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New initiative to boost NZ-India digital links

Peter Griffin, Editor. 15 August 2023, 10:50 am

With Indians making up 5% of New Zealand’s population and forming a valuable source of skilled IT workers, a new initiative aims to build on linkages between the two countries' digital and tech sectors.

The New Zealand Centre for Digital Connections with India, established this week to coincide with the August 15 anniversary of India’s Independence Day, will serve as a “focal point and knowledge hub” with four key activities, according to its founders:

  • Provide inputs to government policy and strategy through submissions and active participation in advisory groups.
  • Connect businesses to new markets, enabling their success in India and New Zealand.
  • Assist organisations in their diversity and inclusion initiatives in the sector.
  • Ensure newcomers to New Zealand achieve their full potential in the shortest possible time.

“There is not a single organisation which leverages this opportunity, and it is remarkable that there has been a vacuum in the space for so long,” says Sunit Prakash, co-founder of the New Zealand Centre for Digital Connections with India and a former member of the IT Professionals NZ skills reference group for the Digital Technologies Industry Transformation Plan.

“This formalises the work Sunit and I have been doing for the past few decades,” says Lalita Kasanji, co-founder of the Centre.

“Sunit wrote op-eds ‘PatelNET’ and ‘Satellite TV Revolution in India’ for the DomPost in the 1990’s, and in the 1980’s I wrote a thesis on Indian immigration to New Zealand,” Kasanji adds.

The pair wrote the first detailed history of India’s tech professionals’ links to New Zealand as a chapter in the IT Professionals NZ history book From Yesterday to Tomorrow: 60 Years of Tech in New Zealand

An economic study in 2019 put the economic contribution of the Indian population in New Zealand at $10 billion.

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That same study estimated that Indians constituted around 2.5% of the workforce in the IT and media category, and over 10% in professional services. There are around 240,000 people of Indian descent in New Zealand.

Indian IT professionals, many of whom hold senior positions within the industry, have also established their own successful IT service practices in New Zealand. 

New Zealand doesn’t currently have a free trade deal with India, but trade between the two countries is significant at around $2.5 billion annually. According to the High Commission of India:

"All major Indian IT companies are present in NZ. Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and New India Assurance have commercial operations in NZ. Indian IT giant HCI, which already has a significant presence in NZ, opened a delivery centre in Hamilton to service Fonterra, one of world’s biggest dairy cooperative.

"In 2020, it won a $20 million annual contract from Fonterra. In September 2018, Indian cab services company, Ola, launched in NZ and has been gradually expanding its operations. Mahindra Motors, Tech Mahindra Ltd, Infosys, Dr. Reddy Laboratories and Royal Enfield Motors have a presence in NZ.

"In October 2020, Tech Mahindra announced the acquisition of Melbourne-based consulting company Tenzing Ltd for $ 29.5 million."

Prakash says the New Zealand Centre for Digital Connections with India hopes to play “a pivotal role in the ever-evolving landscape of India and technology's centrality to New Zealand”.

The Centre will be “fiercely independent, self-funded, transparent, inclusive, apolitical, flat, un-bureaucratic, and action-oriented,” he adds.


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