A look back on the policy impacts we've made with our research, over 15 years of work in the Asia Pacific
CEO Helani Galpaya gave one of the keynote addresses at the International Conference on ICT for Rural Development held in Bali, Indonesia.
India keeps shutting down the Internet. This necessarily involves shutting down Facebook. Few pay attention. Sri Lanka has never shut down the Internet. But it restricted access to some social media including Facebook in March 2018.
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.
I’ve been writing about Indonesia’s tsunami buoys for a while. This was when I was trying to dissuade people in Sri Lanka of the need for our own tsunami detection system. We are not located in an earthquake zone and thus only vulnerable to teletsunamis that come from the Sunda Trench. Indonesia and Thailand need to sensors because of their proximity to the Trench. But little did I know that the Indonesian system suffered from the project syndrome: money for installation but nothing for maintenance.
In the context of some work we were doing with the support of Ford Foundation we conducted four case studies of national broadband initiatives. The four case studies were presented at the Expert Forum we convened in New Delhi in March 2014 and may have contributed to the rethinking of the becalmed NOFN project that has now been relaunched as Digital India. The comparative analysis has now been published as Gunaratne, R.L. et al.
We deal with a subset of ASEAN countries, the most prosperous among them being Thailand. So I looked at the performance of the not-so-rich ASEAN in the ICT Development Index. Thailand has advanced from 91st place in 2012 to 81st in 2013. Very significant. Then comes Viet Nam (101; down two places from 2012), Philippines (103; down one place), Indonesia and Cambodia holding steady at 106 and 127, respectively; Laos, down four to 134; and sadly Myanmar at 150, two places down from the last place in the region it held in 2012 — 148.
The Economist is a plum. In all honesty, I was thrilled we were mentioned. I wish they had gone to people with real data on Africa like RIA, rather than those who simply speculate, but still, a thoughtful piece. While the claim re radio may hold true for Africa, it definitely is incorrect for the Indo-Gangetic plain. Once restricted to the tech-literate, these are now common and easy to use.
This op-ed article contributed by a LIRNEasia associate, places more emphasis than we would on fixed wireless as a means for achieving broadband in Indonesia. This could possibly be because the author is immersed in European policy thinking, having been educated in Sweden and now working for the EU in Spain. But nevertheless it is a valuable contribution to policy discourse. And it comes at the right time, just as President Jokowi gets to work. The background document, funded under a Ford Foundation project, is here.
My previous post on Internet v Facebook users elicited a lot of responses. We also went back and relooked at the numbers carefully. The Myanmar census numbers came in (after 30 years?). Some changes were made.
I have always been intrigued by the differences between South and South East Asian countries. We saw this over and over again when we did the Teleuse@BOP surveys. But playing around with some numbers for Facebook users in four South and four SE Asian countries, I was astounded. In all the SE Asian countries, there are more Facebook users than there are Internet users. In the case of Myanmar, the multiple is 4.
In a recent book chapter Nalaka Gunawardene and Chanuka Wattegama concluded that they had not, at least in Colombo in 2011.* Now the question is being asked again, in social media savvy Indonesia. But do retweets, likes and pageviews translate into support on election day? Conversations that start online radiate beyond the mostly urban, affluent users of social media – who are “social influencers in their environment, online and offline”, said Yose Rizal, the co-founder of PoliticaWave, an Indonesian social media monitoring group that is consulting for Jokowi’s campaign. Social media activism has already had off-line effects on the country’s politics.
I have never been a great fan of NRI type indices where the components are somewhat opaque and some are subjective. Instead of going into the details of the method and weaknesses of components such as the mythical (for the most part) numbers of Internet users, I thought I’d check in against four countries that have launched major initiatives on broadband promotion using government subsidies: Australia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia. Australia’s plan is the winner in terms of public money committed and Malaysia is the winner in terms of households already connected. Case studies conducted with Ford Foundation support should be on the web shortly. Australia is holding steady at 18th place.
The New York Times carried a story on “big data for development” that featured Global Pulse, the UN initiative seeking to harness the potential of data to address development questions, much like what we are doing in our current research. The efforts by Global Pulse and a growing collection of scientists at universities, companies and nonprofit groups have been given the label “Big Data for development.” It is a field of great opportunity and challenge. The goal, the scientists involved agree, is to bring real-time monitoring and prediction to development and aid programs. Projects and policies, they say, can move faster, adapt to changing circumstances and be more effective, helping to lift more communities out of poverty and even save lives.
Many Americans would have been surprised that Jakarta was the largest contributor of tweets, a city. I was not. It is a large city (10 million), phones with QWERTY interfaces are all the rage, and Bahasa Indonesia uses the Roman characters. What surprised me was Riyadh. It is not an extraordinarily large city (4.
I should not have been surprised, but I was. In the course of the Asia Pacific Summit session that I was moderating the Chief Strategy Officer of Indosat, Prashant Gokarn, said that they are no longer keeping 30% of earnings from apps, but giving pretty much everything to the developers. We can make our money on data, he said. I asked, is this just you? Supun Weerasinghe, Chief Stategy Officer at Axiata, said, no.