Yet, the country is not ready for the digital economy, if indicators such as network readiness index, e-government development index, cyber security index and ICT development index are anything to go by.
Based on measurements on digital readiness, Myanmar has a long way to go, as indicators showed that the country ranked among the lowest in a 10-member Asean grouping.
At an event promoting the digital economy at MICT Yangon on June 8, Former Deputy Minister of Communication and Information Technology U Thaung Tin said that the country also lacks a legal framework for cybersecurity or laws governing e-commerce transactions.
“We are talking about cybersecurity, we don’t have a law for it, we are talking about e-commerce, we don’t have a law for that too,” he said.
He added that the government has been slow to implement such legislation as the majority of people still lack of access to bank accounts and credit cards. “In Myanmar, 80pc of people do not have them while less than 10pc have credit cards,” U Thaung Tin said.
On the other hand, he noted that Myanmar has basic telecommunications infrastructure compared to five years ago while internet access has improved, judging by the 85pc of people who are smartphone users in the country as well as the more than 100pc SIM card penetration rate.
In fact, digital transformation has already started at the grassroots level.“People cannot wait for your digital committee implementation; they are increasingly using the internet and changing the digital culture. We are using a top-down approach when in reality, its already happening from the bottom-up,” U Tin Win Aung, Chairman of Yangon International University (YIU) said.
Still, DEDC member Dr Tun Thura Thet said the transformation of the economy to a digital one also needs e-government services, which will also push the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
He noted that 15pc of global GDP derives from the digital economy with the US deriving 35pc of its GDP from it.
Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency’s executive director for the Digital Innovation Centre Dr Passakon Prathombutr said Myanmar needs to find out what were the obstacles hampering digital transformation.
“In Thailand we have a government committee as well as the implementing agency. Myanmar has a good plan, you just need to make it more effective,” he said.