IDA international and Temasek Foundation roll out first leadership training programme for senior Bhutanese ICT officers
For the first time, Singapore and Bhutan signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Infocomm technology (ICT) on October, here in the capital. The collaboration of the two countries in ICT has just been further strengthened.
IDA international, a subsidiary of Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore is an executive arm in developing info-communications in Singapore and other countries. It has committed to provide advisory and capacity development, while simultaneously developing ICT manpower and expertise in the country through a series of projects.
The MoIC secretary said Bhutanese ICT officers currently lack specialization, capacity, integration and coordination and failed to provide timely and quality services.
Starting June this year, ICT officers from all ministries, government agencies and dzongkhags were being given a leadership capability building program, which will train the officials in e-government policies to develop and implement a national ICT Master Plan.
Temasek Foundation, a non- profit philanthropic organization anchored in Singapore has committed a grant of about S$ 500,000 toward a 18-month program for about 400 government leaders and officials from Bhutan to develop and implement the national ICT Master Plan.
Talking to The Bhutanese, Director of the foundation Gerald Yeo said although Bhutan has progressed a lot in the ICT sector, there is still room for development. Gerald Yeo said “an agency or an institution usually was supported by one or two ICT professionals but now they will actually be having the support of a team of people”.
He said the program aims to enhance both infrastructure and human capital. “Both should go hand in hand but for the foundation our focus is more on building human capability and the whole idea is to enhance institutional capability,” he said.
Since June this year, about 220 senior Bhutanese officials were engaged in developing the e-government master plan with prime focus on development in three key areas ; e-parenting, e-government inter-operability framework and e-governance.
Chief executive officer of IDA Singapore, Ronnie Tay said “we appreciate the opportunity to share our ideas and experience in the acceleration of the ICT development in government, private sector and in industry as well as in the area of master planning, implementation and development of IT infrastructure”.
The e-government master plan, including an industry development roadmap would drive e-government programs for the 11th Plan and beyond.
“Bhutan government may be starting this journey later than us but I think with the growth of ICT technologies, there are many things that Bhutan can take advantage of what is available today,” the CEO of IDA said.
In order to achieve all the ICT milestones, MoIC also plans to strengthen Bhutan’s capacity in terms of internet connectivity and reliability. Currently, Bhutan has two international internet gateways but both ultimately join in Siliguri. If one link fails because of the Siliguri- Mumbai connection, the other is bound to be down, which makes it obvious that 24/7 connection is still impossible.
“We are probably investing a billion ngultrums into infrastructure,” the secretary said. “We are covering all the Gewogs in the country so that services are provided there and people don’t need to travel.” All Gewogs are expected to be connected by December 2013.
The MoU was signed between CEO, IDA Singapore, Ronnie Tay and information and communications secretary Dasho Kinley Dorji in the presence of distinct luminaries which included works and human settlement minister Yeshey Zimba, MoIC minister Nandalal Rai, Temasek Foundation director Gerald Yeo among others.