Connectivity: The IT domain is expected to grow exponentially obliging civilization across the globe to adapt to the change.

Bhutan’s journey into this relatively new world is at a nascent stage. Albeit small, the sector has seen growth in areas such as education, health and governance.

However, challenges such as poor Internet connectivity, lack of qualified manpower and conventional mentality to change restrict agencies from making the optimal utilisation of the IT sector for the development of the country.

A daylong seminar in Thimphu was conducted yesterday to discuss challenges and progress in IT field with an objective to leverage ICT (Information and communications technology) in delivering efficient public services.

A representative from the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) said that although several ICT-related initiatives were launched and carried out in different colleges, the visibility of the progress has been not satisfactory.

Sonam Penjor, manager with the educational technology division under RUB, said that the virtual learning environment, a concept under the ICT initiative has failed to generate interest among students in the eight colleges under the university.

He said that technical capabilities of faculties, exposure to such trend among the students and resistance to change from the traditional classroom setting of learning is hindering the growth of virtual learning environment in colleges.

However, Sonam Penjor said that other ICT-based programmes such as digital library system, the RFID (radio-frequency identification) system in libraries, online journal subscriptions, online admission system and the e-mail systems introduced in colleges have eased much of the workloads and has also become more organised and systematic.

While the online systems are in place, Internet connectivity still remains a big challenge in operating such facilities. The poor Internet connectivity at Thimphu TechPark, the country’s first IT Park, has impacted several businesses at the park recently.

Thimphu TechPark’s CEO, Tshering Cigay Dorji, said that connectivity is a big concern at the park. He said that due to a technical error with the optic fibre in the Indian territory, Internet connectivity was disrupted. He added that the problem has been brought under control.

Meanwhile, officials from Bhutan Telecom said the telco is making huge investment to improve the services and is working towards decongesting the network, which is why issues of connectivity arise frequently.

Officials added that once the work is completed customers will experience better connectivity.

The telco with support from JICA is carrying out a project, JICA Technical Coorporation for Optical Fibre Techniques in Telecommunication Engineering in Bhutan, to  improve Internet connectivity.

Younten Tshedup