Ayesha Zainudeen


LIRNEasia is calling for proposals from field research organisations for the conduct of comparative nationwide quantitative studies of ICT access and use in Cambodia and Pakistan. The deadline for submission is 0800hrs Sri Lanka time, 24 July 2017. Details of the study and instructions to interested parties are contained within the following request for proposals (RFP), which can be downloaded here. Interested parties should request Annexes 3-5 to the RFP by way of an email to procurement[at]lirneasia[dot]net.  
LIRNEasia is looking to fill a vacancy on a multi-country survey research project. The full job description is available here. The deadline for application is 23 April 2017.
A recent report from the Myanmar Ministry of Post and Telecom states that mobile penetration has reached 90% (or 89.38% rather), and the number of Internet users has reached 39 million, according to supply-side data.  But as the Myanmar Times reporter rightly points out, multiple-SIM usership has to be taken into account to get a real picture of usage. We know multiple SIM use is nothing unusual in many markets, especially among the low income segments (we’ve seen as many as 23% of the low income segment in Pakistan owning more than one SIM in our past research), and that’s why we make sure we capture it whenever we do demand-side research. Most recently in Myanmar our 2015 baseline survey showed 17% of urban mobile owners had more than one SIM, compared with 8% of rural (or 13% of all mobile owners).
This report is the result of research conducted by GSMA’s Connected Women programme and LIRNEasia in Myanmar in 2015. LIRNEasia’s nationally representative baseline survey of ICT needs and usage in Myanmar showed a gender gap  in mobile ownership of 29%  by March 2015.  Together with GSM Association’s Connected Women program, LIRNEasia explored the reasons behind this gender gap through a series of in-depth interviews and focus group discussions held in Yangon (urban) and Pantanaw (rural) among 91 men and women in July 2015. Further questions on mobile internet awareness and use, as well as barriers to use were explored, yielding a rich set of findings and a large set of policy recommendations. Read full report: Mobile phones, internet, and gender in Myanmar
A short piece by Jan Chipchase on how mobile use is playing out in Myanmar. He highlights some interesting observations about mobile use in Myanmar, as well as the realities of conducting research in the outer parts of the country. Here he highlights the cost of power as a mediating factor in mobile use. In Bogale 2,500 Kyats ($2.5) will buy you a rechargeable battery that can power a home for two short nights.
Telenor has made a move to offer zero-rated services to its customers in Myanmar through Wikipedia Zero and Facebook Zero. This  will enable Telenor’s mobile users  to get access to lighter versions of Wikipedia and Facebook without running down  their prepaid credit balances.  We have seen this issue  (the running down of prepaid balances ) being a barrier to Internet use by BOP mobile users before, in other parts of Asia through our Teleuse@BOP research, and have highlighted the need for “Innovations in pricing strategies (akin to “sachet  pricing”) … to enable prepaid users to make use of the [Internet] services without their prepaid balance being depleted through a single transaction” (see full paper: Are the Poor Stuck in Voice? Conditions for Adoption of More-than-Voice Mobile Services) This is one of many key issues we hope to explore in our upcoming national survey of ICT needs and uses in Myanmar.  It will be interesting to see if and how zero-rated services will allow BOP mobile owners in Myanmar to overcome some of the cost hurdles in Internet use.
LIRNEasia is pleased to issue a call for expressions of interest (EOIs) to conduct baseline research on information, knowledge and communications technology needs and uses in Myanmar. The detailed call for EOIs cn be read here. Interested parties should respond according to the guidelines no later than 0800 hours Sri Lanka time on 10 October 2014.
  LIRNEasia‘s predecessor PIPU [the Public Interest Program Unit] was headed by Rohan Samarajiva (LIRNEasia’s Chair and CEO) and Luxman Siriwardena (one of our Board members), and consisted of many of LIRNEasia‘s current family and friends, including Harsha de Silva (MP, and our Consultant Lead Economist). Here are a few annotated memories of PIPU’s finale trip to Trincomalee in June 2004: PIPU trip to Trinco 2004. Captions and comments courtesy of Harsha. PIPU was in charge of executing Sri Lanka’s infrastructure reform program between 2002-04. In Prof’s words, “PIPU gave birth to LIRNEasia.
LIRNEasia’s book, ICT INFRASTRUCTURE IN EMERGING ASIA: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks is now fully downloadable in PDF from IDRC’s website. This edited volume, based on LIRNEasia‘s 2004-2006 research program brings together scholars, practitioners, former regulators and policy makers to address the problem of expanding information and communication technology (ICT) connectivity in emerging Asia. It centrally engages the widespread claim that technology by itself—independent of policy and regulatory reform—can improve access to ICTs. In doing so, it shows that while complex workarounds are possible, they are significantly less effective than the appropriate policy and regulatory reforms. More information on the book here.
