Toward a Networked Economy in Burma
This project's main objective is to help Burma (Myanmar) transition to an inclusive, networked economy that advances its social and economic goals, giving citizens access to technology and services.
Technology and development challenges
Burma is one of the least developed countries in the world, ranking 150 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index. It also has one of the lowest mobile phone and Internet penetration rates. In 2013, approximately 13% of Burma's 53 million people had access to mobile phones, and 1% had access to the Internet.
Since 2010, Burma's transition to democracy has opened up new opportunities to use digital technologies to support social development and economic growth. After decades of state restrictions on outside communication, Burma may be poised to make a leap from being one of the least connected societies in the world to a connected and inclusive information society.
Gaps in infrastructure and skills
For Burma to transition to an inclusive information society, it must deal with multiple challenges. First, gaps in telecommunications infrastructure and electricity provision have led to a rural-urban connectivity divide. Most people who have access to the Internet or mobile phones are concentrated in larger urban centres. Second, years of low educational development have resulted in skills gaps that may limit people's ability to take full advantage of the Internet and digital devices. Finally, Burma's digital industries are new, so locally created applications do not have the same variety, quality, or usability as its more connected geographic neighbours.
Connecting citizens, improving digital literacy
Three think tanks will undertake the research and project activities:
-Myanmar ICT for Development Organization
-Learning Initiatives on Reforms for Network Economies in Asia (Sri Lanka)
-Centre for Internet Studies (India)
As a result of this project, Burmese citizens will gain
-greater access to mobiles and the Internet
-better public services through digital content and applications
-improved digital literacy
-more competent institutions for effective public policy-making
The project will also inform policies that help citizens take advantage of the social and economic opportunities resulting from an improved information and communication technology infrastructure. The Myanmar ICT Development Organization, government regulators, and other stakeholders will gain the skills and knowledge they need to develop and implement inclusive, growth-oriented policies.