India may become No. 1 economy in 25-30 years, says SoftBank CEO

SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son  

India may become the world’s largest economy in the next 25-30 years, said SoftBank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son. “I have a strong feeling that 10-15 years from now, despite shaking situation of China, it will surpass the U.S. in GDP…25-30 years from now, India may surpass all countries to become number one,” Mr. Son, who is Japan’s second-richest person with a net worth of $9.4 billion, said while speaking at the Start Up India event on Saturday.

Mr. Son said he strongly believes that the 21st century belongs to India as its people are smart, young, speak English and are IT-proficient. However, the country needs to resolve issues related to infrastructure and slow mobile broadband speeds, he said.

Asked if he plans to re-scale investments in India given the current global economic environment, Mr. Son said: “If I rescale I would only scale up.” SoftBank had, in 2014, announced investments of $10 billion in India over a 10-year period.

“In the last one year we have already invested almost $2 billion. So, if I have said $10 billion in 10 years, I have already done $2 billion in one year, so that is over pacing and I think we would accelerate,” Mr. Son said.

“We are investing into many companies. Whenever I invest I look at the eyes of the entrepreneur and I look at the field that they are challenging, are they unique, do they have a passion… and is the market itself supposed to be growing? Those are the things I still check,” he said.

Asked what he saw in the eyes of Kunal Bahl of Snapdeal and Ritesh Agarwal of OYO, Mr. Son said: “The eyes were sparkling.”

SoftBank has invested in Indian e-commerce and technology firms such as Snapdeal, Ola Cabs, and OYO Rooms.

“In India, today, the two things lacking are mobile broadband infrastructure, the connectivity is too slow and expensive and the second is electricity. Road and all is there,” Mr. Son said.

He said infrastructure required a lot of capital and startups cannot make that investment.

“I think mobile Internet is too slow. More spectrum allocation to the mobile carriers is needed so that they can have better mobile broadband.”

Licensing needs to be done away with, he said. “Licence means the process will be a bottleneck of the passion. Whenever they (entrepreneur) are going to start something then they have to go through the process of licensing with someone who does not understand technology.”

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 9:50:19 AM |

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