E-commerce site to boost trade activities

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, June 15:

Information Technology (IT) experts and various officials from different organisations today have underscored the need to effectively exploit the potential of IT at the launching of National B2B e-commerce web site of Nepal, ‘Nepali e-Haat Bazaar’, a first of its kind in Nepal.

Speaking at the inauguration function today, Ghulam Isaczai, deputy resident representative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), expressed the view that e-commerce

is a single electronic gateway that establishes market linkages within and outside the country through B2B e-commerce system.

Isaczai said that UNDP is committed to improve people’s lives through advocating change and connecting countries like Nepal to required knowledge and resources.

Given such a context, Information Communication Technology (ICT) has become an increasingly important area of intervention for UNDP with the aim of bridging the digital divide between the haves and the have-nots, he said.

“ICT is a catalyst for reducing poverty and empowering people, giving them more choices in their daily lives,” said Isaczai.

However, the utilisation of ICT in Nepal is limited, commented Isaczai and pointed out that 1.5 per cent of the total population in Nepal have access to internet and there are less than half a million landlines in the country. Even that number is confined to urban areas, he said.

ICT could be a reliable and least costly choice to bring people closer and allow them access to information and markets. Isaczai informed that UNDP has allocated some $2 million through this programme for supporting e-governance and B2B linkages in 12 municipalities and expanding this modality to eight new municipalities.

This is in line with the draft declaration of the Geneva summit, expressed in a ‘common vision of the information society’, where a commitment was made to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented information society. Experts at the function said that the initiation of B2B e-commerce would help in disseminating information on agricultural products’ prices at wholesale prices.

Speaking at the same function, Chandi Raj Dhakal, acting president of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), said this is the best initiative ever started in the country to boost Nepali products’ market at home and abroad. It will help the country’s businesspersons to boost their business transactions, said Dhakal. As agriculture alone contributes over 42 per cent to the nation’s GDP, its promotion through web marketing is significant, he said.

This sort of B2B e-commerce site will ultimately help in market diversification of Nepali products, said Dhakal adding that it will revive business and economic activities. Dr Dev Bhakta Shakya, executive director of Agro-Enterprises Centre (AEC) under FNCCI said that the B2B website e-Commerce is maintained by AEC. Details and prices of major items available on the website will be of fruits, vegetables, cereal products, dairy products, meat, fish products, spice, lentil/pulses, vegetable seed, floricultural products, herbs and herbal products, apparel/shoes, jewellery, wooden and metal products, handicraft products, etc.

Shakya informed that a High Level Commission for Information Technology, Rural-Urban Partnership Programme under the ministry of local development and AEC/FNCCI has entered into agreement on May 12, 2005 to launch the website Nepali e-Haat Bazaar as a national e-commerce web site to boost trading of Nepali products.

Minister of local development, Khadga Bahadur GC was also present at the function.