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The small Southeast Asian country of Myanmar, also called Burma, is embarking on an ambitious program of economic and social reform, and the energy sector will be critical to this transformation.
Although just 26 percent of Myanmar’s population has access to electricity, reforms are paving the way for a new era for the energy sector as it faces the challenge of meeting increasing domestic demand from a growing population and industrialization.
We collaborated with the Asian Development Bank to produce this New Energy Architecture report, analyzing the challenges facing Myanmar’s energy sector today and assessing how future reforms and trends can be managed to support domestic energy demands and wider economic development.
New Energy Architecture: Myanmar Report 2013In a new report by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Accenture and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), energy is seen as central to Myanmar’s re-entry into the global economic system, not only because Myanmar holds significant reserves of oil and natural gas, but also because the development of the sector will require a major transformation of the basic institutions and infrastructure that will underpin the country’s future economic growth.
Download the executive summary
In order to build a New Energy Architecture for Myanmar, the New Energy Architecture: Myanmar report presents a three-pronged framework it calls the ‘energy triangle’.
Current Challenges and a Framework for Solution
The energy triangle offers up three essential requirements that energy policies must achieve in order to balance the myriad of competing interests in countries’ energy sectors. These are:
Economic growth and development – energy policies must support the underlying growth of an economy
Sustainability – policies must implement strategies for long-term, clean energy supplies
Access and security – policies must ensure that energy is available across the country
If Myanmar is to grow its energy sector sustainably, it should improve transparency across its institutions. Myanmar currently ranks 172nd out of 176 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.
Developing robust and effective institutions
The Government is making good progress here and has already declared its intention to sign up to the Extractive Industries’ Transparency Initiative (EITI), and is currently being supported by the World Bank and Australian Government in its bid to do so.
To improve access to electricity in rural areas, it is essential to extend the national grid and improve maintenance. Transport is another area for focus.
Establishing the infrastructure to cope with transformation in the energy sector
At present the road network in Myanmar covers just less than 81 miles (130,000km), a low density compared to its regional counterparts. Only 18 out of every 1,000 people own cars—a figure that is at least 10 times higher among its neighbors. However, as with the steep and rising trend for energy demand in Myanmar, the level of car ownership has exploded in recent years, indicating the country’s readiness for widespread investment in transport networks.
Reforming this situation requires comprehensive national electrification and transport planning, accounting for population projections, creating zones for industrial and commercial centers, investing heavily in railway development and exploring options for off grid solutions, as well as micro-grids that can be linked to the national system at a later date.
By developing basic institutions and infrastructure as the first step of an integrated energy policy, the Myanmar Government can equip itself with the necessary tools to manage the direction and pace of their new energy architecture.
This capability will prove crucial to Myanmar’s long-term development, since sometimes competing factors and interests between key stakeholders in the energy industry will need to be managed.
Moving Toward a New Energy Architecture
By focusing on these fundamental pillars of industry now, the Government will help to put Myanmar on the path to sustainable and secure economic growth, bolstered by its energy industry, for years to come.
June 3, 2013
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