investment ever into Haiti. People lined up for phones starting at 4am the night before our launch. Line-ups were hours long at EVERY store in the country. It is the first time affordable mobile phones have been available in Haiti. The current provider charges:
    i. $50 USD to activate
    ii. cheapest phone = $60
    iii. You pay to make and receive calls
    iv. Rates are per-minute

    Our charges:
    i. $0 to activate
    ii. Three phones available for under $20
    iii. You only pay to make calls
    iv. Rates are per-second

    People cannot afford mobile telephony at the current rates - they can afford it now. The number of mobile subscribers in the country could go from 3-4% to 60-80% (this is all speculation on my part). Honestly - it is a bit of a revolution - there is not landline phone network either so this is the first time many people in Haiti will have any phone!

    I know many people will argue that we are not in fact revolutionizing the country and that this is consumerism in its worst way. I disagree for a number of reasons -
    1. the phones we market and push are the phones under $20 USD.
    2. We don't accept credit and we don't reduce the price of phones and force them to take long contracts (in the mass market) like you see in North America. If a person wants to get an expensive phone they have to save up for it and in that case I think it is a legitimate spend.
    3. Phones are always a balance of style versus function. In developing countries the large portion of the selection is based on price and function with style lagging behind that.
    4. I have heard of a direct correlation between telecom growth and GDP growth in developing countries (not in the developed world). I can't find anything strong that correlates it... but telecom is an enabler. If teleco and technology improves communications improve which facilitates economic growth over all. Yes I realize this is very glossy, high-level and weak.

Mothers' Day in Haiti Today

  • Happy Mothers' Day to all Haitian Manmies today. I got reminded of this by reading this entry at AyitiCherieConnexion. (Translation here.)

The Global Voices Show
  • Georgia recycles podcasts from all over the world in the first edition of the podcast The Global Voices Show. The francophone world has barely caught on to blogging, let alone podcasting, so it is not really represented on this 1st 17-minute edition of the show. But there are some hilarious clips from the rest of the world my favorite being a skit of a South African mother coming to grips with her son's gayness.
Haitian Actor Jimmy Jean-Louis in Hollywood
  • A Haitian film is forthcoming starring Haitian-born French-grown actor Jimmy Jean-Louis. The director is Arnold Antonin who did a great documentary on Haitian painter Tiga. The title? Does the President Have AIDS? (Whoa!) Anyway, in this interview of the actor by AlterPresse (Fr), he talks about growing up in a house without electricity in Petion-Ville, moving to France as a teen, becoming an actor whose worked with the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme and J-Lo and meeting Mandela. Nuff said. :-)

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