Myanmar has lived five lost decades and lagged behind its neighbours in the level of economic development. It was only in 2011 that Myanmar has started liberalizing its economic sectors including telecommunications.
The Telecoms Law was enacted in 2013 and the liberalization of the telecoms sector lifted up Myanmar’s potential of digitalization resulting in bringing down the price of mobile SIM card cost from US$1500 from prior to 2013 to less than US$ 1.5 today.
As a late comer, Myanmar enjoyed the advantage of leap-frogging from line phone to 4 G network. Myanmar’s telecoms sector has grown so fast that mobile phone penetration rose to 105 percent today from less than one percent. Smart phone penetration reached 80 percent. Myanmar has shown itself to be among the countries with the fastest mobile broadband today.
Myanmar has thus rapidly become a country with the highest potential to transform into a digital economy. This is one of the areas for potential foreign investments in helping us in adopting digital solutions to our challenges in various sectors such as education, health, tourism agriculture and financial services.
We have made significant achievements in the use of digital technology in promoting market access, strengthening the birth registration and electronic company registration.
We have adopted a people-centered 12-point Economic Policy in August 2016 with the aims to attract sustainable investment, increase employment and skills while raising competition. The Government supports the development of creative industries, encouraging entrepreneurship, innovation, and research and development (R&D). The Digital Economy Development Committee (DEDC) was established to facilitate Myanmar’s digital transformation and to set up goals to be achieved by 2020. We are now in the process of drafting a Digital Economy Development Plan.
Only 30% of the population is able to access mobile banking. The digital format financial service that supports ecosystem, digital eco-system format is necessary to promote and encourage among the citizens. Myanmar is also striving to have higher readiness for financial inclusion infrastructure.
We are encouraged by the potential of our younger generations who are willing to learn and are immensely teachable. The team of Myanmar students came out sixth, first among the Asian countries at the First Global Challenge Robotic Competition held in Washington DC last year. 163 entrants from 157 countries competed.
That is an indicator of our potential, of how we shall find the resources to overcome the challenges of our transition. We need to make more investments in education for our youth to adapt to the changing world. Our education and vocational training systems must be adapted to better prepare people for critical thinking skills they will need in the future. We need to adjust the courses and education curriculum to keep up with the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.