LIRNEasia is a pro-poor, pro-market think tank. Its mission is:
Catalyzing policy change through research to improve people’s lives in the emerging Asia Pacific by facilitating their use of hard and soft infrastructures through the use of knowledge, information and technology
Currently, the majority of LIRNEasia ’s programs are funded by the International Development Research Centre of Canada (IDRC), the Department for International Development of the UK (DFID), the World Bank and the Ford Foundation. LIRNEasia has previously received funding from info Dev, a World Bank unit that has partnered with LIRNE.NET since 2001, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Telenor Research and Development Centre Sdn. Bhd, Malaysia (TRICAP) and the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA).
LIRNEasia partners with Research ICT Africa (RIA!) , Regional Dialogue on the Information Society (DIRSI) and several European universities within the framework of LIRNE.NET. It is a member of the International Communication Association (ICA). www.LIRNEasia.net is LIRNEasia ’s principal face to the world. Also see: http://www.idrc.ca/en/ev-100824-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html
LIRNEasia , incorporated under Sri Lankan law as a non-profit organization, was launched in September 2004 during the World Dialogue on Regulation Expert Forum in Sri Lanka. LIRNEasia is governed by a Board of Directors comprising Rohan Samarajiva (Chair and CEO, LIRNEasia ); Vinya Ariyaratne (Sarvodaya); Mervyn de Silva (Hayleys Engineering Solutions); and Luxman Siriwardene (Pathfinder Foundation) and advised by an International Advisory Board chaired by Professor William H. Melody.
Why LIRNEasia ?
Enormous amounts of money are invested annually in ICTs. The potential of information and communication technologies for economic and social progress is substantial. ICTs aren’t necessarily the answer to higher incomes and development in itself; but together with other factors, they provide a means to improve people’s capabilities and knowledge so that they may better their lives. The ‘Asia Pacific’ is the collective name for the countries roughly encircled by Russia, Turkey, Egypt and the Indian and Pacific Oceans, including the many island nations of the Pacific Ocean. There is little that the entire region holds in common. Within this vast continent, lies South Asia, home to the largest concentration of poor people in the world. Yet the Asia Pacific is seen as driving the global economy and is home to some of the world’s highest ICT industry performers. But it is also home to some of the lowest.
ICT use in many developing countries is held back by laws and regulations. The existing policy and regulatory arrangements do not help people use ICTs to live their lives; they actively hinder them, for the most part. Very often, especially in South Asia, laws and regulations restrict, or even preclude the exploitation of new low-cost technologies.
LIRNEasia focuses on creating and disseminating independent, useable, actionable knowledge, through applied research, on documenting and disseminating regional best practices, on training and on short-term advisory assistance to governments/parties who request it. Our primary audiences are government (including bilateral and multilateral donor agencies), the private sector within and outside the Asia Pacific, media and civil society. We emphasize Asia Pacific expertise, but are not exclusive about it. We do case studies, but our policy is to abstract from the complexity to produce information that other countries can use.
“We aim to build a virtual organization that will one day make working from Bhutan as easy as working from this office. We will work in teams; we will work flexibly and we will work effectively. The organization centered on this office will help each person work to their full capacity; it will be a learning organization; a place where creativity is valued and debate encouraged. It will not be a place to clock in and out from; to engage in office intrigue; or to worry about the next promotion. It will add to your productivity, not drain it.” – Rohan, LIRNEasia office opening
LIRNEasia started off with a physical presence consisting of two full time staff, an executive director and a compact 15 by 20 ft office under the leafy shade of an ancient Suriya mara (Albizia odoratissima) tree at the back of the parking lot the SLIDA, the administrative training academy of Sri Lanka, in Colombo. Neither our size nor our location has in any way limited our possibilities. Today, we have more or less 15 people coming to work everyday, with around five others working from remote locations.
With a small administrative core, much of our work is facilitated through extended networks across the Asia Pacific. The value of this is parallel to that of networks according to Metcalfe’s law: the total value of a network is greater than the sum of the number of its users.
As far as technology and cost permit, LIRNEasia functions as a virtual organization, with small “wireless, paperless” offices located in a few Asian countries at a second stage. These offices will function primarily as administrative units, as well as communication points, where, for example, someone in Dhaka can participate in a project meeting, taking place in Colombo via video conferencing facilities at a Dhaka office. As well as a facilitator of innovative ICT uses, we aim to be an exemplar. Our office was one of the first few Wi-Fi hotspots in Sri Lanka. Our website is a user friendly work and discussion platform, adapting innovations from the blogging culture; our regional partners are often virtually present at colloquia via Skype, teleconferencing and/or the live feed. Whilst making innovative use of technologies, we emphasize the building of relationships and common values among our team members.