Tragedies in translation: Fostering community networks in the Global South

This article examines the discourse around community networks (CNs), which are locally owned and operated telecommunications networks intended to serve rural communities in the Global South. Drawing on extensive case research in various regions, including Argentina, Mexico, India, Indonesia, South Africa, and Uganda, as well as his active involvement in the African CN movement, the author sheds light on key tensions. The analysis highlights that advocacy for NCs often neglects the concept of “pooling,” i.e., the practices that generate, maintain and use shared resources. In addition, the article highlights the tendency to prioritize monetary metrics over nuanced assessments of the costs and benefits of human connectivity. This emphasis not only reinforces inequalities within NCs, but also deepens ties to capitalist structures, undermining community cohesion. Ultimately, the article suggests that these dynamics may hinder the potential for NCs to emerge as sustainable alternatives to centralized telecommunications power.


Nicola J. Bidwell

Year Published


Country / Region of focus

Global South


Previous, but no specialized, knowledge is required for its comprehension


Network Type

Community-Based Network

License Type

​CC BY 4.0 ​

Item Type




Specific Subject - Social

​Community engagement and mobilization

Specific Subject - Technical


Specific Subject - Economic

Sustainability & Scalability

Specific Subject - Regulatory


Gender Perspective


Accesible to people with visual or hearing impairments


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