Ooredoo battles boycott call in Myanmar

Ooredoo faced a further challenge to its plan to launch services in Myanmar, as religious leaders called for consumers in the country to boycott the company.

Buddhist monks in Myanmar are calling on the public not to use Ooredoo's network because the company is headquartered in Qatar, where the majority of people follow Islam. The monks said Myanmar's government was wrong to issue a license to Ooredoo, and called for a boycott as part of a broader campaign to ensure the public only uses Buddhist shops and services, the Myanmar Times reported.

Ooredoo is currently building a 3G network in Myanmar and plans to launch commercial services in the third quarter, the newspaper added.

The call for a boycott is the latest hurdle for the company in Myanmar, coming after a long delay in the signing of its 15-year operating licence. Ooredoo and Telenor became the first non-domestic operators to win licences in the country in June 2013, however, the final licence award was delayed by nearly four months, and was eventually signed in January 2014.

A spokeswoman for Ooredoo predicted the company will quickly win over customers in Myanmar, as people become more familiar with the brand and its range of low-cost mobile services, the Times added.

Cynthia Gordon, chief digital services officer at Ooredoo, last week called Myanmar "the next telecoms frontier" during a keynote session at the TM Forum Live conference in France. The market presents a strong opportunity for Ooredoo and Telenor, with mobile penetration estimated to stand at around 10 per cent of the 60 million people in the country.

However, Gordon noted the figures may be inaccurate and that the company can't "take anything for granted" in the country.

Gordon also noted the company has a policy of hiring locals to run its business in its global markets--an approach that it carries through to the appointment of local CEOs, and which could prove key in overcoming the call to boycott the company.

For more:
- see this Myanmar Times article

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