India helping ASEAN develop digital connectivity

NEW DELHI, NNA - Seeking to deepen its ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, India is currently working on projects in the ASEAN region to help develop the group's digital connectivity infrastructure.

India, which has announced a credit line of $1 billion to promote projects that support physical and digital connectivity between India and ASEAN's 10 member countries, has also proposed a "Work Plan 2018" to further boost digital cooperation with the group, according to India's Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council, known as TEPC.

"For increasing broadband penetration, projects have been undertaken in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam using India's cost-effective Gigabit Passive Optical Network technology," said Rakesh Kumar Bhatnagar, director general of TEPC. "India is also setting up the Center of Excellence for Software Development and Training in some of the ASEAN countries."

According to Bhatnagar, India recently proposed the India-ASEAN ICT (information and communication technology) Work Plan 2018, which includes future projects in the areas of capacity building and training in telecom/ICT and regulation, and establishing centers of cyber security and high-performance computing labs, among others, to further boost cooperation between India and ASEAN.

In a presentation made during the ASEAN-India Connectivity Summit 2017 in New Delhi on Monday, TEPC said ASEAN countries such as Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar have sought India's cooperation in the areas of ICT, cyber security, e-governance, big data and cloud computing center solutions.

Laos, where a TEPC team had paid an official visit, has made a request for projects under the credit line in the areas of telecommunication and an internet center, development of a computer emergency response center and network security, according to TEPC's presentation document.

"We are seeking India's cooperation to set up a center of excellence in software development and training...and also working with India on another digital project," Thavisak Manodhan, director general of the Department of Information and Communication Technology at the Laotian Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, said at the summit.

Meanwhile, Myanmar formed a digital economy development committee this year and is also "working closely with India in the field of digital connectivity," Soe Thein, director general of the Department of Posts and Telecommunications at Myanmar's Ministry of Transport and Communications, told the summit.

India offered the $1 billion credit line during the 13th ASEAN-India Summit in Kuala Lumpur in November 2015, and later circulated a set of project proposals to ASEAN countries in 2016, including the establishment of a regional high-capacity optical fiber network, a national rural broadband network, digital villages in rural and remote areas, and capacity-building programs.

ASEAN is India's fourth-largest trading partner, accounting for 10 percent of the country's total trade. Bilateral trade with ASEAN countries, which was $2 billion in 1992, is now running at $70 billion in 2016-17. (NNA/Kyodo)