Rajesh Chainani is the Senior Vice President of the Service Provider business vertical for India and the SAARC (the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries. Mr Chainani brings with him over eighteen years of telecom and datacom industry experience in systems engineering, project management and marketing. Prior to this current role, Mr Chainani was Head - Service Provider APAC, Product Solutions Marketing, responsible for Cisco Service provider marketing across Asia Pacific. Mr Chainani was nominated for the company’s RM award in 2005. Prior to Cisco, Rajesh worked with Newbridge network as Business and system manager for India operations. Mr Chainani has also held various positions at Indchem Communication Ltd and Vikas Hybrids. Rajesh Chainani holds a B.E. in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering, Bombay University and a diploma in Financial Management.
A country’s effective participation in the Information Society depends as much upon the right sort of regulatory and business environment as it does upon its information and communications technology infrastructure and access. Tools such as the World Economic Forum’s Networked Readiness Index (NRI) measure how well countries exploit information and communications technology opportunities. The NRI helps developing countries evaluate their ICT preparedness and develop policies that speed their development and bring the business and social benefits of a connected world.
Establishing a pervasive and prosperous Internet culture is as much about creating the right business environment as it is about adopting the right technology. If governments - national, regional, and municipal - want to harness the potential of information and communication technologies (ICT), they must not only invest in ICT infrastructure and the capabilities to support it, but also be ready to modify their country’s relevant institutional setting - or ICT ecosystem - to allow ICT to put its transformative powers to use. Using a diagnostic framework reflecting those two dimensions and a mapping tool that employs Networked Readiness Index (NRI) component indicators, countries can gain insight into how to chart a balanced path between ICT infrastructure and ecosystem initiatives that serves their own mix of social inclusion and economic growth objectives. The opportunities presenting themselves to emerging economies right now, with the introduction of ICT, are unprecedented. These opportunities, if maximized, may well represent the best hope for economic transformation. The Internet Protocol (IP) network platform is at the heart of this shift. The ability of emerging countries to capitalize on these opportunities depends on how well they build and exploit their networks’ capabilities. In other words, the technology without the appropriate supporting legal and regulatory climate, or vice versa, will result in less than ideal results - and both are needed for countries to capture the promise of ICT. At present, major geo-economic changes are underway. Emerging countries today account for almost 30 per cent of global GDP in nominal terms; over the next three years, global GDP should grow by over US$5 trillion in real terms. Emerging countries are likely to generate nearly two-thirds of this incremental GDP. In the meantime, a major milestone is being crossed - more Internet users live in emerging than in developed countries. It is doubtful this trend will reverse anytime soon. Emerging nations account for the bulk of mineral reserves, more than 80 per cent of the world’s population, and virtually all the growth in global population. Still, it is not population or mineral wealth that is driving the change. It is the unleashing of enterprise creativity, combined with high rates of investment, which explain much of this remarkable transition from slow growth to hyper-growth. It could be argued that the rapid growth in many emerging economies has resulted from major injections of labour and capital into productive activities. To sustain the growth and become truly global, these countries will have to increase productivity faster, and ICT comes is an important enabler and productivity enhancer. Most of the productivity-inducing ICT developments, notably IP networks, are too new for definitive quantitative analysis, but there are plenty of indications of their value to productivity. Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, was recently quoted as saying, “We know that ICT accounts for half of the productivity growth in modern economies.” The World Economic Forum has also noted a strong correlation between its Global Competitiveness and Network Readiness Indexes. In India, it has opened up new areas of economic growth. There is a window of opportunity for India to better position itself and gain maximum benefit from the current era of networked globalization. For example, in the Tirupur Knitwear cluster ICT has been very useful in areas such as sampling, costing, capacity planning, resource planning, production scheduling, order management, skill management, production, and inventory management, which has helped them improve customer service. Opportunities like this are more accessible than ever, thanks to technological advances (such as wireless and other low-cost forms of connectivity) and to a decline in the prices of many components and devices necessary for connectivity - such as computer equipment, whose prices experienced an eightfold decline in less than two decades. The threat of being left behind is also a major concern. National, regional, and municipal governments must think about becoming ICT enablers so that creative private enterprise and community partners can deploy solutions that are sustainable, profitable, and equitable. The speed at which technology is evolving means that the current opportunity to bolster competitiveness through ICT adoption is not one with a long timeframe. As countries race to move to the next phase of development and become more globally competitive, ICT will continue to be a significant contributor. The overwhelming majority of the increase in the number of personal computers in use is now taking place in emerging nations. Brazil, China, India and Russia, alone, are on track to add about one billion PCs over the next decade; today, the same number, one billion, are currently in use worldwide. Emerging countries are already home to nearly 60 per cent of the global wireless market, and will be responsible for 87 per cent of the 1.5 billion new wireless connections expected by 2010. Like electricity, roads, and water systems in earlier stages of development, high-speed broadband connectivity is quickly becoming a necessary infrastructure for economic growth and competitiveness, and for government contributions to the welfare and empowerment of their citizens. Many emerging countries are making ubiquitous access to high-speed connectivity a major priority. In practice, this does not assume that everyone in a country will have PCs connected to the Internet or telephone; the goal should be to provide all citizens and businesses with the ability to tap Internet potential to enhance their standards of living and productivity. The move to embrace ICT is fuelled not only by businesses, academics, and governments that recognize the potential benefits, but increasingly by individuals and communities in emerging countries. They are keenly aware of ICT potential in general, and of IP networks in particular, to enable access to information, new educational opportunities, economic opportunities and provide a greater public voice. For example, India already has 2.8 million rural farmers that are using locally manufactured public Internet kiosks called e- Choupals to check fair market prices for their crops. Although extending connectivity immediately to all parts of a country is a noble objective, for many emerging markets this may not be achievable from the start. A more viable approach may be to focus on cities first. Indeed, progress in cities is likely to create a stronger foundation from which to expand the reach of networks, especially as developing countries become increasingly urbanized. Cities tend to have a critical mass of both household and business demand that makes more ventures commercially viable. They often have better execution capabilities for whatever government support is needed and will offer more partnership possibilities - at least initially - for both connectivity and applications. Recent research suggests that city inhabitants in emerging, countries are fully aware of the potential benefits of network connectivity and are willing to pay for the value the network represents. The opportunity exists for developing nations to use not only their most populated cities, but also more remote regional centres in rural areas, as focal points from which the benefits of network connectivity can emanate. Emerging nations are at a critical juncture. Technology is now available to help to transform their economies quickly and efficiently. But the transformation will occur only if governments understand that an investment in ICT infrastructure must be matched by a concerted effort to change the legal, regulatory, business, and cultural ecosystems to promote and sustain broadband penetration. The network-readiness mapping tool provides an early indicator of what successful countries are doing right and, hence, a source of ideas on how developing countries can best seize the moment to improve education, government, and health services; raise income levels and GDP; and enjoy the many business and social benefits of a connected world.