ICT: Continued collaboration and support from other countries is critical for small developing countries like Bhutan, that is constrained with high internet connectivity costs and reliability issues given geographical conditions, it was pointed out by the information and communications minister, DN Dhungyel at the ministerial roundtable at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Telecom World 2015 on October 13.

The ITU Telecom World 2015, being held in Budapest, Hungary, is a global ICT innovation event for small medium enterprises, corporations, and governments.

The minister, speaking during the Ministerial Roundtable which provided an opportunity for countries to share visions of how national, regional and international development objectives can be achieved or accelerated through ICT solutions, pointed out that Bhutan faces many challenges.

He explained that the uptake of entrepreneurship and small medium enterprises is still at an infant phase due to the high cost of internet connectivity, issues with reliability and connectivity, the challenging geographical terrain, a small market, and lack of ICT skills.

“Continued collaboration and support from other countries is very critical for small developing countries like Bhutan, which is constrained with high internet cost and reliability of connectivity because of geographical positions,” Lyonpo said.

“We appreciate the role of ITU in this partnership and in putting together this historical and important document to accelerate development and commit to digital entrepreneurship a key accelerator,” he added, referring to the Budapest Call for Action.

The Budapest Call for Action, which was endorsed at the end of the Ministerial Meeting reaffirms the political will to accelerate innovation for social impact in line with the Connect 2020 Agenda adopted at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in November 2014.

The document highlights the role of ICT-based innovation in addressing socio-economic and environmental sustainability challenges, such as those addressed by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and other national and regional frameworks. It also invites all stakeholders to implement innovative solutions, technologies and partnerships aimed at bridging the digital divide and ensuring global connectivity for all.

“Ministers gathered here in Budapest have a very important role to play in shaping a common vision and seeking solutions on how to harness the full potential of ICT to achieve higher development goals, which in Bhutan is referred to as increasing the well-being of people and creating conditions whereby people can pursue happiness,” Lyonpo DN Dhungyel said. “This required innovative ways of doing things … innovative ICT solutions, which can be realized only through promotion of digital entrepreneurship,” he added.

An ICT-enabled knowledge society, Lyonpo said, can provide the foundation for growth, good governance, a common national identity, and sustainable development. Innovation ICT solutions addressing unique requirements can be realized through the promotion of small medium enterprises and digital entrepreneurship, he said.

During the opening ceremony on October 12, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon encouraged government and technology industry leaders gathered in Budapest to “foster greater innovation and entrepreneurship in the ICT sector, especially among small and medium sized business.” He urged participants to “consider what more you can do to ensure universal connectivity, close the digital divide, open doors to knowledge and ensure the full participation of women and girls in the ever growing digital economy in support of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.”

Bhutan became the member of the ITU in 1988 and since then the ITU has been playing a critical role in Bhutan’s ICT Journey. Till date, over thirty projects and technical assistance has been received.

Lyonpo DN Dhungyel is leading a delegation to the event until October 15.

Gyalsten K Dorji