Regional: South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Information Highway Project (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) - Loan for Bangladesh

Sovereign Project | 40054-013

Summary

The Project is aimed at enhancing the benefits of ICT and regional cooperation for inclusive growth and poverty reduction by increasing the supply of affordable broadband, skilled ICT manpower, and local content and e-applications, with a special focus on the needs of the poor. It is also expected to help SASEC countries improve their productivity and efficiency and participate more fully in the global information economy.

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Consulting Notices

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Procurement Notices

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Procurement Documents


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Project Name South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Information Highway Project (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) - Loan for Bangladesh
Project Number 40054-013
Country Regional
Project Status Approved
Project Type / Modality of Assistance Grant
Loan
Technical Assistance
Source of Funding / Amount
Grant 0098-REG: South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Information Highway Project (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) - Grant for Bhutan
Asian Development Fund US$ 4.70 million
Grant 0099-REG: South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Information Highway Project (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) -Grant for Nepal
Asian Development Fund US$ 5.00 million
Loan 2397-REG: South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Information Highway Project (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) - Loan for Bangladesh
Asian Development Fund US$ 2.87 million
TA 6433-REG: South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Regional Information and Communication Technology Research and Training Network (piggy-backed)
Regional Cooperation and Integration Fund US$ 4.40 million
Strategic Agendas Inclusive economic growth
Drivers of Change
Sector / Subsector Information and communication technology - ICT infrastructure
Gender Equity and Mainstreaming No gender elements
Description The Project is aimed at enhancing the benefits of ICT and regional cooperation for inclusive growth and poverty reduction by increasing the supply of affordable broadband, skilled ICT manpower, and local content and e-applications, with a special focus on the needs of the poor. It is also expected to help SASEC countries improve their productivity and efficiency and participate more fully in the global information economy. To this end, the Project will establish (i) a SASEC regional network with fiber-optic and data interchange capacity, directly connecting the four SASEC countries; (ii) a SASEC village network expanding broadband ICT access to 110 rural communities in the SASEC countries and providing direct connections among the communities for local networking and local information sourcing; and (iii) a SASEC research and training network to build technical and business skills in developing local ICT content and e-applications (e-government, e-learning, tele-medicine, e-remittance, e-commerce, etc.) that serve the needs of the poor in particular.
Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy

ADB plays a major role to provide support for a regional approach among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal through the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Program since 2001. With its growing importance in development, information and communication technology (ICT) was added as one of the priority sectors to the SASEC Program in phase II.

Global communities and their economic activities, including regional and international communication and trade, are increasingly integrated through the electronic means and technologies. ICT has become a vital infrastructure in the transformation toward the information society and knowledge-based economy, which is as essential to an economy as road and rail networks, telephone and power systems have been in the past. ICT also enables inclusive growth and improves the poor people's livelihood as a mean to serve their various economic, social, financial, and educational needs. For these reasons, ICT is a strategic mean and of deep community and economic significance.

The SASEC ICT Working Group (ICTWG), comprising of secretaries of ministry of ICT of SASEC countries, has developed SASEC ICT Development Master Plan, which laid down the strategy, framework and priorities for SASEC ICT regional cooperation to harness full potential of ICT for poverty reduction and inclusive growth. The Master Plan, other others, identified three most urgent areas for improvements in ICT: fragmented cross border connectivity, poor rural information access, and insufficient human resource capacity. In order to address such needs, the SASEC countries has developed the concept of SASEC information highway which would deliver modern affordable and reliable broadband information, communication, and knowledge services within and across borders to universities, business, and to the rural and remote communities.

