In 2013, Myanmar Granted Licenses to two additional MNOs with huge commitments attached to the licence in order to develop the social and economic welfare of the country and its people. Therefore together with their existing one, it has three MNOs since 2013. The launch of these networks transform the market with greatly improved coverage and a significant reduction in the cost of usage. This cost reduction lead to new untouched market of mobile access in Myanmar: Women. Yes, over 50% of the population in Myanmar are females, most of which are untouched by mobile access.
The strategy of leapfrogging traditional 2G mobile usage to 3G and 4G network has been an opportunity in a market like Myanmar where consumers see the value of a smart phone and mobile data over cheap feature phone, however, being said, growing mobile data penetration among low-income population is a challenge for mobile operators in developing countries.
Most challenges come with incredible opportunities for those who grab.With the digital economy still in its infancy, it is unclear which global advances in Digital Services and technologies will be adopted by Myanmar and which require local development. In this context, identifying how, where and with whom to work with in this market can be very challenging.
Even current operating telecoms, despite of their every efforts on CSR activities of donations and charity projects for the country, there is not much projects working out on digital services platform for social and economic welfare (such as agriculture, health, education, gender equality etc.,.) of Myanmar citizens, which in other developing countries, those kind of projects, were led by Telecoms. This is because Telecoms normally have huge commitment to help the country within as well as they are the major distribution channels of digital services to end users. Sadly, not much projects have seen in the country by current telecoms except the few projects by new telecoms.
Initiatives like Airtel Malawi mobile agriculture project, a dynamic and comprehensive mobile agriculture and financial service aimed at transforming smallholder farmers’ life by providing critical farming information that can enhance farming as business whilst promoting improved financial literacy and cash security awareness including Airtel Money (mobile banking) adoption which creates win win situation for both farmers and telecoms.
Even telecoms from developing countries still enhancing the mobile for development projects. One of the examples can be seen in Starhub Singapore’s Third Eye project which brings again win win situation by creating a community that would help blind people as well as brand value for the telecom which is far more effective than paying millions of dollars for billboard advertisements.
Even the digital issues such as Cyber bulling, which definitely is a problem as well in Myanmar, were taken initiatives by telecoms in other countries if you see Words Hurt Stop Cyberbullying by Grameenphone. Comparing the video created as the products’ advertisement which by now people might already know what a telecom is providing, this type of video below can create a lot of PR value and improves the branding for the telecom. However, we still haven’t seen much like this in our telecoms in Myanmar.
Such events cannot be created unless there is a connection between the actual people doing projects like this who can show the telecoms what are the hot topics or problems in the society in order to transform them into digital version and distribute among people.
The Connected Digital Solutions Conference is the first ever industry wide event to bring together thoughtful leaders and key ecosystem players to collaborate on how to realise the potential social and economic benefits of different industries or communities through Digital Services platform for Myanmar Citizens. Again the participation and interests of Telecoms in such events are pretty low compared to government’s, NGO’s and community’s interests. The conference had over 40 government officials from 9 ministries, over 30 participants from local and international NGOs including proximity, action aid, UN, etc., over 30 interested youths from private schools and many individual interested candidates from Music, Film, E-Commerce, Tech, and business consultancy services. Altogether 200 attendees in two-day event. However, no participant registering from telecoms except one person from MPT which shows that these projects are still low priority in their list of prioritisation in Myanmar.