Being the most developed state and the gateway to the six other sister states of Northeast India, Assam is emerging fast as an economic and commercial hub for future business with South East Asian countries. One of the swiftly growing cities which the nation has under its belt, Guwahati is inarguably the only IT hub in the region. With the special focus from the Government and initiatives such as IT and Electronic Policy 2017, the state’s importance for business and commerce is bound to grow further.
Assam is attracting more and more investors into its IT industry than ever before and many new small companies and start-ups are being formed. There is still a large number of domestic and regional market share waiting to be tapped. With investment promotion and facilitation initiatives, the Government is highlighting the geostrategic advantages that Assam can offer to the investors.
With regard to technical education, Assam is home to knowledge hubs such as IIT, NIT, IIIT, and eighteen other Engineering colleges and universities, both government and private. These institutions produce thousands of skilled and trained manpower for the industry. Due to such large manpower skilled in information technology, opportunities have increased for IT-enabled services like software development, content development, animation, engineering and design, market research, consultancy and management, web designing, call centres, back-office operations, data entry and conversion, transcription and translation. Human resource constitutes to be the single most important resource in IT industry. As many start-ups and new companies are coming into the scene, the demand for such skilled youths increases which helps in solving one of the most prevalent problems i.e. unemployment.
With the IT and Electronic Policy 2017 coming into effect, Assam is gearing up for many IT parks in all over the state, which is one of many investible projects to be kicked off. Some of the investment opportunities including IT parks are –
- IT park – An area of 100 acres has been demarcated for IT park at Bongora, Guwahati which will be leased out for investment by IT industry. It is estimated to draw 1200cr investment from the private sector over the next 5 years. Another 43 acres in Silchar and 33 acres in Dibrugarh have been identified for IT park on the same development model as Guwahati.
- EMC (Electronic Manufacturing Cluster) – A land of 30-35 acre within the Guwahati IT Park will be developed to enable electronics manufacturing. It is estimated to draw 750cr investment from the private sector over the next 5 years in sectors like solar panel manufacturing, LED, etc.
- Assam Fibrenet – Soon broadband connectivity will be provided to all households of the state. This would be 4000 core project and will require private support to set up the communication infrastructure all over the state.
- BPO – The government has proposed to set-up 100 BPO units in Assam on PPP mode with several incentives for capital support.
- Skill development – For further development of skills, state specific schemes under the national skill development mission pertaining to the telecom sector, electronic manufacturing and IT with an investment potential of 100-200cr are to be introduced.
- IoT – IoT is an ecosystem of connected physical objects that are accessible through the internet and has tremendous application in consumer, commercial and government segment. Some government applications are monitoring of forests, border surveillance, disaster alerts, smart city (surveillance, traffic management). The government estimates an investment potential of 700-1000cr over the next 7 years, but we believe that more attention needs to be given to this segment and not underestimate the long-term governance benefits that can be realized through proper implementation of connected devices. However, security remains to be a major concern to factor-in in a connected ecosystem.
- e-health/telemedicine – Hilly and remote terrain can face a lot of difficulties in transportation. Which means there are requirement and potential for e-health. The movie Manjhi based on a true story of a man who carves a road through a mountain to make healthcare accessible for his village is a great example. While there cannot be a substitute for physical care to patients, for a lot of common illnesses, diagnosis over a video call might be possible.
- GIS-based planning – There is a requirement for GIS-based planning for dredging national waterways, riverfront development and also new port-townships.
These are some of the recently proposed projects highlighted by the government in the Advantage Assam Summit held on February 2018. With potential investors and industry champions from diverse sectors in attendance, investment opportunities in Assam were discussed and explored.
Today the government along with the public are more open to the idea of innovation and this will eventually transform Assam into a sustainable and innovative society of excellence for the benefit of common citizens through digital empowerment and deployment of emerging technology solutions in all aspects of socio-economic life, enhancing the capacity and skill sets of the new generations for employment in IT sector, promoting innovation and more start-ups.