Other companies were also visited during the US visit

Tech: While the Prime Minister’s recent visit to the USA was primarily to raise funds for the Bhutan for Life project, the Bhutanese delegation also met with a few big name technology companies to discuss possible areas of cooperation.

The possibility of Google investing in data centres to be located in Bhutan was discussed during Lyonchoen’s visit to the company’s headquarters in California.

“And obviously they were very interested,” Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay said at a press conference held last week.

How Bhutan can enhance its connectivity was another point of discussion.

The possibilities of Bhutan receiving Google investments in return for carbon credits was also explored. Lyonchoen explained that Google could help farmers to reduce the amount of wood they consume, which in turn will aid the company to earn carbon credits. Google has committed to reducing its carbon footprint.

Lyonchoen met with the Sr Vice President of the company, Urs Hoelzle.

Similarly, Lyonchoen also visited the headquarters of Facebook and met with its Chief Operating Officer, Chris Cox. The possibility of Facebook hosting data in Bhutan was explored.

A visit to Tesla, the company that manufactures electric vehicles, was also made to explore the possibility of manufacturing such vehicles in Bhutan. But it was found that production of such cars would not be possible here. “It looks very difficult, at least the way Tesla does it, it’s extremely capital intensive,” Lyonchoen said.

Visits to two start up companies were also made, one involved in making micro and mini hydropower machines. “We’ve convinced them that if the technology works, Bhutan would be the automatic hub for manufacture, use and export of these machines,” Lyonchoen said.

The other start up visited was to drone maker Matternet.

“We’re still exploring the possibilities of taking telemedicine seriously and using drones to expand telemedicine,” Lyonchoen said. The intended idea is to reach medicine to BHUs from referral or dzongkhag hospitals using drones, and to also pick up blood and other samples from the BHUs.

While in the USA, Lyonchoen also met with the secretary general of the UN Ban Ki Moon, the World Bank president Dr Jim Yong Kim, and the president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, Robert Kennedy Jr, among others. He also met the US Assistant Secretary of State, Nisha Desai Biswal.

This was Lyonchhoen’s first visit to the USA after assuming office.

By Gyalsten K Dorji