Mongolia’s Sky-High ICT Goals

In late 2012 Mongolia’s cabinet approved the ‘National Satellite for Communications of Mongolia’ project, which details the implementation of the country’s first satellite. Currently Mongolia pays $2m every year to rent other nations’ satellites so their citizens can connect to TV, radio, and obtain mobile phones. The government argued for the creation of this satellite not only to enhance domestic communications, but also in hopes of transforming Mongolia’s agricultural based economy into a knowledge based economy by 2021.

This plan projects that the ‘satellite will earn some $50m in its lifetime and trends suggest profits in Mongolia’s ICT industry are to rise.’ While this satellite proves to be beneficial for Mongolia’s ICT national policy, the necessity of this plan is called into question. With Mongolia’s latest ICT national policy stating that 50% of the population is not connected to the internet, it is curious as to why the Mongolian government is going to spend $441m on the research, launch, and maintenance of this satellite.

Although they state that this satellite will help jumpstart the economy and promote an e-governance action plan, it seems that with 50% of the country unable to access basic internet, this plan’s success does not seem tangible. As Richard Heeks argued in ‘ICTs and the MDGs’, it appears that Mongolia is pushing the ‘e-development’ agenda. While this satellite has the potential to improve internet and other e-services, furthering Mongolia’s movement towards the MDGs, the plan fails to address accessibility and sustainability. While this satellite seems great on paper and the promised benefits could greatly help Mongolia’s economy, the project does not seem to be the best step for Mongolia’s ICT policy.

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5 responses to “Mongolia’s Sky-High ICT Goals

  • khock1

    I completely agree, it is unethical to spend this money on a satellite which will not reach the majority of the population. The money should be going to other development projects that will benefit the majority of people instead the few who have basic access to the internet.

  • samcalvit

    Though this does look like an ambitious and potentially foolhardy project, it seems unfair to rule out any possibility of success. Heeks also touts the benefits of large-scale governmental investment in ICT production as an economic growth tool, and this is ICT production on an impressive scale.

  • zswartz

    I also agree that this project may not be realistic but could drastically change the economy. It seems like the current modernizing trend world wide is to move economies from agriculture to information societies. I’d be interested in finding out more about what the spread of ICTs means for the future of agriculture.

  • jdywest7

    Agreed, the success of this project does not seem tangible nor beneficial to the majority of the population because of the accessibility. Additionally with a national poverty rate at almost 40% (39.2) I think it would be more beneficial if there was a poverty and health centered ICT project.

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