The draft National Digital Policy proposes a target of 70% of internet users by 2025, an undeniably ambitious target. The target – pulled out of thin air as though it may seem – is actually based on a time series forecast using ITU statistics from 2000-2017. The forecast was computed using a statistical software called Tableau, which considers exponential smoothing and seasonality. The lower and upper levels were based on 95% confidence intervals. The chart below shows that the upper limit that can be achieved is 74% by 2025 if accelerated efforts are made to drive internet adoption and smartphone use in Sri Lanka.
The results of our 2016 nationally representative survey were quoted extensively in Myanmar’s Universal Service Strategy document released in January 2018. This work has fed into the Government’s proposals in multiple areas including affordability, ownership of devices and digital skills. The manner in which our work on digital skills contributed towards the Government’s recommendations is depicted in the table below. A more comprehensive document which includes the linkages between our work in affordability and ownership of devices can be found here.
For sometime, Helani Galpaya has been communicating the message that affordability is not enough by itself for Internet use by the people of developing Asia. For example, this is what she said at a well-received presentation on SDGs at UN DESA, 8-9 June 2015. She has been saying this in a number of places and as is our custom, the slides have been placed on the web. Her conclusions were based on our research and ITU data and the proposed solutions also drew from several lines of our work. So we were not surprised to see the message being repeated in a blog and as the main headline of the A4AI newsletter.
Consumers in Asia get less value for money than their counterparts in N America. One reason for this is that the key input of international connectivity is expensive (300% that in Europe and N America). More cables, undersea and terrestrial, are needed to bring these prices down. The Indian Ocean has fewer cables than the Atlantic and the Pacific. The Asian land mass has almost none.
One of the main reasons for collecting and disseminating indicators data at the regional level is currency. By the time the ITU puts out its reports, two years have gone by, and the data are of historical value in these fast-changing times. Despite knowing all this, even we got tripped up this time. In attempting to release mobile and broadband benchmarks at the same time, we delayed the release of the mobile data collected and analyzed in early October and were overtaken by events. In the future, the data will be released without delay.
A few days ago, we learned that Major General Shahzada Alam Malik (Retd.) had stepped down from the leadership of the Pakistan Telecom Authority. We believe that his seven-year tenure at the helm of the PTA merits an assessment. It begins thus: Pakistan’s recent telecom developments constitute a South Asian success story. From two million in 2002, the number of active mobile SIMs increased to 79 million by end 2007.