ICT conference: Envisioning a digital Nepal

Kathmandu, January 10:

The four-day ICT Conference set off to an interesting start as Dr Rameshananda Vaidya, former chairperson, National Task Force on IT Policy, chaired a theme session on the use of ICT for socio-economic development.

As one of the four speakers in the session, Dr Vaidya focussed on the need to synchronise Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme (PRSP) with IT strategy and vice versa. “The primary objective behind developing IT in Nepal is to disseminate information,” he said. “What is needed is a participatory approach by the government, civil societies and academia to develop a vision to develop IT,” he added.

There can be three kinds of IT applications: providing decision-making support to the government; improving services for citizens and empowering citizens to access information and knowledge. Dr Vaidya emphasised on developing ways to spread IT knowledge towards realising the Millennium Development Goals.

Dr Guennadi M Fedorov, chief of the technology section, UNESCAP, spoke on the role of regional cooperation for ICT development. One of the main targets of 60 members of UNESCAP was to connect all villages, universities, schools, libraries, health centres and local and central government departments by 2015. “The common hindrances to achieving this target is lack of resources, geographical conditions and illiteracy and local constraints,” pointed out Dr Fedorov.

Basant Shreshtha, of ICIMOD, based his presentation on environmental sustainability in the context of Hindukush Himalayan Region. The five major goals pertaining to environmental sustainability in the Millennium Development Goal, he said, entailed: how to decouple economic growth and environmental degradation; how to improve efficiency in the use of raw materials; how to move towards cleaner environment; reduce environmental risk and how to improve energy efficiency.

“Our decision-making is based on little primary data,” he lamented, adding, “Integration of information is required for a holistic approach.”

He mentioned some of the emerging technologies including Geo Information System (GIS), Information Communication Technology (ICT), Earth Observation and Remote Sensing (RS), Geo Positioning System (GPS) and Internet which has already moved to the second generation of web technology.

Raju Chellam, vice-president AMI, Singapore and former editor of IT magazine in India, Data Quest, regaled the audience with some straight talk and humourous slides on how to profit from small and medium business (SMB) enterprises. According to Chellam SMBs make $433 billion in the market today. In the Asia Pacific, large enterprises were spending less on IT than SMBs.