We have been engaged with broader connectivity issues in the region since 2010, when Abu Saeed Khan and I started working to move ICT connectivity issues up on UN ESCAP’s agenda, embedded in other forms of connectivity.
Much of what we’ve done in this area recently has been on the demand for connectivity developing in the Bay of Bengal. But thanks to the Trincomalee Consultation organized by Pathfinder Foundation and Carnegie India, I look at the supply side, with focus on Trincomalee. Here are the concluding comments.
When conclusions are drawn from maps and anecdotes, it seems obvious that Trincomalee is ideally positioned to serve as a maritime gateway to the Bay of Bengal region. But the very fact that this natural harbor whose virtues were extolled by luminaries from Winston Churchill to K.M. Panikkar (allegedly) has been underutilized since the end of the Second World War suggests that some pre-conditions were missing.
The paper identifies seven lacunae in the areas of security, domestic land and air connectivity, energy, water, social infrastructure and land. It describes ongoing action to remedy them and presents ideas for filling the lacunae. These actions require the engagement of both the central government and provincial governments, the mobilization of public-private partnerships and effective implementation. The paper also discusses the challenges of establishing Trincomalee as secondary port along with Hambantota which will also serve the Bay of Bengal.
The slides are here. The paper will hopefully be made available shortly.