MTN eyes Myanmar
SA telecoms giant MTN is one of 12 operators in the running for a licence to operate in Myanmar – a large potential market...
Myanmar – also known as Burma – is one of the most potentially exciting territories for telecommunications providers. After years of military rule, the south-east Asian country is opening up internationally, representing a new and potentially big market for multinational companies. Myanmar, like South Africa, has a population of around 50m people according to WolframAlpha, but it’s estimated that the country’s mobile penetration rate is below 5%.
There is currently only one operator in Myanmar and SIM cards are prohibitively expensive, but local authorities are hoping to grow mobile phone use to 80% of the population over the next three years. The country has made two operating licences available in this regard and has announced the names of 12 bidders in the running for these licences.
SA’s MTN is one of these and has partnered in Myanmar with Amara Communications, a subsidiary of IGE, a diversified company with interests that include telecommunications tower construction, SIM card distribution, electricity generation as well as oil and gas exploration. Singapore’s M1 Telecom is the third member of the consortium.
Other competitors for the two licences include China Mobile, which has teamed up with Vodafone – the parent company of South Africa’s Vodacom – and France’s Orange, which is working with Japanese trading company Marubeni. India’s Bharti Airtel is also in the running.
MTN group CEO Sifiso Dabengwa says he is confident about MTN’s chances.
“If awarded a licence, we will rapidly and efficiently deploy a world-class network infrastructure and services, as we have successfully done in 22 emerging markets internationally,” he said.
“MTN is strongly positioned to serve the Myanmar market, as we offer a unique blend of world-leading technology and emerging-market understanding.”
Applications must be submitted to regulators in Myanmar by early June but it is not yet known exactly when the licences will be awarded.
Citizens of Myanmar’s capital Nay Pyi Taw outside the Ouparta Thandi pagoda. Currently less than 5% of Myanmar’s population owns a mobile phone