Nirmali Sivapragasam


LIRNEasia Senior Research Fellow, Payal Malik, recently spoke the 2011 WSIS Forum, entitled, ‘Measuring the ICT sector for policy analysis‘ held on the 17th of May in Geneva. The session aimed to provide a brief overview of recent activities of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development, including a progress report on e-government indicators. It also looked at the emerging issues to be included in its work agenda to advance ICT measurement. Payal  presented her research on ICT Statistics in India for Policy Analysis. This research was carried out by Orbicom, UQAM, Montreal and funded by IDRC.
A LIRNEasia research paper examining the potential demand and use of mobile phones  for remitting money between migrant workers and their beneficiaries has been published in the latest issue of Info (Vol 13, Issue 3). The paper is authored by Nirmali Sivapragasam, Aileen Aguero (DIRSI) and Dr. Harsha de Silva.  The paper is based on findings from LIRNEasia‘s Teleuse@BOP3 study. The paper can be downloaded here.
LIRNEasia‘s continuing work on the role of ICTs, and in particular mobiles, in improving the livelihoods of the rural poor, was recently published as a chapter in an IDRC publication called “Strengthening Rural Livelihoods – the impact of information and communication technologies in Asia.” The chapter titled “Price transparency in agricultural produce markets: Sri Lanka” covered the results from a year long study of the livelihood impacts for farmers from using a mobile-based price information service called Tradenet. The chapter was co-authored by LIRNEasia researchers Sriganesh Lokanathan, Harsha de Silva and Iran Fernando.
LIRNEasia CEO, Rohan Samarajiva, recently published an article appearing in the Daily Mirror on the potential health threats of mobile phone use. He argues that while it is true that electromagnetic radiation from handsets does pose a potential threat, studies by the Indian government  and the WHO argue that: to date, no adverse health effects have been established for mobile phone use; that studies are ongoing to assess long-term effects of mobile use; and that there is increased risk of traffic injuries when drivers use mobile phones while driving. However, we, as responsible consumers, need to take the necessary precautionary measures such as buying safe handsets, among other things. Click here to read the full article.
LIRNEasia CEO, Rohan Samarajiva, recently spoke at a workshop organized for the telecom reporters in Bangladesh to strengthen their understanding and know-how on telecom, especially regarding legal, regulatory and business issues. The event has received extensive media exposure. While noting that Bangladesh boasts of the some of the lowest tariffs in the world, largely a result of budget telecom network business model, Rohan argued that the government’s vision for a “digital” Bangladesh can only be met “by extending the budget telecom network model to broadband, building wireless access networks capable of handling data cost-effectively, backed up by non-discriminatory, cost-oriented access to backhaul, including redundant capacity, and offering applications that are of value to consumers, giving them reason to use broadband.” Click here to read the full article in the Daily Star. More coverage will be tracked here in the coming days.
LIRNEasia Senior Research Manager, Sriganesh Lokanathan was invited by Wetlands International to speak on issues pertaining to the access and use markets and ICTs for livelihood resilience. The conference titled “Building Livelihood Resilience in Changing Climate”, was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 3-5 March, 2011 and brought together practitioners, researchers and donors working on livelihood resiliences issues, eco-systems and disaster risk reduction.  Speaking on a panel on the role of ICTs for information, knowledge and innovation to support livelihood resilience, Sriganesh talked about the results of LIRNEasia’s research with farmers. He highlighted how farmers increase their adaptive capacity through improved market signals through the use of mobile phones.  He stressed the importance of articulating the needs of the rural poor prior to tailoring interventions.
LIRNEasia Senior Research Manager, Ayesha Zainudeen, was recently invited by Sesame Workshop India to give a special address at an action forum entitled, “M for Mobile: Exploring Technology for Social Development in India”, in New Delhi, India. It was organized with support from the Ford Foundation. The two-and-a-half day workshop brought together experts from mobile manufacturers, research, digital technology, service providers, donors, non-profit organizations, and policymakers to brainstorm on how mobiles could be effectively used for improving social development in India. Click here to view her presentation. The conference agenda can be viewed here.
