Category Archives: diffusion of innovations

Administrative decision in Bangladesh is a barrier to technology satisfaction or adoption

Administrative decision practice and underlying politics in  Bangladesh is the greatest barrier to technology satisfaction of citizens or even adoption of the same. While many can easily relate the issue, I shall just put one example here.  A recent Bangla news in http://www.prothom-alo.com/detail/date/2012-04-10/news/239278 says that due to technical difficulty 11.5 thousand BCS candidates could not complete application process. The Mobile-based services operator Teletalk stated the limitations of the technical system to the newspaper. Furthermore, they anticipated problems reported by the newspapers much earlier and asked the BCS examiniation administration to extend some processing deadline. But they did not!!!

It would take much longer to educate the administrative heads to deal sensibly with e-service systems. They might hinder further adoption by the mass.

I strongly believe that private sector will have faster rate of adoption than the public counterparts. The underlying reasons are simple, unnecessary hassle with administrative decision.

Cellphones in South Asia : Saving lives and improving livelihoods

Collected from  a Message post in the yahoo group Community Radio Bangladesh of

AHM. Bazlur Rahman-S21BRChief Executive OfficerBangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)[NGO in Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council]
&
Head, Community Radio AcademyHouse: 13/1, Road: 2, Shaymoli, Dhaka-1207Post Box: 5095, Dhaka 1205 BangladeshPhone: 88-02-9130750, 88-02-9138501Cell: 01711881647 Fax: 88-02-9138501-105E-mail: ceo@bnnrc.net http://www.bnnrc.net

Introduction

We live in a divided world where far too many people live in abject poverty. To
help these people get out of poverty is good for the world as a whole, for great
disparities in wealth will lead to violence and terrorism and no one can live in
peace and harmony. None of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) can be
achieved if we fail to address the problem of poverty and ensure livelihood
security for the majority of the poor.

A vast majority of the poor live in the rural areas of developing countries and
are dependent on agriculture or fishing for a living. They need information
directly relevant to their livelihoods. Agriculture-related information is often
one of the most immediate needs, since small-scale agriculture is very important
to household incomes in rural areas. Information on current crop prices,
fertiliser and pesticide costs, and the availability of improved seeds and
low-cost improvements in farm technology can help farmers buy farm inputs and equipment of good quality at the right price, or help them successfully obtain credit.[1] Information on government entitlements and training programmes, opportunities for developing new products, and markets for environmental goods[2] is also useful. Without such information, poor families find it hard to take advantage of new opportunities for generating income and increasing their assets.

Many asset-less poor migrate to cities far and near and are constantly on the
lookout for opportunities to work in construction sites, ports, factories and
wherever they can be employed. They are often exploited and work in conditions far from satisfactory. They will be happy to have information on where work is available and wages are good.

This report looks at a few examples of how access to information helps improve
the lives of people and how new technologies are being used in getting
information to those who need it.

Small catch but big impact
About twelve years ago scientists at the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation
(MSSRF) started working with fishing communities in coastal villages of southern India. The major thrust of the project, funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), was to look at how emerging information and communications technologies (ICTs) could be used to make a difference to these people’s lives. But the project managers took a holistic perspective and put
people and their needs before technology: they went beyond merely providing
online access to information through their internet-enabled Village Knowledge
Centres (VKCs). They were concerned about fisherpeople losing their catches,
nets, boats and even their lives on days when the sea turned rough. Lives could
be saved if only one could have advance knowledge of weather conditions. After
some investigation, the MSSRF researchers found that United States (US) Navy
satellites were collecting weather and wave height information for the Bay of
Bengal, and the Navy website released forecasts based on these data twice daily.
The VKC volunteers started downloading this information and made it available to the fisherpeople in their local language through notice boards and a public
address system. Ever since this service commenced not a single death in mid-sea
has been reported from these villages.

The need for innovation
Suddenly, the US Navy stopped providing this information and something needed to be done. MSSRF joined hands with Qualcomm, Tata Teleservices and Astute Systems Technology,[3] and these companies came up with an innovative mobile application called Fisher Friend based on third-generation code division multiple access (3G CDMA) technology. With Fisher Friend, the VKCs provide fisherpeople with real-time information on things like fish prices in different markets, weather, wave heights, satellite scan data on the location of fish shoals, and news flashes while they are at mid-sea. Access to these, as well as other information such as relevant government schemes, has improved market transparency and the earnings of smaller fisherpeople. Qualcomm is working on incorporating global positioning system (GPS) capability in the phones, so their exact location can be tracked. This would make rescue operations much easier.

Timely access to relevant information can not only improve the standards of
living of a community, but also save lives.

