Vodafone and China Mobile were an odd couple. Now the story has become curiouser. Lack of regulatory certainty has caused them to withdraw from Myanmar.
Vodafone said it had withdrawn after seeing the final licence conditions, which were published on 20 May, because “the opportunity does not meet the strict internal investment criteria to which both Vodafone and China Mobile adhere”.
A spokeswoman for Vodafone added that among the British company’s concerns were that a promised telecommunications bill overhauling regulation of the sector is now not due to be enacted before Burma finalises its choice of foreign mobile operator on 27 June.
In 2011, Vodafone suffered a backlash after being ordered to comply with the shut down of Egypt’s communications network during the revolution that led to the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak. Burma took similar measures in 2007, closing down internet connections during a popular uprising.