Nepal Archives — Page 3 of 6 — LIRNEasia

I was just interviewed on the phone by the BBC Sinhala Service. Since many who read this blog will not be able to hear or understand this, thought I would summarize the key points: 1. The immediate priorities should be rescue and housing and care of those rendered homeless. Sahana and mobile communication can play a vital role in helping efficient coordination of these activities. 2.
Many people I care for live in Nepal. Less than a month ago I was teaching in Nagarkot, in the hills about an hour out of Kathmandu. I recognize some of the buildings with cracks that come on the TV screen. I receive the tweets that say #prayforNepal. I wonder, who does one pray to?
One does not expect a simple assignment in a course to yield a news story that is distributed by a news service, but that is what happened at the broadband course we taught 28-31 March in Nagarkot, Nepal. The assignment required the team members to, inter alia, Assess the likelihood of success of the following elements of the Broadband Policy Draft of the NTA, by assembling evidence on the past performance of the Rural Telecommunications Development Fund (RTDF) (including disbursement efficiency (i.e., what percentage of money was spent within a defined time period) The extraordinarily low disbursement rate caught everyone’s attention. Given the presence of journalists in the course, it was not surprising that it made the news too: The government has spent only 2.
In a previous post I wrote about there being more Facebook users than Internet users in South East Asia. I also said that this was not the case in South Asia. But I was wrong. I had relied on data from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It was only recently that I looked at the data for Nepal.
A four-day course on broadband policy and regulation for Nepali participants commences in Nagarkot on the 28th of March. The course is the fourth in the series supported by Ford Foundation, and the first to be held outside India. It is co-organized with the Internet Society Nepal. The course seeks to enable members of Nepalese civil-society groups (including academics and those from the media) to marshal available research and evidence for effective participation in broadband policy and regulatory processes including interactions with media, thereby facilitating and enriching policy discourse on means of increasing broadband access by the poor. Five assignments form the centerpiece of the learning activities.
The 2014 Measuring the Information Society report is out. No surprises at the top: Denmark is now at 1 and Korea is now 2; just changed places from 2012 ranking. Significant movement from the Gulf countries: UAE goes from 46 to 23 and Qatar from 42 to 34. UAE is almost too difficult to believe. No good news from South Asia, sadly.
I was looking for overall indicators for the Bhutan ICT sector a few years back. The only index that included Bhutan then was the ICT Development Index, published by the ITU. So I am happy that WEF has included Bhutan in the NRI for the first time. And they have placed at 94, ahead of all their S Asian peers other than Sri Lanka and India. Pakistan and Bangladesh on the other hand have slid back by 6 and 5 places, respectively.
I discussed two elements of the Internet eco-system, attractive apps and content and trust, with an audience of interested and informed members of the Nepal Internet Society in Kathmandu on August 1, 2013. Discussion focused on how innovation could be fostered in Nepal, on cyber-security, and what could be done in the short and medium term for the young people of Nepal to grab the opportunities afforded by the new mobile-first Internet eco-system. The presentation.
The Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, Dr Keshav Man Shakya, who inaugurated the conference said that he kept thinking e governance though he was asked to speak on e democracy. In my talk, I decided to explore the interface between the two. I did not think it very useful to talk in broad generalities but wanted to bring up specific things that Nepal could do within a year or two. What is e democracy? Is it the broadest meaning of replacing representative democracy with direct democracy enabled by the ability of citizens to ostensibly vote on all matters requiring collective decisions?
There is so much wrong with the IDI. It gives a higher ICT development rank to Cuba (106) and Zimbabwe (115) well ahead of India (119). I ridiculed the predecessor of the IDI in the past, but they keep churning it out unfazed and people keep paying attention, which then causes me to pay attention too. There was even a fuss in the Bangladesh media about how that esteemed country managed to get itself excluded from IDI coverage in 2012. Few months back I promised to analyze the S Asian IDI rankings in more detail, so here goes.
The big unspent piles of cash in the Brazilian and Indian universal service funds are well known. Less well known are the under-performing funds in small countries. Nepal is one. Having the money extracted from mostly poor customers in one of the poorest countries in the world, an LDC, is particularly offensive: While he vowed to break the trend that prevailed so far, Jha also said he has already started groundwork to utilize Rural Telecommunication Development Fund (RTDF) for expanding fiber optics network so that everyone could have access to broadband Internet service and none remain deprived from benefits of advancement in the field of telecommunications. According to the officials, NTA presently has Rs 5.
I am all for the issuance of new licenses in Nepal, a country with a population of 30 million and fewer mobile operators (officially) than its South Asian peers. But the justification is novel. Seems to solution the described problem afflicting Nepal Telecom is some kind of program to reform it, including, but not limited to, privatization. But anyway, good that something is being done. Of course, there is many a slip between cup and lip.
I have been studying how to make Internet affordable and resilient across the developing Asia. Excessive reliance on submarine cable is the bottleneck. My study shows how to overcome it by deploying fiber across the continent, exploiting the transcontinental highways. But the control-freak governments, attending WCIT 2012 conference at Dubai, have deepened the crises of Internet. James Cowie of Renesys Corporation has categorized the countries being vulnerable to different levels of Internet shutdown risk (Click on the map).
I was in Kathmandu June 11-13 for a World Bank workshop on regional cooperation for journalists. I could have talked about the challenges of increasing integration in the world’s least integrated region through the lens of the battles over CEPA. But I decided to talk about a subject that was much more mundane, but one where we at LIRNEasia could provide current factual information that no one else could: the related topics in intra-SAARC calling charges being too high and within SAARC roaming charges being rapacious. The talk is here. The media included: Nepal’s Republica and Sri Lanka’s LBO.
It is not every day that our research gets covered in the Nepali media. That makes it special, when we do get covered. When LIRNEasia started, we fully intended to work in Nepal, a South Asian country with great unrealized potential. We did too, in the first cycle. But even for us, the internal strife proved too much.
Since our research pointed us to the necessity of lowering international backhaul costs if the dream of taking broadband to all in emerging Asia was to be realized, I’ve been very interested in the ADB’s USD 9 million project to build a backhaul network connecting Nepal, India, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Here’s what the ADB website says about the project: The Project is aimed at enhancing the benefits of ICT and regional cooperation for inclusive growth and poverty reduction by increasing the supply of affordable broadband, skilled ICT manpower, and local content and e-applications, with a special focus on the needs of the poor. It is also expected to help SASEC countries improve their productivity and efficiency and participate more fully in the global information economy. To this end, the Project will establish (i) a SASEC regional network with fiber-optic and data interchange capacity, directly connecting the four SASEC countries; (ii) a SASEC village network expanding broadband ICT access to 110 rural communities in the SASEC countries and providing direct connections among the communities for local networking and local information sourcing; and (iii) a SASEC research and training network to build technical and business skills in developing local ICT content and […]