The Project will be an unprecedented landmark attempt, aiming to facilitate the flow and integration of information, contents, goods, services, knowledge, and ideas among the SASEC countries by directly linking borders, communities, businesses, and ICT training and research institutes, and building their capabilities and values in serving the purpose of poverty alleviation and inclusive growth, and thereby support the establishment of an ICT-enabled poverty reduction process under regional cooperation mechanism. It also considers the importance of ICT capacity building for local entrepreneurs through entrepreneurial education, incubation, mentoring and informal networking. In view of this, the Project components include building modern broadband infrastructure across borders and rural communities, enabling effective community participation through village network, delivering information access and poverty reduction services (such as education, health including HIV/AIDS and governance), and developing rural entrepreneurship and local business through research and training institutes to be addressed by the piggybacked TA.

Through the Project, it is expected that regional goods and services would be more integrated electronically and be delivered more cost effectively to the most marginalized people, which would contribute to accelerating the regional cooperation and integration process of the SASEC subregion. Since the Project is the first subregional investment project under the SASEC program, participated by all four countries, it would also mark a new milestone in the regional cooperation and integration in South Asia, demonstrating tangible benefits to be reaped after a decade's joint effort of SASEC countries.

ADB's South Asia Regional Cooperation Strategy and Program for 2006-2008 sets out five key operational objectives: to improve connectivity, to facilitate trade and investment, to develop regional tourism, to facilitate cooperation in energy, and to promote private sector cooperation. Improving transport and communications connectivity is expected to reduce transportation and communication costs, increase South Asia?s competitiveness, and facilitate the movement of goods and people, thereby promoting economic and social development.

Impact Enhanced regional flow, sharing, and integration of information, content, services, knowledge, and ideas in the SASEC subregion
Project Outcome
Description of Outcome ICT made more accessible, affordable, inclusive, sustainable, and useful to remote and rural communities, entrepreneurs, and research and training institutes in all SASEC countries
Progress Toward Outcome

For RN (BAN) component, work under contract completed in April 2014.

For BHU, RN component will be substantially completed in March 2014, ready for connecting and peering at the Network Operating Center in Siliguri, India, as per technical arrangments agreed during the meeting of all service providers from the 4 countries on 11-12 Nov 2013, in India. Once connected, the RN contractor in Bhutan (Railtel of India) will conduct joint operation with the service provider (Bhutan Telecom) for 2 months, testing and optimizing the network data flow and interface.

In March 2014, ADB approved the government and the EA's proposal to utilize the surplus proceeds for establishing Druk Research and Education Network (DrukREN), a dedicated high capacity national network to connect research and education communities within the country (such as the Royal University of Bhutan colleges, national referral hospital and research centers, and government ministries), and beyond link with similar networks in other countries, joining a global academic internet such as the Trans Eurasia Information Network (TEIN4 currently) which is supported by the European Union to connect research and education networks of countries in the Asia Pacific since 2009. The required equipment and installation include optical fiber connectivity to the selected research and education institutes, servers and routers, and configuration. It will then utilize the SASEC regional network component to connect with TEIN through the National Knowledge Network (NKN) in India. In principle agreements have been secured with both the NKN and TEIN. The grant closing for BHU was extended until 31 December 2016 for this purpose.

For Nepal component, the grant closing date is extended to 15 July 2015 and a new date of completion of the contract is set to 30 April 2015. RN and VN activities have been expedited and close monitoring is being done in order that all the project activities will be completed by the stipulated timeline.

The loan of Bangladesh Part completed on 31 December 2014.

Implementation Progress
Description of Project Outputs

SASEC Regional Network

SASEC Village Network

SASEC Research and Training Network

Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)

Contract was signed with M/S. Hamida Traders Ltd. and M/S. System & Services Limited Joint Venture (HTL-SSL) (contract value: $1.27 million) on 27 March 2013 and all the works are completed in April2014.

The proposed duplicate link of Thimphu to Phuentsholing in the original project design has already been constructed. Furthermore, the link between Thimphu and Gelephu has been funded and constructed. The main contract for supply of equipment, accessories and installation and related service is substantially completed. The commissioning was expected in March 2014, and a joint operation will be conducted with the service provider (Bhutan Telecom) for testing and optimizing the network data flow and interface.

