The Irrawaddy

Telecom Sector Draws Foreign Investment

The Yangon International Airport was expanded with foreign investment.

YANGON — The Telecommunications sector has become the top destination for foreign investment under the National League for Democracy (NLD) government, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA).

“Under the previous governments, most of the foreign investments went to the energy and electricity sectors. But foreign investment in the telecommunications sector has surged under the current government,” said deputy director-general U Than Kyaw Aung of the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC).

However, the increase does not come from new investors, but existing telecom operators that have increased their investment due to market rivalry.

Myanmar currently has three key operators—Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), the government-run operator that monopolized the country’s telecom industry for decades and now runs in partnership with KDDI, along with Qatar’s Ooredoo and Norway’s Telenor.

As the three operators compete for bigger market shares, they are pouring more money into equipment and services, and investment in Myanmar’s telecom industry has increased as a result, U Than Kyaw Aung explained.

From April to the end of November in the 2017-18 fiscal year, Myanmar saw an increase in both foreign and citizens’ investment in transport and telecoms, manufacturing, hotels and tourism, and mining sectors, compared to the same period last year.

During that period, transport and telecoms attracted US$633 million, followed by manufacturing with more than $350 million, hotels and tourism with around $155 million, and mining with $1.3 million.

According to the statistics section of DICA, foreign investment is larger than that of citizens’ investment in the telecom industry.

Real estate development, services, electricity supply, transport and communications, agriculture, livestock and fishery, hotels and tourism and industrial zones have drawn foreign investments in the current fiscal year. However, there was no investment in oil and gas extraction or construction.

The directorate expects to draw an annual foreign investment of $6 billion until 2020, and from 2021 to 2025, it expects $8 billion annually.

According to a statement from DICA, Myanmar received more than $5billion foreign direct investment including $237 million in the Japan-backed Thilawa Special Economic Zone from April to the third week of December in the current 2017-18 fiscal year.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.