Fast paced growth in computer literacy and greater use of data on mobiles will help India’s Internet economy grow to $200 billion or 5 percent of the GDP by 2020, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday.
Accepting that India’s broadband penetration is low, the minister said the government is addressing the issue in a “time-bound manner”, partly through the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project.
“For the Internet Economy to touch $200 billion (roughly Rs. 12,41,100 crores) by 2020 that will contribute 5 percent of gross domestic product, we need to move at a fast pace towards computer literacy. The other key areas which will help the Internet economy to grow is Mobile Internet,” Prasad said at India Digital Summit in New Delhi.
“I accept that India’s broadband penetration is low but we are working on NOFN project to resolve this in a time-bound manner. Around 10 lakh kilometres of fibre has been laid in the country during the last 25 years, and under NOFN we have plans to lay 7 lakh kilometres of fibre in about 3 years plus time,” he said.
He termed the Digital India Programme launched by the NDA government as a game changer and said broadband is going to play a key role in it.
Prasad released the India@Digital.Bharat report which has suggested measures to government to facilitate over three times growth of Internet economy from about $60 billion (roughly Rs. 3,72,330 crores) at present to $200 billion by 2018.
Internet based businesses and ecosystem around it can reach $200 billion by 2020, contributing to about 5 percent of GDP, said the report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and Boston Consulting Group.
Growth in the Internet economy will create nearly 15-20 lakh job opportunities by 2018 compared to 4-5 lakh employed by it at present, the report estimated.
According to it, Internet users in India will jump from 190 million as of June 2014 to over 550 million, while the number in rural areas will touch 210 million by 2018.
Google India Managing Director and IAMAI Chairman Rajan Anandan said: “India is the 3rd country in the world to have over 5 Internet companies valued at over $1 billion (roughly Rs. 6,200 crores). India is the fastest growing Internet country but we need to move from narrow band to broadband at the earliest.”
Prasad had recently told Parliament that the NOFN project, which aims to connect 2.5 lakh village panchayats with 100 megabit per second download speed, will be completed by December 2016.
For achieving big growth in Internet economy, the IMAI-BCG report has suggested various measures to government including affordable access through ubiquitous network reach and affordable data enabled devices and Internet plans, facilitating digital transactions and developing a regulatory framework to facilitate content development.
It has suggested reviewing of IT Act, the Copyright Act and the online distance education regulations.