Telenor Myanmar has released its first report on the state of play in Myanmar’s digital ambitions, the challenges and opportunities ahead, and a roadmap that envisions the country becoming one of the top ‘digital-native’ economies in ASEAN by 2023.
Background: in August 2016, Myanmar’s government issued a 12-point Economic Policy that includes a ‘Digital Myanmar Economy Plan’, which aims to establish a digital government strategy, an e-government system, and a data ID card system.
Telenor’s Realising Digital Myanmar report [PDF] – intended as a complement to the government’s digital plan – stresses that digital frameworks, infrastructure, ecosystems and skills are needed to provide a solid and strong foundation to fuel development of digital government, enterprises and consumers.
TheTelenor report explores each of these key areas in detail and presents current status, case studies, recommendations and examples of international best practices.
The report also highlights the need for the government to enact digital laws on “data protection, digital privacy, intellectual property rights and e-commerce protecting the rights of businesses and citizens”, as well as the Cyber Crime and Electronic Evidence Act, which has already been drafted but hasn’t yet been passed due to delays.
Telenor also said Myanmar need an independent telecoms regulator “to ensure decisions are taken in line with long term national interest.”
The report outlines a comprehensive roadmap which highlights key digital milestones and targets Myanmar could attain by 2023, including 99% mobile voice coverage with USF support, 95% mobile data coverage with minimum speeds of 5 Mbps (also with USF support), and 90% of households connected to the grid.
The report also says that by 2023, Myanmar should at least crack the top 100 in the World Economic Forum’s Networked Readiness Index (it currently ranks at no.133). All eligible citizens should have a digital identity, and at least 95% of them should have at least one digital financial service account. The report also reckons that the number of local digital start-ups should triple compared to 2017.
Other recommended targets for 2023:
- A supportive ecosystem for digital startups – innovation centers, digital financial services, digital ID
- Digital literacy curriculum in schools, fixed broadband access at all universities
- Significant penetration of G2B and G2C services, ICT used in all ministries
- 50% of SMEs using digital G2B, B2B and B2C services
- Localized m-agri, m-livestock and m-fishery digital content and services available
The report comes at a time when Myanmar’s operators are racing to roll out 4G coverage across the country. Last week, Telenor Myanmar announced it had deployed LTE in seven more cities – Meiktila, Kyaukpadaung, Loikaw, Tachileik, Thandwe, Pathein and Myaungmya – bringing its total coverage to over 120 cities in the country, with more than 19 million customers.
Telenor doubled its 4G capacity in December by acquiring an additional 2×10 MHz spectrum in the 1800-MHz band for $80 million.
Not to be outdone, Ooredoo Group announced on Wednesday that it has rolled out 4G+ across 200 localities in Myanmar, promising data speeds up to 500 Mbps. Ooredoo Myanmar says its network is available to over 15 million customers, representing two-thirds of the country’s townships.
Ooredoo Myanmar CEO Vikram Sinha said the cellco has “big plans for 2018” and is working hard for to upgrade the network further.