With the liberalization of its telecommunications sector, the Union of Myanmar has opened its doors to a wealth of knowledge and information. Being one of the last countries in the world to do so, Myanmar skipped much of the evolution of mobile communication; essentially leap-frogging technologies. Given this new status, Myanmar requires sound policies and practices to be put in place in order to ensure optimal telecommunications services to the people, taking into account the current context.
Myanmar’s circumstances must be understood in a systematic way to devise the optimal solutions based on experience, preferably from countries not too different from it. LIRNEasia and the Myanmar ICT Development Organization (MIDO), a Myanmar civil-society organization established in 2012, have engaged upon a three-year program to do this.
Research-based interventions will be undertaken in parallel on all major aspects of the Internet eco-system in Myanmar, namely infrastructure and services, users with skills, user interfaces and attractive content and applications. It is expected that this novel “all-fronts” approach will have the potential to accelerate Myanmar’s progress from being one of the least connected countries to an inclusive information society.
Image : The Internet Ecosystem, (Source LIRNEasia)
Part of the engagement with MIDO will also involve mentoring its members to reach their full potential as policy intellectuals and future leaders, and to strengthen the organization.
The research work includes quantitative and qualitative studies that build on the baseline nationwide survey and qualitative studies that have already been done. This research will be utilized in policy interventions and in the development of innovation briefs for the development of apps and content useful for “those who are unlike the app developers.” Scalable solutions for enhancing the ability of users to make full use of the Internet will be worked out.
On the terminal “front,” the focus will be on raising awareness about meeting the needs of the differently abled. Supply-side interventions such as actions to improve the capacity of policy makers, regulators and stakeholders and rapid-response interventions will be undertaken primarily in the field of ICTs and to a limited extent in electricity, which is a key barrier to broadband supply in Myanmar. Policy enlightenment will be the focus of e-government activities where the principal activities are likely to be undertaken by government entities directly funded by development partners.
The principle objectives of this project are as follows –
- Generate knowledge aimed at improving the information and communication technology infrastructure of Myanmar
- Create digital products that support public service delivery, including in the area of education, to citizens of Myanmar
- Inform policies that help the citizens of Myanmar take advantage of the social and economic opportunities engendered by an improved ICT infrastructure
- Build the capacity of the Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO), Government regulators and other stakeholders to develop and implement inclusive, growth oriented policies
The proposal that was submitted to the donor can be viewed here