MTN in Myanmar telco licence bunfight

MTN Group is one of 90 parties who have expressed an interest in a potentially lucrative operator’s license for South East Asian country, Myanmar (Burma).

Speaking at the group’s results presentation in Johannesburg on Wednesday (6 March), MTN CEO and president Sifiso Dabengwa chuckled that the group was one of about 90 entities who had expressed interest in participating in a tender process to acquire one of two new telecoms licences being issued out by the Myanmar government.

He then told journalists in a separate press conference at MTN’s headquarters that, while Myanmar’s population exceeded 60 million people, its mobile penetration rate was at a lowly 5%. “I think it would be an excellent opportunity,” he said.

“Myanmar represents one of the most attractive growth opportunities globally at present,” Rich Mkhondo, executive, group corporate affairs, MTN told BusinessTech last month.

Dabengwa, however, added that the South East Asian country would present several challenges, namely that it has lots of water, along with a mountainous terrain, making infrastructure rollout costly.

The tender for two new mobile networks in Myanmar was announced on January 15 by the Telecommunication Operator Tender Evaluation and Selection Committee.

A number of large global operators are believed to have submitted expressions of interest in acquiring a licence, including Bharti AirtelSingTel, Norwegian firm Telenor, Digicel, and Malaysia’s U Mobile.

A deadline for expressions of interest concluded on 8 February, and according to Dabengwa, a decision on the winning bids could be made as soon as 1 June.

“The process seems quite good,” he said, noting that although two licences are expected to be awarded, that number may stretch to four, depending on whether the country’s incumbent operator is privatised.

Dabengwa said that the Myanmar government is expected to hand out bidding requirements, which will then lead to a short-list of between 10-15 companies.

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MTN in Myanmar telco licence bunfight