Mg Mg Kyaw can still remember the day he got his first mobile phone. It was 2012, and Myanmar was emerging from decades under the heel of a military junta. In a country where GDP per person was $1,000, sim cards, which sold for as much as $2,000, were like gold dust. Only North Korea had fewer mobile phones per person.
When a civilian government took power a decade ago, it ended pre-publication censorship and liberalised telecommunications. Mr Mg Mg Kyaw applied to the government to purchase a sim card, then in limited supply. He won the “lucky draw”, as he puts it, and shelled out 500,000 kyat ($387) for the chip. When he took his new phone to the university where he was a student, he was thronged by curious friends. “I felt like a star,” he says.