According to the agreed work plan, this activity was supposed to be completed by September but the duct pipe is laid only in 37 kms which requires corrections at some sections. Work is in progress in rest of the sections (including the use of ADSS poles).

Contract was signed with M/S. Hamida Traders Ltd. and M/S. System & Services Limited Joint Venture (HTL-SSL) (contract value: $1.27 million) on 27 March 2013 and all the works under contract completed in April 2014.

In progress

Not yet established.

Ongoing

Contract was signed with M/S. Hamida Traders Ltd. and M/S. System & Services Limited Joint Venture (HTL-SSL) (contract value: $1.27 million) on 27 March 2013 and completed in April 2014.

Ongoing

Not yet established.

Achieved on 2 July 2009. Agreement was signed among the SASEC countries during the 5th SASEC Working Group Meeting and ICTWG setting out the overall framework and guidelines for the operation and implementation of the SASEC Regional Network.

For in-country service agency , an MOU has been formed between Nepal Telecom and Ministry of Information and Communication (MOIC)

For in-country service agency India has selected Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).

For in-country service agency, an MOU has been signed between Bangladesh Telecommunications Limtied and MOICT on 9 March 2010.

For in-country service agency, an agreement was signed with Bhutan Telecom on 2 September 2011.

Achieved on 26 April 2012. (BAN - bilateral network agreements, each one signed by the service agencies in two countries)

Achieved on 26 April 2012. (BHU - bilateral network agreements, each one signed by the service agencies in two countries)

Achieved on 26 April 2012. (NEP - bilateral network agreements, each one signed by the service agencies in two countries)

Achieved on 26 April 2012. (IND - bilateral network agreements, each one signed by the service agencies in two countries)

Ongoing

Not started

Draft ready

Not started

Not yet due

contract was signed with M/S Hamida Traders Limited on 22 August'2013 and will be completed by April'2014.

Ongoing

Ongoing, will be completed by March 2015.

As discussed in previous missions, ADB will need to request Government of India (GOI) for nomination of the 25 CeCs to participate in the project.

Not yet due

Not yet due

completed in April 2014.

The village network component scaled up the existing bandwidth to the country's 20 district headquarters at Dzongkhag level, and extends further to 205 community centers (CCs) in the subdistricts at Geog level. therefore the broadband internet access is substantially expanded beyond the 30 CCs envisaged originally; enabling delivery of wide ranging benefits in greater scale, including the government's intorduction of G2C applications (Government to Citizen). At present the ADSS fiber extension to 182 CCs has been carried out, and termination and splicing of fibers including installation and configuration of equipment for 131 CCs have been completed. The contracts to connect and equip 54 CCs have been awarded and contract was signed on 17Mar2014. The remaining 20 CCs will be assessed and included.

CeCs are being constructed. Establishing connectivity to link CeCs to regional network will start after the construction of CeCs will be completed by March 2015.

Not yet due

Consultant has been on board since August 2011 and activity will be completed by June 2015.

Consultant has been on board since August 2011 and activity will be completed by June 2015.

Consultant has been on board since August 2011 and activity will be completed by June 2015.

Consultant has been on board since August 2011 and activity will be completed by June 2015.

Consultant has been on board since August 2011 and activity will be completed by June 2015.

Consultant has been on board since August 2011 and activity will be completed by June 2015.

Consultant has been on board since August 2011 and activity will be completed by June 2015.

Consultant has been on board since August 2011 and activity will be completed by June 2015.

Establishment of the fund is no longer in the strategic operation plan.

Establishment of the fund is no longer in the strategic operation plan.

Not started yet

Not started yet

Completed.

Completed. Bhutan Royal University

Completed. Kathmandu University

Completed. CDAC-Noida

Consultant has been on board since August 2011 and will be completed by June 2015.

Consultant has been on board since August 2011 and will be completed by June 2015.

