Expanding responsible mobile telecom services across Myanmar

By NJ Thakuria

Guwahati, 9 February 2016

Ooredoo invation letter

With an aim to expand mobile telecommunication network across Myanmar expecting to provide affordable telecom services across the country as well boosting economic growth and job creation, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC)-a member of  World Bank Group, have extended a loan of $300 million to Ooredoo Myanmar.

“ADB and IFC are extending a loan of $150 million each to Ooredoo Myanmar, a fully owned subsidiary of Ooredoo Q.S.C, to expand a nationwide  greenfield mobile telecom network using advanced 3G technology,” said a statement issued today by the ADB officials.

Myanmar is known as one of the lowest users of telecom connectivity in southeast Asia where the poor communities and women in particular have little access to these important services. In 2013, only 7 out of every 100 people had access to a mobile phone in Myanmar.

“Providing affordable, widely available telecom services to support economic growth and cut poverty has been a priority goal of the Myanmar government. Since its entrance into the market in 2014, Ooredoo Myanmar has reached millions of customers covering 80% of the population with its 3G network,” added the statement.

ADB’s private sector operations department director Christopher Thieme expressed hope that  the new initiative, which is ADB’s largest private sector investment in the country, would help the government at NayPieTaw to meet its target of connecting over 90% of the population, including millions of people for the first time.

“This investment shows our continued support to help extend essential and affordable infrastructure services to Myanmar people,” said Vikram Kumar, IFC’s resident representative for Myanmar adding that it would provide thousands of direct & indirect jobs to local workers.

The network rollout is expected to be carried out till 2019. With the physical infrastructure, Ooredoo Myanmar plans to develop mobile applications for banking, agriculture and maternal health, which would improve access to services particularly for low-income groups.

The Manila  based banking institution will also carry out a technical assistance project, financed by an up to $1 million grant from Canadian Climate Fund for Private Sectors in Asia, to examine the feasibility of using renewable energy to run telecom transmission towers. The project includes the experimentation for the use of renewable energy at selected towers covering at least 1,500 rural locations that way reducing around 10,000 ton of carbon-di-oxide emission every year.