Bhutan on its way to technological advancement

The ever-friendly relations between Bhutan and India are touching new heights as India has been consistently supporting Bhutan in its efforts to establish a digital infrastructure. The government of India recently announced that it is going to help Bhutan in building its third international internet gateway.

Embassy of India in Bhutan stated that government will facilitate a concessional rate to reduce the cost of the gateway’s operation. This new initiative is a part of the expanding India – Bhutan digital collaboration. India is collaborating with Bhutan on various technology initiatives. An optical fibre backbone has been provided at the village level across all 20 districts of Bhutan under Bhutan’s flagship programme ‘ Digital Drukul’.

Bhutan’s third internet gateway would supposedly enhance internet bandwidth, connect remote pockets of the country and lower the cost of internet connectivity for users. Bhutan’s ICT policy (2009) is committed to using ICT for good governance, creating a great information culture, and a high-tech habitat. To realise this goal, the Bhutan government is constantly working with its counterparts in India.

Indian Embassy had earlier organised a technology roundtable with Bhutan’s leading technology and innovation experts to discuss various ways to enhance cooperation in the digital technology sector. The roundtable witnessed the participation of representatives from the De-Sung skilling programme, the royal society from STEM, The Royal Government of Bhutan, Thimphu tech part Ltd, Govetech agency and several other civil society organizations and various private sector tech companies in Bhutan, indicating an interest for collaboration with India.

During the Covid pandemic, the Bhutan government launched the G2B digital government portal using UNCTAD’s customizable digital platform. The platform created by the civil servants was highly praised and was described as a ground-breaking piece of software that earned Bhutan a reorganization as the ‘fastest place in the world to start a new business’. Now, the digitization of the country will go on and it would help small businesses, 90 per cent of which are cottage industries. This technology will help both consumers and micro enterprisers find each other and deliver a better business experience.

The goal of our technology is to ease friction,” says Frank Grozel, who heads UNCTAD’s digital government platform programme. “Everyone wins from having effective, uncomplicated technology at their fingertips. Entrepreneurs simply fill out a form on their mobile phones and receive all registration documents at no cost, in less than a minute. In 2022, 5,500 Bhutanese, almost 1% of the population, used the service to register a business – 52% of them were women.

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