Digital India can produce several Alibabas: Communications & IT Minister

There is a huge opportunity for the private sector in manufacturing of electronic goods and in providing the last mile wireless connectivity to villages

The Dollar Business Bureau | @TheDollarBiz

Mobile Phone India(2)-The Dollar Business Mobile phone connectivity has reached the most remote parts of the Sundarbans jungles, West Bengal, India, but internet usage remains low

  There is a vast potential for the e-commerce sector to grow in India with the implementation of the Digital India programme, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Communications & IT Minister, said at the 10th national summit on E-governance & Digital India organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in New Delhi yesterday. Prasad said, “I see a vast opportunity for e-commerce…I see almost an explosion of various kind of availability of services through e-commerce.” Retail exports (e-tailing) is a growing sector in India and e-commerce plays a key role in it. According to the Federation of Indian Exporters Association (FIEO), e-commerce exports from India in 2013 are estimated at around $1 billion and expected to grow over 100% in 2014. Meanwhile, more and more people in India are trying to sell their products online. According to Ravi Shankar Prasad, people in rural India are looking up to the success of e-commerce-based companies such as India’s Flipkart and China’s Alibaba. He said, “We can have couple of Alibaba(s) in coming future if we are able to rollout this [Digital India] programme very well.” The Digital India programme aims to improve Internet and telecom connectivity in the rural parts of India in three years. According to official sources, around 50,000 panchayats currently have access to the Internet through optical fibre network. The Digital India programme targets expanding it to over 2,50,000 panchayats by 2016-17. Prasad also said that there is a need to encourage electronic manufacturing in India. At present, India imports electronic goods worth $100 billion annually and it is estimated to grow to over $400 billion by 2020, which will be more than India’s fuel imports. Prasad said that the government is providing incentives to companies and urged domestic manufacturers to produce low cost smartphones to help people in the rural parts get access to e-governance and other online services. India is planning to set up electronics clusters in Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Maharashtra. India is also seeking foreign investments and the involvement of private sector in providing the last mile wireless connectivity to villages from the countrywide fibre optic broadband network (FOBN) and in manufacturing electronic goods in India.

This article was published on September 24, 2014