LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

Author Archives: Rohan Samarajiva

Learnings from research on online freelancing disseminated on both sides of the world

Helani Galpaya with Vint Cerf

It’s just over two days since we presented the findings of the online freelancing work to the media, government and the private sector in Colombo. And on the other side of the world, in Guadalajara, Mexico, Helani Galpaya reports: One of my 3 panels today at the UN IGF in Mexico. This one on “The […]

Do micro, small and medium enterprises benefit from ICTs?

Politicians and government officials like to sing the praises of MSMEs saying they create most of the jobs and so on. They create banks, databases, and various schemes to support them. We too believe that MSME are important. To the extent micro enterprises become small enterprises; small enterprises become medium and so on, we think […]

Here are the taxation-relevant findings from LIRNEasia’s systematic review research

The evidence is strong about positive impacts on livelihoods from simply the connectivity enabled by existence of mobile networks in rural areas. With regard to information services provided over those networks, by the government or by the private sector, the evidence is not as clear. It’s not that the evidence shows no positive impact, but […]

Media coverage for e commerce and tax related comments at dissemination event

Our intention was to introduce the Digital Dividends report of the World Bank and disseminate related research conducted by LIRNEasia. We made the headlines in two newspapers but the focus was the controversy around excessive taxes more than on the research. But I was happy there was at least one quotation that referred to the […]

Scoping the online freelancing industry in Sri Lanka

The leading English language weekly, The Sunday Times, has carried a report on some of LIRNEasia’s work on inclusive information societies. Based on a nationally representative survey, LIRNEasia estimates, there could be 17,000 to 22,000 freelancers in Sri Lanka registered with multiple platforms and selling their skills all around the world. Fiverr, Freelancer and Upwork […]

Myanmar to release 1800 spectrum for 4G by March 2017

Data usage is increasing in Myanmar at rates way beyond expectation. Operators are scrambling to meet demand first with 3G and now with 4G. Release of 1800 MHz spectrum will be critical in this regard. U Myo Swe, deputy director of the Posts and Telecommunications Department at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, said the […]

How different is the US from emerging Asia?

As we move toward the Next Billion surveys that will cover a lot more ground than the Myanmar we currently cover, it’s interesting to see what demand-side research looks like in other countries. Here’s Nielsen. In third-quarter 2016, 12% of smartphone owners said they had recently acquired their handset (within the last three months). Among […]

Hard objects that make up the Internet

The book “Tubes” by Andrew Blum has been in the LIRNEasia office since 2013. The idea that there was a hard infrastructure making the Internet possible is not novel for people like us who live with the Internet failing for our people in Myanmar and Bangladesh and various other places frequently. But this is a […]

Are platforms “information society services” or just another way of providing transport, commerce, etc.?

I recall telling the story of the US court that required a man with a light (and maybe a bell) to walk ahead of new-fangled motor cars to Sri Lanka’s Solicitor General. Was it apocryphal or true? But it worked. I prevented him from giving me a ruling that would have basically killed satellite-based personal […]

Is low digital literacy in Myanmar a result of no government programs?

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Despite a few errors such as the claim that Ericsson had “subscribers” (said to be 35 million), Buzzfeed had an interesting story on Myanmar’s experiences in fast takeup of Internet. Myanmar has a “low media and information literacy rate,” according to an interview given by an unnamed official in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and […]

Will India make crisis the opportunity to leapfrog into electronic payments?

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I frequently use the phrase “a crisis is too valuable thing to waste” usually attributing it to Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s first Chief of Staff. So I was intrigued by this column in the New Indian Express. The writer looks ahead beyond the blame game. The deed is done, however messy. Now how to make something […]

A review of tech solutions for broadband in developing world

As is common with people in this line of business, all the emphasis is on technology, not on business case. Mundane stuff like revenue streams, customer care, etc. are ignored. Also bad reporting: no one in Sri Lanka has “seen” Internet service over Loon in 2016. But hey, there’s about 40 days left. Challenges: The […]

Evidence-based policy in a post-truth age

The CEO of the Campbell Collaboration, perhaps the leading promoter and facilitator of systematic reviews, has written a short comment on the prospects of evidence-based policy in the aftermath of Brexit and Trump. It has been our observation that the really big decisions that are taken at the political level have never been based on […]

Lecture on Indian Constitution based on work done with Elections Commission since 2015

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As a civic duty more than as the more mundane CSR, LIRNEasia has been assisting the Elections Commission on Sri Lanka since 2015 March by donating intellectual work on various aspects of improving the functioning of the electoral system, including a Constitutional changes and the working through of a strategic plan. Thus when I was […]

Sri Lanka budget provisions on data taxation questioned

So the Daily Mirror, the leading English language daily, carried my comments on the illogical tax proposals. “Around 2010, the Government considered the complexity of taxes affecting the telecommunication sector and exempted telecom from the Value Added Tax. Instead a twenty percent tax was imposed for telecommunication which was remitted to the Government” said Former […]

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