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Reliance Industries to invest $39B in digital space

Mukesh Ambani

Mukesh Ambani

Reliance Industries will make an investment of over Rs 250,000 crore in the digital space, including rollout of wireless broadband infrastructure and manufacturing of mobile handsets, its chairman Mukesh Ambani said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the launch of Digital India Week here, Ambani, whose $16 billion Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd is set to launch telephony and broadband services by December, said the firm’s investments in digital space will create employment for over 5 lakh people.

“We at Reliance will invest over Rs 250,000 crore across the Digital India pillars,” he said.

Elaborating on the investment, he said infrastructure for all-IP next-generation, wireless broadband infrastructure across all the 29 states in India is being laid. “This will be amongst the best in the world.”

Jio is also setting up a new nationwide distribution network that will enable over 150,000 small electronic retailers to sell and service smartphones and Internet devices, he said.

“Thirdly, Jio is working with leading device manufacturers encouraging them to make smartphones and Internet devices in India at an affordable price. We will give them an assured offtake through our retail system,” he added.

Reliance, he said, has “committed to make the necessary investments and strongly partner with central and state governments in the area of e-governance, digital education, digital healthcare, smart cities and rural digital services.”

Ambani said a Jio Digital India Startup Fund will be created for entrepreneurship in cities and towns. “Our intent is to provide a platform for young Indians who what to create digital businesses of the future.”

Lauding the Digital India initiative, he said the programme has a potential to fundamentally transform the lives of 1.2 billion Indians using the power of digital technology.

“As the world matures in the information age, digitisation is changing the way we live, learn, work and play,” he said.

While industry normally moves faster than government, with Digital India the government has moved faster, he added.

In Modi, India is fortunate to have a Prime Minister “who not only paints a comprehensive and compelling vision but has the personal leadership and drive to convert his vision to reality,” he said.

“It is my conviction, Prime Minister, under your leadership, the Digital India initiative will create a partnership among all sections of society… a partnership that will leverage the power of 1.2 billion Indians. A partnership built on the ability and industry of all our citizens,” he added.

Speaking at the launch of Digital India Week, Anil Ambani said the Indian story, which had been driven by 3-Ds – democracy, demographics and demand, added a fourth ‘D’ – Decisiveness.

“A little over a year ago, we added a 4th ‘D’, which is perhaps even more important: Decisiveness. With Narendrabhai assuming charge as Prime Minister, we inaugurated a new era in our nation’s history: of visionary and decisive leadership,” he said.

Digital India, the Reliance Group head said, would add another unique dimension to that story.

Modi, Anil added, is India’s greatest and among the world’s most popular leaders in the digital space with over 80 lakh followers on Twitter and over 3 times that number or 2.5 crore followers on Facebook.

“In other words, Digital India carries the signature of a leader whose name is synonymous with the transformational power of connectivity and communication,” he said.

Anil-led Reliance Group committed to invest about Rs 10,000 crore over the next few years to expand its presence across digital, cloud computing and telecom space.

Meanwhile, top CEOs from India and abroad committed to invest Rs 4.5 lakh crore for the Modi government’s ambitious ‘Digital India’ campaign to provide telephony and fast internet for all, with more than half of the promised investments announced by Mukesh Ambani alone.

The Reliance Industries Chairman was joined by top industry leaders like Sunil Bharti Mittal (Rs one lakh crore), Kumar Mangalam Birla ($ 9 billion or about Rs 54,000 crore), and Anil Agarwal (Rs 40,000 crore) with large investment announcements.

His younger brother Anil Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Group, also announced an investment of Rs 10,000 crore to expand businesses across digital, cloud and telecom space.

The launch ceremony of Digital India week by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the packed Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, was attended by who’s who of India Inc, as also top executives of a number of foreign companies, who committed huge investments in creation of infrastructure and setting up of manufacturing units.

The investments announced today will lead to creation of 18 lakh jobs, IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said at the event.

Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani pledged an investment of over Rs 2,50,000 crore in rollout of wireless broadband infrastructure and manufcture of mobile handsets.

The company is working with leading device manufacturers encouraging them to Make in India smartphones and internet devices at an affordable price, he said.

Bharti group chief Sunil Mittal said his group will invest more than Rs 1 lakh crore in the next five years in networks and deeper infrastructure for taking 4G connectivity to the masses, e-health and taking e-education in every village.

The company will also collaborate with various manufacturers around the world to start manufacturing in the country to provide electronic products at the most affordable and reduce the burden of electronics import in this country.

Aditya Birla group, which owns the country’s third largest mobile operator Idea Cellular, will invest $7 billion over the next five years in network rollout, broadband and wi-fi deployment, its Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla said.

Besides, he also announced a $2 billion investment over the next five years specifically for Digital India plans.

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