Monday 16 October 2017

Digicel to invest $9bn in Burma if telecoms licence bid wins

Denis O'Brien (right) and Serge Pun are pictured submitting the Digicel consortium bid proposal in Myanmar Burma yesterday.
Denis O'Brien (right) and Serge Pun are pictured submitting the Digicel consortium bid proposal in Myanmar Burma yesterday.
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

DIGICEL will invest almost $9bn (€7bn) in its Burma operation if a consortium involving the group is successful in a bid to secure a mobile licence in the country.

The consortium, which includes publicly owned Myanmar Burmese company YSH Finance and global investment fund Quantum Strategic Partners, wants to roll out a nationwide 4G mobile phone network in Burma by December.

It is vying against 10 other competitors for one of two licences being offered by the country, also known as Myanmar.

Backed by telecoms entrepreneur and Digicel founder Denis O’Brien, as well as billionaire businessmen George Soros and Serge Pun, the consortium has been preparing its Myanmar Burmese communications bid since 2009.

It already employs 893 people in the country and says 7,000 will be employed by the end of its first year if its bid is accepted.

This is the first time the newly democratic Myanmar Burma has offered such licences. Its low mobile phone penetration rate and population of 62 million means it offers attractive growth prospects to telecom firms.

A group including Vodafone and China Mobile pulled out of the race last week. The winners will be announced on June 27.

The Digicel consortium aims to cover 96pc of the population by the end of 2015, which it says will realise the Myanmar Burmese government’s objective of rapidly increasing mobile penetration and allowing citizens to choose their telecommunications provider. This will involve 7,000km of fibre optic cable and the setting up of 23,000 wi-fi hotspots as well as the world’s largest solar power project.

Mr O’Brien said $6.6bn (€5bn) of the total $9bn his organisation intends to invest will go directly to  MyanmarBurma. This will include free connectivity to hospitals, secondary schools, universities and libraries.

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