BarCamp Shows ICT Dam Ready to Burst in Myanmar

Published on: Mar 25 2013 by Aaron Mason

Attendees look on at the opening ceremony for BarCamp Yangon 2013. Photo: Mark Summer
Attendees look on at the opening ceremony for BarCamp Yangon 2013. Photo: Mark Summer

Recently Mark Summer, Inveneo’s co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer, attended Myanmar’s BarCamp Yangon 2013. The BarCamp was the largest in the history of the event, and gave some fascinating insight into the state of ICT – and technology in general – in the country.

In an article posted to Inveneo’s website, Summer recounts some of the interesting takeaways including:

1. The government is laying the groundwork for ICT development.

Technologically speaking, Myanmar has had it rough. With a history of human rights violations and a military-controlled government, access to technology has been incredibly limited. As a result the country lags with a 3% mobile and 2% Facebook penetration. In the last few years, however, the military has been easing restrictions and for the first time the government is drafting a country-wide ICT policy, building a foundation for the technology sector to grow.

“The government is drafting ICT policy that will define how cellular networks and ISPs will function,” said Summer. “Everyone is waiting on this because it will decide where the market will go and what opportunities will be available.”

2. There is considerable talent and drive in Myanmar’s entrepreneur pool.

One of the most impressive things Summer noticed was the quantity and quality of entrepreneurs in attendance. One of the attendees had built a business delivering iPhone apps, complete with tracking statistics and license payments, around an offline USB-based system. And while it’s true that Myanmar experiences some of the “brain drain” you’d expect, the facts that this was the largest BarCamp in history, that there was a considerable showing of developers offering “by Myanmar, for Myanmar” products and that the most popular topics at the event were around Unicode and Ubuntu all suggest that there are plenty of brains still there.

3. There is a large untapped market.

Myanmar is the 24th most populated country on the planet with 48M people. That’s larger than Spain and more than twice the population of Australia. With developed neighbors (mobile penetration in Thailand tops 120%) and low current penetration, the country is primed for growth.

“This is probably where you’ll see a lot of other organizations going in,” said Summer. “There’s a large untapped market, really quite like thailand, that’s just now opening up.”

4. Investors are waiting to hear what happens next.

“It’s important to understand what government and investments will be focused on, so you can look at what the next set of factors in the sector will be. There are even rumors of fibre being brought in,” said Summer. “But the big questions are all around accessibility and the general public.”

This rare combination of eager talent, economic potential and budding support at almost every level is unheard of in most underserved areas, boasting huge immediate potential and a long runway. This is incredibly interesting because of the pace at which change is coming. At Inveneo we specialize in delivering technology solutions in emerging and underserved areas and we’re very familiar with the deployment of technology and the patterns that follow surrounding adoption, market growth and sustainability. Connectivity starts as a trickle and quickly grows into a stable stream with demand increasing year over year.

Myanmar, on the other hand, is a dam about to burst.

Read the full article on Inveneo’s website

Aaron Mason is a technology and development expert with experience in design, analytics, ICT and disaster response. He is the head of marketing at Inveneo and the editor of ICTWorks. @Aaron_Mason
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