Rohan Samarajiva Archives — Page 8 of 15 — LIRNEasia


Rohan Samarajiva has been invited to speak at the 2008 Telecoms World South Asia Conference, to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 7 – 9 October.  This event, designed for South Asia’s top telecommunication players interested in building and managing a business-focused telecommunciations organization, is intended to provide an important platform for information exchange through dialogue between serious players in the region. The event will feature keynotes, thought-leadership presentations, interactive discussion panels and real-world case studies on ‘hot topics’ pertinent to the South Asian industry. Rohan will make a presentation entitled, ‘Introducing broadband: investment conditions, regulatory challenges and addressing QoS’ at a session entitled, ‘Exploiting technologies for future growth and development’.  Rohan will also be among panelists at a discussion on ‘Leveraging on next generation technologies to extend the service offering’.

Digital cigarettes

Posted on September 21, 2008  /  7 Comments

One local telco CEO recently whined about being viewed as a cigarette manufacturer. “Everybody wants to tax us, as if mobiles are a product more hazardous than cigarettes. Tobacco kills, mobiles don’t; communication facilitates better living conditions and saves environment because it reduces transport. It is gross unfair both are seen in the same light.” As Wikipedia tells us, cigarettes are a significant source of tax revenue in many localities.
The Aspen Institute has published a report entitled, ‘m-Powering India: Mobile Communications for Inclusive Growth’ co-authored by Mahesh Uppal and Richard P. Adler, which documents the discussions from the Aspen Institute India/ C & S Joint Roundtable on Communication Policy held in Kovalam, India in February, 2008. LIRNEasia’s Executive Director, Rohan Samarajiva,  participated at the event, which brought together senior representatives from the telecommunications industry, government and academia. The objective of the meeting was to develop policy proposals that would contribute to the development of low-cost and high-quality telecom infrastructure needed to facilitate seamless transactions of mobile commerce. A summary of the main recommendation (as documented in the report) is given below.
Rohan Samarajiva, Executive Director, LIRNEasia argues mobiles (and other ICT tools) play a definite role in the climate change – or rather preventing it. That will decide whether the future generations will see Elephant Pass or not. Irrespective of the outcome of the war, it might be six foot under water soon unless global warming is stopped. Extracts: I will not get into the debate about who should cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, conceding that what little Sri Lanka does will not affect the outcome decisively. Instead, I will simply look at one small area that will help us to reduce our carbon footprint (a good thing to do in any case) and also improve the quality of our lives.
Executive Director, Rohan Samarajiva will participate at the ITU Asia 2008 conference taking place in Bangkok, Thailand, from 2-5 September 2008.  He will talk about universal service at the opening plenary with the Indian Minister at the Telecom Development Symposium on 4th September. He will also give the keynote talk at the Business and Finance Session of the ITU Asia Youth Forum on 2nd September, chaired by Bosco Eduagive a rdo Fernandes, Vice President (BU & IM Industry Relationship), Nokia Siemens Networks GmbH & Co. KG (Germany). ITU TELECOM ASIA 2008 is a key networking platform for Asia’s top ICT names to come together and focus on core issues relating to ICT expansion across the region.
Responding to Rohan Samarajiva’s views on newly implemented Environmental levy in Lankadeepa last week, Central Environmental Authority Chairman Udaya Gammanpila calls it essential and the ‘first progressive tax’ in Sri Lanka. Assuring it does not burden public, he says any tax can be initially unpopular but the impact should be seen in long term. (Lankadeepa, August 19, 2008) These are his points in brief: 1. If not for the Environmental levy, the government has to find money to address environmental issues by increasing either VAT or customs charges. That will raise prices in general.
Central Environmental Authority Chairman Udaya Gammanpila calls the new ‘Environmental tax’ essential, pro-poor and progressive. Releasing used mobile phones and CFL bulbs to environment is dangerous, he warns, with a long list of hazardous chemicals that would perhaps put a chemistry professor to shame. He wants to collect them for recycling.  The tax money will be used to build recycling plants. Not everybody agrees.
“Without question, the book addresses an important and timely issue. The organization of the book around the four pillars of the business environment, the information infrastructure, the innovation system and human resources, is praiseworthy. The book must be commended for bringing up the topic of what should (and should not) be done, as the Sri Lankan economy moves from reliance on agriculture to reliance on services and valued-added agriculture and industry. It contributes to and adds credence to an ongoing discussion on this subject in Sinhala and English in the popular media” This is the first paragraph of the review  Rohan Samarajiva did on ‘Building the Sri Lankan knowledge economy’. The publication was launched sometime back.
LIRNEasia researchers participated at the International Telecommunications Society (ITS) 17th Biennial Conference in Montreal, Canada, from June 24-27 2008. The theme of the conference was on, ‘The Changing Structure of the Telecommunications Industry and the New Role of Regulation’. The picture above shows Professor Sudharma Yoonaidharma, Commissioner, National Telecommunciations Commission of Thailand commenting on the presentations made at the second of the two LIRNE.NET sessions, watched by (from left) Rohan Samarajiva and Payal Malik from LIRNEasia, Roxana Barrentes from DIRSI and Anders Henten from LIRNE Europe.  The session was chaired by Hank Intven, Partner at the leading Canadian firm of McCarthy Tetrault (not in the picture).
Despite being a technical book that addresses complexity out of sheer necessity, the text remains readable, sometimes entertainingly so. Phrases such as ‘governance badlands of South and Southeast Asia’ sum up our grim reality, conjuring images that we are all too familiar with. The editors have also done an excellent job in cross-referencing across chapters, so that the book reads more than a mere amalgamation of chapters. I would have preferred the graphs to be larger and clearer, but then, this comes out from an academic publisher. As the editors say, the book is an introduction, not a conclusion, “to a new way of governing, especially in areas that rest on specialised, yet incomplete, knowledge such as infrastructure.
The colloquium notes Lara Alawattegama (LA): Monopoly means ‘a market with a single supplier’ Why a monopoly happens: 1. No close substitutes 2. Legal barriers to entry 3. Resource barriers 4. Unfair competition -predatory pricing Rohan Samarajiva (RS) : Lack of competition leads to monopolies.

