Your Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates 

ICTs has become indispensable for development across the globe. More than ever before technologies are impacting the lives of our citizens. Bhutan has given a lot of impetus to ICTs for accelerating its development. As an LDC we have a lot of basic challenges to overcome but we understand that ignoring investments in ICTs & STIs will further exacerbate the divide that already exists. Therefore Bhutan will invest in ICT as a foundation to Gross National Happiness. 

Keeping that in mind, Bhutan has already made relatively significant investments in ICT.

  • We have rolled out high-speed Fibre connections to all our gewogs (groups of villages) in our efforts to take Internet access to our most vulnerable citizens.
  • We continue to invest our Universal Service Fund to provide mobile connectivity to remote and sparsely populated communities and will soon begin upgrading technology to provide mobile broadband even in rural communities.
  • We have over 200 online and mobile public services that is monitored by the highest levels in government and we are reengineering those services to be more citizen-centric end-to-end Integrated services.
  • This API driven access to data across agencies will eventually open the pathway for open data leading Bhutan to ultimately to data democratization. 

Bhutan continues to invest in and benefit from ICTs & STIs; however it is not without challenges:

  • Cybersecurity, is a critical concern, with limited resources and limited capabilities in an increasingly complex and unsafe cyber world.
  • We are struggling to keep pace with shortening technology refresh periods.
  • This is creating a digital divide not only among countries but also within communities as well.
  • New threats are emerging using platforms that allows scales and speeds unheard of in the past.
  • Lack of domestic capability is a growing concern and talent attrition is having a serious impact on sustainability of our technology investments. 

We believe that the ITU could play a central role in supporting small states , LDCs and in particular landlocked LDCs in meeting the 2030 agenda even beyond what it is doing now.

  • The ITU should consider developing pragmatic rules and regulations that would help LDCs, LLDCs and developing nations to also benefit from space & space applications for Sustainable Development
  • The ITU is further requested to assist these vulnerable countries in addressing the crippling threats of cybersecurity and in general help in building capabilities to better leverage ICTs for sustainable development.
  • With regard to the class of membership contribution, considering the small resource base, Bhutan would like to propose that the current 1/8 unit be maintained for many more years to come.
  • Finally, we have numerous agenda items in front of us for the PP18 and we hope to learn as well as contribute to the discussions as necessary. 

Thank you.