| July 18, 2018
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How ICT is changing our lives

How ICT is changing our lives
KATHMANDU, Jan 29: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has taken a giant stride in the past one and half decades. The way we work as an individual and as an organization has changed drastically, thanks to the incorporation of ICT in almost all the sectors.

Earlier, we had a perception that ICT is meant for big corporate houses, banking and financial sectors, and scientists and researchers, among others. However, most of the activities of our daily life have become rapid and efficient with the help of computers and technologies today. For example, the traditional clock alarm has been replaced with alarms of our smartphones. Smartphones are replacing our watches, calculators, camera, and phone diary, to name a few.

"The Internet and social media platforms that have enabled us to access and disseminate information like never before is a blessing for start-ups. Smart phones are changing the way we think and interact," Neelam Pradhananga, founder president of Clean Up- Nepal, said, adding that each citizen should also moderate consumption of technology to minimize health and environmental impacts.

Chalks and dusters or markers in our classrooms are being replaced by PowerPoint slides. We have started using ATM cards whenever possible. One can transfer funds into other bank accounts with just a click. Similarly, tourists no longer have to carry maps; they can navigate places by using mobile apps.

These are not all. You do not have to arrange paper files at your offices, you can sit in your room and take online classes and earn a degree without having to attend a class or a university physically, shop online and get your things delivered at your doorstep, and get doctor's appointment from your home itself.

"I can sit here in my room and browse online databases, access articles, read and digest that information. Not only that, I can also access information through documentaries, lecture series, discussion forums etc. Technology has made my life much easier and changed the way we work," Amina Singh, a lecturer and researcher, told Republica.

These are just few examples of how advancement in technology has made our life easier.

In its recent report, International Telecommunication Union has said ICT have grown in an unprecedented way over the past 15 years, providing huge opportunities for social and economic development. "These new figures not only show the rapid technological progress made to date, but also help us identify those being left behind in the fast-evolving digital economy, as well as the areas where ICT investment is needed the most," ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said in a statement issued by ITU.

WHERE WE NEED THE MOST?

Stakeholders say the government has not considered ICT as a priority industry yet and this has hampered the growth and investment in the sector.

"To bring in domestic as well as foreign investment, the government should review the existing policies, prioritize this industry, and ensure policy stability so that people are encouraged to invest in this sector," Binod Dhakal, president of Computer Association of Nepal (CAN) Federation, said.

Nepal needs to make huge investment to set up efficient data centers as the data loss and crash problem is very high in Nepal, according to stakeholders. Not only that, experts say that Nepal can be a hub for data center considering the facts that such centers require cool place, plain area and massive power supply.

"Nepal is a perfect place to set up data center as the country has it has plenty of plain areas with cool temperature. Also, Nepal can provide uninterrupted power supply to such centers as the country has great potential in hydropower development," Biplav Man Singh, co-chairperson of commodity council of Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FNCCI), told Republica.

The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies have been growing tremendously in Nepal. But the country has not been able to get benefit out of it even though foreign companies are getting good business in Nepal. Investment in this sector is huge as each of around 150 companies employs at least 50 technical workers.

People working in the ICT industry say that the government should bring all the BPOs into the tax regime by waiving off corporate tax for a certain time. This will benefit the government as it can collect income tax from individuals working in the sector.

"Like BPO, Nepal has huge potential in the field of Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) and Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO)," said Singh.

KPOs provide special information, knowledge and expertise to various organizations based on research and compilation of information. Similarly, LPOs provides legal advisor and experts basically to save money and to expedite documents reviewing process.

Abhijit Gupta, managing director of Rapid Web Solutions, highlighted the need to implement eServices as much as possible to increase transparency, faster service, ease of use, and dependency to further expand ICT in Nepal. "Nepal needs to make big investment in Internet services, satellite and security, and to produce human resources for data centre," said Gupta.

Amit Agrawal, CEO of Janaki Technology said that Nepal needs to invest on Open Data and e-Governance mainly to make things transparent and reduce corruption "which is a major problem for a developing country like ours".

A PLATFORM TO SHOWCASE TECH ADVANCEMENTS

CAN Federation has been organizing Info-Tech on a regular basis since 1995. Over these years, people have perceived ICT products as 'object to consume' from 'object to watch'.

The event also provides platform for exchange of ideas and businesses as it helps participating companies to explore new avenues of investment.

"In the initial years, people used to visit Info-Tech just to see the latest technology and learn about it. These days, people visit Info-Tech to buy products, learn about it, compare its feature and prices, and for business exchanges," said Dhakal.

Dhakal added that CAN Info-Tech have helped people in making the right decision in terms of their ICT needs as different brands and companies counsel people before selling their products and services.