Information Technology Situation in NepalNepal is a land locked Asian country between China and India located at a Latitude: 26° 22' N to 30° 27' N Longitude: 80° 4' E to 88° 12' E. It covers an area of 141,181m2, with average length 885 km (East to West) and average width 193km. (North to South.). It population is about25,284,463 (July 2001 est.). Kathmandu is its capital.
The installation and operation of Main Frame IBM-1401 computer in 1971, in the National Computer Center (NCC) at Kathmandu in 1971 for the National population census, saw the advent of Electronic Data Processing Technology in Nepal. NCC was established with the purpose ofgiving computer related service to government bodies, developing computer manpower and enhancing computer consciousness. Later on NCC used ICL-2950/10 Main Frame computer, a DG Mini-computer, a Prime Mini-computer. Now, there is an Information and Technology ministry itself in the government level and a National Informatics Center (NIC) under the ministry, instead of NCC, to advise and formulate National level IT policies and plans.
Inspired by the success of NCC's activities and to fulfill the people's quest for new knowledgeand skills, now a day there are more than 300 private Computer training institutes. Theseinstitutes, both big and small have played a significant role in promoting IT awareness in thecountry. Besides conducting training programs, many of these private companies offerConsultancy services, Software Packages and Hardware maintenance as well as computerassembly. IT solution provider companies are also slowly coming up in the capital Kathmandu.
In the education sector also IT subject have been introduced from the primary level to highersecondary level. These days, there are many colleges running graduate level academic IT courses.Personal Computer is fast becoming an essential household item in the affluent families of thecountry.
Internet technology has also been introduced to the country. Modern Telecommunication Services, which are the backbone of IT, are recently developed. In Nepal first Telephone Exchange was established in 1960. Telephone Services are provided only by Nepal Telecommunication Corporation (NTC), a government undertaking. There is more than 7 privateInternet Service Provider (ISP) in the Kathmandu valley, besides NTC. Government has alsoissued license for Cellular & WLL networks to Private parties.
NTC has at present 630,000 telephone lines & 100,000 GSM cellular Mobile phone lines. It hasVSAT network with 1,000 terminals in the mountain regions to serve the rural areas and 5,000-lines WLL network in Western Development Region. Besides NTC, there are some private serviceproviders in Radio Paging, Video conferencing, Fax mail services, VSAT network etc.
These days many teenagers are hooked to Internet Chat and mail services. Internet cafes havesprouted like mushrooms in the country. Tourists visiting the country are also finding it veryhandy and useful. Web designing courses are in very much demand. Internet is fast becoming ahousehold necessity. Internet users are estimated to be around 200,000 currently and it is fastincreasing.
Some overseas jobs are also been carried out in the country. There are some institutions, doingGIS related work for Japanese client. Some are doing medical transcription job for US client.Some are doing software development jobs for overseas client. Some are independently workingas call centers for overseas clients.
The government has also brought forward IT policy to encourage IT related activities. Thegovernment is building an IT park at Dhulikhel, a mountain resort of east of Kathmandu. Manyoverseas companies have also opened their franchise at Kathmandu. Many are conductinginternationally recognized certified IT courses.
With all these activities, and infrastructure development, the information technology situationin Nepal is heading towards rapid development. Qualified HR well versed in IT is rapidly growingin the country. The IT related works done in the overseas country can be done here at the onefourth of that cost, since HR costs as well as infrastructure costs here are very low. In fact,many qualified IT personnel have immigrated to overseas for greener pastures.
Nepali IT companies are trying to get a breakthrough in the global market, which they arefinding it extremely difficult to get access and directly penetrate. IT is the main hope for alandlocked mountainous country like Nepal. The day, Nepal will show its presence in the IT mapof the globe, will be the brightest day in the history of the country.
Prakash Raj Singh Suwal