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

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Building research capacity for systematic reviews

Systematic reviews focused on ICTs & MSMEs, ICTs & education and ICTs and mobile financial services were funded by IDRC. The project also focused on building capacity of researchers in Asia and Africa to conduct systematic reviews.

1. Does access to business relevant information through networked devices enhance business growth of urban MSME in LMICs?

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) offer a broad range of employment opportunities and play an important role in reducing urban poverty. The studies of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in this space are moving from capturing adoption to understanding impact. The studies are conclusive about the level of adoption of ICTs by MSMEs with mobile phones being the most popular form of ICT. The studies on the impact of ICTs, especially in the growth of MSMEs seem to be unclear. With rise of networking capabilities, through Internet, of low cost technologies like mobile phones, questions are being asked whether these networked technologies are resulting in overall economic growth, at least for the MSMEs. Some of the most commonly used indicators to assess MSMEs growth include: time saving; Increase in sales, turnover, number of employees, branches, customers, suppliers, work locations, partnerships, products, services, business networks, and incoming referrals, diversification into new areas of business, products & services, and inventory management among others. The proposed review will examine the following:

  • What is the role played by the ICTs in the relation between information access and business growth for MSMEs in the low and middle income countries?
  • How does the causal relationship between business relevant information and business growth mediated by ICTs, especially the networked devices?

Final protocol approved by EPPI can be found here
The report sent to EPPI for review can be found here

Dissemination

  • ICT4D conference, Singapore. 15-18 May 2015
    The slides are available here
  • ICTs & MSMEs dissemination event, Delhi. 26 April 2016
    The slides are available here
    The event report is available here
    Media coverage can be found here 
    Photos are available here.  Video coverage can be found here
  • United Nations University, Macau. May 2016
    The slides are available here
  • CPRsouth, Zanzibar, Tanzania. September 2016
    The slides are available here

2. Strategies for training or supporting teachers to integrate ICT in the classroom

Importance of education for young or adult learners is unquestioned. Good education begins with good content, proven pedagogy and the availability of intermediaries who can deliver. Initial training followed by regular in-service training of teachers is critical for delivering a quality education, but, developing countries suffer from a lack of experts and difficulties in reaching out to teachers in rural or even urban areas. With ICTs becoming more prevalent and cost effective, use of ICTS to reach out to and connect teachers to training opportunities and resources is becoming more viable. A secondary problem in developing countries is the inability of teachers to lead the students in computer-assisted learning since the older generation is more likely to be affected by the digital divide. The incorporation of ICT into teacher training process is likely to give the secondary benefit of having teachers who are comfortable about using technology for learning, if the need arise. Reviewing the literature in ICT for education in the developing world, conclude that there are not enough systematic studies from the developing world to link ICT to student learning outcomes, and decision makers are driven by intuition. Although it is possible that more recent studies, published between 2008 and 2013, may include more systematic studies on the topic, it may be more beneficial in developing country contexts to do a systematic review of ICT use by teachers. Take-up of ICTs by students for learning in the class room is unlikely to lead to better learning if the teachers are not able to lead. Based on the above observations the systematic review will focus on the use ICTs for in-service training of teachers.

The final protocol is available here
The report sent to EPPI for review can be found here

Dissemination

  • ICT4D conference 2015, Singapore. 15-18 May 2015
    Slides available here
  • ICT4education dissemination event, Sri Lanka. 26 November 2015
    Slides available here
    The photos are available here
  • CPRsouth, Zanzibar, Tanzania. September 2016
    Slides available here 

3. The impact of mobile financial services in LMICs

Available literature posits that access to financial services is important for development as it facilitates economic growth and helps reduce income inequality. For the poor, inclusive financial systems can lead to smoothening of consumption and insuring themselves against economic vulnerabilities. This can allow them to save and borrow, build their assets, and make investments that can improve their livelihoods.

However, half of the world is unbanked, and do not use formal financial services to save and borrow. Given the rapid access to and ubiquity of mobile phones in developing countries, there has been considerable excitement and subsequent investment in using mobile phones as a conduit for reaching the unbanked through the development mobile phone based financial services.

Among the foreseen benefits of using mobile financial services is the ability to transfer funds at a distance, particularly small amounts of money, at a lesser cost compared to other alternatives available to the poor. Moreover, it is also hypothesized that provision of mobile financial services to the unbanked, may lead to better savings rates, increased income and resilience to financial shocks, among others.

Given the current state of mobile financial services, this research proposes to examine the impact mobile financial services has made on development.

The final protocol available here
The report sent to EPPI for review can be found here

Dissemination

  • ICT4D conference 2015, Singapore 15-18 May 2015
    Slides available here
  • Mobile money dissemination event, Philippines. 17 June 2016
    The slides are available here 
    The event report is available here
  • CPRsouth, Zanzibar, Tanzania. September 2016
    The slides are available here 

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