2016 March


That was the title of the two-hour TV talk show at ITN that I participated in yesterday. One does not expect new knowledge to emerge from a talk show, but this one was an exception. Illuminating information was disclosed by the Additional General Manager of the Ceylon Electricity Board in response to some statements I made. The disclosures can be seen in the Daily FT and Ravaya in a few days. Here below is my conclusion.
I am sitting here at a World Bank consultation on setting priorities for Bank lending in 2017-22. I was shocked by some of the comments, an example being: why isn’t there government-provided training for BPM? It seems that people are still stuck in government-centric thinking. What is the track record of government in providing training for globally-competitive industries? It has been a spectacular failure, except perhaps the case of the German Tech Institute, which is an extraordinary resource for Australia.
PayPal, being one of the oldest online payment provider, holds a major share in the online payment industry, and is the preferred payment mode for millions of people all around the world. There are a number of developing countries like Sri Lanka where PayPal does not work (for inward remittance). Negotiations with PayPal currently underway and it has listed Sri Lanka for 2017, Minister of Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure Harin Fernando said through a Facebook post.   Meanwhile, Stripe is another alternatives to PayPal. It facilitates simple way to accept payments from your customers.
There was a popular emphasis on social media at INET Kathmandu. An entire session and an entire panel discussion was on the topic with various speakers telling their story. However, everyone realized the need for a robust internet for such platforms to work. While SMS was most effective during Nepal’s Earthquake response, data and voice were unstable. The use of social media during Nepal’s earthquake response came alive when other systems failed.
Mobile network operators know how many smartphones are active on their networks. But this information is not made public. One has to wait for the infrequent sample survey to find out, like below. According to a 2015 report by the Asia Foundation, an astounding 80 per cent of Cambodians access Facebook exclusively through phones, with only 3 per cent accessing it through computers. According to their data, there is an average of 1.
Traditional BPO firms provide managed services directly to their clients, hire employees and contract workers, and require workers to be centralized in the same physical location. On the other hand freelancers continuously growing in numbers providing ITO/BPO/KPO services, and can deliver faster and more flexible access to a broader pool of workers than traditional approaches, often at lower cost. As online freelancing grows, it is anticipated that it will increasingly cannibalize work currently conducted by traditional outsourcing firms. According to “The Global opportunity in online outsourcing” report published by World Bank group highlights, on optimistic scenario there will be major cannibalization of the BPO industry and it is assumed that 25% of the current BPO demand will be served through freelancers by 2025. Growing momentum of freelancing globally would have an impact on Sri Lanka’s traditional BPO industry as well, which we need to be mindful of assessing the impact.
It is not only in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka that there are moves to consolidate mobile markets. Afghanistan has joined the conversation. But the reasons are different and saddening. It seems that high-value customers are leaving the country. And the part about people not being able to charge their smartphones because the Taliban blew up a pylon .
Online outsourcing is divided into freelancing and Microworking. According to “The Global opportunity in online outsourcing” report published by World Bank group in June 2015, the market size for online freelancing in 2016 is estimated to reach $4.4 billion, and for microworking the market is forecast to be $0.4 billion, resulting in a total online outsourcing industry-projected market of $4.8 billion.
As the world celebrates World Meteorological Day 2016 under the theme “Hotter, drier, wetter. Face the future”, 2011- 2015 is identified as the hottest period on record. Apart from heavy droughts, climate change is currently contributing to the increased risk of heavy rains and flood. Therefore, it is important to protect lives and property through impact based forecasts. (http://www.
The Internet Society’s Asia-Pacific Bureau together with Internet Society Nepal Chapter organised INET Kathmandu from 17-18 March 2016. This event brought together international agencies, rapid response groups and local stakeholders involved in disaster planning, management and relief services.  LIRNEasia research study on the “Assessment of Nepal’s Internet and Telecommunication Damage and Losses: Lessons from the 2015 Earthquake” carried jointly by LIRNEasia and Internet Society Nepal Chapter was presented by Nuwan Waidyanatha, Senior Research Fellow of LIRNEasia on the second day of the event.  
Ignorance of the basic issues of services trade has created a fertile breeding ground for paranoids, xenophobes and protectionists. Some organizations, sadly, appear to foster ignorance, possibly because they want to foster paranoia. Others want to learn. In the latter category is the Chamber of Construction Industry. Here are the slides I plan to use as a basis for discussion next Monday, 28 March 2016.
The Economist carries an account of a new way of measuring inflation based on big data. Not applicable to our countries yet. But a watching brief is justified. The new index completely misses changes in offline prices and spending on things like petrol and rent. It will not replace the CPI any time soon.
This time it’s on account of elections in Congo. For an overview of the phenomenon, see CDT’s map and timeline. We first wrote about this problem in 2006. Then it was worked up into Gyanendra’s Law and its various exceptions. Image source
BSNL is on life support courtesy of the Indian taxpayer, whatever fictitious paper profits it conjures up. The authors of a recent op ed in Hindu Businessline see through the fiction. The government firms had their own share of sops such as (i) year-ahead early start in the assignment of both 3G and Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum in 2009 and (ii) reimbursement of about Rs. 10,000 crore of licence and spectrum charges during 2001-06, as part of commitment to BSNL corporatisation. However, the 6.
The nationwide unplanned outage last Sunday has obviously got everyone upset. While some are trying to make political capital out of it, the responsible thing to do is to understand the causes and act to avoid a recurrence. This appeared to be the objective of the reporter who interviewed me last week for this article. There is one place where the report does not exactly reflect what I said. I was asked whether I was happy with CEB’s /PUCSL’s role.
LIRNEasia was early in getting into systematic reviews. We have faced considerable challenges when communicating the findings. We are working on pulling together what we learned in the process for a special issue of Information Technology and International Development here at a nice, quiet hotel in Galle.