The Use of Mobile Phones Among Trishaw Operators in Myanmar

Rich Ling, Elisa Oreglia, Rajiv Aricat, Chitra Panchapakesan, May O. Lwin

Abstract


This article examines use of mobile phones by trishaw (rickshaw) operators in the newly emerging techno-landscape of Myanmar. Trishaw operators transport people and goods in a physically demanding job that often earns them as little as US$2 per day. Spanning the period before and after the widespread commercialization of mobile phones in the country, this research draws from interviews with trishaw operators in several locations. With commercialization, the price of a mobile subscription fell from over US$1,500 to US$1.50, making it affordable to groups that heretofore have not had access. We find that the trishaw sector is changing because of this. The mobile phone strengthens ties with important clients, meaning a more stable income, but also an enhanced importance/power for these customers. Operators who have not adopted mobile phones, usually because of poverty, age, or a lack of interest, will likely have fewer business opportunities.


Keywords


mobile phones, Myanmar, trishaws, microenterprise

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