LIRNEasia is pleased to issue a call for expressions of interest (EOIs) to conduct baseline research on information, knowledge and communications technology needs and uses in Myanmar. The detailed call for EOIs cn be read here. Interested parties should respond according to the guidelines no later than 0800 hours Sri Lanka time on 10 October 2014.
LIRNEasia‘s predecessor PIPU [the Public Interest Program Unit] was headed by Rohan Samarajiva (LIRNEasia’s Chair and CEO) and Luxman Siriwardena (one of our Board members), and consisted of many of LIRNEasia‘s current family and friends, including Harsha de Silva (MP, and our Consultant Lead Economist). Here are a few annotated memories of PIPU’s finale trip to Trincomalee in June 2004: PIPU trip to Trinco 2004. Captions and comments courtesy of Harsha. PIPU was in charge of executing Sri Lanka’s infrastructure reform program between 2002-04. In Prof’s words, “PIPU gave birth to LIRNEasia.
LIRNEasia’s book, ICT INFRASTRUCTURE IN EMERGING ASIA: Policy and Regulatory Roadblocks is now fully downloadable in PDF from IDRC’s website. This edited volume, based on LIRNEasia‘s 2004-2006 research program brings together scholars, practitioners, former regulators and policy makers to address the problem of expanding information and communication technology (ICT) connectivity in emerging Asia. It centrally engages the widespread claim that technology by itself—independent of policy and regulatory reform—can improve access to ICTs. In doing so, it shows that while complex workarounds are possible, they are significantly less effective than the appropriate policy and regulatory reforms. More information on the book here.
Evidence from LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP3 survey of mobile use at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) suggests that by late 2008, 78 percent of BOP mobile owners in the study countries were using the functions of the Internet through their mobiles; nearly one third of them have never even heard of the Internet. For the last three years, LIRNEasia has been arguing the case that many people in developing markets will have (if they already haven’t had) their first “Internet experience” through a mobile. Most of our 2008-2010 research program was based on this premise. It seems that the general discourse in the mobile research field is converging on this point, as evidence of growing mobile Internet use in these markets emerges. In addition to this, LIRNEasia’s argument (which in fact CEO & Chair Rohan Samarajiva has been making from as early as 1999: written up in Samarajiva, R.
Research Fellow Tahani Iqbal represented LIRNEasia at an mWomen (GSMA) working group meeting in India in late 2010. Several global telcos were also invited to help develop a “business case” for tapping the female market, and to identify what operators were already doing in this regard. Tahani presented data from the Teleuse@BOP studies, which indicates that the “divide” in access at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) in most countries studied is clearly narrowing, with men and women talking as much as each other on the phone. Though there are pockets where the access divide is severe (e.g.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.