Operators pledge $75 billion to India's Digital India initiative

Operators pledge $75 billion to India's Digital India initiative

India’s industry leaders have committed approximately $75 billion to India’s Digital India programme.

Among the investors were Bharti Group’s Sunit Mittal, Reliance Group’s Anil Ambani, Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani.

The pledges follow the Indian government’s launch of Digital India on Wednesday aimed at strengthening the country’s digital infrastructure.

The project aims to bridge the digital divide and provide every citizen with access to digital services and information, said the country’s prime minister Narenda Modi.

"I dream of a digital India, where government services are easily available to citizens, where access to information knows no barriers," said Modi. "I dream of a digital India, where government is open and governance is transparent. I dream of a digital India where the world looks to India for the next big idea."

"I dream of a digital India where high-speed digital highways unite the nation; 1.2 billion connected Indians drive innovation; technology ensures the citizen-government interface is incorruptible," he said.

Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani pledged the largest investment of $39 billion (2.5 trillion rupees). The company has reportedly invested nearly $12 billion in its telecoms business over the last few years. 

"Normally, industry moves faster than government but with Digital India it is different. I have no hesitation in saying that government has moved faster," said Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani. 

Reliance Group’s Anil Ambani pledged approximately $1.85 billion aimed at enhancing broadband delivery and cloud-enabled platforms. Reliance Communications will double its data centre capacity to 1.2 million square feet over the next few years, according to Ambani. 

Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of Aditya Birla group, which owns operator Idea Cellular, said he would invest $7 billion to fund network roll outs, broadband and Wifi deployment. In addition Bharti Airtel’s Sunil Bharti Mittal committed approximately $16 billion towards the strengthening of infrastructure aimed at bringing 4G connectivity to the masses. 

"Digital India has power to transform the country in shortest time, also digitally native Modi the right man to lead the drive. Modi understands the power of technology and how it can transform the nation, connect the nation in shortest timeframe. Who better to lead it than our PM," Mittal said. 

"We at Airtel are fully committed to stand behind this vision. We will make very meaningful contribution to the initiative of Digital India," he added.