Today is the official start of the LIRNEasia Expert Forum on Regulation and Investment. Rohan Samarajiva is enamoured of ‘real-time updating’, hence you will be getting a plethora of information.
Dr. William Melody delivered the commencement address, beginning with a simple question: “What are the characteristics of 21st Century Network Economies and Information Societies?” He also answered the question ‘What does LIRNE do?’ saying that “it serves mainly to develop human capital and contribute expert opinion to the world dialogue on regulation. LIRNE is established in Denmark, the Netherlands, South Africa, UK, and now Sri Lanka.
The World Dialogue on Regulation mission is to facilitate an international dialogue to generate and disseminate new knowledge. While our primary target is primarily involved to people who are involved in regulation, it is not our only audience. Perhaps the greatest party that has to understand the process is the incumbent telecom monopoly who can come to understand that by letting others participate they can benefit.” (FULL PRESENTATION)
Dr. Rohan Samarajiva followed, saying that Sri Lanka has over 300,000 people on waiting lists for phones, which is not good. To illustrate the demand for investment, I will read for you the needs assessment submitted to the Tokyo Conference.
If we make the modest assumption that the North and East must have the same teledensity as the country as a whole, we would require a total of 786,000 connection in this region in the coming five years. You can see that were not doing that well, except for India. That is the problem were facing. It is to address this problem that this expert forum is designed.
Nobel Laureate Michael Spence spoke to the growth that effective ICT implementation can engender, and to the enormous benefits this can bring – especially to the poor.
Dr. Suman Bery, an emminent Indian economist delivered the keynote address, speaking on the infrastructure problem in general:
“In many ways the infrastructure sectors got into trouble because of a combination of populism and patronage. Regulators have not been given the tools to cut through this knot, and things are not very different from the decade before. What is the way out? I would have to say that I find it difficult analytically to point to any sharp set of scissors. I think its going to be a slow and patient process. Unless we get it right the investment flows will not be forthcoming, and getting it right will be a great feat of political economy.”
To this end, Dr. Bery recommended that resource-strapped regulators receive as much support as possible from a broad range of researchers and experts, like the expert forum assembled today in the Mount Lavinia Hotel.