Real evidence, not just anecdotal
Much of the evidence of the benefits of access to information and the use of
technology to facilitate access so far has been anecdotal. In a recent paper in
the Quarterly Journal of Economics Robert Jensen of Harvard University has
quantified the benefits.[4] He showed that the adoption of mobile phones by
fisherpeople and wholesalers in Kerala in southern India had led to a dramatic
reduction in price dispersion (the mean coefficient of variation of price across
markets over a stretch of 150 kilometres came down from 60%-70% to less than
15%); the complete elimination of waste (from 5%-8% to virtually nil); and near
perfect adherence to the Law of One Price.[5] In addition, fisherpeople’s
profits increased by 8%, while consumer prices declined by 4% (directly driving
a 20 rupee/person/month consumer surplus, the equivalent of a 2% increase in per capita GDP from this one market alone). Sardine consumption increased by 6%. The advent of mobile phones also led to a 6% increase in school enrolment and a 5% increase in the probability of using healthcare when sick. All this with no government programmes, and no new funding requirements.[6]

Several other initiatives involve mobile technology. Nokia recently launched
Life Tools in India, a fee-based service, with a view to impacting on the daily
lives of people, especially farmers. Life Tools offers timely online access to
information that will be of great relevance to farmers, students and the lay
public. Nokia has partnered with the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing
Board (to gather commodity prices from 291 markets), Reuters Market Light,
Syngenta and Skymet,[7] among others. It has plans to introduce Life Tools to
other developing countries before the end of the year.

Online access to information through mobile phones and through telecentres has
also helped shop owners, traders and the self-employed increase their earnings
in many countries. The mobile phone is becoming the primary connectivity tool.
With significant computing power, it will soon be the primary internet
connection, providing information in a portable, well-connected form at a
relatively low price, pushing aside the personal computer.

Conclusion
Today the “bottom” three-quarters of the world’s population accounts for at
least 50% of all people with internet access, says a Pew report.[8] As Turner
pointed out in 2007, investment in telecom, which facilitates easy access to
information, is more productive than investment in other kinds of
infrastructure.[9] The impact is particularly noticeable in developing nations.
ICTs are not a technical solution on their own but are enablers in a process of
local prioritisation and problem solving. This report has highlighted
initiatives that use mobile technology. But mobile solutions are obviously not
the only useful ones. For instance, LabourNet in Bangalore connects employers
and casual labourers through an online database that is updated constantly.[10]
Thanks to LabourNet, workers, especially at construction sites, get decent pay,
training, insurance and safety measures at the workplace. However, the
information supplied is more at the administrative level than the grassroots
level.

The success lies in embedding ICTs in a holistic approach encompassing a diverse range of development initiatives. The trick is not to emphasise technology but to put people and their needs before technology. Sustainable livelihood approaches need to be people-centred, recognising the capital assets of the poor and the influence of policies and institutions on their livelihood
strategies.[11]

Also, the mere ability to access information cannot take one far. What is
important is what one can do with that information. Often one would need to have additional skills and capital to take advantage of the information. That is why efforts to provide improved access to information should go hand in hand with efforts to enhance skills through training programmes, and efforts to enhance access to finance through microfinance and the formation of self-help groups.

Rural livelihoods involve a wide range of strategies both within and outside the
farming sector. Often farming communities need to augment their income through non-farming enterprises, and here the women and youth could play a role in enhancing household income.

It will be good to remember that a large number of ICT-enabled development pilot projects have remained just that – pilot projects that did not scale up.

Pakistan High Commission gifts computers to Bangladeshi schools

Staff Reporter Ittefaq Newspaper on 18 August 2010 Reported:

The High Commission for Pakistan in Dhaka gifted twenty sets of computers with all accessories to two schools in the country on August 11. The schools are Maskata Dighi Maltili High School in Rajshahi and Jaintapur Government High School in Sylhet. The computers were given to help the schools in establishing computer laboratories. Ashraf Qureshi, High Commissioner of Pakistan to Bangladesh handed over the computers to the representatives of both institutions.

While delivering the gifts, Ashraf Qureshi said the government of Pakistan, as a policy, is trying to assist Bangladesh in capacity building at grassroots level through the establishment of computer laboratories in educational institutes across the country. This is in line with the vision of Prime MInister Sheikh Hasina for a digital Bangladesh, he added.

However, about 50 laboratories with 500 computers have so far been established at various educational institutions throughout the country. Bangladesh Ministry of Science and Information Technology is supporting the High Commission in identifying the educational institutions for establishment of laboratories.

Staff Reporter.

Source: http://www.ittefaq.com/issues/2010/08/18/news0831.htm

IEEE Explore – Literature Study

For my Ph.D. research I am looking for the use of following keywords: “diffusion of innovations,” “e-learning,” “m-learning,” “Telecenter,” “Secondary education,” “Middle School,” “Bangladesh,” “e-readiness”, “e-preparedness”

Today I was searching for research publications about Bangladesh in IEEE explore. I needed empirical study or exactly where the context is Bangladesh. So I search using “Bangladesh” as the search keyword.

