Parliament to Debate $95-Million S. Korean Loan for Gov’t Data Center

By The Irrawaddy 3 December 2018

YANGON—The government has sought Parliament’s approval for a nearly US$95-million (150.7 billion kyats) loan from South Korea to build a centralized e-governance data center.

Minister of Transportation and Communications U Thant Sin Maung explained to the Union Parliament on Monday the government’s plan to establish the e-Government Integrated Data Center (eGIDC) in Naypyitaw and a backup center in Thanlyin Township near Yangon.

The minister said that if approved by Parliament, the three-year project, which is worth more than $104 million, would be implemented by the ministry’s Department of Information Technology and Cyber Security from January next year. The project would be financed through a $93.799 million loan from South Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund (which is managed by the country’s Exim Bank) and $10.467 million from the Myanmar government’s budget.

U Thant Sin Maung told Parliament that the data center would provide the public with access to online services, speed up information flow and keep government data safer.

“As connectivity in Myanmar increases, we have seen online services flourish in the country. A data center could help the government with cost-effectiveness and cybersecurity,” he said.

Five years after the liberalization of the telecommunications market in 2013, Myanmar has a mobile density (or penetration) rate of 105 per cent, while 80 percent of people access the Internet via smartphones, according to mobile operator Telenor’s “Digital Myanmar 2018” report. The figures are low compared with other countries in the region. The report said that only 50 percent of the population owns a SIM card, with 90 percent of SIM card owners using 3G or 4G networks.

The minister said on Monday that Korean experts working with the Department of Information Technology and Cyber Security last year conducted a feasibility study on the eGIDC project. He added that the loan period is 40 years with a 0.01 percent interest rate. “But if the implementation company is an SME or a medium or large-sized company from South Korea, there will be zero interest on the loan,” he said.

Parliament will vote on whether to approve the loan after lawmakers debate it next week.