Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Enhancing ICT Connectivity in China-Central Asia Corridor

Kunagorn Kunavut, Atsuko Okuda, Dongjung Lee

Abstract


The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aims to enhance connectivity and collaboration among 60 countries and beyond in Asia, Africa and Europe. Information and communications technology (ICT) is an indispensable component of the initiative, critical in providing fundamental communication channels for global financial transactions, trade exchanges and transport and energy connectivity, and socio cultural collaboration and scientific exchanges between people, organizations and countries along the BRI corridors. Previously constrained by infrastructure deficits in ICT, the Asia-Pacific region is accelerating its efforts to provide reliable and affordable broadband networks throughout the region, to contribute to successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Within the BRI corridors, this study which has been undertaken as part of the research programme of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) on promoting regional economic cooperation and integration, focuses on the China-Central Asia Corridor (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), giving attention to the sub-region’s specific challenges, namely limited international transit opportunities and an increase in bandwidth requirements that is expected to grow exponentially, as the fourth industrial evolution centered on automation and artificial intelligence gathers momentum. The sub-region is characterized as highly dependent on the ease and costs of connecting to neighboring countries for transit, as many countries in the sub-region are landlocked developing countries (LLDC). Because of the geographical features and other factors, the development potential of Central Asia and its integration into globalization, continues to be stymied by insufficient international bandwidth and high transit costs to access international links. Therefore, improved ICT connectivity in Central Asia through the BRI corridor could result in improved availability and affordability of broadband networks and services in the sub-region.

For the purpose of this study, a gap analysis is the methodology that underpins the proposed topology for the China-Central Asia Corridor. The analysis included examining the current state of the optic infrastructure, such as existing and planned fiber-optic networks, existing Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) and international gateways. The study also identifies the key factors that determine the desired future state of infrastructure deployment for the BRI initiative. A topology that consists of connecting Almaty (Kazakhstan) and Urumqi (China), as core nodes, is proposed based on a partial mesh topology. Over and above this core finding, the study concludes that digital infrastructure connectivity has a tendency of lagging behind the rapid opportunities evolving, and the study therefore advocates for sub-regional and regional approaches, including the BRI and Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS) in further expanding regional broadband networks. A key recommendation of the study is co-deployment of broadband infrastructure along passive infrastructure, as an additional cost effective means of achieving fast and affordable broadband connectivity for all.


Keywords


Belt and Road Initiative; China-Central Asia Corridor; infrastructure

Full Text:

PDF

References


Asian Development Bank (2015). “Regional: Digital economy study in Central and West Asia (Unleashing the potential of the Internet in Central Asia, South Asia, the Caucasus and beyond)”. Manila, the Philippines: Asian Development Bank.

____ (2016). “Road to 2030: Information and communications technology in ADB’s corporate strategy and operations”. Manila, the Philippines: Asian Development Bank.

____ (2017). “Meeting Asia’s infrastructure needs”. Manila, the Philippines: Asian Development Bank. doi: 10.22617/FLS168388-2.

Bolger N (2016). “Omantel and Multinet Pakistan announce Silk Route Gateway”. May 10, 2016. London, UK: Capacity Media.

CNNIC (2016). “Statistical report on Internet development in China”. Beijing, China: CNNIC.

Electronic Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan (2017). “Informational Kazakhstan—2020. State program”. Kazakhstan: Electronic Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

ESCAP (2014). “An in-depth study of broadband infrastructure in North and Central Asia”. Bangkok, Thailand: ESCAP.

____ (2016a). “Building e-resilience in China: Enhancing the role of information and communications technology for disaster risk management”. Bangkok, Thailand: ESCAP.

____ (2016b). “Updated analysis of the broadband infrastructure in the ESCAP region”. Bangkok, Thailand: ESCAP.

____ (2017a). “A study of ICT connectivity for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Enhancing the collaboration in China-Central Asia Corridor”. Bangkok, Thailand: ESCAP.

____ (2017b). “Trade and trade facilitation along the Belt and Road Initiative corridors”. ARTNeT Working Paper Series No. 172. Bangkok, Thailand: ESCAP.

____ (2017c). “Artificial intelligence and broadband divide: State of ICT connectivity in Asia and the Pacific 2017”. Bangkok, Thailand: ESCAP.

____ (2017d). “Effect of open international gateways on the broadband connectivity market”. Bangkok, Thailand: ESCAP.

____ (2017e). “Building a resilient digital economy: Fostering SMEs in Central Asia”. Bangkok, Thailand: ESCAP.

____ (2017f). “The impact of Universal Service Funds on fixed-broadband deployment and Internet adoption in Asia and the Pacific”. Bangkok, Thailand: ESCAP.

____ ESCAP (2017g)., “Enhancing regional economic cooperation and integration in Asia and the Pacific”. Bangkok, Thailand: ESCAP.

Government of the Republic of Tajikistan (2009). “Development of ICT in the Republic of Tajikistan”. Presentation during the Sub-regional Workshop on Strengthening ICT Policies and Applications to Achieve MDGs and WSIS Goals in Central Asia and South Asia, October 21–22, 2009. Bangkok, Thailand: ESCAP.

Inderst G (2016). “Infrastructure investment, private finance and institutional investors: Asia from a global perspective”. ADBI Working Paper Series, No. 555. Tokyo, Japan: Asian Development Bank Institute. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.2721577.

ISOC (2015). “Internet Exchange Points (IXPs)”. Reston, VA, USA: ISOC.

ITU (2017a). “Measuring the information society report 2017”. Geneva, Switzerland: International Telecommunication Union.

____ (2017b). “ICT facts and figures”. Geneva, Switzerland: International Telecommunication Union.

McKinsey Global Institute (2016). “Bridging global infrastructure gaps”. Shanghai, China. McKinsey & Company

Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) of the People’s Republic of China (2016). “Broadband China strategy and its implementation”. Presentation during Workshop on Knowledge and Policy Gaps in Disaster Risk Reduction and Development Planning, March 8–9, 2016. Bangkok, Thailand: ESCAP.

National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) (2015). “Vision and actions on jointly building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road”. Beijing, China: The National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China.

National Council for Sustainable Development of the Kyrgyz Republic (2015). “National sustainable development strategy for the Kyrgyz Republic for the period of 2013–2017”. Bishkek City, Kyrgyz Republic: National Statistical Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic.

TeleGeography (2016). “Cable compendium: A guide to the week’s submarine and terrestrial developments”. July 15, 2016. Washington, DC, USA: TeleGeography.

____ (2017). “Cable compendium: A guide to the week’s submarine and terrestrial developments”. January 13, 2017. Washington, DC, USA: TeleGeography.

Times of Oman (2016). “Omantel connects Africa to Asia with subsea cable systems”. November 1, 2016. Muscat, Oman: Times of Oman.

World Bank (2014). “World development indicators: The information society”. Washington, DC, USA: World Bank.

World Bank (2015). World development indicators 2015. Washington, DC, USA: World Bank. doi: 10.1596/978-1-4648-0440-3.

World Bank (2017). World development indicators 2017. Washington, DC, USA: World Bank.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24294/jipd.v2i1.164

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2018 Kunagorn Kunavut, Atsuko Okuda, Dongjung Lee, Tiziana Bonapace, Siope Vakataki

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons License
This site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.