Sri Lanka Archives — Page 12 of 57 — LIRNEasia

The four-day course on how to engage in broadband policy and regulation included as one of its most important elements a team project. Each team was asked to make evidence-based presentations that we hoped would form the basis for a public consultation organized by the Ministry of Telecom and Digital Infrastructure. The teams were assigned different aspects: 1. Affordable broadband of adequate quality throughout Sri Lanka 2. Services and applications that are of value to Sri Lankan users 3.
We’ve been promoting time-sensitive tariffs to the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka since 2013. They were available to commercial customers, but we wanted them made available to residential customers as well. Three years down the road, it looks like the dam has broken. CEB is offering a low-user tariff effective from 2230 to 0530. This will help address CEB’s baseload problem but of course it will also help those who run electric cars.
Our intervention in the most widely read English daily in Sri Lanka emphasizes the “smart” in smart cities. A middle option focuses on citizens moving through time and space in the city as the primary sensors. They generate the big data that when analyzed constitute the feedback that is the essence of a smart city. Experimentation and learning are integral to this low-cost approach. It is especially appropriate for the organically developed, congested cities in developing countries where the costs of installing and maintaining city-owned sensors would be quite high.
“A hub is the central part of a wheel, rotating on or with the axle, and from which the spokes radiate.” Singapore talks about about hubs, and generally pulls off the creation of the hub, relegating others to spoke status. But this has had the unfortunate side-effect of making hub a bit of a meaningless word. And as anyone who has had spokes damaged in a bicycle wheel can testify, a hub is useless without spokes. LIRNEasia is a born-regional organization.
I’ve been invited to moderate a three party discussion on live TV organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, on the government SLRC channel at 10 PM today. In preparing for the task, I read through the economic proposals contained in the General Election manifestos of the JVP, the UPFA and the UNP. Given our continuing engagement with the Sri Lanka agriculture sector which started almost 10 years ago, I thought I’d use the proposals on agriculture to illustrate the approaches of the three parties. I also thought it might be useful to see if any of our ideas had percolated into the political mainstream over the past decade. Given our focus has been on the high-value fruit and vegetable segment, I will focus on that.
Sri Lankan ICT entrepreneurs have been asking that inward payments by Paypal be facilitated. I’ve pushed it in various settings. Government has promised it would do this many times. But nothing has happened. Here is the latest promise: Speaking at the Sri Lanka Economic Summit organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce under the theme, ‘The power of social media for exports’, Canagey emphasized they were committed in creating financial and social inclusivity through the platform.
I’ve been waiting for a good example of the application of Deng Xiao Ping’s approach to policy: cross the river by feeling the stones. Fine tune policy actions based on feedback. One has come up: in Sri Lanka of all places. The department of wildlife said sightings of large mammals such as leopard are usually conveyed to other vehicles using mobile phones inside the Yala park where wild animals had been run over by speeding visitors. “When a leopard or other interesting sighting is made by one vehicle, the news is rapidly transmitted by means of mobile phones, attracting large numbers of vehicles to the site, causing severe congestion and spoiling the experience for everyone,” the department said.
The telecom and broadcast licensing regime in Sri Lanka is obsolete. Broadcast licenses are issued under obscure provisions of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation and Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Acts. The licenses have no terms and fees are to be informed in the future. Telecom service providers, including Internet Service Providers, are licensed under section 17 of the Sri Lanka Telecommunications Act, No. 25 of 1991 as amended.
Multiple authors; truly multi-disciplinary; published in the center of gravity of our work. I am excited, even though it is still behind a paywall at the Economic and Political Weekly: There is a middle path that positions the citizens who are the ultimate beneficiaries of urban development as the primary sensors. Instead of seeing the city as a clock-work machine that can be perfectly controlled, this approach recognizes the inherent complexity of the system and supports incremental changes, following the Deng Xiaoping dictum of “crossing the river by feeling the stones.” Experimentation and learning are integral to the approach. This low-cost approach is especially appropriate for the organically developed, congested cities in developing countries where the costs of installing and maintaining city-owned sensors would be quite high.
UNESCAP in partnership with the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries (ITT-LLDC) held an Expert Workshop on ICT for Promoting Inclusive and Disaster Resilient Development, from 14-15 May 2015 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. I represented LIRNEasia and shared our recently completed research enhancing the role of ICTs for Disaster Risk Management(DRM), that was led by Shazna Zuhyle. I made two presentations. The first looked at emerging trends in DRM including the use of mobile network big data for disaster risk mitigation and planning. The second looked at the role of ICTs for DRM in SriLanka.
Have not had the time to do the usual analysis, so was happy to see this report in the Financial Times. The recently released 2015 edition of the Global Information Technology Report of the World Economic Forum has placed Sri Lanka at 65th position in networked readiness among 143 economies surveyed. Singapore is ranked as the topmost country in networked readiness and replaces Finland, which had been number one since 2013. Japan, which climbs an impressive six places on a year-on-year basis to 10th position, also joins the top 10. Sri Lanka is the highest-ranked South Asian nation this year and eighth among the Asian nations, beaten only by Singapore (1st), Japan (10th), Korea (12th), Hong Kong (14th), Taiwan (18th), Malaysia (32nd) and China (62nd).
The Public Utility Commission of Sri Lanka was established to serve as regulator for any of the hard infrastructure industries that needed regulation as a result of reform. All this time, all it was given was electricity. Now, there is a possibility that downstream petroleum will also be brought under its authority. So they had a workshop where I was asked to speak on regulatory and consumer protection issues. Here are the slides.
On April 10th, I delivered the sixth Distinguished Lecture of the Open University of Sri Lanka on the subject of making the university relevant. In an increasingly complex world where difficult decisions have to be made by those in government, there is demand for evidence to support political and policy choices. The university is the default source where one looks for evidence or for those who can generate evidence. But on most occasions, scholars and policy makers do not connect. Demands for teaching and for increased publications results in even less incentives for the conduct of policy-relevant research and engagement with policy makers.
I’ve been putting a significant amount of my time in the past three months into Constitutional reforms because an unusual “policy window” or Constitutional Moment opened up as a result of the outcome of the Sri Lankan Presidential election of January 8th. The Common Candidate of the opposition included in his manifesto a series of good governance measures that had been promoted by civil society activists for a long time but with little take up. When he won, these proposals, including rebalancing the relationship between the President and Parliament, electoral reform and the Right to Information, were suddenly the highest priority items of the new government’s agenda. The catch was that everything had to be done within 100 days, because the newly elected President did not have ironclad support from the largest party in Parliament and his manifesto also included a commitment to call a General Election after 100 days, which is around now. Considering it a citizenship duty, several of us got involved in what we considered the hardest problem, changing the electoral system.
A few days back, I included the following in a guest column for the Financial Times: Most of the 192 words specifying the Right to Information (RTI) as a fundamental right are superfluous. There is an entire bill in third draft that probably includes the very same language (if it does not, the Constitutional language will override it). All that is needed in the Constitution is one sentence “Subject to law, every person shall have a right of access to official information which is in the possession, custody or control of a public authority.” This was in the context of larger lament on the state of legislative drafting in Sri Lanka. What belongs in subsidiary legislation gets dumped into legislation.
In our work on agricultural supply chains, we looked at how small holders could participate in export value chains because these were the most difficult cases and also where the money was. At least at the beginning of the adoption process, the greatest demand for ICT based innovation is likely to come from these supply chains. Air freight services are a necessary condition for most high-value agricultural exports. In this article on what the full liberalization of Sri Lanka’s Mattala Airport, I discuss the complementarity. For the most part, air freight services are produced jointly along with air passenger services.