Google’s globe-trotting Executive Eric Schmidt lands in Burma

 

Rangoon

Google’s globe-trotting Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt became the latest high-profile figure to endorse reforms in Burma on Friday as he touched down in Rangoon with the promise that the internet would transform the country.

Following a controversial trip to North Korea two months ago, Schmidt told IT entrepreneurs and students that the internet would mean newly won freedoms in Burma could not be reversed following half a century of military rule.

“I believe something extraordinary is going to happen in Myanmar [also known as Burma],” he said, speaking at an IT park near Rangoon’s university. “Your government has made an incredibly important political decision.”

Just a few years ago, Gmail was blocked in Burma and Google searches were heavily censored by filtering software. But following a sham general election at the end of 2010, the military has given itself safeguards in a new parliamentary system and the confidence to move away from day-to-day politics.

A year ago, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi won a landmark election and became a member of parliament paving the way for the removal of Western sanctions which barred the likes of Google from doing business here.

During his Friday speech, Schmidt announced a host of new Burma initiatives including a new local-language Google subdomain, the unblocking of Android Play apps as sanctions are eased and in the longer term, Google maps.

“For now, [Google’s] highest priority is getting more information into the country,” he said ahead of a meeting with President Thein Sein.

In the short time, Burma’s biggest challenge is to develop a dilapidated and woefully insufficient telecommunications infrastructure, said the Google chief.

Internet users in this country of 50 million-plus people are believed to number just a quarter of a million, while there are less than six million mobile subscribers, making Burma among the least connected nations in Asia.

The government has opened bidding for two new telecoms licenses as it aims to raise mobile phone ownership by more than eight-fold in just three years. But critics say it has failed to introduce legislation to protect what would be multi-billion-pound investments.

“The government has to make it possible for the private sector to build telecommunications infrastructure,” said Schmidt.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
film
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Extras
indybestSpice up your knife with our selection of delicious toppings
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Horticulture Lecturer / Tutor / Assessor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: As a result of our successf...

Retail Lecturer / Assessor / Tutor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are succ...

Business Studies Tutor / Assessor / Lecturer - Tollerton

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are succ...

ERP Business/ Implementation Analyst

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This is an e...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried