In the Media


The regional gender findings from AfterAccess were recently featured in the United Nations University-Equals’ Global Partnership’s inaugural report, Taking Stock: Data and Evidence on Gender Digital Equality in Digital Access, Skills and Leadership. The report has been combined in an effort to provide a resource for decision makers who are interested in reducing gender disparities in ICT access and use. LIRNEasia contributed to a chapter, Towards understanding the digital gender gap in the Global South, based largely on the nationally representative AfterAccess survey data from 17 (of the 23 surveyed) countries. The chapter relates some of the challenges in collecting rigorous gender-disaggregated data, and then illustrates the magnitudes of the gaps in access to mobile phones, internet and social media in the three regions. The chapter also examines gender digital inequality in the three regions through different lenses and methods.
A list of selected media coverage on AfterAccess following dissemination of the data and report in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
A list of selected media coverage on AfterAccess following dissemination of the data and report in Dhaka, Bangladesh
A list of selected media coverage on AfterAccess following dissemination of the Pakistan data and report
A selection of coverage by Indian media of the AfterAccess surveys
An opinion piece written by LIRNEasia's CEO Helani Galpaya, published in the Economy Watch section of the Pakistan Observer on Sunday, 02 December 2018.
Our AfterAccess research, conducted in partnership with sister networks DIRSI and Research ICT Africa and were declared winners of the EQUALSinTech 2018 Research Award at the Yale Club, New York, on 22 September 2018.
When the first set of AfterAccess results were analyzed, we found that women in India were 46% less likely to own a mobile phone than men. We publicised this information in the country as the widest gap among all 16 countries surveyed at the time. The media lapped up the story resulting in an immediate direct policy win for LIRNEasia.
Prof. Rohan Samarajiva was recently invited to the ’99 Minutes’ show hosted by Shan Wijethunga on the national television corporation of Sri Lanka, ‘Rupavahini’. The full panel discussion on energy regulation (specifically electricity) in Sri Lanka, can be found below:

Facebook: To ban or not to ban?

Posted on April 24, 2018  /  0 Comments

The Jakarta Post Opinion by Ibrahim Kholilul Rohman and Ayesha Zainudeen The Indonesian government is considering a ban on Facebook amid concerns of privacy breaches and potential abuse of the platform to influence the upcoming presidential elections through fake news and hate speech. Using the indicative survey data collected by LIRNEasia in 2017, on use of social media among other online services by 1,200 Indonesian citizens, the following article by Ibrahim Kholilul Rohman (Research Fellow at United Nations University-Electronic Governance) and Ayesha Zainudeen (Senior Research Manager at LIRNEasia) argues against such a ban. The authors argue that a ban on Facebook or other social media in Indonesia could have serious economic impacts, and could end up being futile, given the recent experience in Sri lanka: “Certainly, a deeper analysis, using nationally representative data is required to better understand this phenomenon in Indonesia. But as a starting point, banning Facebook cannot be seen as a wise decision at the moment considering that people are starting to economize this platform, particularly in the SME sector which plays an important role in Indonesia’s economy.” The article has been published in Bahasa Indonesia by business news outlet Kontan.
After a weeklong blackout, the Sri Lankan government lifted its nationwide ban on social media on Thursday. Facebook and several other platforms had been shut down after days of violence targeting Muslims in the Kandy district, a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims.

Efflorescence of South Asian Sci-Fi?

Posted on December 31, 2017  /  0 Comments

The Sunday Times Plus – Review of “Numbercaste” by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne by Rohan Samarajiva “I have long been a reader of science fiction not just for entertainment, but also for insights useful for my research and teaching. After all, the very word cyberspace was coined by William Gibson, a luminary of the cyberpunk sub-genre.  I like all forms of sci-fi, but find near-future science fiction the most illuminating.  So I not only read, but recommend. A friend teaching about social aspects of ICTs once explained she had trouble following my reading recommendations: the plots were mostly formulaic quests, she said.
Myanmar Times Opinion by Namali Premawardhana Namali Premawardhana’s op-ed based on the ITU’s Measuring the Information Society 2017 report and LIRNEasia’s own survey results has been published in Myanmar’s leading English newspaper, the Myanmar Times. Here are two of the summary paras: Two important aspects of ICT development which the ITU does not address are women and digital literacy. Myanmar’s story of ICT access, use and skills among women and other marginalised communities is less impressive than the broader narrative. The 2016 LIRNEasia data revealed that although more women in Myanmar own a phone now than in 2015, men were 28pc more likely to own a mobile phone. In addition, nearly half of mobile handset owners require help to perform basic activities with a phone, such as installation of an app, creating logins and passwords and adjusting settings.
LIRNEasia has been working on agriculture since 2006. Most recently, in the context of the Inclusive Information Society project that is being wrapped up, I was talking about GAP compliance with an agri-producer connected to global supply chains standing in a paddy field in Kandy on which he was growing bitter gourd for export to Europe, where among other things, he described the various authorizations he had to obtain because he was cultivating on land designated as being for rice. I recalled a conversation with Helani Galpaya several years ago upon her return from a field visit connected to our agriculture research. She said, we’re looking to solve information and knowledge problems, but the biggest barriers the farmers face is with regard to land. The 2018 Budget Speech proposes to relax the constraints that have been artificially imposed on what farmers can do with their land.
Improving the quality of policy proposals in the Budget Daily FT Opinion by Rohan Samarajiva I have been immersed in discussions in various media platforms about the 2018 Sri Lanka Budget. A budget speech seeks to communicate the direction of government policy to other economic actors. While it is a coherent and forward-looking document overall, the 2018 Budget does contain some problematic proposals that will have to be walked back or quietly buried. In this op-ed published in the Financial Times, I discussed a solution: Every Budget Speech includes complex policy measures. Given the traditions associated with the Budget Speech, it is not possible to conduct public consultations on each of the measures beforehand.
Sri Lanka has not one, but two, government-owned TV channels. They tend to be used for propaganda, but there are occasions when they act like normal news channels, serving the public interest in understanding what is going on. Last week, for example, I was happy to be on a talk show in the midst of a breakdown of fuel supplies debating the issues with a leader of a trade union combine that is trying its hardest to roll back even the current nominal liberalization and restore some kind of retrograde state monopoly. This week, I was invited to come on the show again to discuss the budget. I am generally supportive of the thrust of the 2018 budget proposals, which may be why they invited me.