Sustainability in Myanmar

On August 19, Telenor Group gave an update on sustainability in Myanmar, a briefing open to media, NGOs, investors and the public. The presentation focused on six sustainability risk areas – institutional capacity, legal framework, corruption, land rights, ethnic conflicts and HSSE – that Telenor identified back in February, when the license agreement was formally signed. Ensuring sustainable business is an important part of all of Telenor’s activities in Myanmar, as well as in all of our markets globally.

Telenor Group’s CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas and Telenor Myanmar CEO Petter B. Furberg presented this update.


Due to technical difficulties during today’s Myanmar sustainability update, which hindered online questions from being received, we hereby publish today’s online questions and Telenor’s answers to these. See below.


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Sustainability in Myanmar, PDF 3.49 MB

Audio file

Sustainability in Myanmar, MP3 9.87 MB


Transcript 2013832 Telenor ASA 19 08 14, DOC 101 KB

Online questions and Telenor’s answers

Cynthia Wong, Human Rights Watch: Thank you for the very useful presentation. One question related to the legal framework: have you had any discussions with the government regarding past or future Internet filtering or blocking requirements? Also, given the 2007 network shutdown, have there been discussions about safeguards against demands for large scale shutdowns?
Telenor answers: Telenor Group’s policies address these issues and seek to put in place routines for professional handling and response to government requests of this nature.

The new Telecommunication Law puts in place the obligation for operators to provide Lawful Interception for matters concerning national defence, national security or public interest, and the right of Government to close down the mobile networks for a public emergency.

As said during the presentation the rules and regulations have not been drafted yet. It is in everybody’s interest that well-balanced regulations on authority requests of this nature are passed, providing clear processes and checks and balances. A public consultation has been promised and will be open to all.  We encourage civil society and other stakeholders to make their views known.

Marta, Brandeis University: What are the Child Safety measurements that you consider to put in place in relation to Child Mobile and Internet Safety Protection?

Telenor answers: Telenor Group has a clear policy and several initiatives to protect children online which we plan to implement over time in Myanmar.

Jan Wiberg, Ericsson: It was mentioned in the presentation that Telenor have drawn from its experiences in Asia and hence chosen to “outsource extensively”. Can you please clarify how you see this approach supporting your ambitions/targets within sustainability?

Telenor answers: We don’t see a conflict between our outsourcing and our ambitions with regards to sustainability. Our suppliers need to adhere to our Supplier Conduct Principles and we follow up systematically. We also believe that using local companies contributes to building capacity in Myanmar.

Antonio Pelegrina, unknown: Thank you for the presentation.

Telenor answers: Thank you for joining the webcast.

Jon, Access: What regulations do you have to protect user privacy, and to address SIM card / real name registration policies?

Telenor answers: Our group-wide policies and processes on privacy also apply in Myanmar.

The customer registration process for SIM is regulated by the telecom regulator, and includes name, address and ID number.

Coziana, EIRIS Conflict Risk Network: How do you plan to publicly report on your efforts in Myanmar especially on mitigating actions on the risks you identified, how often and would this be part of a separate’ section of your website dedicated to your business in Myanamar? 2. What efforts are you currently undertaking to engage with civil society in Myanmar?

Telenor answers: This update is an example of how we would like to report going forward. Our intention is to be transparent and remain open. Reporting on sustainability in Myanmar will also be part of the annual Telenor Group Sustainability reporting.

We engage extensively with civil society in Myanmar, including dialogue with NGOs. As we mentioned in the presentation, we have also a unique and extensive Community Outreach programme which so far has engaged with 17293 people.

Joseph Waring, GSMA/Mobile World Live: Given that MPT has 2000 base stations and strong local connections, how much of an advantage does the incumbent have over the two foreign players in secure land rights and permits?

Telenor answers: We do not as a rule comment on competition.

This is a market question and this briefing is only to cover sustainability updates.

Tom Kraeutler, Conflict Risk Network: Military presence throughout the country by the Myanmar Army is a huge problem. The Army has consistently been accused of human rights violations, forced labour and land grabs. Has Telenor interacted with the Army, or have any policy regarding its interactions with the Army avoid complacency in human rights violations?

