On the face any money coming into Myanmar to help develop its creaking infrastructure is good. When the money is given on concessionary terms, it appears even better. But it is important to look beyond appearance. Will it harm competition, which is the government’s chosen (and proven) instrument to develop the ICT infrastructure?
Japan said Saturday it will extend a total of ¥10.5 billion in loans to Myanmar to improve the country’s communications network linking major cities and meet growing demand for mobile phones and the Internet.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida offered the low interest loans during talks with Myanmar counterpart Wunna Maung Lwin on the sidelines of Association of Southeast Asian Nations meetings in Naypyitaw. Wunna Maung Lwin expressed appreciation for the offer, a Japanese official said.
With the loans, Myanmar aims to strengthen its communications network involving Yangon, Mandalay and the capital, Naypyitaw, as well as to improve access to the Internet in Yangon, the country’s largest city, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
In Sri Lanka in the 1990s, we too received concessionary loans from Japan. The incumbent, which was partially owned and fully managed by Japan’s NTT, did receive the money. But they received it on commercial terms.
An even better solution would be to direct the funds solely to develop the domestic backhaul infrastructure and make sure all the operators including KDD managed MPT have access to it on equal and non-discriminatory terms.