Sri Lankan Central Bank does not know Internet and email use in the country

Given the scale and frequency of lies the Sri Lankan Central Bank puts out, this is perhaps a minor issue.

I was looking through some of our economic data and was surprised to note that the Central Bank has no clue as to how many Internet and E-mail subscribers there are in Sri Lanka. We can also safely guess that their method of ascertaining this figure is so primitive that they still only count PC’s with wired or wireless connections as a ‘subscriber’.

And why is the Central Bank conflating email subscribers with Internet consumers? Surely the two are wholly different metrics – a single Internet subscription can serve a family of email accounts, and one ICTA nanasala can serve a village of email accounts? When will our key policy making institutions wake up to common sense?

telecoms-dec-08

Taken from Selected Economic Indicators, December 2008

Small wonder then that ICTA and the President can’t agree on the numbers either. More importantly, what are the yardsticks the World Bank uses to judge the effectiveness of the millions of dollars it gives to the government for ICT development?

One hopes it is not Central Bank, ICTA or Presidential statistics.

3 comments on “Sri Lankan Central Bank does not know Internet and email use in the country

  1. Nalaka Gunawardene
    March 31, 2009 at 10:59 am #

    This is tragi-comic! It’s too much to expect the babudom and crusty academics to know that Internet can be accessed through devices other than PCs (really? can mobiles access internet? if so, is that a threat to national security? Shhhhh!)

    I believe the mix-up between email and Internet is a relic of the early days when some ISPs offered email-only accounts for a lower rate. In those dial-up days, bandwidth was precious and overpriced. But things have evolved a bit since, and I’m not sure if email-only accounts are still available and operating. Even the Dept of Census and Statistics, which usually offers data and analysis more reliable than the Central Bank, still makes this distinction. See, for example: http://www.statistics.gov.lk/computer%20literacy%20english.pdf

    If nothing else, the Central Bank analysis reminds us that the frilly little ICTA does not even register in the overall state policy making machinery. ICTA can sing and dance for all they like, and squander money on music videos and tons of PR, but they are evidently ignored like a fly by the heavyweight agencies of the state. We wonder why?

  2. Sanjana Hattotuwa
    March 31, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    Hi Nalaka,

    Bizarrely, SLT still apparently sells email only accounts – see http://www.slt.lk/data/forhome/091sltnet_internet.htm

    Sanjana

  3. Rohan Samarajiva
    March 31, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    The TRC’s data categories have not been changed since the 1990s. That’s the cause. The TRC does a really bad job of collecting and reporting data. The poison runs through the system and infects the Central Bank.

    I hesitate to defend the CB, but in this case the culprit is the TRC.

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