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

Author Archives: Rohan Samarajiva

Can government use social media to strengthen its relationships with citizens?

I was asked to say a few words on how to use social media at a meeting of government information officers. I anchored my comments around what had occurred in the last few years to make me change my thinking on whether government could effectively use social media. Government organizations provide a range of services […]

ICT is making surge pricing possible, but caution is advised in avoiding outrage

The NYT piece suffers from peculiar worldview of American and European journalists who think all good innovations come from their part of the world (Singapore pioneered congestion pricing for road use in 1975), but let’s focus on the positive: the drawing out of lessons from Thaler and Springsteen about the need to address hardwired perceptions […]

Next up in Myanmar: Explosive growth in mobile financial services

The secret of success is how bad things are. And things are not very good with regard to banking and financial services in the country with the second lowest population density in Asia: In Myanmar cash is king. Fewer than one in ten of its 53m people has a bank account. But an explosion in […]

Thaler and the demise of homo economicus

When I was studying economics in the 1980s, it was quite vulnerable to the criticism that the entire edifice was built on a shaky assumption: homo economicus. But now that Kahnemann, Thaler et al. have slain h.e., economics is that much stronger. I am happy that most people at LIRNEasia have been reading Thaler, Shiller, […]

Understanding Jio

Once before, the Ambanis (Reliance) disrupted the Indian telecom market, and in the process changed the dynamics of markets across the developing world. This was the “fixed mobility” stunt they pulled off around 2000, when CDMA phones were sold as being usable only within defined areas. But they were actually mobile phones and the company […]

Primum non nocere: Applies to policy recommendations too

Yesterday I was at the launch of a report on cloud computing by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy funded by Microsoft in Manila. Listening to the presentations and then reading the report, I was surprised that there was no discussion whatsoever on any risks that may come with a move to cloud […]

Why do we engage with SDGs?

When I said on Facebook that I was on my way to Manila to speak at the 2017 International Conference on Sustainable Development Goals Statistics, a colleague said: “Aren’t SDGs an over-rated self-indulgence by the UN system? True, member states have endorsed them but how many are taking them any more seriously than they did […]

Predicting rain using data from mobile networks

We wrote about this sometime back, that too referring to the Economist. Seems that Kenneth Cukier and Abu Saeed Khan are interested in the same kinds of things. But earlier, the talk was about reporting rain. Now it’s about predicting, which is way more interesting: Though it is useful to know how much rain is […]

Solove’s theoretical writings being translated into practical policy

I have been a fan of Daniel Solove’s approach to privacy, where he foregrounds actual harms suffered by individuals rather than derive remedies from abstract principles. I have often said that the informed-consent model is of zero value when people find that their personally identifiable information stored by an organization has been stolen. The US […]

Everything as a service: Ownership being redefined using ICTs

Libertarians believe private property is sacrosanct. But ownership has never been absolute. In some countries ownership of land includes what lies beneath; in other it does not. Servitudes may detract from absolute ownership and so on. The situation is becoming similar with consumer goods it seems. And the writer from the Economist is bemoaning the […]

More media coverage for talk at Sri Lanka Broadband Summit

Two and a half weeks after the Sri Lanka Broadband Summit, the coverage continues, this time in the highest-circulation English language newspaper, the Sunday Times. The Sri Lankan government should be focusing more on investment and not subsidies to develop telecommunications in the country, says Rohan Samarajiva Chairman of LIRNEasia. Addressing the second Broadband Forum […]

The why and how of telecom reform in Myanmar

The significance of opinion leaders and influentials seeing how life is in other countries is under-appreciated. Around 2000, because of my expertise, I started representing Myanmar at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on technological matters. As I traveled, I saw that neighboring countries were surpassing us. Once, in Cambodia, when I spotted a taxi […]

Challenges of mobile financial services in Myanmar

We have not worked on mobile money in Myanmar. But now that mobile penetration is quite high, time is ripe for mobile financial services. Here is a description of the challenges: The biggest challenge for anyone in this business is the distribution network. Myanmar is such a big country. We’re now in about 70% of […]

Opportunities and challenges in global value chains/production networks

ICTs are what make today’s complex global value chains and global production networks possible. It is the reduction of transaction costs (a central element in many of LIRNEasia’s research projects) that has made these new ways of organizing production emerge. Therefore, I write and talk about GPNs and GVCs. This coming Friday, 29th September, I’ll […]

Same actions by Saudi Arabia and China draw different reactions

There was a bug kerfuffle about China banning Whatsapp. But when Saudi Arabia did the “beheading” in 2013, much less outrage. Oh well. It helps when you have driven expectation down to the negative range. But anyway, they seem to have figured that there’s a downside in not having these services. Services such as Skype, […]

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