2012 April


A new report on the information needs and communication patterns of smallholders as well as agricultural micro-enterprises is now available on our website. The report is based mainly on the findings of smallholder and agricultural-micro-enterprises surveys, which were carried out as part of the Teleuse@BOP4 study. Some findings from the qualitative component of Teleuse@BOP4 have also been incorporated. |Executive summary | Full Report (PDF, 1.9Mb) |
I was at dinner with some people who advise governments earlier today. One said they had identified the top four apps for government. I asked who would develop them? And who decided? Without being rude, I said that innovation is like throwing 100 things at a wall and seeing what four things stick.
It was in December 2005 that I wrote the following in an op-ed in the Daily Star: The SAT-3 cable did not increase Internet traffic from Africa, including Nigeria. Indeed, the year-on-year growth slowed in the year after the cable (71 percent in 2002 and 53 percent in 2003). In the case of Nigeria, one reason could have been delays in completing the national infrastructure necessary for full use of the cable. While the landing station was completed in December of 2001 and the cable was inaugurated in May of 2002, the traffic started flowing from Nigeria only in April 2003. Those familiar with the repeated delays in contracting the “dry” segment of the cable from Cox’s Bazaar to Chittagong are likely to see the similarities.
Theme: Can ICT benefit the small farmers? “Putting Farmers First” Chair: Mr. Vikas Nath, Associate Director, Future of the United Nations Project, Switzerland Speakers: Dr. Harsha de Silva, Member of Parliament, Consultant Lead Economist, LIRNEasia, Sri Lanka Can ICT benefit small farmers? Tackling Smallholder Quality Penalty  |Presentation | Ms.
An international treaty document, the Reference Paper that is part of the Fourth Protocol to the General Agreement on Trade in Services, states that spectrum is a scarce resource. It is scarce only because (a) exclusive use of most frequencies is the norm (WiFi is an exception), and (b) the bands for which cheap equipment is manufactured are few. So the scarcity is not “natural,” it is human-created. Therefore Professor Read, as quoted in the NYT, is correct: Arguing that the nation could run out of spectrum is like saying it was going to run out of a color, says David P. Reed, one of the original architects of the Internet and a former professor of computer science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Taking a page from the new institutionalism school of thought, this article argues that institutions matter and that understanding institutions- both formal and informal- is crucial in understanding policy outcomes especially in the field of telecom policy making in India and China. The authors analysed telecom policy making in India and China using 2 specific case studies- introduction of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) in China and the implementation of Conditional Access System (CAS) in India. An institutionalist perspective and Kingdon’s Multiple-Streams Framework (see below) were used to analyse the formal structures, rule-making procedures and interest groups involved in telecom policy making in the 2 countries. Using the above-mentioned methodology, the authors showed that telecom policy making in India represents a “classical textbook case of incremental policy making” while the model that evolved in China represents non-incremental policy-making characterized by “inter-ministerial competition marked by deep-rooted political involvement, frequent bureaucratic bargaining” and significantly affected by macro-level political rearrangement. After analysing the policy making process in both countries, the authors recommended changes in the institutional structure of the regulatory agencies in both countries for them to be more effective: (i) the government should put more attention to the importance of public communication and […]
Our sister organization Research ICT Africa has issued an interesting document called mythbuster on the contentious issues of high mobile termination charges and their contribution to giving South Africa mobile prices that are three times those of neighboring Namibia. More strength to your arm RIA. Mythbuster is a great idea. We should see if we can do one soon.
It’s been several years since we publicized the Zain innovation that brought down roaming prices in East Africa. No one picked up the inelegant workaround. Until now, when Airtel has sort of started the process. Indians traveling to Sri Lanka or Bangladesh will have one thing less to worry about. Airtel, which has operations in these two countries as well, has announced a new tariff for its customers in India, under which they will be able to make local calls in the country at Rs 1, while calling back home will cost them Rs 10.
