CEO Helani Galpaya was invited to speak in one of the panels at the Second European Multidiscriplinary Conference on Global Internet Governance Actors, Regulations, Transactions and Strategies held 26-27 April 2018 at Cardiff University, Wales. The theme of the conference this year was “Overcoming Inequalities in Internet Governance: framing digital policies and capacity building policies”. The conference was a peer-reviewed academic conference, but had two panels to which speakers were invited based on expertise. Helani spoke on the panel titled “Politics and Policy of Cyber Capacity Building” which had three other speakers: Emily Taylor (Chatham House), Panagiota-Nayia Barmpaliou (European Commission), Robert Collier (UK Cabinet, Foreign & Commonwealth Office). The panel was moderated by Andrea Calderaro (Cardiff University).
Most of the organizations that were given time at the First Session of the Steering Committee meeting used the time to advertise themselves. I chose instead to present our broad range of contributions to AP-IS in the form of a short presentation of work done under the Project on Myanmar as an Inclusive Information Society. I briefly described some findings from the baseline and endline surveys, pointing out that much of what came out from the ITU on Internet users was worthless. We are not expecting to do such surveys again, though there is value in surveys being done periodically. My second point was on the need to develop an understanding of broadband quality of service experience.
Course Report Regulatory design and practice Sharing international experience with Myanmar 4-6 September 2017 Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
Just over four years ago, in August 2013, Helani Galpaya and I came to Nay Pyi Taw to deliver the regulatory module of a multi-day course offered by a number of different organizations, including the GSMA and the World Bank. For me, it the second visit to Myanmar and the first to Nay Pyi Taw, the mysterious new capital of an enigmatic state. For Helani, it was the first visit the country. It is customary in these kinds of events for the “dignitary” who inaugurates the event to make his speech and then leave. Deputy Minister U Thaung Tin was different.
Myanmar is one of the great success stories in telecom reform. When the government set the target of 80 SIMs/100 within five years back in 2013, many people doubted it could be done. But it has been done and exceeded. Myanmar’s smartphone penetration is now similar to that of the United States. One shortcoming was the establishment of the independent regulatory body within two years, as promised in the Law of 2013.
For the CPRsouth Young Scholar Program, I was given a series of topics such as agriculture, big data and platforms and asked to identify policy-relevant research questions. This kind of response can never be complete. And it begs the question of how good my prediction abilities are. But here goes. The slides:
Yesterday, I presented at CPRsouth 2017 a policy brief on the disbursement efficacy of universal service funds. We presented two relatively easy to develop metrics (year-on-year disbursement rate and cumulative disbursement rate) and applied them to four countries, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The conclusion was that irrespective of country and irrespective of political and administrative leadership, the funds failed to get the money out. In India, for example, USD 10 billion had accumulated in the fund by 2016 taken out of a highly competitive sector and making no contribution to connecting the unconnected. We pointed out that any tax or levy imposed on an operator that is a regular payment is passed on to customers and serves to depress demand.
Tomorrow, we start the CPRsouth Young Scholar Program at the Inya Lake Hotel, Yangon. I was asked to begin the program with a new topic, “What is policy research? What is special about communication policy research?” That proved more interesting than I thought. The slides are below.
Myanmar’s ICT sector has been transformed over the past few years as a result of policy reforms that learned from the experience of countries in similar circumstances. Now scholars from abroad are interested in learning from Myanmar’s successes and in contributing to evidence-based solutions for the remaining challenges. In late August, around 70 scholars from 20 countries across Asia and Africa, including four former telecom regulators, will converge at Inya Lake Hotel for the 2017 Communication Policy Research south Conference. The theme of the conference is “Connecting the next billion.” In the inaugural session (1330-1500 hrs, 30 August 2017), the delegates will hear of the Myanmar experience from the Deputy Minister of Transport and Communication, U Kyaw Myo.