Landscape analysis

Myanmar’s years of isolation meant that when opportunities were finally presented for expansion of the tech scene, they were taken up with great enthusiasm. With access to the Internet having been previously restricted to a select few, and the Internet being subject to censorship, a surprising number of urban youths developed the ability to circumvent such barriers. With those restrictions lifted, the tech space has expanded rapidly. This is particularly the case in the commercial capital of Yangon, where the main innovation hubs and initiatives are located.

However, programming directed at improving capacity does take place elsewhere in the country, but the major cities are still the destination of choice for anyone seeking a future in the tech sphere. Development organisations have prioritised inclusion initiatives, pushing for more women in tech. However, a pronounced gender disparity remains in much of the tech sphere.

While accessing the Internet has become infinitely more affordable in recent years, low incomes prevail across much of the country, limiting the ability of many young people to progress their skills. Digital literacy initiatives have been highlighted as crucial, particularly in the face of fake news and hate speech proliferating on data-privileged platforms like Facebook. This is something that has been championed by those working in tech, however the reach of such initiatives is often limited. The highest-profile one was Panzagar (Flower Speech), which allowed users to post digital stickers promoting peaceful, respectful and tolerant online dialogue.