December 30, 2014—Myanmar’s drive to advance national development through information and communications technology (ICT), an effort supported by Nathan Associates Inc., received a significant boost in December with formation of the U.S.-Myanmar Information Communications Technology Council.
Cisco Systems Inc., Google Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Microsoft Corp., and Qualcomm Inc. collaborated with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on formation of the council, which the U.S. Embassy in Yangon announced on December 19. The council, according to an Embassy statement, “will help advance policies and programs in cooperation with a broad range of relevant stakeholders in civil society, the national ICT industry, and government.”
U.S. digital technology companies have supported Myanmar in a number of activities, according to information supplied by the State Department. For example, Cisco’s “Network Academies” train students on IT and networking, Hewlett-Packard offers a business and IT program for entrepreneurs, and Microsoft has allied with Myanma Computer Company to train 100,000 people in work skills.
Myanmar has “barely begun to tap” the power of mobile and Internet technology to accelerate development, McKinsey & Co.’s McKinsey Global Institute said in a 2013 report. ICT would help numerous sectors, including education, in Myanmar. To harness ICT, the country will need to carry out an “aggressive telecommunications infrastructure plan,” McKinsey said. The new council’s agenda in the coming year will include a focus on developing ICT infrastructure.
Nathan Associates, through a contract with USAID, is assisting Myanmar and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with implementing economic reforms, promoting entrepreneurship through small and medium enterprises, and strengthening ICT capacity. Separately, in 2013, Nathan’s telecommunications practice advised the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology on overhauling regulation of network access and interconnection.