IT in Myanmar
Yangon's digital spring
An isolated country gradually goes online
WHERE did BarCamp, a get-together of tech geeks (pictured), recently hold its biggest event since its founding in Silicon Valley seven years ago?
Not San Jose, nor Bangalore, nor even Singapore.
On February 11th more than 5,000 developers and bloggers gathered in Yangon, the main city of Myanmar, one of the world's most tech-starved places.
The star speaker was the country's opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
本次集会的著名发言者是缅甸反对党领袖Aung San Suu Kyi（昂山素姬）。
Myanmar's government continues to surprise the world with its new-found tolerance for change.
Its apparent willingness to nurture a fledgling IT sector is no exception.
Myanmar has lowered its firewalls, opening access to social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
People can read international newspapers online or chat with family abroad via Skype.
Sponsors of BarCamp included the telecommunications ministry.
Though the government now acknowledges the importance of an IT industry for economic development, much work remains.
Few people in Myanmar own computers and only a handful can afford the sort of connectivity that is commonplace elsewhere.
Setting up an internet connection costs $850, and monthly packages range between $40 and $150.
A SIM card for a mobile phone will set you back $700.
Yet demand for IT is soaring.
Firms from Asia and the West are paying unofficial visits, and local companies are scrambling to become their partners.
The government faces a barrage of proposals on how to lower the cost of mobile phones and how to build data centres to compete with those in India and the Philippines.
A call centre was recently established, and there are even online-shopping sites in the works.
Transactions online are widely expected to start this year: the infrastructure is ready and a payment union has been formed.
Yet despite these encouraging signs of liberalisation, no one expects Myanmar's cyber-awakening to progress at broadband speed.