Nepal performs better on Internet connectivity and mobile phone use than its wealthier neighbors in Asia, our AfterAccess surveys showed.
Seventy-two percent of the Nepali population aged 15-65 owned a mobile phone, and 60% of these were Internet-enabled (feature or smartphone). In addition, 46% of Nepali’s are aware of the Internet – the highest reported number out of the Asian countries included in the report: India, Pakistan, Myanmar Bangladesh and Cambodia.
These findings were released in our report “AfterAccess: ICT access and use in Asia and the Global South” in Kathmandu, today. The report was formally presented to Birendra Kumar, Joint Secretary of Ministry of Communication by our CEO, Helani Galpaya, in the presence of Babu Ram Aryal, head of our local partner organization, Center for Law and Technology.
“We should strategize based on AfterAccess data,” said President of the Computer Association of Nepal (CAN) Hemant Chaurasiya, following the presentation of data.
The presentation of the results by CEO Helani Galpaya (slideset here) was followed by a panel discussion between:
- Binay Bohara, President, Internet Service Providers Association of Nepal (ISPAN)
- Helani Galpaya, Chief Executive Officer, LIRNEasia
- Santosh Sigdel, President, Internet Society Nepal Chapter
- Anand Raj Khanal, Senior Director, Nepal Telecommunications Authority
- Rina Dangol, Nepal Telecom
- Subhash Dhakal, Under Secretary, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology
- Moderated by Ujjwal Acharya, Coordinator, International Federation of Journalists, South Asia
Acharya opened the conversation with a question to the government officials Anand Ran Khanal and Subhash Dhakal, on where the AfterAccess data placed Nepal in it’s “Digital Nepal” vision. “Are we on track?”
Dhakal from the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology responded by pointing to the fact that all stakeholders are working towards the goal. Khanal responded more meaningfully:
“A decisive intervention by government and regulator is necessary to get on track to DigitalNepal, and we haven’t done this yet.”
Infrastructure sharing, which was discussed at the Bangladesh launch event a few days before, was brought up by the AfterAccess panel in Kathmandu. Binay Bohara, President of the ISPAN shared his experience of having worked over nine months to gain a license for passive infrastructure (following repairs of existing incumbent infrastructure), to finally fail. “It was impossible,” he said. “This is the biggest problem to rural connectivity in Nepal today.”
The audience Q&A stimulated conversation in further areas including ICTs in the classroom and Internet addiction.
A member of the audience shared his personal experience of seeing schools in rural areas equipped with desktop computers simply gathering dust. We had already researched the topic of ICTs in the classroom through systematic reviews. Helani Galpaya was able to change the trajectory of the conversation by sharing the systematic evidence that computers in schools have an impact only if teachers include them in curricula and otherwise in fact increase the digital divide.
A questions from the floor brought the conversation to Internet “addiction”, to which Helani Galpaya added the AfterAccess data that 52% socialmedia users in Nepal said they prefer to socialize online than offline.
Khanal provided an honest and lucid summary of ICT access and use in Nepal, and the nation’s aspirations to become a fully Digital Nepal:
“It’s not that Nepal isn’t moving forward. Others are moving forward faster. We are working but we need to commit. If we don’t do what we can do RIGHT NOW, we can’t make it”