Opportunities for the tech industry and private sector with the upcoming Gelephu SAR

As His Majesty The King formally announced the plan to establish a Gelephu Mindfullnes City Special Administrative Region (SAR) in Gelephu as a major economic hub, the people across the country have rejoiced with hopes of new opportunities the SAR will bring. 

In a talk with a Tech Park representative from Thimphu: “We recognize significant chances and obstacles ahead. That’s why we’re getting ready by developing skilled and adaptable people—individuals with the right talents and abilities. If, in the coming years, Tech Park successfully cultivates a strong group of leaders and technical experts through smart partnerships, we could take advantage of the opportunities in Gelephu SAR and play a role in advancing digital initiatives.”

Dr. Tshering Cigay, a former CEO of Tech Park and the ICT Domain Lead, Desuung Skilling Programme shared, “We anticipate a pivotal role for the green tech sector in the new city. In due course, a myriad of tech enterprises, encompassing both hardware and software domains, is expected to establish a presence. These companies will vary in ownership structures, ranging from fully Bhutanese-owned ventures to collaborative joint ventures with foreign investors and 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) entities. This flourishing tech ecosystem promises abundant employment opportunities for our talented youth within these innovative tech enterprises.”

The Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) President Tandy Wangchuk said, “The private sector is excited and gratitude for the dedicated efforts of the His Majesty in navigating the current economic juncture, which will bring in positive outcomes for the nation. The local businesses are encouraged to invest in the Special Administrative Region, focusing on industries permitted by the zone’s regulations, such as manufacturing, IT, tourism, and various service sectors.”

BCCI President further shared that the SAR’s objective is to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), presenting local enterprises with opportunities to collaborate with foreign entities. This collaboration allows them to leverage external expertise and technology, access new markets, and gain valuable industry insights.

Another avenue for local businesses lies in providing essential services needed by companies operating within the SAR, including logistics, transportation, warehousing, construction, and catering.

The SAR’s development is expected to generate new job opportunities, prompting local businesses to invest in workforce training to equip employees with the necessary skills and expertise. Actively engaging in the shaping of policies and regulations governing the SAR is also encouraged among local businesses to ensure a conducive environment for growth and development.

The BCCI President advised the private sector to staying informed through official announcements, attending information sessions, and network with relevant stakeholders. “Businesses are advised to analyze SAR regulations, identify potential opportunities, prepare robust business plans, secure necessary funding, and build partnerships with local and foreign entities.”

He said challenges to navigate include potential competition from foreign companies within the SAR, difficulties in securing funding for projects, a shortage of specialized skills in the local workforce, and the need to adapt to the SAR’s specific regulations and operating procedures. “Overall, local businesses are urged to approach these challenges proactively and strategically as they explore opportunities within the SAR.”

His Majesty highlighted that the Gelephu Mindfulness City will span 1,000 square kilometers, equivalent to 250,000 acres, constituting just 2.5 percent of Bhutan’s total land area. Despite its relatively modest size, the project is poised to yield extensive advantages for the entire nation.

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