Making IT a sunrise sector for Goa: Ameya Abhyankar, Director – IT, Govt of Goa

Ameya Abhyankar, Director - IT and Special Secretary to CM, Government of Goa
Ameya Abhyankar, Director - IT and Special Secretary to CM, Government of Goa

As far as infrastructure is concerned with IT parks coming up and the policy falling into place, I think over the next 5 to 7 years Goa would be one of the most preferred IT destination,” says Ameya Abhyankar, Director – IT and Special Secretary to CM, Government of Goa. In an interview with Ankush Kumar, he shares the potential of Goa as an emerging destination for global IT conglomerates and how the state is leveraging technologies for effective governance.

Edited Excerpts :

Tell us about the road map for IT and electronics expansion in the state of Goa?

We already have a roadmap with respect to IT and electronics. In December 2015, the state of Goa announced the IT and electronics policy in which we declared number of incentives – most of them focused on the growth and development of the IT and Electronics sectors in the state. These were basically aimed at the green field developments, brown field developments and also focusing on the small and medium enterprises, particularly in the startup space. There are incentives ranging from tax incentives , land and concessional prices, availability of reliable and affordable power.

There are also incentives in terms of relaxation of electricity charges for small and medium enterprises, salary payback, concession on internet bandwidths etc. So right across the spectrum both for large and small and medium enterprises, the policies has taken adequate care of all the segments. Apart from that, the Government of Goa has earmarked about 50 acres of land for the IT park at Chimbel which is about six km from Panaji and 150 acres of land at a place called Tuem which is in North Goa. So for this, we have already appointed our consultant and master plan is already ready. As far as the electronics park is concerned, we will be putting it for a final approval with the Government of India and other green field EMC schemes. So I think the project should materialize in about 12 – 18 months as there is lot of interest from the industry. IT park will be developed on a PPP basis unlike the conventional IT parks so we are not going to go with the existing models – we will focus more on having a cluster driven approach looking at variety of segments.

Why do you think that Goa has an opportunity to leap frog in IT. What are the factors that can lead to the overall growth of the state?

The state is best known for its tourism but the IT sector is also quite significant in Goa so there are more than 250 IT companies in Goa out of which 70 percent of the companies would be in the startup space. Secondly, if you look at Goa, the availability of English speaking human resource is much more than most of the other parts of the country. The third thing is that Goa has lowest attrition rate in the country. There are lot of interesting products and services that are coming out of Goa which are presently servicing international market. So we have startups based out of Goa who are developing tourism solutions, logistics solutions, transport solutions or eCommerce solutions for clients abroad. There are also large number of companies that are into website design, packaging design and many new areas. With the Startup India, Standup India the whole focus is to try and be at the top of the value chain and look at R&D design prototyping. If you see challenges before the IT industry at the state, the first thing is to build a better visibility of Goa as an IT destination by showcasing the great product and services that has originated from Goa, in addition to showing the HR freedom for IT. Earlier there was no policy so now a policy has also been put in place. Goa also has an international recognition, so it has an inherent brand value. Therefore with so much of scope, I firmly see IT as a sunrise sector for Goa and we are very optimistic. As far as the infrastructure is concerned with IT parks coming up and the policy falling into place, I think over the next 5 to 7 years, Goa would be one of the most preferred IT destinations.

How do you see Goa as an IT destination for some of the top global brands for investments? Do you think there is reasonable connectivity in the state with respect to broadband penetration ?

Goa is one of the great models of broadband penetration in anywhere in the country, right from 2009 we have rolled out and we have successfully commissioned a Goa Wide Broadband Network where all 189 village panchayats are connected with one GB fiber link. From state to all taluka headquarters and all district headquarters are connected on 10 GB fiber. Apart from that, we have other locations covering schools and colleges, so in terms of broadband availability we are currently looking to move into phase two, where we plan to connect every house with fiber. From the connectivity view point, there is a sufficiently robust OFC infrastructure in Goa. We will be looking to leverage it and ensure that the required bandwidth is made available to IT industry or IT companies looking to invest in Goa.

How much is the focus of the state on skill development? What role can the IT industry play to boost skill development in the state?

Skill development is very important but for the IT profession in particular, skills are not permanent because technology keeps changing so there has to be a continuous updation of knowledge. Through the chamber of commerce and the various engineering colleges in Goa, we are trying to work out a program so that the manpower coming out of the colleges are industry ready and aware of the requirement in the industry as far as actual performance of job is concerned. The second thing is that there is a vision in the department to try and create a virtual skill development sector where you can take up learning through eLearning and different kinds of modules. We are presently scouting for different knowledge partners to provide this kind of virtual education system which can help people to take up short courses where they can develop specific skill sets, which would be based on the extensive interaction and inputs from the industry.

We have very robust manufacturing setup in the state which contributes to 25-30 percent to the GDP. We have large number of electronic manufacturing companies in Goa like Seamen,IFP, CommScope, Titan etc. These firms are unicorns in their own field.

How much is the department’s focus on emerging technologies? What are the areas that these technologies are being used effectively?

We are significantly focusing on Big Data, Analytics, Cloud and IoT. As Panjim has already been announced for the smart city project and it is also part of Amrut mission, so we are working with the Urban Development department to see how IoT can be leveraged for the smart city project. As far as cloud is concerned we are launching a new data center which will work on virtualization of servers. So, it will essentially have a cloud architecture. Then as far as analytics is concerned, we are looking at using social media tools for understanding public sentiments about different government services, their delivery, and reaching out to people by addressing their grievances. We also plan to do performance rating of different government departments through the use of big data analytics. We want to work on a platform where small and medium businesses can be visible and can be described as per the product and services they are offering. Apart from that they are rated and they are ranked so that the larger chunk of business comes to Goa.