The recent introduction of mobile communication in Myanmar has presented a life-changing prospect for the country, which is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia. A quarter of its population is estimated to live in poverty, while the country as a whole performs poorly on most socio-economic indicators. There is much potential for mobile phones to play a role in socio-economic development, be it through access to specific services such as mobile money or simply through the access to information afforded by the mobile phone.
The Ministry of Posts and Telecom (MPT) commenced offering mobile services in 2013. In January 2014 Ooreedo and Telenor were granted licenses to provide mobile services. Since the entry of the two private players in late 2014, mobile ownership has soared.
In February-May 2015 LIRNEasia conducted a nationwide baseline survey in Myanmar on the information, knowledge and communications technology needs and uses of the population (living in accessible areas) in order to evaluate the impact of mobile phones in the country.
Household, individual and ward/village-level data was collected on:
- Information and communication needs and habits of the population aged 15-65;
- Socio-economic characteristics of households and individuals; and
- Ward and village-level characteristics, mobile coverage, and local prices of daily essentials.
Details on the survey methodology as well as the household survey questionnaire can be downloaded through the links provided below.
The 2015 baseline survey showed that by March 2015 40% of the population aged 15-65 owned a mobile phone. The survey findings further showed extensive mobile coverage, with 96% of wards and 87% of villages in the country having at least one mobile service provider present. An overview of the findings can be found here (English) and here (Myanmar).
The findings were presented to policymakers in Nay Pyi Daw as well as to industry media and other stakeholders in Yangon in July 2015; the slide set can be found here.
The survey also showed a significant gender gap in mobile ownership, of 29%, leading to further qualitative investigations into the reasons for and dynamics of the gender gap; the report of this joint GSMA Connected Women-LIRNEasia investigation can be found here.
LIRNEasia plans to conduct a follow-up nation-wide survey in 2016 also.
Reports and papers
- A baseline survey of ICT and knowledge access in Myanmar, Helani Galpaya, Ayesha Zainudeen and Suthaharan Perampalam, August 2015: English | Myanmar
- Mobile phones, internet, and gender in Myanmar: Joint GSM Association Connected Women-LIRNEasia study, Ayesha Zainudeen and Helani Galpaya, February 2016
- Knowledge, information and communication needs in Myanmar: stories from the field, Helani Galpaya, Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw
Media coverage (selected)
- ICT Survey: LIRNEasia nationwide ICT survey results released| Mitv News, Myanmar | July 29th 2015
- LA on Democracy Today, Myanmar | August 6th 2015
The Mobile Guide | August 5th, 2015
- LA survey data being referenced in an item about hate speech on Facebook | Eleven News, Myanmar |September 13th 2015
The English translation of this item can be found here.