ICT Ecosystem to be Implemented, Says Minister

By Tha Lun Zaung Htet 21 February 2013

RANGOON — Burma’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) will upgrade mobile communications to 3G and above and also implement a digital-based administrative and economic system, according to Deputy Minister Win Than.

In a session of the Union Parliament on Tuesday, Win Than told lawmakers that the MCIT has two new plans for 2013-14 fiscal year: to improve mobile communications, and to implement an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ecosystem.

“The ministry will improve mobile communications to meet international standards of 3G and above and implement the ICT Ecosystem such as e-Government, e-Visa, e-Procurement, e-License, e-Payment, Online Billing System, and so on,” he explained.

However, his statement attracted criticism from a number of observers who said the MCIT’s plans would be hampered by poor ICT infrastructure and slow Internet speeds.

Ye Myat Thu, an executive committee member of the Myanmar Computer Federation, said the government will have difficulty putting its policies into practice because it still uses outdated equipment to build ICT infrastructure.

“If you want a car with the quality of a Land Cruiser, you just buy it. You don’t even need know how to make it. But if you don’t buy a Land Cruiser and buy a tractor instead, then you will only get the quality of the latter. That’s what it is like in the MCIT,” said Ye Myat Thu.

He added that introducing a mobile communications system of 3G and above across the country would also be very expensive.

“Investment for 3G and above is a lot, and I think it can only apply in urban areas,” he said.

In addition to physical infrastructure, Burma also needs to introduce new legislation to improve access to modern technologies, said Ye Myat Thu.

“To establish e-Government or e-Commerce, there must be a good cyber law,” he said. “I don’t think the existing law is good enough if you want to establish an online-based system. For that, you need to build legal and technical infrastructure, and they have to be strong.”

The MCIT is currently implementing a project to make 30 million more mobile phone lines available across the country within five years.