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File pictures of farmers working in a field in Irrawaddy Division, Myanmar. Photo: Hong Sar / Mizzima

According to the United Nations Population Division, the country’s rural population makes up more than 66 percent of the total, much higher than the world average of 49.5%. Many are farmers who have suffered from the years of sanctions. But amid growing foreign investment, the government now plans to put more tools into their hands to improve the country’s economic future. Roee Ruttenberg reports.

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The education sector has made progress in recent years, especially in primary education. However, post-primary education is still lagging behind with net enrollment estimates for secondary education ranging from 53% to 58%. (Photo: ADB)

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide  $225,000 in order to facilitate participation of civil societies in Myanmar in the implementation of strategies and projects which are being carried out with financial support from ADB.

The announcement states that the grant aims to invite civil societies to collaborate in drafting and discussions on development strategies which are supported by ADB.

“It is a rare opportunity to have various civil societies cooperate in drafting strategies and discussion projects that are financially supported by ADB. We have followed examples of other countries while drafting the strategies to ease the difficulties when businesses start launching in Myanmar”, said a specialist from the South East Asia Department for Civil Society from ADB.

ADB provided $5.4 million to amend the Electronic Act, handle the unprecedented number of tourists in January 2012, and evaluate post-elementary education. In Myanmar, Grade 1 to 5 is termed as Elementary level and the post-primary education indicate a combination of primary level with one or two secondary levels such as  Grade 6 and Grade 7.

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Ross Cormack talks to the media during a press conference at Park Royal in Yangon on August 16, 2013. (Photo: Hein Htet / Mizzima)

Ross Cormack, the Senior Representative of Ooredoo in Myanmar said that the company will spend $60 million within 10 years on social development projects in Myanmar. Ooredoo, based in Qatar won one of the two tenders for telecom licenses on June 27. The other was won by the Norwegian firm Telenor.

The announcement was made at a press conference held in August at the Park Royal Hotel, Yangon.

Besides ensuring development of the communication sector, they will impart education and vocational training to Myanmar students. They will also promote development of health care.

Ross Cormack said. "To show our commitment to the social environment, last week we have requested permission from the Ministry of Relief and Resettlement to allow us to support flood victims. We will carry out initiatives for the development of the social environment and implement the commitments that we have made.”

Ooredoo will provide services in business sectors and mobile finance services for social development, mobile health services, agriculture and farming sectors.  

Ooredo will also provide employment opportunities. 99 percent of their staff will be Myanmar nationals. Ooredoo will facilitate growth of local businesses, link job opportunities for youths, support capacity building endeavors for women and assist in the development of innovative ventures.

Project Director U Aung Thu Ra said that the Chief Strategy Officer of Ooredoo, Jeremy Sell has signed a MoU with the Yadanar Ayar in May, in order to carry out educational development projects. The Yadnar Ayar is an association focused on rural development and will work as Ooredoo Group's local operator.

 Ooredo  have been providing services to over 90 million users in middle east, North Africa and Southeast Asia.

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China and Myanmar agreed to enhance technological exchange and cooperation between the two countries on August 9.

Chinese Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang and his Myanmar counterpart Dr. Ko Ko Oo signed minutes on enhancing technological exchange and cooperation.

Wan said in September last year, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) launched a science and technological cooperation partnership plan. Having scored rapid development in the science and technological sector, China is willing to share the achievement with ASEAN countries including Myanmar.

He hopes that China's achievement in the field could benefit peoples of China and Myanmar.

He expressed China's wishes to enhance cooperation with Myanmar through establishment of joint laboratory and remote sensing satellite data sharing and service platform, inviting talented young Myanmar scientists to undergo short-term research and training in China and the establishment of China-ASEAN technology transfer center.

At the meeting, Ko Ko Oo thanked China for the assistance provided to Myanmar in the technological field, saying that the assistance contributes not only to the raising of the level of Myanmar's technology and the socio-economic development but also to the enhancement of friendship between scientists and peoples of the two countries.
     
Following the meeting, the China Center for Resources Satellite Data Application  (CRESDA) and Mandalay Technological University (MTU) under respective ministries also signed a letter of intent on MTU's use of the data from the CBS-03 satellite in Myanmar.

Under the letter of intent, CRESDA will provide a set of Client Terminal hardware with software for MTU to access, download, use and distribute data from CBERS-03 satellite.

The two parties also agreed to carry out demonstration application projects in such fields as coastal zone management, water resources management, land use or land cover mapping, change detection analysis and agricultural management.

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File picture of Lapadaung copper mine in Saigang Region, Myanmar. Photo: Mizzima

Myanmar President's Office Minister U Hla Tun has called on local people in a copper mine project area to take collaborative and constructive attitude to ensure sustainable benefit of the work for their own region, official media reported Monday.

Addressing representatives from 33 villages in the project area, U Hla Tun, who is Chairman of the Committee for Implementation of the Probe Panel's Report on Latpadaungtaung Copper Mine Project, stressed the need for resumption of the copper mine project as soon as possible in a transparent manner for the sake of the country and the people.

He also underscored the need to catch up with other countries in development and attracting foreign investment.

He vowed to ensure job creation and bring benefit of the project to local people,adding that works are underway for environmental conservation.

Construction work on the Latpadaungtaung copper mine project in Monywa in northwest  Myanmar's Sagaing region is to resume under a revised contract signed on July 24 by the state-owned Myanmar Mining Enterprise, Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd and China's Wanbao Mining Ltd.

Under the new contract, the profit sharing ratio between the Myanmar Mining Enterprise, Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd and Wanbao Mining Ltd was changed to 51:19:30.

In addition, Myanmar Mine Enterprise will levy 5 million U.S. dollars on Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd, while Wanbao company will invest 2 million dollars annually for mine reclamation by opening escrow account with Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank and also invest 1 million dollars annually for corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Besides, all the investors will use 2 percent of the net profit for CSR as of running of the project.

The implementation committee was formed shortly after the final report of investigation into the controversial copper mine project was released by the probe panel led by opposition leader and parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi on March 12, proposing that the project should go on as the best choice for the economic benefit of the nation and the people.

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The Canadian International Development Aid Agency (CIDA) has pledged a total of US$4.2 million in humanitarian aid to causes in Myanmar.

At the All Burma Ethnic Cultural Event on June 8, Oxfam Canada, UNICEF and several other charities were allocated funds from the package towards their respective humanitarian efforts in the Southeast Asian country.

"Despite some recent positive political developments in Burma [Myanmar], the humanitarian situation in many border areas of the country remains very difficult," said Canadian Minister of State Tim Uppal in a statement following the event.

"Canada’s support will help to ensure that life-saving humanitarian assistance including food, water, shelter and protection is provided to the most vulnerable people affected by the conflict," he said.

The aid packages will go towards food, education, training, sanitation and basic supplies for IDPs across Rakhine, Kachin and Myanmar’s southernmost states.

"I would like to convey my heartfelt appreciation to the Government of Canada for Canada’s commitment in providing crucial humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable people in Burma’s ethnic regions," said Zaw Kyaw, spokesperson for the Burma Ethnic Network-Canada.

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This article was amended on June 11, 2013.