ADB, IFC to Help Extend Mobile Telecom Services Across Myanmar

News Release | 8 February 2016

YANGON, MYANMAR – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Finance Corporation—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group—are providing loans of $300 million to Ooredoo Myanmar for the rollout of a mobile telecommunication network across Myanmar, which will help extend affordable telecom services across the country, boosting economic growth and job creation. 

ADB and IFC are extending a loan of $150 million each to Ooredoo Myanmar, a fully owned subsidiary of Ooredoo Q.S.C, to expand a nationwide “greenfield” mobile telecom network using advanced 3G technology. 

“Myanmar has one of the lowest rates of telecom connectivity in Southeast Asia, with poor communities and women the least likely to have access to these increasingly vital services,” said Christopher Thieme, Director of ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department. “This assistance, ADB’s largest private sector investment to date in Myanmar, will help the government meet its target of connecting over 90% of the population, including millions of people for the first time.”

In 2013, only 7 out of every 100 people had access to a mobile phone in Myanmar. Providing affordable, widely available telecom services to support economic growth and cut poverty has been a priority goal of the Government of Myanmar. Since its entrance into the market in 2014, Ooredoo Myanmar has reached millions of customers covering 80% of the population with its 3G network. 

“This investment shows our continued support to help extend essential and affordable infrastructure services to Myanmar people,” said Vikram Kumar, IFC Resident Representative for Myanmar. “In addition to providing thousands of direct and indirect jobs to local workers, Ooredoo Myanmar’s nationwide telecom network will help connect people and ease economic activities by applying advanced telecommunication technologies.” 

The network rollout will be carried through to 2019. With the physical infrastructure, Ooredoo Myanmar plans to develop mobile applications for banking, agriculture, and maternal health, which will improve access to services particularly for low-income groups and women. 

ADB will also carry out a technical assistance project—financed by an up to $1 million grant from the Canadian Climate Fund for the Private Sector in Asia—to examine the feasibility of using renewable energy to run telecom transmission towers. The project will trial the use of renewable energy at selected towers with the goal of deploying it across at least 1,500 rural sites, reducing around 10,000 tons of CO2 emissions every year. 

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region.  

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, IFC uses its capital, expertise and influence to create opportunity where it’s needed most. In FY15, its long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $18 billion, helping the private sector play an essential role in the global effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.