– This article was originally published by Roopali Bista in the Himalayan Times on the March 17, 2019.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is an umbrella term that covers all technical means for processing and communicating information. The growth of Information technology (IT) and telecommunication technology gave birth to ITC. It can be one of the powerful enabler and the most cost effective tool in improving public service delivery and government to government communication.
ICT could be implemented in many sectors ranging from businesses, education, health, and public service delivery. Public officials, businesses and citizens can work together to harness the transformative power of ICT to make services more efficient, catalyze economic development and strengthen social networks
ICT policy in Nepal has remained relatively stagnant and is not being utilized to its potential by the government even though Nepal has the required human resources. The development of modern ICT policy started with the Telecommunications Act of 2053 (1997) and the Telecommunication Regulation of 2054 (1997). But the major policy on Information Technology was the Information Technology Policy of 2057 (2000). After a demand for the revised policy featuring the Information Communication Technology as a whole, the government of Nepal devised the Information Communication Policy 2072 (2015). This policy stresses the need for a well-defined and consistent enactment and regulatory framework for addressing converged regime of telecommunications, broadcasting and ICT. These policies as a whole regulate all the activities regarding the information communication technology. This policy is also aimed in private sector participation for the Information Technology development in Nepal but the government is still not able to harness the potential and integrate ICT into the system.
In Nepal, incorporating ICT in/within the government sector for public service delivery can speed up the flow of information and knowledge between government and citizen and transform the way in which government and citizens interact. For Nepal, it is a challenge to create and develop proper system of governance and make public service delivery efficient. The use of ICT can make the government more efficient and effective, facilitate more accessible government services, allow greater public access to information, and make government more accountable.
After a demand for the revised policy featuring the Information Communication Technology as a whole, the government of Nepal devised the Information Communication Policy 2072 (2015). This policy stresses in the need for a well-defines and consistent policy and regulatory framework for addressing converged regime of telecommunications, broadcasting and ICT (ICT Policy 2072). After a demand for the revised policy featuring the Information Communication Techno-logy as a whole, the government of Nepal devised the Information Communication Policy 2072 (2015). This policy stresses in the need for a well-defines and consistent policy and regulatory framework for addressing converged regime of telecommunications, broadcasting and ICT (ICT Policy 2072). These policies as a whole regulate all the activities regarding the information communication technology in Nepal.
Timely and cost effective public service delivery
Online delivery of public services will significantly reduce time and cost for the citizens as well as the government. People will not have to travel long distances in order to seek the governmental services, instead this time could be utilized on productive activities. For example, at present there is always long queues outside the transportation offices for submission of driving license’s forms or payment. This would not have been the case if the online system worked. Even the operational cost for the government would be reduced as online system would reduce the human resources required for administrative purposes. Additionally easy procedures would also increase people’s willingness to comply with the government’s regulations.
Better communication channel between government sectors
The flow of knowledge and information will be better if different government sectors are well connected. ICT could facilitate more cooperative and coordinated initiatives between government departments and organizations in complex, diverse and often divided political systems. For instance, development work like road construction and drainage at present are not properly planned and coordinated and ICT can bridge the gap between this lack of communication and planning among various government sectors and departments.
Accountability and Transparency
Through ICT, information regarding every activity of government can be made easily available. This would make every government department responsible as every action of theirs would be closely monitored which will make them more accountable towards their work. This revolutionizes the way governments operates, ensuring more transparency in its functioning, thereby eliminating corruption.
Even though various efforts have been made by the government for promoting ICT and E-governance by making some of the processes accessible online, planning and preparing for National Identification Card Project and smart driving license , just to name a few, it has not been properly implemented. Serious research and planning needs to be done in order to speed up the development of ICT.