Ayesha Zainudeen


A paper by Ailieen Aguero and Harsha de Silva on Bottom of the Pyramid expenditure patterns on mobile phone services in selected Emerging Asian countries has recently been featured on mWomen’s website. mWomen is a part of the GSMA that focuses on improving women’s access to mobile phones in developing markets.
The most recent addition to the Teleuse@BOP3 working paper series is now available for download. Author Sangamitra Ramachander (University of Oxford) explores the factors influencing the responsiveness of mobile use to small declines in per minute charges among bottom of the pyramid (BOP) users in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The full paper can be downloaded here. Abstract: The private sector in developing countries is increasingly interested in extending mobile telephony services to low income and rural markets that were previously considered unprofitable. Determining the right price is a central challenge in this context.

Using the phone for business purposes

Posted on August 13, 2010  /  1 Comments

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We want your comments and suggestions in Teleuse@BOP4 questionnaire design In our most recent demand-side ICT study, Teleuse@BOP3, we asked bottom of the pyramid (BOP) phone owners if and how often they used their phone (mobile or fixed) for business purposes or any other financial or work-related purposes. The responses we got were quite encouraging: Teleuse@BOP4 is almost underway. This time, we have decided to seek out the wisdom of the crowds in designing and fine-tuning some of the questions that we ask in Teleuse@BOP4. Responses to the question of business use of phones are important in this research cycle, where we are trying to understand , inter alia, what services (including telecom) would better equip SMEs (many of which are owned by or employ people at the BOP) to participate in the knowledge based economy. Similarly as important are the reasons that prevent greater use of phones for these purposes (trust, alternatives, cost, culture, etc).

Teleuse@BOP2 article published in New Media and Society

Posted on June 15, 2010  /  1 Comments

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Who’s got the phone? Gender and the use of the telephone at the bottom of the pyramid Ayesha Zainudeen, Tahani Iqbal and Rohan Samarajiva Many studies conclude that a significant gender divide in access to the telephone exists, particularly in developing countries. Furthermore, women are also said to use telephones in a different manner from men — making and receiving more calls, spending more time on calls and using telephones primarily for ‘relationship maintenance’ purposes. Much of this research is based on small-sample studies in affluent developed countries. This article shows that a significant gender divide in access to telephones exists in Pakistan and India, to a lesser extent in Sri Lanka, but is absent in the Philippines and Thailand.
One of the key policy recommendations of LIRNEasia‘s recent study on the extension of mobile-based e-marketplace provider, CellBazaar to include the payment aspect (among others) of a transaction is the promotion of a secure mobile payments system in Bangladesh; the recommendation being that the government provide a clear policy framework / set of guidelines in order for private players (mobile operators/banks/other) to come in and essentially play. On the one hand, this interview with the head of financial services for Grameenphone on the experience with BillPay, a utility payment service offered by Grameenphone, as well as LIRNEasia‘s Teleuse@BOP findings from the Philippines seem to suggest that even once the system is in place, there is still a lot of work to be done in earning people’s trust to use the service and change their behavior. Through BillPay has been around since 2006, it has only pushed the over-the-counter service, rather than the e-wallet version of the service (currently used by a small number), due to this very issue. Once the service reaches a critical mass of users, they plan to push out the e-wallet service more aggressively. On the other hand, could already-popular services like CellBazaar (used by 3.

IDRC features LIRNEasia Lead Economist in its annual report

Posted on September 15, 2009  /  0 Comments

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Lead Economist, Harsha de Silva and the AgInfo work that he has been leading at LIRNEasia has been featured in the International Development Research Centre’s (IDRC) 2008-2009 Annual Report. Read the full feature here (page 16)
Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia Chair and CEO, made the lead presentation on access to ICTs at an OECD/infoDev Workshop on the Internet Economy yesterday in Paris. The workshop, “Policy coherence in the application of information and communication technologies for development,” is currently underway. In his presentation, Dr Samarajiva described the new “Budget Telecom Network Model” developed in South Asia that is enabling mobile operators to serve low-income customers who yield very low ARPUs [Average Revenues per User] and discuss its extension to enable broadband use.  Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have offered the lowest total costs of mobile ownership since 2005-06 while still yielding adequate, though somewhat volatile, returns to ensure continued investment in network extension and new services.  LIRNEasia research shows that this has been made possible by business process innovations to reduce operating expenses, and the minimizing of transaction costs made possible by widespread prepaid use.
Full participation in the global Internet Economy requires electronic connectivity of considerable complexity. Today, due to a worldwide wave of liberalization and technological and business innovations in the mobile space, much of the world is electronically connected, albeit not at the levels that would fully support participation in the global Internet Economy. Yet, many millions of poor people are engaging in tasks normally associated with the Internet such as information retrieval, payments and remote computing using relatively simple mobiles. Understanding the business model that enabled impressive gains in voice connectivity as well as the beginnings of more-than-voice applications over mobiles is important not only because widespread broadband access among the poor is likely to be achieved by extending this model but because it would be the basis of coherent and efficacious policy and regulatory responses… This is an excerpt from a background report by Rohan Samarajiva, to be presented at “Policy coherence in the application of information and communication technologies for development,” a joint workshop organized by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Information for Development Program (infoDev) / World Bank from 10-11 September 2009 in Paris. The report has been published in the OECD’s Development […]
Rohan Samarajiva is among three finalists for the the first Bastiat Prize for Online Journalism. samarajiva was nominated for his Lanka  Business Online column “Choices” The Bastiat Prize is awarded by the International Policy Network, a London-based think tank that seeks to improve public understanding of the role of the institutions of the free society. The Bastiat Prize (for journalism) was first awarded in 2002 and judges have included Lady Thatcher and Nobel-Prize-winners James Buchanan and Milton Friedman. The prize was developed to encourage and reward writers whose published works promote the institutions of a free society: limited government, rule of law brokered by an independent judiciary, protection of private property, free markets, free speech, and sound science. This is the first time that a seperate category for online journalism is being awarded.