Telenor answers: We realized early in our operation that each of the States have, to an extent, a self-governed structure.

In order to successfully build our tower and distribution network to deliver on our commitment, we have to foster dialogue and work with both the Government as well as the both the army and armed and non-armed ethnic groups in the States. This is fundamental to reach 90 percent within 5 years and is recognized by our stakeholders.

In all conflict areas we have dialogue with all concerned parties and our State Liaison Officers (SLOs) engage extensively with stakeholders.

We continuously carry out risk evaluations and have guidelines for how we act in these areas, and human rights due diligence is part of our Group-wide policies.

Peter, Access: You’ve chosen Huawei, a Chinese telecom, as a partner in Myanmar. Have you assessed Huawei policies, and whether they’re compatible with yours, especially those on privacy and data security? Have you reached out to civil society groups as part of due diligence? Which groups?

Telenor answers: Like any supplier to Telenor, Huawei will have to follow our Supplier Conduct Principles, which includes respect for human rights. In all product areas Huawei will deliver technical equipment to our specifications.

In terms of our internal processes for handling Lawful Interception requests, we will not initiate Lawful Interception until the overall regulation is in place. This is with the support of the Regulator.

We generally have an extensive dialogue with civil society.

Scott Remborg, unknown: Can you talk about the challenges related to lack of electricity in may parts of the country? Both for Telenor as provider and for the consumer – how do they get their phones charged! What % of the population is without power?

Telenor answers: Lack of electricity is a challenge primarily for powering our base stations. They will be partly powered by grid, diesel and to some extent solar.

We believe that most customers will find ways of charging wherever they live. This is our experience from rural areas in other markets where we operate.

Jon, Access:Telenor’s subsidiary in Thailand was recently forced to shut down access to Facebook temporarily. How will you maintain transparency and free expression if under similar pressure in Myanmar?

Telenor answers: Telenor Groups approach is to be open and transparent about requests of this nature.

Alix Chosson, Standard Life: What kind of protection shall be given to privacy and freedom of expression in the new Telecom framework?

Telenor answers: As we said in the presentation, it is in everybody’s interest that well-balanced regulations on lawful interception are passed, providing clear processes and checks and balances. A public consultation has been promised and will be open to all.  We encourage civil society and other stakeholders to make their views known, and not just leave this to the operators.

Peter, Access: I’d like to ask about transparency and privacy. Will you publicly reveal all government requests for user data on your network, and your compliance rates?

Telenor answers: This update is an example of how we would like to report going forward. Our intention is to be transparent and remain open. Reporting on sustainability in Myanmar will also be part of the annual Telenor Group Sustainability reporting.

Alix Chosson, Standard Life: how do you promote access to grievance mechanisms and remedy in a country lacking judicial capabilities? other kind of complaint mechanisms than phone and internet as most of local population is not connected? what about identification and dialogue with vulnerable groups?

Telenor answers: In addition to our grievance hotline our extensive Community Outreach programme with State Liaison Officers (SLOs) provides a direct link between the communities and Telenor where we welcome opinions, feedback and grievances. So far we have conducted more than 400 meetings and reached 17293 people in the ethnic states.

San Dhillon, RBC Capital Markets: Could you provide some colour on the ‘backers’/potential international partners to the two domestic license holders? Do you foresee the market becoming a fully fledged 4 player market?

Telenor answers: We have always foreseen that Myanmar over time could become a four player market.

Hanna Helsingen, unknown: Very interested in learning more about Telenor’s sustainability work in Myanmar. Unfortunately. impossible to watch webcast from Myanmar due to poor internet, Will a video from the presentation be made available as well in addition to the PDF presentation? Thanks, Hanna

Telenor answers: Yes.

Telenor Group CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas and Telenor Myanmar CEO Petter Furberg presented the update today. The presentation covered Telenor Group’s work on sustainability in Myanmar, and did not focus on the business case.