Co-designing a billing system for voice services in rural South Africa: Lessons learned
Ufitamahoro, Marie Josee
Tucker, William David
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Access to information and communication technologies re- mains una ordable for many in rural areas despite recent progress in providing voice services to remote communities. The sustainability of alternative technical solutions is a chal- lenge, which can be addressed when local knowledge is taken into account during the design process. This research re- ects on the process of co-designing a billing system for voice services provided by a Community Network in rural South Africa. Several payment methods were explored with users and operators of the Community Network, focusing on the legal, nancial, technical and social feasibility - as well as constraints - of each method. Those methods that suited the community's needs were implemented and tested with stakeholders. The process revealed factors embedded in the provision of voice services by traditional voice operators in South Africa that prevent economically poor and illiterate users from fully bene ting from voice services. Solutions to these factors were explored with users and were implemented as a billing system. The system is currently being deployed in a rural South African community. Both the problems experienced and solutions proposed may inform similar ini- tiatives.