Vietnam’s military-run Viettel group’s international investment arm is to invest in a telecommunications network project in Myanmar.
Viettel Global will cooperate with companies in Myanmar to establish Viettel Myanmar for the investment.
The decision came after a Viettel Global’s shareholders’ meeting last week, Vietnamese media reported.
The total investment of the project is expected to be $ 1.8 billion. Viettel Global will put in about $800 million, while the rest will be borne by its foreign partners.
Viettel Global has previously invested in eight countries, including five operational projects in Cambodia, Laos, Haiti, Mozambique and East Timor. Three other projects in Burundi, Cameroon and Tanzania are expected to go into operation soon. Network Bitel run by Viettel Peru, owned directly by Viettel Global, went into operation in October this year.
In 2013, Myanmar opened up its telecoms sector, which was monopolised by the state-run Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), and invited foreign telecoms firms to bid for two telecoms licences. Qatar’s Ooredoo and Norway’s Telenor were selected out of 91 candidates, which included Viettel.
Despite a failed bid, Viettel then said it might cooperate with Telenor and Ooredoo in joint investment projects in Myanmar’s telecom sector.
Myanmar’s mobile phone penetration rate is one of the lowest in Asia, although the rate is rising rapidly thanks to the new operators. At the end of second quarter of this year the total number of mobile users has reached 6.5 million users, about 13 percent of the population.
Mobile penetration rate is the highest in the capital Naypyitaw (32.2 percent), while in Yangon it’s 25.3 percent, and in Mandalay 11.7 percent. The rest of the country’s mobile penetration rate is only 5.2 percent on average. 3G penetration rate is much lower, only 3.7 percent and the density of internet users as of May reached 4.8 percent.