LIRNEasia. (2018). AfterAccess India: ICT access and use in India and the Global South (Version 1).
AfterAccess: ICT access and use in India and the Global South. Helani Galpaya (@helanigalpaya) and TharakaAmarasinghe, 7 August 2018, New Delhi
Pew Research, based on the Global Attitudes Survey, reports that 22 percent of the adult population in India owned a smartphone in 2017. This finding mirrors the findings of our AfterAccess surveys conducted in India
It is reported that momentum is building for rules for e commerce under the WTO. India is both a hotbed of e commerce developments (Walmart has just gained majority control of Flipkart) and a heavyweight in international trade negotiations. Its role in scuttling the Doha Round is still remembered. But India is said to lack adequate knowledge to formulate positions on e commerce, except for one blatantly protectionist issue and one that poses significant challenges to implement: Consider, for instance, one key demand by developed countries to make permanent the current ban on customs duties on ‘global electronic transactions’ that were suspended in 1998. On the face of it, this is a reasonable ask: if the ban is overturned, it would give countries the right to impose tariffs on downloads of mobile applications, streamed music from Spotify or videos from Netflix.
Back in 2002-03 when we were designing the e Sri Lanka initiative, we worried a lot about a ubiquitous mechanism that could enable small online payments. I was hearing more or less the same concerns about the lack of a good payments infrastructure at a digital strategy meeting last week. It appears the India government has solved the problem: WATCHING money drain from your bank account has never been so much fun. On WhatsApp, a messaging service ubiquitous in India, sending rupees is now as easy as posting a selfie. Set-up is a breeze, because all Indian banks have been corralled onto a common payment platform on which anyone, from Google and Samsung to local payment firms and banks themselves, can build their own user interface.
We had proposed standard comparative metrics for universal services because we said they would lead to improved performance and changes in programs. Some academic reviewers rejected our article on the ground that metrics could not improve performance. It’s difficult to educate ignorant peer reviewers because they are anonymous. But who knows, they may stumble upon this blog. The Centre’s quest to identify the top 100 cities for its smart city projects has states vying for maximum entries.
Many thought that the draconian demonetization of 2016 would have moved India’s digital financial services industry into an entirely different level. It created momentum, but not as much as expected according to the NYT. According to the report only 14 percent of those able to go online (around 1/3rd of Indians) use digital payments. But what is important is that the Indian firms are focusing on consumer payments, not money transfers. There’s a much stronger contribution to the building of the eco system through this means.
With the support of International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada, LIRNEasia in partnership with Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and Vihara Innovation Network studied Online Freelancing: Challenges, Opportunities and Impact in India. The dissemination workshop of the findings of this research was held on 27th of December 2017 at the India Habitat Centre, India. Government and private sector officials of skill development and employment generation organizations participated at this workshop. Dr. K.
What Current and Potential Workers say Presented at the dissemination event India Habitat Center 27 December 2017 LIRNEasia (Helani Galpaya, Laleema Senanayake), together with the team from Vihara Innovation Network (Aditya Dev Sood, Rumani Chakraborti, Mohit Tamta, Tanmay Awasti et al)
A senior UN official has blamed the telecoms networks for threatening the road safety across Asia and the United States of America.
Better late than never. Why it took multiple decades after the establishment of the Universal Service Fund to spend the money to connect the unconnected in India’s North East is the question. It’s not that there was a shortage of money. Bharti Airtel Ltd will set up 2,000 mobile towers across villages and national highways in the North East with the help of government funding, the company said in a press statement on Sunday. The telecom operator has signed an agreement with the department of telecommunications and the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to provide mobile services in 2,100 villages across Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh over the next 18 months.
We have been talking about the absence of clear market-exit rules in the countries we work in. The examples keep piling up. Indian operator Aircel may have no other option but to shutter its operations following the collapse of its merger with Reliance Communications (RCom). The operator has debts of around US$3.7B and continues to make losses.
Google’s core competence is search. But the millions now joining the Internet in India and similar countries do not appear to value search as much as the early adopters, according to company research. So Google is offering other products specifically designed for the Indian market, according to NYT: Many of the new Indian users have basic phones, which make it difficult for them to run certain apps or to store big files like videos. Data plans are limited, and despite a telecom price war that has cut the price of a megabyte of data by as much as 97 percent, some customers are unable to afford more data when they run out. Google’s Android software and apps like the Chrome browser, Maps and YouTube are often included with smartphones.
CEO Helani Galpaya was invited to speak at the Intersessional Panel of the UNCSTD. Her presentation was based on three themes at LIRNEasia.