It’s a Saturday afternoon and Ye Lin Aung has been holed up in an office all night. He and a group of friends have been working through the night on a mobile app that would help farmers to protect their crops.
They are competing in Myanmar‘s first-ever hackathon, a 48-hour contest to create tech-based solutions for some of the country’s pressing development challenges.
Ye Lin Aung, a software engineer, and the other members of team NilBug have carved out a workspace among the other hackers. Their cluster of tables is partitioned by whiteboards that are scrawled with notes on the app’s functions and reminders for the developers. Other groups have similar set-ups, and a ready supply of Red Bull and Nescafé instant coffee.
It would be a familiar scene in San Francisco or New York. But not so Myanmar, a country where a slim segment of the population has access to phones and the vast majority of people have never been online.