A week ago Norway held a business summit in Yangon as well as in Bangkok. Both Thailand and Myanmar are key members of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which will begin activation in 2015. The summits highlight opportunities as well as indicate the different challenges investors face in both countries. Telenor, Statoil and Yara are major Norwegian companies currently doing business in ASEAN countries. In particular, Telenor was previously awarded a concession (as was Ooredoo of Qatar) by the Myanmar government to build out the mobile phone business in Myanmar. Only 5.4 million out of almost 60 million people in Myanmar presently hold mobile subscriptions. Myanmar is keen to increase the population owning a telephone to 75-80 % by 2016.
Interestingly, there are more people in Myanmar holding mobile phone subscriptions than the entire population of Norway (which was 5.1 million as of 2012). However small, Norway may be a good role model for Myanmar. Norway ranked 4th highest in the world in per capita income and consistently ranked the highest over several past years as the world’s most democratic country by the Democracy Index.