Led by Senior Policy Fellow Abu Saeed Khan we’ve been saying that Asia needs a terrestrial cable system to back up the submarine cables. By the time international government organizations get organized, the private workarounds will be fully operational. Like traders plying the ancient Silk Road, telecommunications operators routing bits and bytes from Asia to Europe and back have to pass through the Middle East, whose tricky geography and even more challenging geopolitics have sometimes made the region just as much of a bottleneck in the digital realm as in the physical world. When things go wrong, the consequences can be serious and far-reaching. In January 2008, for example, several underwater cables off the Mediterranean coast of Egypt were inexplicably severed.
A few days back, on April 11th 2012, a powerful earthquake occurred not too far from Aceh. Naturally, fears of a tsunami were uppermost in people’s minds. It’s been some time since we at LIRNEasia did funded disaster-related research, but within minutes, I was receiving requests for analysis on the lines of the post-mortems we’ve done after every major disaster in the region. So I started keeping notes and writing up a short piece. So far it has been carried in Lanka Business Online Sunday Island Science Daily.
LIRNEasia organized a panel on Broadband Bottlenecks in Asia at the ITS India Conference. Here are the slides that were presented at the session, with apologies for the late posting. Helani Galpaya presentation on “Network bottlenecks in South Asian broadband?” Rohan Samarajiva and Abu Saeed Khan presentation on “Removing a broadband bottleneck: International connectivity” Payal Malik presentation on “How do we avoid the spectrum bottleneck?” Sriganesh Lokanathan presentation on “Teleuse@BOP4”
The quote below comes from one of many media reports that carried the results of RIA benchmarking of mobile prices across Africa. SA’s prepaid cellphone pricing is three times more expensive than Namibia’s, making SA among the most expensive countries in Africa despite an intervention to regulate the tariffs, according to a study released this week by Research ICT Africa. The research found that among 46 African countries studied, SA ranks 30th in affordability of prepaid mobile telephony. This places SA behind countries whose regulators have enabled competition by enforcing cost-based mobile termination rates. Kenya, Mauritius, Egypt and Namibia were found to be the most affordable.
North Korea was, until recently, the country with the least mobile phones. Then it gave a license (3G no less) to Orascom. Now it has a million plus mobiles connections. The New York Times speculates that the presence of a million mobiles has made the big blatant lie no longer a viable option for the rulers of the hermit kingdom. Mr.
The findings of the potato study conducted in Bangladesh under LIRNEasia’s 2010-2012 research cycle were shared with stakeholders in Dhaka on 10 April 2012. The dissemination workshop was attended by high level representatives from the government agencies such as Bangladeshi Agriculture Research Institute, Agriculture Information Service (AIS) of Ministry of Agriculture, Bangladesh, large scale exporters, processors and cold storage providers from the private sector. The stakeholders engaged in a productive exchange after the study findings were presented. The issues discussed included the availability and utilisation of cold storage, the quality of the potato seeds available in Bangladesh and suitability of some of the potato varieties grown for processing and exporting.  The discussion of cold storage brought about further issues such as the under-utilisation (40%) of the cold storage available in some storage spaces, in spite of excessive demand in others.
I wrote about consumer transaction-generated information in the 1990s. Companies collected and analyzed data from sales points and loyalty programs. But it became sexy only recently. Why? It should not be too surprising that a Google-created entity should have this bent.
The findings of the jute study conducted in Bangladesh under LIRNEasia’s 2010-2012 research cycle were shared with stakeholders in Dhaka on 9 April 2012. The dissemination workshop was attended by high level representatives from the government agencies such as Bangladeshi Agriculture Research Institute, the Jute Research Institute as well as representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Bangladesh and private organisations. The findings brought a lively debate about the prevailing issues in the jute industry such as the quality of the seeds in the market and retting techniques as well the quality of the jute produced. There was also discussion about the use of Information and communication technology such as mobiles to bring about some of the improvements in efficiency. The workshop was organised by Institute of Informatics and Development (IID) and Development Research Network (DNET), Bangladesh.