A new partnership between American networking giant CiscoSystems and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was presented by USAID’s administrator, Dr Rajiv Shah, at an information and communication technology fair at Yangon’s ICT Park on March 7.
The aim of the partnership is to provide information and communication skills training in an emerging information and communication technology (ICT) market. Cisco and USAID plan to open two Cisco Networking academies in Myanmar.
It has not yet been decided where or when the academies will be built, but Cisco has committed to donating networking equipment for labs in the academies and provided career skills training for up to 15 university faculty staff to support the program. Cisco has already established over 10,000 networking academies in 165 countries.
“Cisco has a long track record of supporting the development of emerging economies through education, and the Cisco Networking Academy program will equip students in the country with industry relevant skills for the 21st century workforce, as they transform their country and their communities,” said the regional director of Cisco’s Social Innovation Group in Asia Pacific, Sandy Walsh, in a press release dated March 7.
U Khun Oo, president of the Myanmar Computer Federation (MCF), said in the press release: “We welcome USAID’s interest in our country’s ICT sector. Opportunities like this will help pave the way for possible collaboration to promote greater innovation and entrepreneurship to transform our country’s future development.”
Dr Shah participated in the technology fair, hosted by the MCF, as part of his USAID mission to Myanmar from March 7 to 8. He met local entrepreneurs, industry leaders and students engaged in the country’s ICT sector.
“Myanmar’s internet penetration rate stands at about seven to eight percent. The global assumption is that this makes it very difficult to have vibrant aspirations in the ICT sector, but to see this work is very inspiring and I know the ICT sector here has a lot of potential,” Dr Shah said.
“Just last week, USAID helped facilitate a group of technology companies. We are now hearing from these companies that they are eager to commit to partnerships. Just so you can get a sense of how rapidly progress can be made, Cisco’s partnership was announced just a week after their visit to Myanmar,” he added.
It was also announced at the technology fair that other IT companies from the USAID-led delegation are already interested in forming local partnerships. The delegation explored a range of opportunities to help accelerate affordable access to the internet, strengthen transparent and efficient government and expand digital literacy.
HP, Intel and Microsoft are all eager to expand a range of partnerships, Dr Shah announced.
“These kinds of partnerships represent the future in developing real economic infrastructure and support that development. But I also think that there will be a lot of natural partnerships, which hopefully will emerge from this. We hope that as a part of the development, these partnerships will improve online access and online learning, but also create real business opportunities for the entrepreneurs in the country,” Dr Shah said at the fair.