General — Page 11 of 245


Learning from the experience of others, the licensing regime in Myanmar made it possible for companies that specialized in the operation of towers to function (unlike, say, in Sri Lanka). When the main business of a company is the leasing of space for antenna, it has incentives to use the towers most efficiently and to allow as many mobile network operators to use the space as possible. It is not that concerns over aesthetics and health are absent, but it would be fair to say that Myanmar could not have made the rapid progress it has achieved without this element of intelligent policy design. Fortunately for Myanmar’s telecom infrastructure companies, the market for rooftop real estate is booming. A fourth telco is due to launch this year, and Telenor and Ooredoo are in the midst of a major urban rollout.
LIRNEasia’s research findings from the nationally representative survey on ICT use and information needs conducted in 2016 are being quoted by officials from the Ministry of Transport and Communications in Myanmar, Htaike Htaike Aung of MIDO reports.  Most recently, it has been quoted by U Myo Swe, Deputy Director General of the Post and Telecommunications Department at a consultative workshop on universal service strategy, design and implementation held today (16 February 2017) in Yangon. Key figures such as household mobile ownership (83%) and poor digital skills were mentioned by U Swe.  The increase in mobile ownership in rural areas was also highlighted. LIRNEasia’s research findings showed that mobile ownership in rural Myanmar increased from 26% to 53% between 2015 and 2016.
Leading up to the last Internet Governance Forum in Guadalajara, Mexico, LIRNEasia and the Association for Progressive Communication collaborated on preparing participants from multiple countries for effective engagement in that multi-stakeholder event. Nalaka Gunawardene was one of the participants from Sri Lanka supported by that activity. Here are his reflections in Internet governance in Echelon. Why does Internet governance matter for Sri Lanka? Since we have enough governance challenges in the physical world, should we leave cyber governance for others to resolve?

What is the best way to measure poverty

Posted on February 13, 2017  /  0 Comments

The government of Sri Lanka has increased spending on the leading welfare scheme Samurdhi, from LKR 15 billion in 2014, to LKR 43 billion in 2016, almost a tripling. There are 1.4 million beneficiaries, classified into those can be graduated out of the scheme, those who cannot, and those in between. Apparently, another 1 million people are clamoring to be included in the scheme. In this seven-minute speech made in a Parliament recently, Dr Harsha de Silva provides a quick comparison of the three principal methods of ascertaining poverty.
It’s clearly not yet August 2017. So why is this Calendar page up on the website? It’s because the 2017 IDRC Calendar features the Myanmar as an inclusive information society project for the month of August. The featured photograph was taken by LIRNEasia alumna Radhika Wijesekera.
The premier Sinhala newspaper of ideas, Ravaya, carried a lengthy piece by Nalaka Gunawardene on online freelancing, set in the context of the overall problem of creating high-quality jobs that could attract young Sri Lankans. This probably concludes one of our most successful dissemination efforts in the official languages of Sri Lanka, other than English.

Refugees and ICTs

Posted on February 10, 2017  /  0 Comments

We have written about use of smartphones by refugees. But the Economist provides a much more comprehensive view. Information and communications technology show up right through what researchers call the “refugee life-cycle”. People in northern Iraq use WhatsApp and Viber to talk to friends who have made it to Germany; UNHCR uses iris scans for identification in camps in Jordan and Lebanon; migrants on flimsy rubber boats in the Mediterranean use satellite phones provided by people-smugglers to call the Italian coastguard; and geeks in Europe teach refugees how to code so that they can try to get jobs. Aid groups must work out who needs their help.

App stores as chokepoints

Posted on February 9, 2017  /  0 Comments

We commissioned a study on the Indian app economy back in 2013. The report was completed in 2014. One thing that study did not pick up on was the danger that governments could use the app store to control access to information. We were not alone in missing this critical implication: For more than a decade, we users of digital devices have actively championed an online infrastructure that now looks uniquely vulnerable to the sanctions of despots and others who seek to control information. We flocked to smartphones, app stores, social networks and cloud storage.
I was included in a five-person panel discussing the university education in Sri Lanka in light of the currently heightened interest re relaxing the government monopoly. In my opening comments, I referred to research conducted in 2012 by the Human Capital Research team. I also talked about the need to allow innovation in the educational system so that we can better respond to the fast changing external environment. The video of the talk show.

Multiple SIM ownership declining

Posted on February 8, 2017  /  0 Comments

Multiple SIM ownership has been a topic we have given much thought to over the years. Unlike the ITU, we never thought it was a good thing in and of itself. We tried to understand why people bothered to juggle multiple SIMs. We found it had many causes, not just high interconnection charges as suggested by Telegeography below. Gaps in coverage and discounts for calling friends and family were among the factors identified.
It has become increasingly common for developing-country governments to extract rents from what they think is an easy target, international communication. After all, the people affected don’t vote in their elections, even if they are in many cases, hardworking expat workers who keep the home economies afloat. But telecom users are not stupid. They have been switching to alternatives in a big way, says Telegeography: First up is the curious discovery that 2015 marked a turning point in the market. It was the first time since the Great Depression that international carrier voice traffic declined.

Top Five Issues in Agriculture

Posted on February 6, 2017  /  0 Comments

  Many issue have hindered the progress in agriculture sector. Farmers, buyers and consumer are raising issues every day despite the efforts by policy makers and institutions. May be it is not that the actions are not generating results rather the actions are not well coordinated and policies are misaligned. One way to go about this is to prioritize the issues and identify collective solutions. In prioritization it is possible to cluster issues that can be solved by a common intervention.
It’s not enough to build towers. The last mile has to be complemented by the middle mile and the first mile (though that seems a strained metaphor for international cables). The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency had backed the $105.74 million loan from the Bank of China (Hong Kong) to the Myanmar Fiber Optic Communication Network, MIGA said in a statement on January 25. The guarantee provides coverage for up to five years against such risks as currency inconvertibility and transfer restrictions, expropriation, and war and civil disturbance, MIGA said.
Two ongoing projects at LIRNEasia seek to open up government data. The first is the inclusive information societies project. The second seeks to present electoral delimitation data to stakeholders in manipulable form to facilitate informed discussion. Human Capital Research Team Leader Sujata Gamage presents the big picture in a column in FT: Open data or more specifically Open Government Data (OGD) is a concept which is complementary to the Right to Information (RTI) concept. While RTI is reactive, legalistic, adversarial and costly, OGD is proactive, technical, collaborative and less costly in the long term.
State-owned Myanmar Post and Telecommunication (MPT) is a member of the prehistoric SEA-ME-WE3 and very recent SEA-ME-WE5 submarine cable consortiums. MPT also shares the landing facilities with China Unicom, which brings a branch of Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1) cable to the country. This is how the incumbent has secured the landing of two contemporary submarine cable systems. The government has also injected competition and licensed the Singapore-based Campana Group to build the Myanmar-Thailand International Connection (MYTHIC) submarine cable. Last year Campana has contracted Alcatel-Lucent to build the 1,600km MYTHIC cable, equipped with 100Gbps technology for an initial design capacity of 20Tbps.
For some, Facebook is a bad thing. That was an underlying theme of the opposition to Free Basics and zero rating. I guess having less women use a bad thing is good, so they should be happy. The fact remains that Facebook is the most popular app, the killer app that everyone was looking for. So even if it does not meet the standards of the purists, very low use by women should be of concern to pragmatists.