India woos UAE investors to its internet and technology sector

India is targeting UAE investors as it aims to grow its internet and technology sector, as part of its efforts to boost its economy.

Ajay Kumar, the additional secretary of the government of India’s department of electronics and information technology, told an audience of UAE heavyweight business delegates in Mumbai this month about the opportunities to invest in the sector, during a conference to coincide with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi’s visit to India.

India was particularly keen to partner with the UAE on semiconductor manufacturing to set up a plant in India, he said, given the UAE’s expertise in this field. Mr Kumar highlighted that India also wanted to set up a US$1 billion joint innovation fund with the UAE, largely focused on electronics and ICT start-ups.

The areas in which India is trying to raise investment include electronics, information technology, telecoms, the Internet of Things and e-commerce, which all have enormous scope for growth, he said.

“With India’s human resources and talent, India’s growth in this sector, the changing and new face of India, I think this is the opportunity between two countries.”

Mr Kumar explained that more and more Indians in rural areas of the country were making use of e-commerce and government internet-based services.

The government’s Digital India campaign was aimed at transforming India into a “digitally empowered society,” Mr Kumar. “The prime minister has given the vision that Digital India is about every one of its 1.25 billion people. It is not that technology was not present in India in the past. But what is different is that it is about involving every citizen in the country as part of this effort, and that is providing a scale that was not there,” he said.

The government was focusing on areas such as the development of infrastructure – including data centres – and services, to try to boost digital access in India.

“Today the government has opened this opportunity up to various cloud service providers,” said Mr Kumar. “The world’s leading cloud service providers such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Indian ones such as Tata, are all looking to participate in this.”

India, he added, was keen for UAE investors to also participate in this space, along with areas such as “digital lockers”, and providing government e-services for sectors including healthcare, agriculture, and education, which would all require significant private and public investment.

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