A new technology initiative, Code for Change Myanmar, was launched last week in Yangon in a bid to help the technology community in Myanmar tackle some of the key challenges facing the country.
Internews, an international NGO that fosters independent media and access to information worldwide, is supporting the event, along with one of Myanmar’s telecom licence winners Ooredoo Myanmar, the World Bank, and Singtech Myanmar, an affordable mobile device maker, the companies said in a joint statement.
“Myanmar is on the cusp of a revolution in connectivity. This creates great opportunities to use technology to improve people’s lives,” David Madden, founder of Code for Change Myanmar and Senior Strategy Advisor of Internews, said.
He said the purpose of “Code for Change Myanmar” is to “help the technology community here use its skills and talents to solve practical problems in Myanmar.”
Code for Change Myanmar’s first event is a “hackathon” which will be held on 15-16 March 2014 in Yangon. Hackathons are common events in technology companies and communities elsewhere in the world, but this will be the first hackathon ever to be held in Myanmar, Madden said.
“The event will bring together developers, designers and entrepreneurs together for 48 hours to develop solutions to problems that have been submitted by civil society organisations.”
Code for Change Myanmar called on members of the technology community to apply to participate and on NGOs and CSOs to submit problems for the technology community to tackle.
Ko Thar Htet, CEO of local technology company Zwenexsys International Ltd and an advisor to Code for Change Myanmar, said: “Hackathons are a great way to learn new skills, work with other talented developers and build cool products. I encourage all developers to apply to be part of this.”
Debbie Aung Din, co-founder of Proximity Designs, one of the Myanmar NGOs submitting a problem to the hackathon, said the initiative is a “great opportunity to work with Myanmar’s technology community” on projects with real social impact.
“We would encourage other NGOs and CSOs to submit specific social problems for the hackathon and see what innovations the tech community develops to address them.”
Applications to participate in the hackathon or to submit a problem, as well as additional information can be found at Code For Change Myanmar website or facebook fanpage.
The deadline to apply to participate or to submit a problem is February 28.
CEO of Ooredoo Myanmar Ross Cormack said: “Our industry has two major challenges in the upcoming period. We need to make sure that the benefits of mobile broadband technology are available to as many people as possible. We need to work together with government, operators, NGOs, and device manufacturers to boost affordability, improve network access and improve the customer experience.
“At the same time, we need to do a better job of shaping the future, rather than responding to it. We need to be active investors in new ideas, new thinking and new approaches that will help our customers in their daily lives.”
Tenzin Norbhu, the World Bank’s Senior ICT Policy Specialist, said: “We’ve seen around the world how technology can be used to lift people’s lives out of poverty. We hope this event can show the potential for technology to help with development in Myanmar.”