A demand study in rural areas of Mozambique

Objectives of the study
In 2005, the government of Mozambique commissioned a study to explore the demand for telecommunications and Internet services in the country’s unserved regions. The objectives of the study were to:

  • Identify and assess the potential demand for both voice and Internet services;
  • Determine user ability to pay for communication services, including priority customers;
  • Explore users’ needs and preferences regarding residential and business service, public phones, public access for the Internet and value-added services (VAS); and
  • Explore and validate appropriate Universal Access (UA) targets for desired service levels, including travel to public phone, numbers and type of public phones, and public access for the Internet.

Sourcing data
As there were no district-level economic or income data available, the classification of districts was based on a variety of sources: knowledge from a local research firm; the Zambézia government and their advisors; and socio-economic indicators from the Anuario Estatistico 2002 – Provincia de Zambézia (Annual Statistics 2002 – Province of Zambezia), which provided statistics on population, number of primary and secondary schools per head, number of health service stations, hospitals, number of high-level skilled medical staff, etc. The presence of a mobile network as well as the incumbent fixed network operator, TDM, its installed capacity and number of public phones are also used as economic indicators. All of the district centres in Zambezia had a fixed public telephone, and nine out of the 16 districts also had considerable mobile coverage. However, the public phone was either broken or inaccessible (i.e., the room with the public phone was locked).

District selection
The study of non-serviced localities was conducted in three separate districts that were considered representative of Zambézia province: Pebane, Namarroi and Mocuba (district partially non-served). The three selected districts each represented one of the following economic classifications:

  • Low income/ poorer;
  • Average income; and
  • Rich/ above average.

In addition, the three districts were selected because they did not have mobile signal coverage at all or in rural areas. Mocuba district had a base station in the centre, but this did not mean that the entire district was covered. Indeed, possibly only between 40 per cent and 60 per cent of the area was covered. Many areas had no telephony service.

An overview of the 16 districts, including their socio-economic classification and their mobile coverage, is provided below in Table 1. The districts shaded in blue had a mobile base station in their district centre; the districts bolded were the ones selected for the study.


Location distribution within districts
The demand study was conducted in a total of 21 communities within the three districts, as shown in Table 2. The different types of communities sampled were as follows:

  • Urban locations: district centres;
  • Semi-urban locations: administrative post centres and some of its larger localities; and
  • Rural locations: villages.

A summary of the location types surveyed and their distribution is show in the Table 2 below.


The survey included a small number of control interviews in a few areas with service. This allowed for a comparison of findings of potential demand with the current actual demand, affordability and willingness to pay in similar locations.

District selection for the Internet component of the demand study
While for the telephony focus it was important to mainly survey areas where no telephony services existed and districts in all three of the economic classifications, it was more important for the Internet survey to focus on the served richer and average income district centres as these were more likely to have demand for higher-end Internet and ICT services.

There were three additional districts centres chosen for the Internet part of the study, two without existing Internet access (Alto Molocue, Namacurra), and one in a district that already had Internet access (Gurue), though only dial-up.

Different focus in different types of locations
As the universal access (UA) policy aimed to support the provision of high-speed Internet to district centres, the main focus of the survey in the district centres was to assess the potential demand for high-speed Internet services.

In order to evaluate the viability of a more extensive wireless network and the potential need of subsidy, the additional private demand in district centres needed also to be studied. Only in three districts (Gurue, Mocuba and Milange) of the total surveyed TDM had some installed capacity for fixed private lines.

In contrast, the main focus in the Administrative Post (the administrative unit below the district), localities and villages was the demand for public phone services.


Research instruments
The research tools used for the demand study included household, business and institution questionnaires, informal focus groups and a rapid community assessment.
One informal focus group discussion was conducted for each locality surveyed. The purpose of this interactive activity was to get a clear understanding of how the local people felt about a variety of specific topics, including public telephones, their location, Internet, their preferences for communications technologies, etc.

In addition, the research team prepared a rapid community assessment for each locality. The information recorded for this included an assessment of the size of the community, its population, main economic activities, the number and type of businesses and public institutions, as well as observations regarding the existence of potential obstacles for the delivery of telecommunications services.

Table 4 summarizes the distribution of questionnaires and focus groups across the localities surveyed.


A total of 624 instruments were used, including 168 shorter interviews in the seven control locations.

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