Showing posts with label cellphones. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cellphones. Show all posts

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Paper - "Logged On"

The World Bank has published online a paper entitled "Logged On: Smart Government Solutions from South Asia" (December 2014). The paper looks at mobile and smart phone technology through the lens of good government management. It shows how developing governments (including Afghanistan) can deliver goods and services that citizens care about. Paper available at this link on the World Bank website.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Telecommunications Industry Continues to Improve

The telecommunications industry in Afghanistan is one of the bright spots of the Afghan economy. Over 89% of Afghanistan has cell phone coverage. Most of the population (about 30 million) has access to cell phones. The banking industry has been revolutionized by financial transactions by cell phone - helping the economy improve and reducing corruption in the military and government. There are six mobile operators in Afghanistan: MTN, Etisalat, AWCC, Roshan, Afghan Telecom, and Wasel Telecom. Ericsson, a telecommunications company, currently provides network and IT operations services to MTN and is on the verge of providing the same services to another Afghan telco. Read more in "Ericsson in talks for second Afghan telco contract", Gulf News, October 14, 2014.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cell Towers Built But Not Used in Afghanistan

The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has reported on a $6.5M project that provided no benefit (unless you count the contractor that provided the service). The State Department contracted for six cell phone towers to be built in southern Afghanistan. There were some systematic problems with the design to include the cost of running by generator (fuel) and the fact that they were not initially designed to hook into the existing telecom network in Afghanistan. The purpose of the cell phone towers was to expand and enhance telecommunication services to the civilian Afghan population in underserved but strategic areas. Another cell tower project - Expeditionary Cellular Communications System (ECCS) - was done under "Operation Palisades" by the Department of Defense; it was a $68M project awarded to ManTech. Reportedly the cell towers built for the State Department are to be auctioned off to the Afghan telecom community (it is unknown what happened to the ECCS towers). SIGAR has requested additional information from the State Department in a September 9, 2014 letter. Read more in "$6.5M telecom towers unused in Afghanistan; watchdog wants answers", The Washington Times, September 17, 2014. See also a news article on this topic in Stars and Stripes.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Info and Communications Technology - An Afghan Success Story

The news coming out of Afghanistan lately has been dismal. The security situation is worse with the Taliban threatening to take over district centers (Sangin), corruption handicapping international aid efforts, the Afghan election is a mess, and the lack of a signed Bilateral Security Agreement. It is hard to find positive news about Afghanistan.

However, there is one sector of the economy that is doing remarkably well - the information and communications technology sector. Dr. Catherine Warner, of the ISAF Telecommunications Advisory Team, says that the telecommunications and info technology fields have come a long way since 2001. In 2001 there were 15,000 telephone lines with only local dialing access. In 2014 there are 22 million mobile phone subscribers and some three million Internet users.

Read more in Information and communications technology sector Afghanistan's second largest revenue source, ISAF News, September 10, 2010 at this link.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

M-Paisa - Mobile Banking in Afghanistan

Afghanistan, despite its backwardness and economic difficulties, is in the forefront of a new mobile-money and banking era. Money is being exchanged with customers and merchants via cellphones utilizing a service called "M-Paisa". This service also is used to pay policemen throughout Afghanistan - eliminating much of the corruption that took away almost 30% of a policeman's pay. Eventually Afghans will be able to pay their electric bills over their cell phone. One of the few bright spots in Afghanistan is the development of a robust telecommunications network that provides for a higher standard of living not only in communications but in banking and other economic services. Read more on M-Paisa in "How Afghanistan is on the Leading Edge of a Tech Revolution", Time, March 2, 2013.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Cell Phone Towers Not Getting Blown Up As Much in Afghanistan

Some things are getting better in Afghanistan. Reportedly, according to The Wall Street Journal, cell phone towers in Afghanistan are not getting blown up as much by the Taliban. There was a period when the Taliban (and criminal gangs) would threaten to blow up cell phone towers unless the telephone companies turned them off (either all the time or during the night hours). During a short period of a few years over 300 cell phone towers were destroyed. Mobile phones are the primary means of communication in Afghanistan and the Taliban interdiction of cell phone tower operations were turning the population against the Taliban. Read more in "Fewer Cell Towers Are Shut Down in Afghanistan, Minister Says", The Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2013.