The Department of Census and Statistics has published the preliminary results of the 2016 Computer Literacy Survey. The survey has its beginnings in the e Sri Lanka initiative which supported the initial iterations starting from 2004. This is the sixth in the series. One expects indicators such as literacy and device ownership to increase every year. But not in 2016.
LIRNEasia’s research findings from the nationally representative survey on ICT use and information needs conducted in 2016 are being quoted by officials from the Ministry of Transport and Communications in Myanmar, Htaike Htaike Aung of MIDO reports. Most recently, it has been quoted by U Myo Swe, Deputy Director General of the Post and Telecommunications Department at a consultative workshop on universal service strategy, design and implementation held today (16 February 2017) in Yangon. Key figures such as household mobile ownership (83%) and poor digital skills were mentioned by U Swe. The increase in mobile ownership in rural areas was also highlighted. LIRNEasia’s research findings showed that mobile ownership in rural Myanmar increased from 26% to 53% between 2015 and 2016.
On the 19th of December, LIRNEasia CEO Helani Galpaya and the MIDO co-founders (Phyu Phyu Thi, Htaike Htaike Aung and Wai Myo Htut) met with the the Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications, U Kyaw Myo to present the results of the 2016 nationally representative survey of ICT use in Myanmar. U Sai Saw Lin Tun, Deputy Director General of the IT and Cyber Security Department in the Ministry and other officials were also present. The slides are found here.
I understand that smartphone penetration is even higher according to the 2016 survey, where the analysis is almost complete. But here is what the ITU says about Myanmar’s ICT progress, using LIRNEasia’s 2015 data: These improvements in affordability and network availability help to explain the country’s fast Internet uptake, supported by two other trends that distinguish Myanmar from neighbouring markets. Firstly, smartphone penetration is very high, reaching 66 per cent of phone owners in early 2015 according to a survey by the independent research institute LIRNEasia.18 According to Ooredoo, as many as 80 per cent of mobile-phone users opt for smartphones (Oxford Business Group, 2015). Secondly, growth in data usage has overtaken growth in voice traffic.
Our survey caught these trends last year. But the stories are good too. “The Myanmar market has K30,000 smartphones on offer, but people want using phones to be easy,” he said. “The cheaper phones don’t have good touch-screens and can’t store a lot of data compared with K200,000 handsets.” “Now mobile phone users are going online, using apps,” he said.
We tried very hard to get the Teleuse in Myanmar research findings disseminated before the big tidal wave of the 2015 Myanmar Election rolled in, washing away all else. But we were not completely successful and were somewhat disappointed in the amount of coverage we received. So we were very pleased to see the data being used in conversations about the election: Since the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector in 2014, unprecedented numbers of Myanmar citizens have obtained mobile phones, and with that internet access. A recent survey conducted by LIRNEasia on Myanmar’s ICT development found that 58 percent of households have access to a SIM card and 57 percent to a mobile phone handset. The survey also found that 17 percent of all phone owners use the Facebook application, behind only those using “Voice over IP” applications such as Viber and Skype (24 percent) and chat applications like Whatsapp and Facebook messenger (20 percent).
The first nationally representative survey of ICT use in Myanmar was conducted by LIRNEasia in Feb/March of 2015. The results were presented to stakeholders at a series of events and meetings held in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw between the 28 – 30 July 2015. Download report here The links provide the updated slide-set, detailed methodology note, questionnaire in English and in Myanmar language. Media ICT Survey: LIRNEasia nationwide ICT survey results released| Mitv News, Myanmar | July 29th 2015 LA on Democracy Today, Myanmar | August 6th 2015 LA on the Mobile Guide, Myanmar | August 5th LA survey data being referenced in an item about hate speech on Facebook | Eleven News, Myanmar |September 13th 2015 The English translation of this item can be found here.
One of the problems with social media is that no one reads beyond the 140 characters. I was asked about mobile number portability via Twitter. I provided the information via links in a blog post and then tweeted the post. I get the sense that no one went to the nuances. I am good at summarizing, but cannot give the true pros and cons in 140 characters.
LIRNEasia conducts large-sample surveys. We explain that they are scientific surveys because random sampling is used. Sometimes we don’t emphasize it enough. But apparently we should. A US Representative has exhibited his ignorance by announcing that random is not scientific.
Here are the summarised results from the telecenter operator survey done by LIRNEasia at the weCan workshop in October 2008. Sample was not representative, but large enough to get a general idea about the telecenter operations in Sri Lanka. Out of a total of 147 operators surveyed, the bulk, 101 were from Nenasalas, the 500 odd telecenter network created under the World Bank funded e-Sri Lanka programme. 10 were from Sarvodaya multi-purpose telecenters and 6 from others (eg. public libraries) 30 have not specified the type of the telecenter.