Telecoms firm Ooredoo, formerly known as Qatar Telecom, has won a licence to start operations in Myanmar, the company announced on 27 June.

“Ooredoo will now enter into further negotiations with the government to agree upon the details of the licence.  As soon as these discussions are concluded satisfactorily, Ooredoo will implement its network roll-out strategy,” it said in a statement.

Myanmar currently has limited access to telecoms services, with around 10 per cent of the population using mobile phones. Coverage by Ooredoo could help increase numbers.

However, the company’s bid win – one of two foreign licences the government awarded – has been met with criticism by locals who on social media networks criticised the decision of giving the licence to an Arab company. Violence against Myanmar’s Muslim minority is still an issue in the country, and so far has led to more than 250 people being killed across the country and boycotts of Muslim businesses.

Ooredoo has been expanding its network in Southeast Asia over the past few years. It is a majority shareholder of Indosat, the Indonesian fixed and mobile communications services provider and an investor in Starhub, an integrated communications provider in Singapore. It is also invested in fixed and mobile network provider LTC in Laos and operates a broadband network provider with operations in Pakistan and the Philippines.

In the Mena region, Ooredoo has been eyeing the acquisition of French telecoms firm Vivendi’s stake in Maroc Telecom, but withdrew its offer in June.