Bhutan (Kingdom of)

Mr Dina Nath Dhungyel
Ministry of Information & Communcations

21 October 2014

Excellencies, Distinguish Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen;

At the outset, I would like to extend my heartiest felicitation and greetings from the Government and people of Bhutan to the distinguished delegates of the Plenipotentiary Conference 2014.

It is my singular honour and privilege to be part of this august gathering and be amongst great leaders, intellectuals and experts from across the globe in this vibrant and historic city of Busan. I would like to congratulate the organizers and the Government of the Republic of Korea in particular, for hosting this very important conference.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

Development in the field of telecommunication and ICT has revolutionized every sphere of human civilization and the way people communicate or share information. ICT usage has now proliferated to almost all sections of the society through the concerted efforts put in by the Government machinery as well as the generous assistance provided by our development partners.

Internet is gaining rapid popularity and the mobile usage has reached an unprecedented level. Recognizing the growing demand for reliable and affordable Internet connectivity, the Government has embarked on a number of initiatives including the:

In addition, the Government has recently adopted the Whole of Government e-Gov Master Plan that provides a clear vision as well as holistic ICT programs and strategies for the next five years. Guided by the vision of “An ICT-Enabled, Knowledge-Based Society as a Foundation for Gross National Happiness”, this will be the principal enabler for a knowledge-based society - a society that learns to learn.

Despite major notable achievements, Bhutan faces peculiar challenges as a landlocked country in terms of difficult terrain and high cost of building ICT infrastructure, scattered and small population size, relatively low ICT literacy and the absence of local content. As a result, Bhutan continues to experience the digital gap between the rural and urban population. High cost of international connectivity is yet another major challenge in our effort to achieve full potential.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

As a member of the International Telecommunication Union, the Royal Government of Bhutan fully endorses the visions, goals and targets of Connect 2020. This is mainly because we strongly believe that Information society is about empowerment of people so that they can achieve their full potential. The vision will additionally feed into building a sound foundation for Gross National Happiness which requires the Government to create the right conditions for people to pursue a contented life.

We are confident that, by 2020, more than 90% of our rural population and 50% of all household will have access to affordable broadband connections.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

While ICT has brought about positive transformation in the country and will continue to remain indispensable; cyber threats is something that we must address collectively through an international effort.

Among many common proposals proposed for amendment during the APT preparatory meetings, ICT/Telecommunication applications for health seems particularly important and urgent.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Collaboration between ITU and Bhutan has been exemplary and I would like to take this opportunity to recognize and place on record the invaluable assistance received from other development partners as well in our on-going effort to develop this vital sector.

This is however, not the end. Implementation of our e-gov master plan will be particularly challenging and we will be soliciting all possible assistance from the ITU and other development partners.

We have also noted that, with its huge mandate, ITU has been organizing various events for the benefit of member states. However, all these events that are held frequently cannot be easily availed by every member state owing to various constraints. Therefore, I would suggest ITU to rationalize these events taking into consideration the financial concerns of the emerging economies like Bhutan. Let us focus our attention on the visible deliverables which would make immediate impact on the lives on our less fortunate citizens.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

In conclusion, let me take the privilege of congratulating in advance, the new post holders on their election and look forward to working with them. I wish successful outcome of this Conference.

Thank you and Tashi Delek.