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Helani Galpaya, along with MIDO’s research team, released in Yangon the results of the second teleuse survey conducted in Myanmar earlier in 2016. The first coverage: People would only enjoy the fruits of digital development when the country overcame difficulties in promoting digital literacy skills, the survey said. According to the survey, 78 per cent of mobile handsets had access to internet, similar to the smartphone usage in the US. Mobile phone ownership had increased from 57 per cent in February 2015 to 83 per cent, it said. Almost every household owned more than two SIM cards while about 61 per cent of households had TV and only 16 per cent had a radio.
  Agricultural subsidies have been an important economic intervention for agriculture dependent countries. This has significantly impacted the production, efficiency and sustainability of agriculture. It is important to identify the dynamics of the agricultural value chains if the benefits of subsidies are to be harnessed. Type of the subsidy, size and the intended stakeholders in the value chain are important to identify prior to implementation. It is also important to have a transition plan.
India is the point of transit for every submarine cable connecting Asia with Africa and Europe via Middle East. Altogether 19 submarine cables have landed in five different Indian locations: Mumbai (11 cables), Chennai (4 cables), Cochin (2 cables), Trivandrum (1 cable) and Tuticorine (1 cable). These sparsely located landing points are good enough to make India the home of a highly resilient international connectivity. Early this week Cyclone Vardah has, however, exposed India’s, notably of Bharti Airtel’s, fragility instead. Bharti Airtel has stakes in five submarine cable networks: i2i, SEA-ME-WE 4, EIG, I-ME-WE and AAG.
Replacing a phone can be postponed. Getting a new connection? That too can be postponed. It appears these things are being done. I guess we can expect a surge in purchases once the new notes are available.
It is a lot of pain, but it seems the demonetization is going to make India a leader in m-financial services. Across the country, about 70,000 merchants a day are signing up for India’s best-selling mobile payments platform, Paytm, about 14 times as many as the daily average before the currency decision, said Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and chief executive of Paytm and One97 Communications, the start-up behind it. Since the large-currency ban, the number of daily transactions on Paytm has grown to nearly six million, an increase of 350 percent, and the service is adding half a million users each day, Mr. Sharma said. “Earlier, we were the innovator, now we are the mainstream,” he said.
When I was looking for countries with smartphone penetration higher than Myanmar (78%), and of course there was Singapore. So with more than 80% smartphone penetration and the 2G networks about to be shut down and spectrum reallocated, it’s no wonder sales of 2G-only phones are being discontinued. Wonder who will be next? Singapore’s mobile operators will shut down their 2G networks from April 1 to allow IMDA to re-allocate spectrum for more advanced mobile services. IMDA is working with operators to facilitate the migration of remaining 2G users to 3G or 4G networks, allowing subscribers to upgrade their devices while maintaining their plans and monthly subscription costs.
There is no shortcut to universal access of broadband. Very distinct four segments of broadband supply chain are to be addressed in a synchronized fashion. They are: International connectivity, domestic connectivity, metro networks and access networks. We have detected international connectivity being the ‘Achille’s Heel’ in Asia’s broadband value chain. Our research has prompted the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to adopt Asia Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS).
Myanmar is the rising star in global telecoms market and anything new hits the headlines. Bharti Airtel’s claim of activating a terrestrial optical fiber cable link between India and Myanmar is one such example. An undisclosed sum has been reportedly invested in a 6,500rkm (route km) terrestrial link. It will be connected to Airtel’s landing stations in Chennai and Mumbai. Ajay Chitkara, the company’s director & CEO (global voice & data business) told the Economic Times: ‘The terrestrial cable link is a strategic fibre asset for Airtel in the SAARC region, which will enable the company to offer robust end-to-end connectivity solutions in Myanmar, which is seeing rapid uptake of digital services as one of the last growth frontiers in Asia.
It has been reported that Harsha de Silva, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, asked during a short intervention during the Budget debate that the excessive taxes imposed on data services be reversed. It is reported that the summary of the LIRNEasia systematic review on ICT use by MSMEs has also been tabled in Parliament. The hansard can be accessed here.
The Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS) is the primary “learned society” for Sri Lankan academics. It’s a rather staid outfit where I think you need multiple nominees to support your application to join and they reject papers if they’re not in the correct font (I may be exaggerating a little because this is based on my memories from the 1980s). Anyway, Sriganesh Lokanathan, Team Leader – Big Data Research at LIRNEasia had been asked by the University of Sri Jayewardenepura to pull together a 60 mt panel discussion on big data for development. He had got an excellent panel together, Ruvan Weerasinghe from University of Colombo/Informatics Institute of Technology, Shehan Perera from University of Moratuwa, Srinath Perera from WSO2 and himself. I moderated the panel.
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 Future of Work”. Vint Cert (co-panellist, also BTW a “co-father” of the Internet etc) looks on disapprovingly it seems, but actually he & I agreed on the need for constant re-skilling in the digital economy (even in microwork platforms). Unlike some other speakers who called for more unionization, lamented the job losses and the problems and changes to traditional life-time jobs due to the emergence of the gig/sharing economy without acknowledging the positives.
Access to ICTs without bias has been a longstanding goal in many fora. There has been multiple sources of evidence that point to the value add access to ICTs bring, increase in livelihoods being one of which is most cited. LIRNEasia’s previous research on Teleuse at the Bottom of the Pyramid, also presented at WSIS in 2013, was among the few quantitative and qualitative studies available from the global South at the time. Participating relatively early on in collecting gender disaggregated data was also cited in recommendations made by the Gender Task Force in keeping with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the time. The recently declared Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also continue to highlight the need for gender equality in terms of access to the Internet.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) offer various opportunities for persons unable to or unwilling to participate in conventional employment. LIRNEasia in association with World Bank Group organized the Launch of World Development report 2016 and related LIRNEasia Research. The objective was to inform and realize digital dividends for Sri Lanka’s youth through inclusive livelihood. The launch event was commenced by World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka & Maldives, Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough framing the World Development Report for 2016 entitled digital dividend. World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka & Maldives Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough World Bank entitled Digital Dividends describes the opportunities created by ICTs and discusses the need for complementary (or “analog”) actions by government and other actors to realize the full benefits of 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 it’s good for society. Our Research Fellow Vigneswara Ilavarasan (Associate Professor at IIT Delhi) has been working on MSMEs for a long time.
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 that the research has not been able to capture the evidence. The news releases describing the findings in Sinhala Tamil English
  Agricultural value chains hold the primary characteristics of a “Principal-Agent” relationship. Therefore, I argue whether the failure of these value chains can be explained in terms of a Principal-Agent Problem. Explaining an issue using economic terms does not help much therefore I am also proposing ways that the problem can be resolved. The Principal-Agent Problem can be best explained in a contract farming setting.   Contract farming is a form of vertical integration within agricultural commodity chains, such that the firm has greater control over the production process, as well as the quantity, quality, other characteristics and the timing of what is produced.