UN and Bhutan launch ICT capacity development programme to improve connectivity and bridge digital divide in Himalayan kingdom

More than 40 senior Bhutan government officials and policymakers are meeting in Thimphu this week for a United Nations information and communication technology (ICT) capacity building programme that aims to support national socio-economic development.

The UN Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (APCICT), a subsidiary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), has partnered with Bhutan's Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) and the Royal Institute of Management (RIM) to launch its Academy of ICT Essentials for Government Leaders (Academy) programme in the country.

The Academy is APCICT's flagship training programme with a comprehensive ICT-for- development (ICTD) curriculum designed to equip government leaders with the necessary skills and knowledge to leverage ICT for socio-economic development.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, APCICT Director Dr. Hyeun-Suk Rhee noted the significance of the Academy launch.

"Today's roll-out clearly demonstrates the Royal Government of Bhutan's commitment to developing ICT human resource capacity for the purpose of enhancing and driving the country's socio-economic development work."

Bhutan is making considerable progress in implementing numerous ICT activities, according to the latest review by the International Development Research Centre. In 2009, work began on the Royal Government of Bhutan's flagship ICT infrastructure project, the Thimphu Tech Park. ICT human resource capacity development has been made a government priority as demonstrated by Bhutan's Chiphen Rigpel "Empowering a Society, Enabling a Nation" project designed to provide ICT training to all social sectors in order to move Bhutan into the Information Age.

"The Royal Government of Bhutan is very pleased to be partnering with APCICT to strengthen the ability of government officials and development stakeholders in the country to effectively use ICT to achieve our national development goals," said H.E. Lyonpo Nandalal Rai, Minister for Information and Communication in his opening address. "It is through ICT awareness and skills that our leaders and citizens will achieve their full potential and enable us to build a knowledge–based Gross National Happiness society."

First launched in 2008, the Academy has been implemented in 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific region in partnership with national governments, academic institutions and regional development stakeholders.

About United Nations APCICT-ESCAP (http://www.unapcict.org)

The United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (UN-APCICT/ESCAP) is a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), established with a membership identical to that of ESCAP and is located in Incheon, Republic of Korea. APCICT aims to strengthen the efforts of the member countries of ESCAP to use ICT in their socio-economic development by building human and institutional capacity for ICT through comprehensive programmes and knowledge sharing platforms.