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India among top three digital markets worldwide: SoftBank’s Manoj Kohli

NEW DELHI: India is one of the top three digital markets worldwide, and with Japan as a close allay, SoftBank group companies have been contributing to the country’s economy and future, a top executive of the multinational conglomerate said.

“I believe India is one of the top three digital markets of the world with the US and China. India and Japan, as you know, are very close partners and they work together in building a new economy, especially the digital economy in India,” SoftBank India country head Manoj Kohli told ETTelecom.

Tokyo-based SoftBank Group has stakes in multiple technology, energy, and financial services companies, and runs a technology-focused $ 100 billion-strong vision fund.

“SoftBank has always been committed to building digitalisation in India, and all our portfolio companies are contributing very well to this future in India,” Kohli said and added that the country has enormous potential for digital behavior future and digital utilisation by customers given India’s median age of 27 years old.

The top executive also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s recent call for Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) has come at the right time since the country has developed strengths in the domain of software, talent, entrepreneurship, and manufacturing.

Early this month, the Japanese major has invested $ 150 million in a Bengaluru-based online education startup Unacademy. In addition, it has also led a $ 100 million fund in Biofourmis, a digital therapeutics startup founded by IIT Madras graduate Kuldeep Sigh Rajput.

“The software development is the strength of India and you will see in the digital era, the software will become more important than the hardware, followed by the Indian talent which has domain experience, knowledge on digitisation,” the top executive added.

SoftBank is one of the active investors in many Indian startups such as Paytm, PolicyBazaar, and OYO.

In the wake of the Covid-induced shutdowns in China, the supply chain operations of Japanese companies were disrupted, and to overcome the challenge, Japan has launched a domestic stimulus package of $ 2.2 billion for companies manufacturing critical products in China to relocate their manufacturing operations including in India.

New Delhi and Tokyo have various bilateral agreements and strategic alliances.

“Let me assure you that the entire economy will be moving with greater speed, quality, and precision,” Kohli said and added that the fifth-generation or 5G technology would support the development of new apps, services, and manufacturing.

“I think the GDP impact will be very positive. I am more concerned about the momentum of the economy, and that will be much faster especially after we are coming out of the lockdown situation. I think we need to build momentum for faster growth in the next especially next two to three years,” the top executive added.

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