On November 20, Economist Corporate Network and Baker McKenzie produced “ B u i l d i n g M y a n m a r : Bridging the Infrastructure Gap” report. According to the report, Myanmar’s positive economic trajectory will be challenged by a massive infrastructure need that the government does not have the resources to meet alone. According to the report, while Myanmar’s economic growth is predicted to continue to sit above an average of 7% for several years to come, sustaining such growth will depend on massive investment from the government, Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and the private sector. If it is not forthcoming, the growing infrastructure gap could put the brakes on Myanmar’s economy. Report also claimed that there are still huge opportunities for those investors with the patience and understanding to back infrastructure development in Myanmar, with healthy returns on offer. The nation has a large population, rich natural resources and a youthful labour force, emerging after decades of relative isolation.
In addition, Myanmar is at the intersection of two of the world’s most important emerging markets, China and India. With Myanmar central to China’s Belt and Road ambitions, including the development of a ChinaMyanmar-Bangladesh-India trade corridor, partnering on Myanmar infrastructure development is also a gateway into the Belt and Road Initiative, particularly for non-Chinese firms, the report continued. The Myanmar government is pushing to increase the pace in which the country’s infrastructure needs are addressed, particularly around power, water and transport, and officials are increasingly seeking foreign investors to support this push.
The report stated one infrastructure bright spot for Myanmar, its telecoms sector. Prior to the reform period, Myanmar had one of the world’s lowest rates of connectivity, with very limited internet access and active SIM cards measured in the thousands. This has changed virtually overnight and Myanmar now has more than 50 million active SIM cards, as well as the region’s fastest mobile internet speeds.