Burma’s First ‘TechCamp’ to Take Place in January

By San Yamin Aung 27 December 2013

RANGOON — Civil society groups hope that Burma’s first “Tech Camp”—a US Embassy-backed event that will be held in January—will help to those striving for democracy in the country.

The two-day event on Jan. 13-14, to be held at the Myanmar ICT Park in Rangoon, will bring together an estimated 150 people, including representatives of civil society organizations and so-called “technologists,” around the theme “Technology Unites Us.”

Well-known Burmese blogger Nay Phone Latt, the executive director of Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (Mido), told reporters at a press conference to launch the event Thursday that the “TechCamp” was an opportunity help the country’s burgeoning civil society.

“Civil society groups in our country are not developing enough since they don’t know how to use technology efficiently in their work,” he said, adding that a strong civil society was vital for building democracy in Burma.

“There are many ways to apply technology in civil society work. This conference will let them know how technology can help in their work. We hope to develop a network by this conference and to collaborate between civil society and technologists to develop civil society more.”

Htaike Htaike Aung, also from Mido, gave the example that those wishing to monitor Burma’s upcoming elections in 2015 will need to get to grips with technology. Text messaging, databases and Google maps will prove crucial for keeping an eye on the all-important polls, she said.

Tech Camps are a US State Department initiative, 17 of which have been held worldwide since 2010.

“We want every type of persons to be able to participate and travel, and accommodation costs will be covered for selected participants from outside of Yangon, mostly [with] funds from USAID [the US government’s overseas aid arm],” Sarah Hutchison, assistant public affairs officer at the US Embassy in Rangoon, told The Irrawaddy.