Dr. Harsha de Silva, LIRNEasia’s Consultant Lead Economist, was among the invited speakers at the 34th Governing Council meeting of the International Fund for Agricultural Development at its headquarters in Rome from 19 – 20 February 2011.  Delegates from the 167 member states met to hear prominent international figures, high-ranking government officials and emerging leaders on topics related to ensuring food security, invigorating small-holder farming and the need to support and encourage rural youth. A press release issued by IFAD said that Dr. de Silva spoke on the need to improve the quality of life for young rural people and give them the same opportunities young urban people have.
LIRNEasia Senior Research Managers Sriganesh Lokanathan and Ayesha Zainudeen represented LIRNEasia at a conference organized by  the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) of the National University of Singapore (NUS),  titled “Celling South Asia: The Mobile Phone’s Impact on a Region” (17 – 18 February 2011). Sriganesh made a presentation on “Price Transparency through ICTs – livelihood impacts for small farmers in Sri Lanka” and Ayesha made a presentation on “CellBazaar: A mobile-based e-marketplace”. The conference gathered practitioners, academics and researchers working on the full spectrum of issues related to mobile phones, from policy and regulation to applications, use and socio-economic impacts. The presentation slides can be viewed at the following links: Price Transparency through ICTs – livelihood impacts for small farmers in Sri Lanka CellBazaar: A mobile-based e-marketplace
LIRNEasia CEO, Rohan Samarajiva, was recently invited to the 12th  South Asian Telecommunications Regulators’ Council Meeting in Tehran, Iran, where he made presentations on intra-SAARC roaming charges (mentioned in this post) and broadband quality of service in the Asian region. LIRNEasia has been involved in broadband quality of service testing in the Asian region for a while now.  The most recent tests using the AT-tester, a diagnostic tool developed by IIT-Madras and LIRNEasia, were conducted in October 2010. Rohan argued that delivered speeds with the local domain were above those advertised, the opposite was true in the international domain. Furthermore, broadband services in Asia offer lower value for money than in North America,  likely largely  in part due to high international backhaul costs.
LIRNEasia Senior Research Fellow, Payal Malik, recently made a presentation on “Trends in the ICT industry and ICT R&D in India” at a conference organized by the Information Society Unit of the Institute for Prospective Technological studies (JRC-IPTS, European Commission) in Brussels, Belgium. The conference was titled, “Asian Rise in ICT R&D – Looking for evidence: Debating collaboration strategies, threats and opportunities”. The conference gathered some 60 selected international experts and commission’s staff. Click here to view presentation.
LIRNEasia CEO, Rohan Samarajiva, delivered a lecture entitled, “Asia: Broadband & forms of government intervention” on the 15th of February at the Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands. His presentation examined Korea’s benchmark model of broadband access and adoption, its success factors, and the extent to which it could be replicated in Asia. He contrasted it with Hong Kong’s market-centric approach that had achieved the same results, faster and with less resources. Click here to view the full presentation.
LIRNEasia CEO, Rohan Samarajiva, made a presentation on ICT innovations in South Asia at a conference held in Brussels on 16 – 17 February. The theme of the conference was “Asia rise in ICT R&D – Looking for evidence: Debating collaboration strategies, threats and opportunities”. More on the conference can be found, here. Click here to download presentation slides.
Harsha de Silva, LIRNEasia’s Consultant Lead Economist, has made a submission in response to BTRC’s Call for Comments on a draft regulatory and licensing guidelines on renewal of mobile telecommunication services in Bangladesh. The submission focuses on a few important issues, relating to economic efficiency, transparency and good governance. The guidelines propose a license renewal fee of BDT 10 crore from each operator. An additional fee of BDT 150 crore per MHz of GSM  1800MHz band and CDMA frequency; and/or BDT 300 crore per MHz of GSM 900MHz band from each operator for the initial assignment of spectrum, and a subsequent annual fee is also proposed. LIRNEasia questions the seemingly arbitrary justification used to set the upfront lump-sum license renewal fees.
LIRNEasia COO, Helani Galpaya,  has joined the Editorial Board of the Information Technologies & International Development (ITID) journal. The journal was ranked number one in information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) field, according to a 2010 study by Richard Heeks. We congratulate her and wish her the best in this new position!
Findings from LIRNEasia‘s multi-country study on the use of ICTs, particularly for more-than-voice, has been cited in the Economist. LIRNEasia‘s CEO, Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, was also cited. The number of users is still small: even among young people in South-East Asia (a tech-friendly lot) only 8% had used “more-than-voice” services, according to a poll by LIRNEasia. But the potential is exciting.