Deputy Minister & Member of Parliament, Sri Lanka | former Consultant Lead Economist at LIRNEasia
Regulatory staff: Compensation & career development Rohan Samarajiva Course on Regulatory Design and Practice Nay Pyi Taw September 2017
Understanding the Myanmar telecom environment with emphasis on users Phyu Phyu Thi Course on Regulatory Design and Practice Nay Pyi Taw, September 2017
Presentation Rationale for ex-ante, sector-specific regulation Rohan Samarajiva Course on Regulatory Design and Practice Nay Pyi Taw, September 2017
Managing relationships with Ministries and Presidents: contributing to policy development Alison Gillwald Course on Regulatory design and practice Nay Pyi Taw September 2017
Course Report Regulatory design and practice Sharing international experience with Myanmar 4-6 September 2017 Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
Just over four years ago, in August 2013, Helani Galpaya and I came to Nay Pyi Taw to deliver the regulatory module of a multi-day course offered by a number of different organizations, including the GSMA and the World Bank. For me, it the second visit to Myanmar and the first to Nay Pyi Taw, the mysterious new capital of an enigmatic state. For Helani, it was the first visit the country. It is customary in these kinds of events for the “dignitary” who inaugurates the event to make his speech and then leave. Deputy Minister U Thaung Tin was different.
Myanmar is one of the great success stories in telecom reform. When the government set the target of 80 SIMs/100 within five years back in 2013, many people doubted it could be done. But it has been done and exceeded. Myanmar’s smartphone penetration is now similar to that of the United States. One shortcoming was the establishment of the independent regulatory body within two years, as promised in the Law of 2013.
Supply-side data are relatively easy to come by in the ICT space. But just because they are there, they need not be taken as the truth. We need to apply our critical facilities to the data that we use from whatever source. The “smell test” is an important tool for a good researcher. This was the message I communicated to a group of young scholars at CPRsouth 2017 in Yangon.
For the CPRsouth Young Scholar Program, I was given a series of topics such as agriculture, big data and platforms and asked to identify policy-relevant research questions. This kind of response can never be complete. And it begs the question of how good my prediction abilities are. But here goes. The slides:
Yesterday, I presented at CPRsouth 2017 a policy brief on the disbursement efficacy of universal service funds. We presented two relatively easy to develop metrics (year-on-year disbursement rate and cumulative disbursement rate) and applied them to four countries, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The conclusion was that irrespective of country and irrespective of political and administrative leadership, the funds failed to get the money out. In India, for example, USD 10 billion had accumulated in the fund by 2016 taken out of a highly competitive sector and making no contribution to connecting the unconnected. We pointed out that any tax or levy imposed on an operator that is a regular payment is passed on to customers and serves to depress demand.
Tomorrow, we start the CPRsouth Young Scholar Program at the Inya Lake Hotel, Yangon. I was asked to begin the program with a new topic, “What is policy research? What is special about communication policy research?” That proved more interesting than I thought. The slides are below.
Myanmar’s ICT sector has been transformed over the past few years as a result of policy reforms that learned from the experience of countries in similar circumstances. Now scholars from abroad are interested in learning from Myanmar’s successes and in contributing to evidence-based solutions for the remaining challenges. In late August, around 70 scholars from 20 countries across Asia and Africa, including four former telecom regulators, will converge at Inya Lake Hotel for the 2017 Communication Policy Research south Conference. The theme of the conference is “Connecting the next billion.” In the inaugural session (1330-1500 hrs, 30 August 2017), the delegates will hear of the Myanmar experience from the Deputy Minister of Transport and Communication, U Kyaw Myo.
Towards a Networked Economy in Myanmar Interim technical report 31 March 2017
Abstract: It is proposed that research-based interventions be undertaken in parallel on all major aspects of the Internet eco-system in Myanmar, namely infrastructure and services, users with skills, user interfaces and attractive content and applications. It is contended that with this novel “allfronts” approach has the potential to accelerate Myanmar’s progress from one of the least connected countries to an inclusive information society. The work will be undertaken in partnership with Myan ICT for Development Organization (MIDO), with the intention of mentoring the members of MIDO to reach their potential as policy intellectuals and future leaders and to strengthen the organization. The proposed work includes quantitative and qualitative studies that build on the baseline nationwide survey and qualitative studies. This research will be utilized in policy interventions and in the development innovation briefs for the development of apps and content useful for “those unlike app developers.