World Bank Archives — Page 2 of 2


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.
LIRNEasia has always been about more than ICTs; it has been about hope in the heart and money in the pocket. Our current focus on the role of knowledge in agriculture value chains will further remove the ICT veil. In this light, I was pleased to read an affirmation of our thinking and approach by the world’s premier repository of knowledge on development, the World Bank: We see a similar trend in the global development landscape, with developing countries assuming important roles alongside traditional development partners. These new partners are contributing not only aid, but more importantly are becoming major trading partners and sources of investment and knowledge. Their experiences matter.
I was invited to conduct a discussion at the Cabinet Office in Brasilia with senior government officials driving the Brazilian Broadband Policy that will shortly be announced. Representatives of the relevant ministries, ANATEL the regulatory agency, the public telecom operator and a local think tank participated in what proved to be a lively discussion. Given the policy was almost fully formulated, I decided to focus on performance indicators, a subject I was working on for both UNCTAD and one which had preoccupied me since the time I was a regulator. It is also a subject that LIRNEasia has developed considerable expertise in. My guess was correct.

Somalia calling

Posted on May 12, 2010  /  2 Comments

Amid rapid technological development, the competition to supply telecom services in war-torn Somalia proves that some complex businesses can thrive even in one of Africa’s dangerous markets. One of the largest telecom companies in Somalia, Hormuud Telecom, has annual sales of as much as US$40 million. Even “Mobile 2.0” is making inroads here. But the success of Somalia’s telecom sector shouldn’t come as such a surprise, according to experts.
We documented the research done by Jensen and Aker on the benefits of mobiles to producers and consumers. Now we have a third good piece of research, this time not of decentralized information provision, but of centralized provision in India with the e Choupals. ITC Limited, an Indian company that is one of the largest buyers of soyabeans, felt it was paying over the odds, but was unable to monitor the traders closely. Starting in October 2000 it began to introduce a network of internet kiosks, called e-choupal, in villages in Madhya Pradesh. (Choupal means “village gathering place” in Hindi.
Full participation in the global Internet Economy requires electronic connectivity of considerable complexity. Today, due to a worldwide wave of liberalization and technological and business innovations in the mobile space, much of the world is electronically connected, albeit not at the levels that would fully support participation in the global Internet Economy. Yet, many millions of poor people are engaging in tasks normally associated with the Internet such as information retrieval, payments and remote computing using relatively simple mobiles. Understanding the business model that enabled impressive gains in voice connectivity as well as the beginnings of more-than-voice applications over mobiles is important not only because widespread broadband access among the poor is likely to be achieved by extending this model but because it would be the basis of coherent and efficacious policy and regulatory responses… This is an excerpt from a background report by Rohan Samarajiva, to be presented at “Policy coherence in the application of information and communication technologies for development,” a joint workshop organized by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Information for Development Program (infoDev) / World Bank from 10-11 September 2009 in Paris. The report has been published in the OECD’s Development […]
The looks may deceive, but this is a radio station. Prabhavi Community Radio – the first Internet community radio in Sri Lanka comes from Prabhavi Resources Center, Weranketagoda, Ampara – the post-conflict district in Eastern province (8 hours travel from Colombo). It operates from a Nenasala, one of the 500 odd telecenters funded by the World Bank under e-Sri Lanka program. A brainchild of Ajith Karunarathne, it runs as a nonprofit venture entirely by volunteers Asiri (red shirt, first photo) and his team. Strangely, this radio station connects to Internet thru a 128 kbps pipe.
Ambuluwawa, about 1,100 m above sea level, is probably the highest point in the vicinity of Gampola. Not surprisingly, all telecom operators exploit the geography. Transmission stations/towers encircle the summit. (See above) That is what one calls infrastructure. Just 10 km away, Sirimalwatte Ananda thero, a young and energetic Buddhist monk, runs a Nenasala, a telecenter established under the World Bank funded e-Sri Lanka program.
Here are the summarised results from the telecenter operator survey done by LIRNEasia at the weCan workshop in October 2008. Sample was not representative, but large enough to get a general idea about the telecenter operations in Sri Lanka. Out of a total of 147 operators surveyed, the bulk, 101 were from Nenasalas, the 500 odd telecenter network created under the World Bank funded e-Sri Lanka programme. 10 were from Sarvodaya multi-purpose telecenters and 6 from others (eg. public libraries) 30 have not specified the type of the telecenter.
“We must realize the fact that disasters threaten sustained economic growth of the society and the country.” These were the words of Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani addressing the opening ceremony of the first National Disaster Risk Management Conference. The function, reported Associated Press of Pakistan, was organized to mark the Disaster Awareness Day observed annually after the catastrophic earthquake which struck country’s northern areas in October 2005, killing 73,000 people and leaving 3.5 million homeless. On the other side of the border Congress President Sonia Gandhi has said there is a need of effective disaster management to mitigate the woes of the people in future calamities, with floods affecting several districts of Bihar and other parts of the country.
LIRNEasia’s Chanuka Wattegama will make the main presentation at a live webcast of a workshop on Disaster Risk Management in the Information Age, to be held from 8 – 9 October, 2008,  9 – 12 p.m. (ET), accessible at the following link: http://www.worldbank.org/edevelopment/live Co-organizers of the event include  the World Bank’s Global Information Communication and Technology Department, infoDev and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).
“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.