Ericsson will establish a presence in Myanmar in June, with the opening of a small office in Yangon.
In addition, Ericsson will collaborate with human rights stakeholders to assess both the human rights situation and the socioeconomic impact that telecommunications brings.
Myanmar is perhaps the country least touched by the tremendous developments in telecommunications of the last two decades. Today, 60% of the world’s population has a mobile subscription. However in Myanmar, with an estimated population of over 60 million, only around one million people today enjoy the benefits of a mobile telephone, and perhaps 400,000 have internet access.
In recent years many developing nations such as those in Africa and Asia have seen mobile telephony deliver benefits in accessibility of health services, education, provision of electricity, improved access to trade and employment and more. These are the benefits that could add to the positive momentum observed in Myanmar.
Although it is still early, international observers including the United Nations consider that there are real opportunities for positive and meaningful developments to improve the human rights situation and deepen the transition to democracy in Myanmar. The recent suspension of sanctions by the European Union marks the recognition of these positive developments.
“With a mobile penetration below two percent, Myanmar most likely has the least developed telecommunications services in the world,” says Ericsson Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Elaine Weidman Grunewald. "Telecommunications is on top of the agenda in Myanmar in order attract the much needed foreign investment. Myanmar needs foreign investment and trade in order to continue the positive progress in its socio-economic development."
Ericsson supports the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and The Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) initiative for applying human rights principles and standards within business activities in Myanmar based on a multi-stakeholder engagement process. The initiative will be based on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and will soon be launched in Myanmar, and we will support and play an active role here.
Mads Holst Jensen, the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR), says: "It is encouraging that companies like Ericsson are considering the human rights implications of their potential activities in Burma-Myanmar at such an early stage, and integrating them in their decision-making processes and assessment.
“We welcome their support for the Initiative we are developing involving businesses, governments, and civil society actors to promote the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as the basic building blocks of economic activity in Burma-Myanmar.”
Weidman Grunewald adds: “We strongly believe telecommunications can have a positive impact on people, economy and society in Myanmar, but we also recognize that it is essential that we conduct our business in a responsible way."
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