World Bank Offers Assistance to Reform Myanmar's Telecoms Market
Published on: 11th Feb 2014
By: Ian Mansfield
The World Bank has offered USD31.5 million for a project aimed at reforming the telecoms sector in Myanmar.
The goal is to expand quality mobile phone access and affordable communications in Myanmar. At the same time it will reform the government-owned Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT) to create a separate telecoms regulator from the incumbent telecoms network. It will also help develop and pilot a universal service strategy to ensure the expansion of service to remote communities.
"The reform of Myanmar's telecommunications sector is an integral part of lifting millions of people out of poverty. Today, Myanmar has one of the lowest rates of telecommunications and internet access in the world. The vast majority of people face high costs, poor service or a complete lack of access. This affects poor people and remote communities the most," said Ulrich Zachau, World Bank Country Director for Myanmar.
The project will also begin to put in place the foundation for 'eGovernment' by developing the Myanmar National Portal which aims to provide a single on-line window for government information and services. Over time the national portal will become a mobile friendly tool for users to find information in Myanmar language and in English, provide suggestions and feedback about poor service delivery or incidents of corruption, and transact services in a safe and convenient electronic environment.
The Government of Myanmar has already taken concrete steps to reform the telecommunications sector. In October 2013, the Telecommunications Law was approved and in January 2014, two new operators were licensed - Telenor and Ooreedoo - to provide service in Myanmar.
Once the sites for piloting the universal service strategy in rural areas are identified, the project implementing agency, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, (MCIT) will organize public consultations. These sessions are expected to begin in late 2014 and input from participants will inform the pilot design. Two public consultations meetings, organized by the MCIT, were held in Yangon in November.
"We support the government-led public consultations and we believe that future consultations will provide civil society organizations, local communities, and ethnic groups with opportunities to engage meaningfully in project development and implementation," said Kanthan Shankar, World Bank Country Manager for Myanmar.