Office of the Registrar of Communications, Bagmati Province in collaboration with Internet Governance Institute organized a stakeholder consultation program on “Role of Bagmati Province to Promote Information and communication Technology” reflecting the importance of Digital Pradesh Initiative on 21st December 2021. In the consultation Mr. Manohar Kumar Bhattarai and Er. Ananda Raj Khanal presented two papers which were followed by the stakeholder discussion, inputs and suggestions.
Mr. Bhattarai presented a paper titled “role of Bagmati Pradesh Government in harnessing ICTs for growth and Development. In his paper he highlighted that to harness the use of ICT by the province there is need to develop a strategic framework, Roadmap, Masterplan or some kind of visionary document and even before that there should be an assessment of the current status of ICT in the province. He also mentioned the citizen centered approach should be adapted and the citizens’ constitutional rights must be secured while dealing with the development of digital agendas. Some of the major areas such as Agriculture, health, education, energy, tourism, finance, physical infrastructure and transportation management should also be addressed. Mr. Bhattarai also shared a strategic framework to achieve the Digital Pradesh Goal backed by stakeholder engagement. The strategic framework will go through the following process:
- E-Readiness Assessment/Current Situation
- The center of attention for digital activity is Bagmati Pradesh
- Using ICT related services to enhance the service delivery of governance
- Fostering environment for emerging ICT related business, innovative ideas and incubations
- Developing strategic Framework/ Scoping ICT deployment/Digital Agenda
- Stakeholder Engagement
- Developing Digital Pradesh Roadmap
- eGOV road map
- Quick Wins (Digitization of services public faces everyday such as )
The strategic Framework will be guided by the following principles:
- Strengthening Service delivery and governance
- Stimulating productivity and local economy
- Supporting periodic plan and Pradesh vision
- Promoting digital economy, entrepreneurship, private sector
He further explained the goal of the Digital Pradesh should be aligned with Service Transformation, Productivity enhancement & economic growth, and complementing the Sustainable Development Goals. The mode of service delivery transformation should be aligned with making it Cashless, Paperless and presenceless. Mr. Bhattarai also added about the fundamental pillars which include Digital Literacy, Digital Payment Ecosystem and Authentication Framework. The importance of authentication was also shared as trust has been one of the biggest challenges for digital transformation due to the incidents of hacking and other digital frauds. Mr. Bhattarai concluded his remarks by mentioning that we must always be aware about common infrastructure, common standards and common capability.
Mr. Ananda Raj Khanal presented the title “Communication Infrastructure, Its use and role of Province Government”. Mr. Khanal started his presentation with an argument about the pace of our policies which are very distant from the spiked technological innovations and development. He also presented an example that today a single provider using a single infrastructure can provide different services like Internet, Telephone and Television but that service provider has to obtain multiple licenses to provide these services. He also mentioned that the technologies have already converged but there is no sign of our policies being converged. Mr. Khanal also shared the current scenario where the ICT infrastructure is so vulnerable and dependent on Nepal Electricity Authority at Times and recently it also resulted in a cut off of internet services for a while, he noted this is the very critical situation that the provincial government can address. Further the different levels of Internet Network Infrastructure i.e. International Network, National backbone Network, Metropolitan Network, Local/Access Network were shared. Discussing the role of province sharing, NTA has already been working on building National Broadband Backbone as part of the RTDF fund, in this context the provincial government could collaborate with NTA to build the proper regional backbone network. Sharing about the other possibilities that the Provincial government could have were: Making laws and policies as per TOR of the provincial government, use of ICTs for service delivery and better governance, and make ICT services accessible in collaboration with the Federal government.
After the two presentations contributors from different stakeholders provided inputs about the further role of provincial government which indicated: building provincial government cloud/ Data Center, Designate an individual entity responsible for all provincial ICT related regulations, Integrated Web portal for information dissemination, Regular Security Audit of Provincial Information Systems.
The programme was concluded on the basis that Nepal is lagging behind other developed countries in terms of ICT infrastructure. Infrastructure is important in the development of the overall ICT sector and Nepal has a poor ICT infrastructure level. The government itself is also lagging behind in terms of ICT development. There is a need of incorporating effective ICT into/within the government sector for the Public service delivery in order to speed up the flow of information and knowledge between government and citizen. ICT can improve government efficiency and effectiveness, make government services more accessible, and make the government more responsible. It is necessary to bring together all relevant stakeholders, including governments, civil society and the private sector, and encourage them to work together to provide an environment that fosters the development of ICT and also encourages young people and enables them to realize their potential in the Information Society.