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B) 2010-12: Research Program

LIRNEasia’s overall mission of actionable research seeks to identify the institutional constraints to effective use of information and communication technologies to improve the lives of the people of Asia, not in abstract terms but in the context of specific historical and institutional conditions, and to catalyze the changes conducive to greater participation by users and suppliers.  This requires that the agents promoting evidence-based policy making and regulation be in situ, either in terms of the specific country or the region.

Having achieved a fair degree of success in its work in the first five years, as documented in our Five-year Review, LIRNEasia now wishes to address more deeply the question of the contributions ICTs can make to innovations conducive to economic growth and poverty alleviation.

The research component, comprises three inter-related modules: Knowledge-based economies, Teleuse@BOP4 and Indicators, continued. As in the 2008-10 research cycle, the base modules on demand-side and supply-side analysis will provide continuity with the previous research cycles and also feed into the main research module.

The thematic and main research component of the proposal is on inclusive knowledge-based economies [KBEs], with agricultural value chains as the case study. The objectives of this research is to achieve an in-depth understanding of how innovations related to ICTs are used (and may be used) to improve the efficiency and inclusiveness of studied agricultural value chains, based on work done under the module as well as the demand- and supply-side modules; Develop recommendations for improving the efficiency and inclusiveness of agricultural value chains including through the application of ICTs, but not limited to them; Based on the in-depth understandings achieved above, contribute to improving indicators related to measuring progress toward inclusive knowledge-based economies. The study will be conducted in Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Thailand. A related survey of small and micro-enterprises in selected countries based on the qualitative learnings from the former study will also be conducted.

Teleuse@BOP4 is a quantitative (representative-sample) multi-country study of how people at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) use ICTs. It builds on three previous studies (teleuse@BOP1,  teleuse@BOP2 and teleuse@BOP3) conducted in 2005, 2006 and 2008. It will offer insight into the nature of demand for telecom services at the BOP in emerging Asia. It will focus on the use of mobiles for value-generation at the BOP, against the backdrop of an emerging KBE. Teleuse@BOP4 will contribute to the KBE module and a planned SME [small and micro-sized enterprise] survey through its thematic component. In addition, it will continue the questions from previous surveys in compressed form so that useful data may be generated of trends.  The minimum coverage will be India, Thailand and Sri Lanka, with additional countries included, depending on private-sector partnerships.

The work will also develop new indicators and improve the existing indicators that LIRNEasia has been working on for many years.  This component will not be limited to agriculture value chains (which are but case studies), but will look at indicators relevant to measuring the knowledge-based economy. The supply-side module will also have elements of continuity and change.  The benchmarking that was commenced in the previous cycles will continue, but without mobile prices (where the ITU has come over to our position that baskets were what had to be benchmarked, not minutes).  The broadband quality work will continue, but on a 12 month cycle, not the previous six-month cycle.  Greater emphasis will be placed on mobile broadband than on fixed, and so on.  New elements such as benchmarking how much revenue governments extract from the telecom industry will replace the earlier research on regulatory websites.  The Telecom Policy and Regulatory Environment (TRE) methodology that we developed has now been adopted elsewhere.  We will no longer do stand-alone TREs, but will do them as elements within Sector Performance Reviews (SPRs).

As with previous cycles, the dissemination and advocacy module will include a rapid-response component and conference participation by researchers.

The principal capacity-building activity will be Communication Policy Research south (CPRsouth), inclusive of internships.  Elements of this design are now being replicated in Africa and Latin America and for which funding is sought separately.

2010-12 Research Proposal

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