Showing posts with label telecommunications. Show all posts
Showing posts with label telecommunications. Show all posts

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mobile Money Plan for ALP

A plan to pay the Afghan Local Police or ALP in Kapisa province by electronic transfer is working out well (at least according to Resolute Support HQs). The mobile money pilot program registration is complete and will supposedly bring a safer, transparent payment process to the province. If this works out well it may be expanded throughout Afghanistan. The mobile banking services are expected "reduce opportunities for leakages" - a different way of saying corruption, I suppose.The mobile money program allows policemen to receive salaries through their mobile phones and use cash withdrawals without having to step foot in a traditional bank - banks not always available in remote and unsecure areas of Afghanistan where the ALP are based. Cell phone use has grown significantly in Afghanistan since 2001 so the use of mobile banking is possible.

'Trusted Agents' are used where the mobile banking scheme is not yet employed. Trusted agents are Ministry of Interior appointed personnel that physically deliver salaries in cash to remote areas where banks are not available. This method - using the trusted agent - is dangerous (for the trusted agent) and subject to corruption by police commanders. Read more in "Mobile money pilot program bringing safe, transparent pay to Afghan police", DVIDS, August 31, 2015.

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.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Cell Phones and Internet in Afghanistan

Theresa Falke, a member of the "Friends of Afghanistan (FKA) - a German non-profit volunteer NGO - provides us with a detailed account on the use of mobile phones, the Internet, and social media. Her article discusses the benefits of the growth of each as well as the social aspects of this new telecommunications technology. Read "Where There's a Will, There's a Way to Go Online: Afghanistan's youth and new media", Afghanistan Analysts Network, November 13, 2014.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Technology and Afghanistan

Afghanistan's new president, Ashraf Ghani, is an academic and World Bank expert on state building. He has some experience in technology and how it can help weak states (like Afghanistan) cost-effectively improve governance. Telecommunications and technology are two of the brightest sectors of Afghanistan's economy; and there is hope that these two sectors will help other sectors grow. Ghani has used Skype and Google Hangout to chair town hall style meetings across the country. Read more in "As Afghan President, Ghani continues Tech Advocacy", Voice of America, November 3, 2014.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Afghan 119 Information Center

The 119 Information Center service in Afghanistan is now five years old. Afghans can dial 119 on the phone to reach an emergency call center to report a crime, seek emergency assistance, or report insurgent activity. There is a main call center located in Kabul and several regional call centers around the country (Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif, etc.). The call centers operate around the clock and have communication with the regional Operational Coordination Centers or OCC-Rs. The Ariana TV network and Awaz Productions are now broadcasting a program called Reaction 119 which provides information about the value of the government emergency call center service. The program, aired on the private television channel, is dedicated to demonstrating the services of the Quick Reaction Police and the 119 Information Center. Learn more in "Afghan 119 police services prevent violence", Central Asia Online, October 31, 2014.

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, February 23, 2014

Roshan Transforming Society in Afghanistan

The CEO of Roshan Telecom was recently interviewed about the role that Roshan has played in transforming Afghan society. When Roshan first established itself in Afghanistan in 2003 there were no cell phones and very few Afghans had expensive satellite phones. Most Afghans had to cross the border into Pakistan, Iran, or another neighboring country to make a phone call. Now the great majority of Afghans have cell phone access and this access has transformed Afghan society and provided an impetus for business and development to grow. Read more in "Roshan: the Greatest Untold Story of Societal Transformation in Afghanistan",, February 18, 2014.

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.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Banking by Cell Phone Cuts Back on Corruption of Afghan Government Officials

Corruption is the biggest problem that people face in Afghanistan - and is looked at as more serious than violence or poverty. One aspect of life that is a force in eliminating corruption is the spread of cell phone use and mobile banking.
When police officers in Afghanistan's mountainous Wardak province began receiving their $200-per-month salaries via their mobile phones in 2009, many wondered why they had gotten a raise. They hadn't. It turns out their superiors had been skimming from their salaries, which were previously paid in cash.
Some government officials, police, and Army soldiers are now getting paid by cell phone - eliminating that boss or superior officer who took his percentage. The pay by mobile phone is meeting resistance by some government officials - most likely the ones who will lose the most when they find they are not getting their "fair share" skimmed off the top of the payroll. Read more in "Cashing Out of Corruption", Technology Review, March 19, 2012.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

3G Network Launched in Afghanistan

Afghanistan has reportedly seen the launch of its first 3G network according to local news source Outlook Afghanistan. UAE-based Etisalat Afghanistan today announced the launch of its 3G network in a ceremony attended by the head of the nation’s telecoms watchdog, the Afghanistan Telecoms Regulatory Authority (ATRA) and the minister for communications and information technology. Etisalat is yet to reveal the coverage of the network, or specific plans or packages for 3G services.
Read the rest of the news article here - "Etisalat launches 3G network in Afghanistan", TeleGeography, March 19, 2012. Learn more about telecommunications in Afghanistan.