Myanmar seeks to upgrade telecoms infra (3)

Myanmar is in discussion over a $90m loan with the Japan International Cooperation Agency to help improve internet connectivity throughout the country.


Myanmar is seeking a loan worth ¥10.5 billion (€79.1 million; $89.1 million) from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a division of the Japanese government's development arm, to upgrade its telecommunication infrastructure, Chinese local press reported this week.

Should the lending facility be agreed by both parties, proceeds would be used to improve internet connectivity in six different locations throughout the country. They would come on top of the original ¥63.2 billion ODA loan agreements signed last September in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar's capital, between JICA and the Burmese government.

“While mobile telecommunication services are being operated by private companies, the state will operate landline and fax, banking network, and special economic zones which all need tight security in line with related international standards,” Deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technology U Thaung Tin was reported to have told parliament at a session on Tuesday.

The six projects considered comprise the installation of equipment for the Yangon-Nay Pyi Taw-Mandalay fiber network, the extension of Yangon's fiber network, the set up of metro fiber equipment, bandwidth expansion of Japan’s national gateway for international telecommunications, and the development of new telecommunication infrastructure in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

According to Thaung Tin, the terms of the loan would include a 0.1 percent interest rate, a 10-year suspension period and a 40-year settlement term.

The Thilawa SEZ – the first SEZ of international standard to be set up in Myanmar, expected to open this year – was developed by Japanese-Burmese joint venture Myanmar Japan Thilawa (MJTD). Japanese and Burmese private consortia respectively hold 39 and 41 percent of MJTD, with the Japanese and Burmese governments sharing the remaining 20 percent, a JICA spokesman told Infrastructure Investor.

The private sector investment financing by JICA was launched following a review of the use of equity participation in private sector investment finance at the Economic Cooperation Strategy Conference (a cabinet-level meeting chaired by the Japanese prime minister) carried out in March 2013.