How one policy mistake can lead to more if not careful. The case of Bhutan

Posted on October 5, 2014  /  3 Comments

Bhutan built an IT Park in a nice location between the principal city and the airport. The promise of those who put this project, funded by the World Bank, was that Bhutan would attract foreign BPO firms to Thimphu to create white-collar jobs for young people. In turn, it is possible that they had received assurances from several large IT & ITES firms in India that they would set up operations in Thimphu.

Anyway, the agreements were signed and the IT Park built. But no one came [Correction: Not as many as expected came; there are two companies at the IT Park]. The Singapore company managing the Park pulled out.

The blame game is what remains.

I have looked at the numbers: Bhutan cannot supply adequate numbers of employees to staff conventional BPO activities. Bhutan is remote. It is not cheap. All these affect the success of the IT Park. Telecom costs are not the sole reason. They will come down if a few International Gateway Operators are licensed. But the market is minuscule. I was hoping it could be made more attractive by including the possibility of providing transit services, either into China or between the North East states and the rest of India.

Commercial entities must be allowed to solve the problem. The government becoming the supplier of international telecom connectivity will create more problems, not solve them.

But getting telecom costs down alone will not do it. Bhutan needs to find a niche expertise. My friend Raja Mitra suggested Buddhist KPO.


  1. Dear Rohan, you have reached a wrong conclusion about the IT Park project. I suggest you pay a visit to the IT Park if you are in Bhutan one of these days. We already have two international BPO companies, Scan Cafe and Shaun Communications, employing around 250 Bhutanese youths. Another international software company, Southtech Limited, is coming in from next month. In addition, we have three Bhutanese companies – Bhutan Telecom contact centre, iSOFT Business Transformation Services and Data Centre Services employing around 80 people in total. IT Park is well on its way to achieving its objectives albeit slow.

  2. I am happy to hear that. Good that you can overcome the problem posed by the withdrawal of the Singapore company. I only wish success for the Park. I think it will do well if more effort is made to attract local IT entrepreneurs as well.