The UK Department for International Development (DFID)’s Director General for Economic Development, Mr David Kennedy, visited Yangon and Naypyidaw,on 26 and 27 September, to investigate how the UK can best support the government with urbanisation, the British Embassy to Myanmar said in a statement on 28 September.
The UK is looking to scale up its existing support of urban planning and infrastructure to ensure that as well as providing economic opportunities, Myanmar cities are also good places to live. The UK wants to do so in coordination with other Development Partners, the statement said.
On Monday, Mr Kennedy visited the Hlaing Thayar industrial zone to witness the growth of Yangon’s manufacturing sector and see first-hand some of the rising urban challenges. He visited a garment factory where DFID funding is helping to improve management capability to raise output and make it a better place to work. In the afternoon Mr Kennedy chaired a roundtable discussion amongst leading development partners working on infrastructure to discuss the technical and institutional constraints the sector faces and how development partners can work together with government to address them.
On Tuesday Mr Kennedy visited the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) with the International Growth Centre (IGC) to meet the management committee and regional investors. The IGC, funded by DFID, are working with the government to evaluate the first phase of the Thilawa SEZ so as to learn how to get the most out of SEZs for the people of Burma.
Later that day, Mr Kennedy launched DFID’s new DaNa Facility with U Aung NaingOo, Director General of Directorate of Investment and Company Administration. The DaNa Facility is a £25m 5-year DFID-funded aid programme, focused on the pursuit of inclusive economic growth in Burma, which will provide support for responsible business growth, investment and trade.
Mr Kennedy also met with Yangon Chief Minister, U Phyo Min Thein, to follow on conversations they had during the Minister’s recent visit to the UK. They discussed the challenges involved in upgrading industrial zones, providing affordable housing and ensuring reliable access to electricity.
Speaking at the end of his visit, David Kennedy said, “I’m pleased that DFID’s work is already providing support for this country to address urbanisation challenges. While my visit focused on only two of this country’s largest cities, the UK will look to support other places too. Towns and smaller cities, such as Pathein, have the potential to grow to become more important commercial hubs. Getting their planning and infrastructure right now, before unplanned urban sprawl takes over, can have a huge payoff in the future.”