digital villages

Nokia has launched a project to develop 500 sustainable and digital villages in India.

The project Smartpur will be implemented in phases to help the Indian government achieve its goals set under the Digital India initiative.

The aim is to improve quality of life for residents through increasing consumer access to the internet and digital services.

A study conducted by the International Telecom Union found that 20% of households in developed and 66% of households in developing countries do not have access to the internet. Nearly a billion of these consumers live in rural India.

The launch of Smartpur follows a successful pilot implemented in partnership with the Digital Empowerment Foundation. The pilot included the development of 10 sustainable and digital villages.

Smartpur will be implemented in phases with the first stage including the development of 20 smart villages in Haryana and Tamil Nadu.

Central hubs will be developed in Tain village in Mewat district and in Haryana and Asoor in Kanchipuram district to provide ICT-enabled services to other villages participating under phase 1.

The ICT-enabled services will be in the health, education, livelihood, governance and finance sectors.

Phase 2 will scale-up village integration and provision of digital services to 80 villages.

The scope is to add 400 villages within five years of implementing phase 2.

Sanjay Malik, head of India Market at the technology firm, said: "At Nokia, we believe connecting the unconnected opens up opportunities in many areas and has tremendous potential to enable socio-economic empowerment of individual as well as communities."

The project is expected to enable transparency in governance and boost consumer access to various government services and information.

Ms Nina Vaskunlahti, Ambassador of Finland, said: "India is on the brink of a phenomenal digital journey, which can only be successful if it is all inclusive."