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India to invest $30 billion for 4G, 5G connectivity to every village

Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India, in his valedictory address to the Global Fintech Fest 2022, here today, summed up three core focal areas in fintech for the government. These included – building a robust digital infrastructure and a digital regulatory framework, along with social inclusion and the societal imperatives around it.

Elaborating his vision and the work being undertaken in building a robust digital infrastructure in rural India, he said, “We are investing close to $30 bn to ensure last-mile network accessibility for 4G and 5G in every village across the country. So far we have been able to reach out to over 1.5 lakh gram panchayats. We are now building a highway – creating a whole ecosystem of village entrepreneurs, channelizing the energies of youngsters to take good quality, high-speed data connectivity to every village in the country while making them a part of the growth journey. We have tested this model and approximately 80,000 new connections are now being facilitated every month.”

Sharing his views on the digital regulatory framework, Vaishnaw, added, “Telecom is the very foundation of Digital India and the Hon. Prime Minister has given us a clear mandate to overhaul our digital regulatory framework such that it is globally benchmarked and endorses global competitiveness. We are currently looking at 3-4 legislations cumulatively inclusive of the new telecom bill, the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill and the IT Act of 2000 to create an interactive framework in which the industry’s concerns are addressed by the government and government’s concerns are duly taken into consideration by the industry. Technological navigation has to be modulated such that the interests of end users are protected.”

Talking about the significance of social inclusion, he said, “While we are working in the tech space, we should not forget the change we are bringing in the common citizens’ life, in the life of the poorest of the poor, in the life of youth, our daughters, sisters and mothers. Whatever we do, we should keep every section of the society in mind.”

Talking about the integration of payment systems across the transportation sectors, he said, “While a project was taken up on common mobility, the way technology has evolved over the last 5-10 years, I think instead of a card, probably the mobile phone itself will become the common integrating factor. Work has been done on this front and as innovative entrepreneurs of this country we should continue to pursue this further.”

Vaishnaw was joined by Kris Gopalakrishnan, Chairman, GFF 2022 Advisory Board, Chairman, Axilor Ventures and Co-founder, Infosys and G. Padmanabhan, Senior Consultant, AZB & Partners, Ex-ED – Reserve Bank of India and Ex-Chairman – Bank of India. Padmanabhan also presented the vote of thanks to all the participants of GFF 2022 for making the event a resounding success.

Organised and presented by the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, Reserve Bank of India, International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA), National Payments Council of India, the Payments Council of India (PCI) and the Fintech Convergence Council (FCC), GFF 2022 was held between September 20 and 22, 2022 at the Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai. Pre-event festivities began virtually on September 19, 2022. This was the third edition of the Global Fintech Fest, and the first one where domain experts participated from across the globe in-person and virtually.

GFF 2022 was supported by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), National Investment Promotion & Facilitation Agency (Invest India), Startup India, Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH) and ONDC. Special Partners of GFF 2022 were World Bank Group, United Nations Capital Development Fund, BIS Innovation Hub, KNOMAD, Better Than Cash Alliance and International Finance Corporation (IFC).

CT Bureau

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