LIRNEasia Archives — Page 3 of 4 — LIRNEasia


LIRNEasia benefits from social media

Posted on January 2, 2012  /  0 Comments

At LIRNEasia, we have used social media to drive traffic. As people spend more time on social media, they have to spend less time on something else. We were beginning to see the drop in blog readership (could have been caused by other things too). When we started tweeting and using Facebook, traffic picked up again. So we see the efficacy of social media.
LIRNEasia’s signature has been a focus, you could even say a single-minded fixation, on taking the results of its research to the policy process. There is a line between evidence-based advocacy and just plain advocacy that we have tried not to cross. The NYT article below, explores that line in the context of Amicus briefs by law professors in the United States. It is important to think about the line, to worry about it, and to try to stay on the right side. Of course, the safest course is that of eschewing advocacy altogether.
In 2005, we were approached by citizens and professionals to help raise awareness about the dangers of “an inland tsunami,” dam breaches. With the help of committed professionals, a small grant of around LKR 700,000 (around USD 7000) from the local initiatives fund of CIDA, an extremely generous partner in Vanguard Management, and the active involvement of community leaders including many from Sarvodaya, we conducted a participatory research project that remains to this day one of our most successful and rewarding efforts. The end result was a USD 71 million plus World Bank soft loan to help repair 32 of the most endangered dams. If not for that initiative, one wonders whether things would be worse than today, where we are suffering the effects of multiple small tanks breached, but all the big ones safe, so far. I wrote about the need to pay more attention to dam safety and maintenance, after the first flood of 2011.
An external evaluation of the Pan Asian Networking program under which LIRNEasia was funded since 2006 has just been published on the IDRC website.  There are many references to LIRNEasia, one of the larger projects funded by PAN, but I found the para below the most intriguing: Influence on telecommunications policy reform has been one of the strongest areas of the program’s outcomes, at least in terms of explicit causality, specifically from the work of LIRNEasia.  According to many informants, however, LIRNEasia, is a special case given the organizational culture, the numbers of people devoted to working almost exclusively on policy issues, the specific policy arena in which they work, and the strong personality at the center of the group. While LIRNEasia successes are notable, the external review panel urges the program not to set LIRNEasia as a standard for outcomes, since their achievements would be difficult to replicate elsewhere. The quotation has been taken from the Findings Brief, prepared by the IDRC Evaluation Unit, though the same sentiments are also found in the External Review Report.
CHAKULA is a newsletter produced by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). Named after the Swahili word for ‘food’, it aims to mobilise African civil society around ICT policy for sustainable development and social justice issues. The latest issue features an e-interview with LIRNEasia’s CEO Rohan Samarajiva, but it is not the only reason why we thought of highlighting the issue. The content is interesting and very readable. We publish two e-interviews from July 2010 issue here fully, as they are not available on public domain.

TRAI Chair visits LIRNEasia

Posted on November 23, 2009  /  1 Comments

TRAI Chair Dr J.S. Sarma, Principal Advisor Mr N. Parameswaran and Advisor (Convergence) Mr S.K.
“When a business model, rather than direct government action, is delivering the goods the most appropriate government action is that which supports the business model. Policy and regulatory actions must be derived more from analysis of the requirements of the business model and less from public administration theory.” How it applies to Internet and broadband is what Rohan Samarajiva, Chair and CEO, LIRNEasia explained in his keynote speech at the workshop ‘Expanding access to the Internet and broadband for development’ on November 16, 2009, at the Internet Governance forum 2009.  His presentation entitled, ‘How the developing world may participate in the global Internet Economy:  Innovation driven by competition’, can be downloaded here. The session was chaired by Dimitri Ypsilanti, Head of Information, Communication and Consumer Policy Division, OECD.
LIRNEasia was happy to accept the invitation of Mongolia’s DREAM IT project to conduct a training workshop on communicating for influence on policy for researchers in six sub-projects. The workshop was held on 16-17 October in rapidly changing Ulaan Baator in conditions of light snow and high enthusiasm. This was LIRNEasia’s first formal interaction with Mongolia, outside the realm of capacity building. We hope the multiple contacts that were established, with researchers, with government entities, and with media will lead to deeper relations in the future.
Few days back we heard that flat rate was the way forward. Here is the riposte, in words from experts (including LIRNEasia) and in new offerings from Reliance. Let the debate continue. The experts see business sense around sachet pricing, especially for a low income group subscriber in the villages of India, who is mostly a prepaid user and does not have a big budget to spend. They say sachet pricing can yield results not only for Inetrnet penetration, but other services other than voice.
Pakistan did it, with supposed good results. The Maldives studied it and decided it was not worth it. Sri Lanka is supposed to be thinking about it. It is mobile number portability (MNP). None of them had the benefit of the teleuse@BOP results.
Rohan Samarajiva, Chair and CEO of LIRNEasia was awarded the prestigious 2009 “Communication Research as an Agent of Change Award” by the International Communication Association (ICA) at the 59th Annual conference of the ICA on 23 May 2009, in Chicago, USA. The award honors one person each year whose work has had a demonstrable impact on practice outside the academy, with clear benefits to the community. The award was presented to him by Patrice M. Buzzanell, President of the International Communication Association. At the ceremony a brief statement about his accomplishments and the ways his work has had sustainable social benefits was presented by the ICA: “Dr.
I may be wrong, not having conducted a systematic study of mobile advertising in Sri Lanka, but the impression I have is that while there is plenty of it, it’s all about calling to maintain relationships if not about price/quality aspects. In the short term this works, because this is where people’s heads are. But unless there is more money in people’s pockets, it’s unlikely that the mobile operators will be able to continue to make money in the long run. Voice is getting commodified and profits are declining. People are not taking up more-than-voice services because they do not have money and see mobile as a consumption good.
At Sri Lanka’s largest agricultural market a large projection screen overlooks 12 acres of stalls brimming with produce. Traders at the Dambulla market consult the screen to receive up-to-the-minute pricing information on produce being sold in the market. This information helps them negotiate fair prices at any of the market’s 144 booths, says Harsha de Silva, head economist at Sri Lanka-based LIRNEasia, a non-profit organization and IDRC partner that aims to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve the lives of Asia’s people. In the case of the Dambulla market traders, de Silva says farmers can negotiate from a stronger position because information is accessible. Such information is vital to ensuring agricultural markets work efficiently because it helps farmers reduce their transaction costs, according to de Silva.
In the end, Microsoft’s best intentions may not satisfy what locals want. The company surveyed 8,000 people in emerging markets and found their most pressing needs for technology often revolved around entertainment and surfing the Internet. “It reinforced for us that the emerging middle classes are sort of like the middle classes here except they don’t have as much money,” Mr. Toyama said. “It’s sometimes easy for us to get caught up in things and forget we are serving the needs of real people.
He did not mean LIRNEasia specifically, but when the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) guru Richard M. Stallman (RMS) says CLOUD COMPUTING IS WORSE THAN STUPIDITY – certainly we are in. So just cannot let it pass without comments. Not that we are offended. Cloud computing is not our religion – it is just an experiment – part of our research.
Results for Indonesia in LIRNEasia’s Telecom Regulatory Environment survey show an interesting trend. Unlike their counterparts in other countries (Bangladesh, India, Maldives Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand) Indonesia telecom experts have given marks so low for different aspects of their regulatory environment that none of the categories, in any three sectors, meet the average of 3. (The options were from 1 to 5, 1=extremely unsatisfied, 5=excellent service) The one comes nearest is the score for Market Entry in the mobile sector (there are nine players in the market – eight national, one regional) but that too miss the average by 0.05 points. The results do not show a change from the previous (2006) scores.