Blog — Page 49 of 337 — LIRNEasia


Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) offer various opportunities for persons unable to or unwilling to participate in conventional employment. LIRNEasia in association with World Bank Group organized the Launch of World Development report 2016 and related LIRNEasia Research. The objective was to inform and realize digital dividends for Sri Lanka’s youth through inclusive livelihood. The launch event was commenced by World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka & Maldives, Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough framing the World Development Report for 2016 entitled digital dividend. World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka & Maldives Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough World Bank entitled Digital Dividends describes the opportunities created by ICTs and discusses the need for complementary (or “analog”) actions by government and other actors to realize the full benefits of ICTs.
Politicians and government officials like to sing the praises of MSMEs saying they create most of the jobs and so on. They create banks, databases, and various schemes to support them. We too believe that MSME are important. To the extent micro enterprises become small enterprises; small enterprises become medium and so on, we think it’s good for society. Our Research Fellow Vigneswara Ilavarasan (Associate Professor at IIT Delhi) has been working on MSMEs for a long time.
The evidence is strong about positive impacts on livelihoods from simply the connectivity enabled by existence of mobile networks in rural areas. With regard to information services provided over those networks, by the government or by the private sector, the evidence is not as clear. It’s not that the evidence shows no positive impact, but that the research has not been able to capture the evidence. The news releases describing the findings in Sinhala Tamil English
  Agricultural value chains hold the primary characteristics of a “Principal-Agent” relationship. Therefore, I argue whether the failure of these value chains can be explained in terms of a Principal-Agent Problem. Explaining an issue using economic terms does not help much therefore I am also proposing ways that the problem can be resolved. The Principal-Agent Problem can be best explained in a contract farming setting.   Contract farming is a form of vertical integration within agricultural commodity chains, such that the firm has greater control over the production process, as well as the quantity, quality, other characteristics and the timing of what is produced.
Our intention was to introduce the Digital Dividends report of the World Bank and disseminate related research conducted by LIRNEasia. We made the headlines in two newspapers but the focus was the controversy around excessive taxes more than on the research. But I was happy there was at least one quotation that referred to the Systematic Review research. “Airbnb has been in Sri Lanka and they have been in discussion with the Government about collecting taxes and giving it to the Government. Now that is a model that can work, but the centralised platform where everybody will have to go to some kind of .

PRESENTATION: Online Freelancing

Posted on December 6, 2016  /  0 Comments

An emerging new employment opportunity Launch of World Development Report 2016 and related LIRNEasia Research Hilton Residencies 06 December 2016 Helani Galpaya, Suthaharan Perampalam & Laleema Senanayake
The leading English language weekly, The Sunday Times, has carried a report on some of LIRNEasia’s work on inclusive information societies. Based on a nationally representative survey, LIRNEasia estimates, there could be 17,000 to 22,000 freelancers in Sri Lanka registered with multiple platforms and selling their skills all around the world. Fiverr, Freelancer and Upwork are the popular platforms used by Sri Lankan youth with Fiverr having the most number of registered workers, LIRNEasia said adding that the research was undertaken to understand the enabling factors and challenges in adopting to work on online freelancing platforms. Typical freelance “jobs” that are outsourced through platforms include graphic design, data entry, proofreading, translation, copyediting, market research, programming, data verification, etc. According to the survey, 26 per cent of the Sri Lankans between the age group 16 to 40 are aware of online freelancing and among those who aware 9 per cent expressed interest in working on online freelancing jobs.
Data usage is increasing in Myanmar at rates way beyond expectation. Operators are scrambling to meet demand first with 3G and now with 4G. Release of 1800 MHz spectrum will be critical in this regard. U Myo Swe, deputy director of the Posts and Telecommunications Department at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, said the 1800MHz band would be allocated to all operators in March. The spectrum will be made available to all operators equally, he said.
As we move toward the Next Billion surveys that will cover a lot more ground than the Myanmar we currently cover, it’s interesting to see what demand-side research looks like in other countries. Here’s Nielsen. In third-quarter 2016, 12% of smartphone owners said they had recently acquired their handset (within the last three months). Among recent phone acquirers in general, 93% chose to purchase a smartphone, compared with 90% in the third quarter of 2015. Overall smartphone penetration continues to rise rapidly, growing about eight percentage points year-over-year from 80% in third-quarter 2015 to 88% in third-quarter 2016.

Hard objects that make up the Internet

Posted on December 1, 2016  /  0 Comments

The book “Tubes” by Andrew Blum has been in the LIRNEasia office since 2013. The idea that there was a hard infrastructure making the Internet possible is not novel for people like us who live with the Internet failing for our people in Myanmar and Bangladesh and various other places frequently. But this is a good read in Quartz: Mobile networks and cloud computing make the internet feel seamlessly invisible. But behind phones, apps and laptops lies a physical infrastructure with cables and buildings that shuttle and store our all of our information. For its ubiquity, the nuts and bolts of the web isn’t necessarily the most immediately visible.
Presentation for Sarvodaya Board 30 November 2016  
CEO Helani Galpaya gave the opening presentation at the Alliance for Affordable Internet’s workshop on ICT and Gender in Myanmar. Her slides can be found here. The following day, Helani participated in a public consultation on the design of the Universal Fund in Myanmar where she called for a design of a fund with a either a sunset clause or declining revenue contribution from the telecom operators. She also participated in A4AI’s Myanmar Coalition Meeting held on the 18th of November, where she worked with Htaike Htaike Aung (Executive Director, MIDO) to develop a set of indicators that would help monitor progress in Myanmar’s ICT sector.
Government dictates the rate of international calls being terminated in Bangladesh. And it is always way above the hyper-competitive international wholesale voice rate. The regulator also takes away 40 per cent of the gross international revenue. Both the elements have been strongly incentivizing illegal bypass. Moreover, the international gateway (IGW) operators have been allowed to form a cartel named International Gateway Operators Forum (IOF).
I recall telling the story of the US court that required a man with a light (and maybe a bell) to walk ahead of new-fangled motor cars to Sri Lanka’s Solicitor General. Was it apocryphal or true? But it worked. I prevented him from giving me a ruling that would have basically killed satellite-based personal telephony. So often, the vested interests (ah, an old word, going into desuetude) try to force fit new things into old boxes in order to kill them.
LIRNEasia CEO Helani Galpaya was an invited speaker at the opening panel at the Digital Citizen Summit (http://dsummit.defindia.org) organised by the Digital Empowerment Foundation (India) and the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die Freiheit. The event was held in Bangalore, India 11th of November 2016.  The opening panel focused on data, citizenship and freedoms online.