In April this year, Norwegian telecoms company Telenor signed a 5-year contract with Ericsson, a Swedish telecommunications equipment firm, as Telenor’s network distribution supplier and for multivendor managed services (link). Earlier in January, Telenor was one of two foreign companies (the other being Ooredoo) awarded with highly coveted government licenses to operate communications networks throughout Burma (link). Telenor is reportedly building a 2G and 3G network to cover 90% of the country’s population (link).
This morning, I came across a series of 8 documentary shorts produced by Ericsson. They’re filmed as first person interviews of locals working in various sectors, ranging from transportation to education, tourism to cottage industries like parasol production. Some of them are quite fascinating, even if it does gloss over many of the complex challenges facing Burma today. All the shorts are subbed, so there’s none of the ridiculous English dubbing either.
It’s hard to ignore the marketing rationale behind these shorts. Ericsson is showcasing how wiring Burma will bring bountiful benefits to the Burmese locals and how much of a demand there is for sound telecoms infrastructure. There are even cameo interviews with some Ericsson executives like Johan Adler, Chairman of Myanmar Ericsson. If you’d like to watch them all in one go, the entire documentary is available on Youtube (40 min). At 31:56, there’s an additional interview with Thiha Aye Kyaw (@frozencity), an Android app developer known for the Zawgyi keyboard app, Frozen Keyboard and Pyae Phyo Aung, an internet cafe owner.
Without further ado, here they are:
“Educating Thanda” (5:02)
Features Khin Saw Shwe, principal of a high school in North Okkalapa Township, a suburb of Rangoon, Thanda, an eighth grader, and chief abbot of the Pyin Oo Lwin Monastery, Sayadaw U Gewala.
“Discovering Bagan” (4:38)
Features Thant Zaw Aung and Thu Thu Zin, owners of Bibo Bar & Bistro in Nyaung U (Currently ranked #3 of 15 restaurants in Nyaung U, according to Trip Advisor.) Also interviews Zaw Lin Htut, a senior GM at KBZ Bank (Kambawza).
“A bright future for Pathein’s parasols” (4:04)
Features Min Naing, manager of Shwe Zar , a century old family run Bassein-based parasol manufacturer, and Than Than Htay, an umbrella maker.
“A brave new world for artists” (4:11)
Features Zwe Yan Naing and Zwe Mon, artists known for their money collage art, whose subjects are Burmese political figures composed with Burmese banknotes.
“A midwife’s story” (5:33)
Features Daw Hla Saw Oo, who works as a midwife in Labutta district, near the mouth of the Irrawaddy River.
“On the Road with Maung” (3:39)
Features Htun Wunna manager of the Yangon-Pyay Trucking Company and Maung Zaw, a truck driver.
“Media comes of age” (4:51)
“Raising labor standards” (5:33)
Features Phyo Sandar La of Federation of Trade Unions – Myanmar, Ross Wilson of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and Su Mon Aung, a tea plantation worker.