Evidence from LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP3 survey of mobile use at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) suggests that by late 2008, 78 percent of BOP mobile owners in the study countries were using the functions of the Internet through their mobiles; nearly one third of them have never even heard of the Internet. For the last three years, LIRNEasia has been arguing the case that many people in developing markets will have (if they already haven’t had) their first “Internet experience” through a mobile. Most of our 2008-2010 research program was based on this premise. It seems that the general discourse in the mobile research field is converging on this point, as evidence of growing mobile Internet use in these markets emerges. In addition to this, LIRNEasia’s argument (which in fact CEO & Chair Rohan Samarajiva has been making from as early as 1999: written up in Samarajiva, R.
Research Fellow Tahani Iqbal represented LIRNEasia at an mWomen (GSMA) working group meeting in India in late 2010. Several global telcos were also invited to help develop a “business case” for tapping the female market, and to identify what operators were already doing in this regard. Tahani presented data from the Teleuse@BOP studies, which indicates that the “divide” in access at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) in most countries studied is clearly narrowing, with men and women talking as much as each other on the phone. Though there are pockets where the access divide is severe  (e.g.
A paper by Ailieen Aguero and Harsha de Silva on Bottom of the Pyramid expenditure patterns on mobile phone services in selected Emerging Asian countries has recently been featured on mWomen’s website. mWomen is a part of the GSMA that focuses on improving women’s access to mobile phones in developing markets.
The most recent addition to the Teleuse@BOP3 working paper series is now available for download. Author Sangamitra Ramachander (University of Oxford) explores the factors influencing the responsiveness of mobile use to small declines in per minute charges among bottom of the pyramid (BOP) users in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The full paper can be downloaded here. Abstract: The private sector in developing countries is increasingly interested in extending mobile telephony services to low income and rural markets that were previously considered unprofitable. Determining the right price is a central challenge in this context.
We want your comments and suggestions in Teleuse@BOP4 questionnaire design In our most recent demand-side ICT study, Teleuse@BOP3, we asked bottom of the pyramid (BOP) phone owners if and how often they used their phone (mobile or fixed) for business purposes or any other financial or work-related purposes. The responses we got were quite encouraging: Teleuse@BOP4 is almost underway. This time, we have decided to seek out the wisdom of the crowds in designing and fine-tuning some of the questions that we ask in Teleuse@BOP4. Responses to the question of business use of phones are important in this research cycle, where we are trying to understand , inter alia, what services (including telecom) would better equip SMEs (many of which are owned by or employ people at the BOP) to participate in the knowledge based economy. Similarly as important are the reasons that prevent greater use of phones for these purposes (trust, alternatives, cost, culture, etc).
Who’s got the phone? Gender and the use of the telephone at the bottom of the pyramid Ayesha Zainudeen, Tahani Iqbal and Rohan Samarajiva Many studies conclude that a significant gender divide in access to the telephone exists, particularly in developing countries. Furthermore, women are also said to use telephones in a different manner from men — making and receiving more calls, spending more time on calls and using telephones primarily for ‘relationship maintenance’ purposes. Much of this research is based on small-sample studies in affluent developed countries. This article shows that a significant gender divide in access to telephones exists in Pakistan and India, to a lesser extent in Sri Lanka, but is absent in the Philippines and Thailand.
One of the key policy recommendations of LIRNEasia‘s recent study on the extension of mobile-based e-marketplace provider, CellBazaar to include the payment aspect (among others) of a transaction is the promotion of a secure mobile payments system in Bangladesh; the recommendation being that the government provide a clear policy framework / set of guidelines in order for private players (mobile operators/banks/other) to come in and essentially play. On the one hand, this interview with the head of financial services for Grameenphone on the experience with BillPay, a utility payment service offered by Grameenphone, as well as LIRNEasia‘s Teleuse@BOP findings from the Philippines seem to suggest that even once the system is in place, there is still a lot of work to be done in earning people’s trust to use the service and change their behavior. Through BillPay has been around since 2006, it has only pushed the over-the-counter service, rather than the e-wallet version of the service (currently used by a small number), due to this very issue. Once the service reaches a critical mass of users, they plan to push out the e-wallet service more aggressively. On the other hand, could already-popular services like CellBazaar (used by 3.