Tag Archives: Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia: The ‘New World’ for E-commerce

As mobile phone penetration, and especially smartphone penetration, in Southeast Asia increases at a rapid rate, e-commerce companies are moving in to take advantage of the newly opened markets. Smartphone ownership in Indonesia is nearly double what it was were in 2012, and similar numbers are being seen around the region.

These countries are boasting a very young online population (below 35), and surveys show that people are doing more and more of their shopping online. Companies like Groupon, Rocket Internet, and Nova Founders are flooding the region with new options for online shopping, mobile apps, and social media.

Entrepreneurs are banking on the young and plentiful online users of Southeast Asia, and as internet penetration continues to rise, so do the opportunities for new businesses in the e-commerce sector. Locals are benefiting from the injections of foreign investment, and investors are able to turn profits in a snap of the fingers.

The current state of e-commerce in Southeast Asia shows that people in the developing world are willing and able to incorporate new ICT platforms into their day to day lives. It is not only an exciting trend for tech-savvy entrepreneurs, but it shows progress for success in ICT development. If this trend spreads to other developing parts of the world it will surely lesson the digital divide.

Southeast Asia E-commerce trends

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Economics of the Digital Divide

This article addresses the potential of a deepening digital divide due to changes in Internet economics. The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) will meet in December to discuss a number of possible modifications that would tax producers of certain content online. The article focuses mainly on Southeast Asia, pointing out the increasing rate of Internet users in the region, largely due to high populations. Despite advancements stemming from the region’s high Internet use there remains a significant digital divide, and economic changes to the Internet could potentially cause this to worsen.

I found this article interesting because the concept of taxing a tool such as the Internet had never crossed my mind. The article addresses the deeper divide that would result in such a decision because developing countries would not be granted access to certain content, and therefore the developed world would continue to progress at a much higher rate. Although developed countries would most likely not see the immediate effects of these changes, they would be harmful to the global community. Technological advancements such as the Internet have given us the ability to improve all areas of our world. To deny certain regions of such a tool would be impeding technology from reaching its potential to minimize divide across the globe.


The Spread of Mobile Reporting Platforms as a Means of Community Empowernment

In our last class we read the “ICT4D Manifesto” by Richard Heeks which in its conclusion discussed the most recent advancement in the ICT4D movement, ICT4D 2.0. The 2.0 version is characterized by utilizing existing technology in a successful way in a region instead of trying to create wholly new technology and then apply it to a region. This led me to remembering a project I worked on last year for a health policy graduate class in which we researched the global implications of counterfeit drug production.

Traditionally, counterfeit drugs have been combated by governments and policies in a top down approach, however, recently the WHO in Southeast Asia. The program closely resembles one described in a video “TEDTalks” that we watched in class as well. In the video the program Ushahidi was described, which is a disaster reporting platform in which areas where violence or disasters are occurring can be mapped through the collation of information reported by individuals on the ground. The WHO’s program in Southeast Asia uses a mobile reporting platform to report cases of counterfeit drugs, similar to Ushahidi. These reports are then collated at the national level and released to the public so they can monitor where counterfeit drugs are being sold. Once a case is confirmed it is also logged into the WHO database. The program has been greatly effective in limiting community’s exposures to harmful counterfeit medicines. This kind of publically powered community based reporting model is becoming more and more prevalent as tools to disseminate information to the masses in an easy to understand format. This technology encompasses the ideals of “ICT4D2.0” because it uses existing mobile and computer technologies in a new way to empower communities to take action to protect themselves, from fake drugs, violence, or natural disasters.

See a description of Rapid Alert System (RAS) for reporting counterfeit drugs here– http://www.wpro.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs_20050503/en/index.html


Brunei’s First Social Media Meet Up

Brunei is a very small country located in Southeast Asia. Note it has only a tad over 400,000 people. Even though it is such a small country, social media is clearly becoming popular. According to some tweets quoted on the article, blogging is a way to connect the community. One of the session focused on enterprise with blogging. Dato Timothy emphasized the importance of connecting with the young people in Brunei because they will lead the country one day. The conference also seemed to have a very different vibe about it as one blogged:

“Another thing that thoroughly impressed me was how unlike normal conferences, where people just sat, listen, took notes and asked questions, this conference was where most sat, eyes on their smart devices (laptops, phones etc), tweeted what struck them throughout the sessions and asked questions ONLINE! Oddly enough, on this day when everyone had their fingers glued onto their keyboards/keypads/touchscreens, they weren’t being anti-social! In fact, it was pretty interactive as the questions posted and the number of votes were projected for all to see.”

For more information, click here.