MTN could be operating in Myanmar soon

The Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar (also known as Burma) might soon be benefitting from the largest mobile services operators in Africa – MTN. It has been revealed that MTN has made it onto the short list of about 15 operators who have all applied for an operator’s licence in the country.

MTN Group President and CEO Sifiso Dabengwa (image: Charlie Fripp)

Currently all communications in Burma is controlled by the government, and out of the 60.2-million population, only 503,900 has access to a landline, while only 5.4-million have access to a mobile phone. This makes Burma one of the least connected nations in the world.

Two mobile operator licences will be awarded in the country, and the short list has been drawn up from over 90 operators who applied for the licenses.

“Skills and competencies are in greenfield roll-outs and this would be an excellent opportunity. The terrain is quite different from what we are used to — there’s a lot of water and mountains which could impact roll-out from a cost perspective — but the opportunity would be great for us,” MTN CEO Sifiso Dabengwa said.

The MTN Group currently operates in 22 countries in Africa, Europe and the Middle East, so if they are granted a license it would be the first time the company operates in Southeast Asia. It’s main countries of operation is South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Rwanda.

It was also recently revealed that MTN could be spending as much as R71.12bn on acquisitions in Africa, Middle East and Southeast Asia. “Growth through M&A is still an important part of our strategy. Anything between R35.56bn and R71.12bn is something that we could look at,” Dabengwa said during the Reuters Africa Investment Summit.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor