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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.
The UK regulator, Ofcom, has proposed cuts in interconnection fees (also known as mobile termination rates), the wholesale charges that operators make to connect calls to each others’ networks. It has unveiled plans to cut the rate in stages from 4.3 pence ($0.065) per minute to 0.005 pence per minute by 2015.
Bangladesh exported 50 percent less manpower in 2009. Thousands of jobless workers also returned home as their employers went broke after the Wall Street collapsed. Yet inward remittance grew by 20 percent ($10.72 billion) in 2009. How could fewer workers send the highest-ever remittance?
At least some have first assumed it a practical joke, but Daily Mirror online confirmed President did send a New Year wish to all mobile users today. Using romanised Sinhala President wrote “Kiwu paridi obata NIDAHAS, NIVAHAL RATAK laba dunnemi. Idiri anagathaya sarwapparakarayenma Wasanawantha Wewa! SUBA NAWA WASARAK WEWA! Mahinda Rajapaksa” (As promised I delivered you an independent and free country.
I took the first photo. That was in April 2008 in an informal telecenter visit. The second one appeared in a Sinhala blog recently. Mangedara Nenasala telecenter at Thulhiriya (less than 2 km from MAS Holdings) is one of the hundreds of defunct Nenasala telecenters. During better times it provided services such as utility bill payments and computer training.
Colloquium conducted by Dr. Erwin Alampay of NCPAG, Philippines. Presentation began by looking at the potential for M-money. Why should we use m-money? Improving efficiency: Improve services, financial services.
Two years back China Mobile bought Paktel for US$460 million. That was a legitimate transaction. Last week two Chinese nationals were arrested while the authorities busted a bypass den at Islamabad. They have been allegedly the partner of an “influential Pakistani” in this illegal venture. It claims to have caused an estimated six billion rupees (US$74 million) loss to the exchequer.
The Pakistan Telecom Authority in their December 2008 quarterly review gives the reasoning behind the government’s decision to impose high taxes on mobile phone use. To reduce the high fiscal deficits, the government had increased taxes. The increase for the telecom sector was over 40 percent; for other sectors it was only seven percent. However, the end result was unexpected, though it could have been predicted from economic theory. In the two quarters after the tax increase, the tax revenue from mobile declined.
Multiple dishes is a common sight at many Nenasalas – the ‘telecentres’ set up under the e-Sri Lanka program, funded by the World Bank. Some of them are huge – with diameters little less than 2m. Having not done a design recently, I cannot tell the prices offhand, but I do know they are expensive – one such dish (with equipment) costs few times more than the aggregate cost of the PCs and peripherals in the centre. Why a telecenter is equipped with multiple dishes? The reason is, sadly, poor planning.
Old habits die hard. When you have been a member of a tiny Trotskyite left political party for the longer period of your life and seen the World Bank as your arch enemy, you may forget that you are on the same side now. This seems to be what happens to Sri Lanka’s Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Tissa Vitharana, once in a while. His latest holler, as reported by ‘The Catalyst’ – the newsletter of the Information and Communication Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), the apex body of ICTs that spearhead the e-Sri Lanka program, funded by the World Bank, goes as follows: “At a time when the ‘world funding bodies’ proposed the setting of Internet cafes in cities of Sri Lanka in a manner that would only cater only to the rich elite, President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided that Nenasalas or wisdom outlets should be setup instead island-wide to cater to the poor rural folk.
Narayana Murthy, the ‘IT Guru’ is in Colombo. ‘Entrepreneurship and IT for National Integration: A Challenge for Sri Lanka’ was his topic addressing Sri Lankan software industry representatives, on Saturday. The well attended event was organized by the three month old Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies (SLASSCOM) that has ambitious plans to follow elder brother, NASSCOM. Murthy talked for 40 minutes, and delivered the gems, for anybody to pick. Develop infrastructure; Build HR or import if not enough; Encourage foreign investment; Avoid fat government; Give confidence to private sector; Nurture venture capitalists: Change labour laws; Provide equal opportunities for both genders; Ensure peace, political stability and correct fiscal environment because they are the key to the growth of IT and ITES industries and don’t be scared to innovate.
When I first met Isuru Seneviratne in late 90s (in cyberspace) he was a twelve year old student. Life was not always sympathetic to this eldest of a family of three. Flickr still has a photo showing young Isuru and his sister assisting their parents in poultry. His father was a famer – then the only breadwinner of the family. Most farmers do not have a fixed income.
Barack Obama used his first weekly address as U.S. president to provide more details of his proposed US$825 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that, among other things, will upgrade classrooms, invest in renewable energy and expand broadband Internet access. Obama stated his intention to invest in these areas during the presidential debates in September and came back to the issue in a December address that he issued as president-elect, but over the weekend he added concrete goals to the plan. But on one aspect of the recovery plan — expanding broadband access — he offered no concrete goals and a supporting document issued by the White House doesn’t mention the word “broadband” once.
The $825 billion proposal from the Obama transition team and House Democrats includes $6 billion to improve the U.S. broadband infrastructure, which is lacking in many rural and mountainous areas, particularly the West. There aren’t a lot of details yet on how that $6 billion would be given out, but it doesn’t seem to encompass the tax breaks phone and cable companies were lobbying for. Even so, the wireless industry was cheering Thursday morning because a summary of the spending released by House Democrats calls for the money to be used on “broadband and wireless grants.
Qatar Telecommunications Co QTEL said on Saturday it would begin tender offers for shares in Indonesian telecoms firm PT Indosat on Tuesday to lift its stake to 65 percent, the maximum allowed. Indonesia limits foreign ownership in the telecommunication sector to a maximum of 65 percent for mobile phone operators and 49 percent for fixed-line operators. Two tender offers would begin concurrently in Indonesia and the United States at 7,388 rupiahs ($0.661) per share and would expire on Feb. 18, Qtel said.
IT and telecom businesses in Vietnam achieved a revenue of more than US$5.4 billion in 2008, a 38 percent increase over 2007. The IT industry’s revenue alone increased by 20 percent to US$3 billion, and its export turnover from electronic and telecom products reached US$2.4 billion, according to Information and Communications Minister Le Doan Hop. Speaking at a round-up conference for the information and communication sector, Mr.