With commercial space at the Thimphu TechPark fully leased out to eight FDI companies that employ around 745 Bhutanese youths the government has started construction of the second phase of IT Park.
The new building, which will consists of a total built-up area of about 2000 square metres, is expected to cost about Nu 77 million which will be funded by Druk Holding & Investments (DHI). The construction is within the existing five-acre compound of Thimphu TechPark, although another 13 acres of land has been set aside for further expansion in future. The construction is expected to be completed by 30 June 2019.
The new building will be one-third the size of the existing building and is expected to create additional job opportunities for about 300 people.
The Information and Communication Minister, D N Dhungyel, said the construction has become necessary since the space in the existing IT Park building is fully leased out as of now. “And it is important that we create more space so that more employment opportunities can be created for our youths and also earn foreign exchange through the export of services in the IT/ITES sector.”
He added that as a landlocked country, it is important for us to tap into the opportunities that ICTs offer as Internet transcends physical boundaries, and IT/ITES sector holds a lot of opportunities for Bhutan. “On behalf of the Government, I would like to assure Thimphu TechPark Ltd., DHI, existing FDI companies and potential investors that we would extend full support to the IT Park to make it even more successful.”
Lyonpo D.N Dhungyel also assured the improvement of the reliability of internet connectivity in the country and to explore on getting the additional internet line via Bangladesh.
The CEO of the Thimphu TechPark, Dr Tshering Cigay Dorji, said the modest success of the first IT Park has shown that investing in initiatives like this can help create much needed employment opportunities for our youths and also earn foreign exchange for our country. He added that all the seven foreign companies operating from the IT Park currently employ almost 100% Bhutanese and export almost 100% of their services.
Tshering Cigay added that there is no doubt that the new IT Park Building would be completed in time and become a vibrant place for the youths to work. “I am optimistic that this will definitely be possible, given that there is unreserved support from all stakeholders, especially the government. Nothing is impossible when there is unity of purpose and vision.”
He said this is also one of the initiatives to help Bhutan tap into the opportunities that IT/ITES sector offers land-locked countries, as the internet is not limited by geographical distance and boundaries.
Currently, eight FDI Companies have leased space at Thimphu TechPark of which seven are operational and one is about to start its operations. The companies are from the USA, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Bangladesh and India. Thimphu TechPark also houses Bhutan Innovation & Technology Centre (BITC) on the ground floor.
The IT Park project was conceptualized in 2006 with the help of the World Bank. The project documents, including the agreement for support from the World Bank through grant financing, were finalized in 2007. The actual construction of the IT Park started in 2010 and was completed on 30th April 2012.
It was the first PPP (Public Private Partnership) project to be undertaken in Bhutan. The Govt. provided the ancillary facilities, the five-acre land on lease and fiscal incentives, and took on long term lease the 10,000 sqft space on the ground floor to set up the BITC, while the Thimphu TechPark Pvt. Ltd., designed, built and financed the construction.