Teleuse@BOP migrant study findings released in Dhaka

Posted on June 26, 2009  /  7 Comments

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LIRNEasia‘s recent research on ICT use and remittances among migrant workers was released in Dhaka on 28 June 2009. The study of over 1,500 domestic and overseas migrant workers in six Asian countries (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Sri Lanka) has yielded some interesting insights in Bangladesh, with important policy implications. Demand for communication among Bangaldeshi migrants surveyed was particularly high compared to the other countries surveyed; a significant number of overseas migrants even used the Internet to call home. Bangladeshi migrants were sending home around half of their salaries on average, mostly through banks, and hand-carried in cash. Mobiles play a key role in coordinating remittances; a small number of overseas migrants were even sending money home through their mobiles.
LIRNEasia Lead Economist Harsha de Silva was recently appointed to a five-member Scientific Advisory committee for a two-year multi-country African research project, eAgriculture Network for Africa (eARN Africa): Effectiveness of Electronic-Based Interventions in Linking African Farmers to Markets. The project aims study the effectiveness of ICT-based intervention in linking African farmers to markets so as to inform policy decisions of African governments and stakeholders aimed at improving livelihood of smallholder farmers. The project is funded by the International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada; an inception meeting was recently held in Kampala, Uganda, which Harsha de Silva attended. The project will be conducted in six African countries: Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Ghana, Benin, and Madagascar. The  Scientific Advisory Committee constitutes: Prof.
Rohan Samarajiva, Chair and CEO of LIRNEasia was awarded the prestigious 2009 “Communication Research as an Agent of Change Award” by the International Communication Association (ICA) at the 59th Annual conference of the ICA on 23 May 2009, in Chicago, USA. The award honors one person each year whose work has had a demonstrable impact on practice outside the academy, with clear benefits to the community. The award was presented to him by Patrice M. Buzzanell, President of the International Communication Association. At the ceremony a brief statement about his accomplishments and the ways his work has had sustainable social benefits was presented by the ICA: “Dr.

Mobiles, the developing world path to the Internet?

Posted on May 13, 2009  /  0 Comments

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Teleuse@BOP3, LIRNEasia’s six country study has shown that between 2006 and 2008 there has been significant uptake of mobiles by the BOP in emerging Asia. Access to computers on the other hand (see here for numbers)  in these countries at the BOP is minimal.  Together with the increasing capabilities of mobiles to deliver an array of services, which essentially boil down to what you can do on the Internet (information publication and retrieval, transactions, etc) this means that much of the BOP will have their first Internet experience through a mobile. The current issue of Nokia’s Expanding Horizons quarterly magazine highlights LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP3 study findings from India, illustrating this point. Mobiles are now the most common form of communication, pushing public phones into second place… The rapid evolution of the mobile into a multi-purpose communications and knowledge tool combined with its fast adoption by the BOP, means they and the majority of people in the developing world are likely to have their first Internet experience via a mobile.
Colombo, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2009 – H.E. Ms Angela Bogdan, High Commissioner for Canada, will be officially launching the book on “Knowledge to Policy: Making the Most of Development Research, copublished by Sage and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).  The book is authored by Fred Carden, Director of Evaluation at IDRC.  The launch of the book will take place in Colombo on: Date: Monday, April 27, 2009 Time: 1130 – 1300 hrs Where: Dukes Court 2, Hotel Trans Asia, Colombo, Sri Lanka Does research influence public policy and decision-making and, if so, how?

Inclusive growth with mobiles: Findings from the BOP

Posted on April 8, 2009  /  1 Comments

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Just five years ago, the Indian telecom industry’s massive momentum barely included the poor.  The country had slightly over seven access paths (fixed and mobile connections) per 100 people, but in rural India 100 people were served by only 1.5 access paths.  Even in urban India, the poor were unconnected. But now, the picture is different.

India’s urban-rural telecom gap?

Posted on March 9, 2009  /  0 Comments

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An AFP story published today talks about the Indian boom in mobile connections, despite all round economic gloom: a record 15m new connections were added in India in January 2009 according to the article. India’s “mobile revolution” is still mainly seen in the cities, but the real prize for phone companies is the vast rural market, where nearly 70 percent of the 1.1-billion-strong population live, analysts say. By the end of January, 34.5 percent of the population owned a telephone, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said.