A systems thinking approach to the planning of rural telecommunications infrastructure.
Andrew, Theophilus Nethiekreethum.
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The research reported in this thesis is concerned with the provision of telecommunications infrastructure to rural areas in developing countries. The primary focus is to improve the current practice in the planning of such infrastructure. An in depth analysis of the critical issues that characterise rural telecommunications in developing countries revealed that the rural telecommunications system is not just a technological system but a complex system of people and technology interdependent on other systems/subsystems. A systems approach lead to a conceptual model of The Rural Telecommunications System as an open complex sociotechnical system. Consequently the planning of rural telecommunications infrastructure requires an approach that addresses such complexity. Critical systems thinking was chosen as the overall systems thinking approach for the development of a systemic planning framework for rural telecommunications infrastructure, that accommodates the system of problems inherent in the complex sociotechnical rural telecommunications system. The framework was built on the principles of Multimethodology and consists of Interactive Planning as a general orientation, mixed with Interpretive Structural Modelling and Critical Systems Heuristics. The framework is enhanced by the inclusion of current techniques from Systems Engineering practice, and softer techniques such as rich pictures. A case study based on the Mapumulo rural area in KwaZulu Natal was used for the practical validation of the framework.