More than two decades ago, India began its transformation into a global technology powerhouse, ushering in an era of wealth and job creation never before seen in the country. We in Bahrain strive to create similar status in the Middle East with similarities in innovative graduates, solid support and atractive location for investors and entrepreneurs. Let us look at India’s status in the global telecom and technology roadmap:
The Indian telecommunications sector is the second largest in the world, with 1.2 billion subscribers. India’s mobile economy has been driven by widespread adoption, with wireless subscriptions representing 98 percent of telephone use. According to Deloitte, India is expected to reach 1 billion smartphones by 2026, from 750 million currently. India has also emerged as the second largest manufacturer of mobile handsets in the world. India also has 788 million broadband subscribers. India scored 49.74/100 in the Portulans Institute’s Network Readiness Index, improving its ranking from 88 in 2020 to 67 in 2021 out of 130 countries surveyed.
Innovation needs people
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is blurring the lines between what was thought possible and impossible, connecting the physical, digital and even biological spheres. Against the backdrop of technological changes wrought by this transformation, India has become a place of both unique problems and increasingly innovative solutions.
India has already started to undergo a technological transformation. Its population has moved along an exponential technology curve from barely any connectivity in 2014 to being the second most connected nation in the world, with 560 million internet users, as of this year, surpassed only by China. This technology penetration and connectivity was enabled by the increase the country has seen in smartphone users, from 86 million five years ago to 450 million today. The spread of technology has also created a fertile ground for start-ups. India was recently ranked as having the third-largest start-up ecosystem in the world, as the country now has 26 start-up companies valued at more than $1 billion each. This success rate has encouraged interest in digital entrepreneurship as a career path, which can help build a techsavvy workforce. In a recent survey of young people in India, a third of the respondents indicated interest in entrepreneurship as a career.
Certainly, the country has all the right conditions for entrepreneurial growth supported by a combination of changing demographics and economic trends. Firstly, India has an unrivalled youth population (more than 65% of India’s 1.3 billion people are under the age of 35, with more than 50% under 25). Secondly, India is experiencing tremendous urbanization, with a rise in the migration of young people from rural areas to cities. From a consumer point of view, this creates a young, middle-class demographic with increased spending power and heightened interest in digital innovation. From a business perspective, this is also an appealing source of talent for the workforce.
How to become the next silicon valley
If India can continue to develop its urban centers and promote a Valley spirit of entrepreneurship, it could be in a prime position to achieve global tech hub status. Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) in the south and Gurgaon in the north are two tech-savvy cities emblematic of India’s rapid urbanization. The country is set to become the largest contributor to the world’s urban population.
Bengaluru has previously been ranked by JLL’s 2017 City Momentum Index as the most dynamic city in the world, based on factors like technology and innovation. While initially an outsourcing hub, the city has successfully moved away from this past focus, embracing entrepreneurship and emerging technologies. This has allowed it to position itself as India’s tech capital. In 2018 alone, there were 153 new start-ups founded in Bengaluru, which has the necessary level of talent and venture capital to create the conditions for start-up success.
The city of Gurgaon has transformed from a former agricultural wasteland into an urban sea of skyscrapers. It attracts multinational companies and global tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Zomato, Uber, Booking.com and TripAdvisor, as well as local businesses. It has also quickly emerged as a hub for numerous services, from IT software and finance, to consulting.