Interestingly in IEEE Explore “Bangladesh” relate article result from 1973 to 2010 was as per following:

  • 770 Conference papers
  • 107 Journal Articles
  • 3 Early Access Papers

Among these I could select a total of 18 paper which are also associated with other above mentioned keywords.  I shall publish the details of those below sometime later.

United Nations E-Government Survey 2010: About Bangladesh

SOURCE: http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/UN-DPADM/UNPAN038853.pdf

“e-government development remains a distant hope for many of the least developed countries due to the cost of technology, lack of infrastructure, limited human capital and a weak private sector. A paucity of public sector resources clearly imposes a drag on government innovation. Small ad-hoc and stand-alone projects are the norm in least developed countries, which often lack a well-thought e-strategy within their national development plans. Once initial funding for these projects ends, they are usually at high risk of simply shutting down. However, there are a few notable exceptions, such as e-education in Bangladesh and Ethiopia, and m-health in Rwanda. The experiences of these three countries demonstrate that significant gains can be realized in the least developed countries where there are enabling legal and regulatory frameworks in place, including specifically an e-government strategy with clearly identified sectoral priorities aligned with national development goals” (p. 4).
“The overall impact is too early to assess, yet there is a sense of real danger that some developing countries, which have made progress towards the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education, will suffer setbacks as result of the financial and economic crisis. Countries such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mali, Rwanda and Senegal are at particular risk “[21] (p.47).
“Mobile technology is becoming an important aspect of educational services, and it is a noticeable trend in the field of student education and teacher training. In the Philippines, the mobile phone and SMS are being used as the primary means for interactive learning and for providing information to students. In the United Republic of Tanzania, the BridgeIT project used mobile phones to provide support for teacher training.28 Mobile technology has rapidly gained in importance across the educational sector. Some even say that the current state of mobile education technology, or m-education, may be at the stage where mobile health, or m-health, was just a few years ago. In Bangladesh, more than 50 percent of the population gained access to mobile phones in the past decade. Mobile applications for English-language teachers in Bangladesh enable them to access training materials including audio and video at all times [29]. Soon the mobile applications will be linked to the Government’s school curriculum, textbooks and assessment procedures [30]” (p. 48-49).
In Southern Asia region, “most portals and websites have remained stagnant since the 2008 Survey in terms of developing new features. As a result, the region as a whole has regressed in the 2010 Survey and remains far below the world average. Maldives (0.4392) continues to lead the region because it gained the highest scores for infrastructure and education indices. Nevertheless, its online services received very low scores and made very limited progress in overall e-government development. Iran (0.4234) and Bangladesh (0.3028) are the two exceptions, both having significantly improved their government development scores and global rankings in 2010 Survey” (p. 70).
According to E-government Index, Bangladesh Ranks 134 in 2010, with an index value of 0.3028, of which “online service component” 0.1209, “telecommunication infrastructure component” 0.0109, “human capital component” 0.1710.
According to online service index, Bangladesh Ranks 60, with index value 0.3556, where she scored 48 points for emerging information services scores, 44 points for enhanced information services, 5 points for transaction services, 15 points for connected approach. (p.116)
According to Telecommunication infrastructure index and its components, Bangladesh ranks 161, with index value 0.0330, Estimated Internet users per 100 inhabitants 0.32, Main fixed telephone lines per 100 inhabitants 0.84, Mobile subscribers per 100 inhabitants 27.90, Personal computers per 100 inhabitants 2.25 and Total fixed broadband per 100 inhabitants 0.03. (p. 120)
According to Human capital index Bangladesh ranks 157, with index value 0.5182, adult literacy rate 53.50%, Combined gross enrollment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary schools 48.46% (p.123).
According to E-Participation index Bangladesh ranks 102, with index value of 0.1000.
E-government development in Southern Asia

E-government development in Southern Asia

E-government development in least developed countries
E-government development in least developed countries

“Least developed countries have no real e-services, nor are they providing citizens with transactional opportunities, as presented in table 4.39. The vast majority of the sites surveyed primarily contain e-information and the beginning stages of citizen engagement with polls and feedback forms. The top two positions among least developed countries in the online service assessment went to Bangladesh and Angola”(p. 82).

Online service levels in least developed countries

Online service levels in least developed countries

Selected Citations from the Report:

  • Pouezevara, S. Lucas and R. Khan. 2007. “Innovative Information and Communication Technology in Education and Its Potential for Reducing Poverty in the Asia and Pacific Region: Summary of Findings ‘Learning Communities Enabled by Mobile Technology: A Case Study of School-based, Inservice Secondary Teacher Training in Rural Bangladesh’”. Prepared by RTI International for Developed for the October 2007 International Conference on ICT for Education, under Asian Development Bank, TA No. 6278-REG. Manila: Asian Development Bank.
  • The Guardian Weekly. 2009. “Bangladesh Gets Mobile Lessons”. http://www.guardianweekly.co.uk/?page=editorial&id=1342&catID=18. Accessed November 2009.