Is mobile phone a polluter?

Posted on April 10, 2008  /  1 Comments

Do mobile phones pollute the environment? Sri Lanka’s Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka thinks so. That was why he wants to impose a so called ‘environment tax’ on mobiles, (in fact all phones, but the above newspaper article focuses on mobiles) at two points, when you purchase it and use it. This is on top of the rest of the tax components the mobile users already have to pay. No information to that mobile usage is a serious threat to Sri Lanka’s environment.
LIRNEasia’s practice on research –> policy Rohan Samarajiva The research that LIRNEasia does will never get a Nobel Prize.  We work on applied research topics that are theoretically informed, but involve for the most part close engagement with what is actually happening on the ground in some country, preferably one that is in Emerging Asia.  This allows not only a focus on policy and regulation as actually practised (a signature of our work), but also more effective communication to policy-makers using analogies. However, this does not mean that we do not generate new knowledge.  Aggressive interrogation of applied research allows us to abstract certain concepts and methods that are of general applicability.
Beyond Tunis: Changing Policy Rohan Samarajiva Government is about the sustenance of hope. Yet in too many places, government is about killing hope: “you can’t make it because you’re poor/ your ethnicity is wrong / you aren’t from the right school.” When hope is dead, when the pie looks like it’s not expanding, and the game is zero-sum, the path that remains is hatred. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) shake things up. Not necessarily for the better; but with prodding of the right kind and possibly some luck and happenstance, the equilibrium can be broken in a positive way.
Sri Lanka using customs authorities to censor academics: report – LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE Another book by Rohan Samarajiva, from LirneAsia, a Colombo-based regional policy think tank, had been detained by customs from December. Samarajiva’s book, “ICT infrastructure in emerging Asia, Policy and Regulatory roadblocks” released by the Indian unit of academic publishing house, Sage, was launched in India in December. Sri Lanka;s customs chief Sarath Jayathilake was quoted in the report as saying that the detention was not brought to his attention and he was not aware why the books were seized. “We usually detain these books if it’s a matter of security and we refer them to Defence (Ministry) or the Government Information Department,” Jayathilake was quoted as saying. The LirneAsia publication had a chapter on telecommunications usage in the Jaffna peninsular.
Starting a business in Sri Lanka is not the easiest task in the world but how far that impedes Sri Lanka’s entry to global knowledge economy? This is one of the key questions posed by the World Bank publication The report identifies the business environment; information infrastructure; an innovation system; and human resources as four pillars of the knowledge economy. Challenges faced by Sri Lanka in becoming a knowledge economy are examined and the report proposes possible ways that Sri Lanka could move forward to build its knowledge economy under the country’s development strategy as outlined in the Mahinda Chinthana. ‘Building Sri Lanka’s Knowledge Economy’ to be launched Tuesday March 25, 2008 at 4th Floor, DFCC Bank Auditorium 73/5, Galle Road Colombo 3. LIRNEasia is happy to be a partner in publicizing this report perhaps for the first time seriously SWOTs Sri Lanka against similar countries and points out what it can learn from others.