Interview: U Thein Oo
Which industries do you think will take the most advantage of progress in ICT?
U THEIN OO: Ongoing developments within the IT sector coupled with an expanding telecoms network will promote development across many sectors. The financial services industry, particularly banking, is one of the sectors where we can already see the benefits of ICT in the form of ATMs, e-banking and mobile banking, which is expected to rapidly rise with mobile penetration. We are also developing the stock exchange with Daiwa Institute of Research (DIR) from Japan, and ACE Data Systems is the local company working alongside DIR on the customisation side. A memorandum of understanding was signed to create DIR-ACE Technology.
Capital market and securities progression is a key element for the socio-economic development of Myanmar, and without the support of IT services they would not be obtainable. Efforts like these that introduce innovative technology create jobs for Myanmar people. We expect to leverage this partnership to accelerate Myanmar’s development. With assistance coming from the Tokyo Stock Exchange, we expect to have the Yangon Stock Exchange operational before the end of 2015.
How would you assess the role that IT plays in Myanmar’s education system?
THEIN OO: Without IT, improving the education level in Myanmar would be quite difficult. In today’s world IT has to be used in general education. The level of IT professionals, and particularly the level of expertise that our students have after graduating from university, is still not good enough in the country, so MIDC is trying to improve it.
Every year we are setting new standards, and we are also asking for help from other countries. Now, for example, we have computer labs from Japan, as well as technical programmes and assistance from India. Currently, the level of local IT professional expertise is not good enough, but we are trying extremely hard to improve that.
I encourage local business owners in the IT realm to have in-house training or programmes that will raise the skill levels of their staff. For instance, programmes that enable staff to become qualified international software engineers are giving engineers the opportunity to design programmes for countries including Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.
Provision of English and computer courses is increasing modestly in Myanmar, and a growing number of companies are providing the kind of training required for specific ICT-related jobs. I believe that, over the next two or three years, the professional level will improve substantially.
What opportunities exist for entrepreneurs looking to tap into the ICT market?
THEIN OO: If we look at current developments in the telecoms sector, companies are all trying to improve infrastructure with a focus on mobile phone or SIM card penetration. In Myanmar most businesses are still small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). There is a lot of potential for value added and support services for the telecoms industry, which will present many business opportunities for the SME sector. They will have a lot of opportunities to improve their internal processes and also to provide customer services, such as e-commerce and payment systems. We can also expect the transparency of information to improve under the regulation of e-government. SMEs, individual business or enterprises, as well as social institutions – such as education facilities – will be favourably affected by developments in the telecoms sector. The support services that these institutions require will create business opportunities. Due to the shortage of trained experts graduating from local universities, many employers are willing to pay extra for experienced workers. Salaries are on the rise for nearly all occupations.
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