OBG talks to J. Bat-Erdene, Chairman, Information, Communication Technology and Post Authority (ICTPA)

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 J. Bat-Erdene, Chairman, Information, Communication Technology and Post Authority (ICTPA)

Interview: J. Bat-Erdene

What is the next steps for advancing the telecommunications network and services?

BAT-ERDENE: During the last decade, we linked up around 160 soums (districts) to the fibre optic network in order to improve information and communications technology (ICT) networks, our aim was to connect not only populated areas but also the distant rural soums. The project to connect the remaining 150 soums was launched in 2011 and will be completed by 2012.

The 2011 ICT National Forum was held in Mongolia, and all sector stakeholders, including private sector representatives, discussed the country’s ICT vision for the next decade. The policy document produced discusses how we can harmonise with other economic sectors to support development through the existing ICT infrastructure. The document covers not only ICT but the whole economy. This will result in huge opportunities for the private sector.

In the information technologies (IT) sector, there are many start-up companies, and we are focusing on helping them expand market share. Current policy focuses both on extending the sector as well as penetrating other economic areas, such as education, agriculture and health. These sectors have a number of ICT demands, but they cannot define their needs. So we will cooperate on many levels to help the wider economy define its IT needs and determine how best to achieve them.

What measures are being adopted to encourage the development of more ICT infrastructure in the rural areas of the country?

BAT-ERDENE: The government has implemented the construction and formation of ICT infrastructure. Today conventional and advanced communication services are available to all centres of the aimags (provinces), soums and large settled areas through 17,900 km of fibre optic and almost 10,000 km of radio relay networks.

We set up a Universal Service Obligation Fund, which uses a certain percentage of telecommunications operator revenues to deliver necessary services and build infrastructure in remote areas with lower populations and scarce demand. The fund is mostly used to deliver ICT technology to rural communities.

In the future, our objective is to enable individuals, households and entrepreneurs to access social services electronically through high speed broadband. To accomplish this, the sector’s stakeholders need to invest in building infrastructure, while the state must regulate the market appropriately and create a favourable environment for business.

How could research and development (R&D) capabilities in Mongolia be enhanced? Which areas of R&D can Mongolia excel in?

BAT-ERDENE: Although the ICT sector is rapidly growing, the R&D needed for the manufacturing and development of hi-tech products lags behind. The regulatory, investment and legal framework required to support the national innovation system is not mature enough yet. One of the difficulties is Mongolia’s small population, which leads to labour scarcities for R&D.

However, the Comprehensive National Development Policy, based on the Millennium Development Goals of Mongolia, emphasised the IT sector as a key factor in intensifying the development of Mongolia and laying down the foundations of a knowledge-based economy. One such initiative is the ICT High-Tech Innovation Cluster, which is supported by the authority, endorsed by the Mongolian prime minister, and includes the creation of an ICT R&D centre.

Mongolia’s rich supplies of rare-earth minerals, a key raw material in electronics, present a brilliant opportunity to partner with high-tech countries on the manufacturing of electronics. R&D in renewable energy and semi-conductor manufacturing (sectors making use of rare-earths) should also be intensified. In the 2021 state policy document on ICT, which is in the process of being submitted to the State Great Khural ( Mongolia’s parliament), these industries were included as areas of high priority for intensive modernisations and R&D.

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The Report: Mongolia 2012

Telecoms and IT chapter from The Report: Mongolia 2012

Cover of the The Report: Mongolia 2012

The Report

This article is from the Telecoms and IT chapter of The Report: Mongolia 2012. Explore other chapters from this report.

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