Consultant has been on board since August 2011 and will be completed by June 2015.

Consultant has been on board since August 2011 and will be completed by June 2015.

Geographical Location Bangladesh
Safeguard Categories
Environment B
Involuntary Resettlement C
Indigenous Peoples C
Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects
Environmental Aspects

An initial environmental examination was carried out for the project the report of which conformed to the relevant laws and regulations of the governments of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal, and ADB's Environment Policy (2002) and Environmental Assessment Requirements (2003).

The proposed project components will cause insignificant adverse environmental impact. Environmental impact is likely to be caused by the development of CECs and cross-border links between Bangladesh and India. Some impact is also likely to be caused during the operation of

network access gateways, border township facilities, and CECs. The impact is associated with the disposal of office and e-waste, which is recyclable, and domestic sewage, which can be fully treated. The implementation of prescribed mitigation measures will minimize the predicted impact during project design and development as well as operation.

Involuntary Resettlement The Project is categorized as No Impact from Resettlement perspectives. Therefore, the Project will require no land acquisition or resettlement, and hence no resettlement plan.
Indigenous Peoples The positive impact on IP is very similar to the impact on non-IPs. Therefore, no IPDP is required.
Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
During Project Design

Consultations were conducted with government officials, key functionaries, and selected communities in three countries, except in India, where CECs will not be established. The consultations were aimed at acquiring a better understanding of the socioeconomic conditions of the people and gauging their views on project development.

Group discussions among women and the communities were held to capture social and economic standards and also to assess the impact that the Project will have on their lives. These discussions and consultations confirmed the need for this Project and drew a positive response of the communities and different stakeholders, particularly those in the rural areas. The participants acknowledged the fact that lack of appropriate and timely information has affected their exposure to development and their progress.

During Project Implementation Ongoing.
Business Opportunities
Consulting Services

Please refer to Grant 40054-03 (BHU component) and Grant 40054-04 (NEP component). Recruitment of Consultants is expected to take place on April 2008.

Project management consultants will be hired to assist the EA in implementing the Project. The project management consultant team will consist of (i) an international team comprising a team leader, a design engineer, and a procurement specialist; and (ii) four country teams each in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal.

Each country team will have three subteams: (i) a SASEC regional network team, (ii) a village network/research and training network team, and (iii) a joint team. Each of the first two subteams will comprise a team leader, a design engineer, a procurement specialist, and a network engineer. The joint team will consist of a social development specialist, an environment specialist, and a quality assurance specialist.

A firm of international consultants will be hired for 36 person-months, and a firm of national consultants, for 100 person-months in Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal, and for 63 person-months in India. The project management consultants will (i) design all networks to be procured under the Project; (ii) prepare bid documents; (iii) assist the project management unit in tendering (prequalification, evaluation of proposals, etc); and (iv) supervise contractors.

The project management consultants will be selected and hired according to ADB's Guidelines on the Use of Consultants (2007, as amended from time to time) through quality- and cost-based selection (80:20) and simplified technical proposal.

Procurement

Please refer to Grant 40054-03 (BHU component) and Grant 40054-04 (NEP component).

Procurement of goods, services, and civil works to be financed under the ADB grant and loan will be carried out in accordance with ADB's Procurement Guidelines (2007, as amended from time to time). Civil works and system development and installation contracts will be procured in accordance with the procurement plan

Responsible ADB Officer Mohammad Nazrul Islam
Responsible ADB Department South Asia Department
Responsible ADB Division Bangladesh Resident Mission
Executing Agencies
Ministry of Science & Info & Comm Tech of BANDr. Md.Ferdous Hossainhossain_ferdous@yahoo.comMOSICT
Timetable
Concept Clearance 21 Feb 2006
Fact Finding 30 Jul 2007 to 01 Aug 2007
MRM 03 Sep 2007
Approval 17 Dec 2007
Last Review Mission -
PDS Creation Date 02 Apr 2009
Last PDS Update 31 Mar 2015

