Four South Asian Countries Agree to ICT Connectivity

Senior officials from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal have agreed to collaborate on a subregional information communication technology (ICT) project to improve connectivity among the four countries.

The agreement by the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) countries was reached at the fourth ICT working group meeting to discuss the proposed SASEC Information Highway Project in New Delhi, India on 8-9 October 2007.

Senior officials from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal have agreed to collaborate on a subregional information communication technology (ICT) project to improve connectivity among the four countries.

The agreement by the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) countries was reached at the fourth ICT working group meeting to discuss the proposed SASEC Information Highway Project in New Delhi, India on 8-9 October 2007.

The joint statement issued at the meeting reassured the four countries' commitment to promote closer cooperation for development and applications of ICT, and to improve social and economic participation through better access to appropriate support and infrastructure. The project will mark the first multi-country investment project in South Asia supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), if it is approved by ADB’s Board of Directors in December.

“The SASEC Information Highway Project will help SASEC countries more efficiently and effectively connect to each other by broadband and bring the much needed social goods to communities in South Asia – especially to often underserved rural areas,” said Mr. Kunio Senga, the Director General of ADB’s South Asia Department at the conclusion of the meeting.

The SASEC Information Highway Project consists of three key components. It will establish the SASEC regional network to integrate member countries and reduce Internet costs, particularly for the land-locked countries of Bhutan and Nepal. It will also build the SASEC village network to expand broadband wireless connectivity to rural communities and enable them to better access services such as tele-medicine, distance learning, and e-government services. In addition, it will set up the SASEC regional research and training network to facilitate the flow and integration of information, knowledge, and services among member countries through directly linking communities, businesses, and research institutes.

These networks will be established and operated through the public-private partnership with a strong focus on entrepreneurship development.

The South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation was established in 2001 by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal with ADB’s support. It aims to promote the subregion’s economic cooperation in the priority areas, including transport, tourism, and ICT.