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Analysts hail Burma's untapped IT goldmine

Tech firms will be queuing up for Asia's 'unpolished gem'

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Forget China, Burma could be the next big growth market for IT investors as long as the country continues its political and social reforms, according to IDC.

The analyst’s latest report, Myanmar ICT Market 2012–2016 Forecast and Analysis, predicts 15 per cent year-on-year growth in IT spending this year, with the market reaching $268.45m (£172.9m) by 2016 as IT propels the country’s re-integration into the global economy.

IDC highlighted telecoms infrastructure and the rather vague “business investments in IT” as the two main growth areas in the industry, with the leading verticals predicted to be government, utility and energy, financial services, hospitality, and media.

When it comes to telecoms, however, those multinational IT firms looking to secure first-mover advantage in the country will have to wait until the government passes new laws allowing foreign investment, the report claimed.

Continued political reform and the relaxing of media censorship will also be crucial in spurring businesses on to improve their processes and consumers to adopt new technologies, said IDC.

The overwhelming opportunities in Burma will come in hardware, with the category accounting for 87 per cent of IT spend in 2011, according to the analyst.

Lam Nguyen, IDC director for Indochina, told The Reg that mobile devices, PC and PC accessories, peripherals and network equipment are all likely to see strong growth.

The once-closed nation also has the potential to be a serious offshoring destination for manufacturing, like its near neighbour Vietnam, “due to its greenfield, low-cost and young labour force”, he added.

“The country needs to invest the labour force with strong soft skills and vocational training in order to realise its potential,” said Nguyen.

One country keen to get its hooks into Burma will be China, whose government, technology firms and other businesses have already invested billions into Africa over the years, for partly economic, partly political reasons.

In fact, never one to worry too much about human rights violations or international sanctions, China has been investing large sums into Burma for years, focused mainly on tapping its energy and natural resources for use back home.

The likes of Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo and others will certainly be queuing up to have a crack now the country's international exile finally appears to be over. ®

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