Grant 0098-REG

Milestones
Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
17 Dec 2007 15 Dec 2008 02 Jul 2009 30 Jun 2010 31 Dec 2016 -
Financing Plan Grant Utilization
Total (Amount in US$ million) Date ADB Others Net Percentage
Project Cost 5.90 Cumulative Contract Awards
ADB 4.70 17 Dec 2007 2.77 0.00 59%
Counterpart 1.20 Cumulative Disbursements
Cofinancing 0.00 17 Dec 2007 2.77 0.00 59%
Status of Covenants
Category Sector Safeguards Social Financial Economic Others
Rating Satisfactory - - - - Satisfactory

Grant 0099-REG

Milestones
Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
17 Dec 2007 09 Feb 2009 02 Jul 2009 30 Jun 2010 31 Dec 2015 -
Financing Plan Grant Utilization
Total (Amount in US$ million) Date ADB Others Net Percentage
Project Cost 7.20 Cumulative Contract Awards
ADB 5.00 17 Dec 2007 4.79 0.00 96%
Counterpart 2.20 Cumulative Disbursements
Cofinancing 0.00 17 Dec 2007 2.64 0.00 53%
Status of Covenants
Category Sector Safeguards Social Financial Economic Others
Rating Satisfactory - - - - Satisfactory

Loan 2397-REG

Milestones
Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
17 Dec 2007 15 Mar 2009 02 Jul 2009 30 Jun 2010 31 Dec 2014 15 Feb 2015
Financing Plan Loan Utilization
Total (Amount in US$ million) Date ADB Others Net Percentage
Project Cost 3.97 Cumulative Contract Awards
ADB 2.87 17 Dec 2007 2.10 0.00 99%
Counterpart 1.10 Cumulative Disbursements
Cofinancing 0.00 17 Dec 2007 2.12 0.00 100%
Status of Covenants
Category Sector Safeguards Social Financial Economic Others
Rating Satisfactory - - - - Satisfactory

TA 6433-REG

Milestones
Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
17 Dec 2007 - 17 Dec 2007 31 Dec 2011 30 Sep 2015 -
Financing Plan/TA Utilization Cumulative Disbursements
ADB Cofinancing Counterpart Total Date Amount
Gov Beneficiaries Project Sponsor Others
4,400,000.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 4,400,000.00 17 Dec 2007 2,120,697.53
Status of Covenants
Category Sector Safeguards Social Financial Economic Others
Rating Satisfactory - - - - Satisfactory
Title Document Type Document Date
South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Information Highway Project - Loan for Bangladesh Procurement Plans Apr 2014
South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) Information Highway Project - Grant for Bhutan Procurement Plans May 2012
South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Information Highway Project (Nepal Component) Project/Program Administration Manual Sep 2009
South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Information Highway Project (Bhutan Component) Project/Program Administration Manual Aug 2009
Loan Agreement for SASEC Information Highway Project- Bangladesh Component between People's Republic of Bangladesh and Asian Development Bank dated 15 March 2009 Loan Agreement (Special Operations) Mar 2009
Grant Agreement for SASEC Information Highway Project - Nepal Component between Nepal and Asian Development Bank dated 9 February 2009 Grant Agreement Feb 2009
Grant Agreement for SASEC Information Highway Project - Bhutan Component between Kingdom of Bhutan and Asian Development Bank dated 15 December 2008 Grant Agreement Dec 2008
Proposed Asian Development Fund Grant Reports and Recommendations of the President Nov 2007
Proposed Asian Development Fund Grant Procurement Plans Nov 2007
South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Information Highway Project Reports and Recommendations of the President Nov 2007
South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Information Highway Project Design and Monitoring Frameworks Nov 2007

Safeguard Documents

See also: Safeguards

No documents found.

Evaluation Documents

See also: Independent Evaluation

No documents found.


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