MTN emerges as interested party in Myanmar

South Africa-based MTN is the latest operator to emerge as interested party in securing an operating licence in Myanmar.

The company’s chief executive, Sifiso Dabengwa, has said that about 90 entities have expressed an interest in operating in the country.

Its government, as part of the country’s reform programme, has made the deregulation of the mobile phone sector and the expansion of its fixed-line network one of its top priorities. The issue has been complicated by a corruption probe of the country’s telecoms ministry.

Licences could be issued as early as June, and the hotly contested auction, could mean licences cost as much as $500 million in a country with less than a 60 million population. It also only has a mobile penetration rate of 5%.

“The process seems quite good,” said Dabengwa. “They started off with expressions of interests and they now are going to provide the bid requirements and they intend to shortlist about 10 to 15 companies. This is a one-off, this is a greenfield which every operator is interested in.”

MTN has built up its portfolio across Africa and the Middle East, including Syria.

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