Nepal outlines rural investment plans, considers new ICT Policy

17 Aug 2015

Nepal’s government plans to spend NPR1.48 billion (USD14 million) from the Rural Telecommunication Development Fund (RTDF) in the current fiscal year to mid-July 2016. The Himalayan Times says that the planned investment represents just 14% of the funds currently available under the RTDF, which was set up in 1998 and collects 2% of telco operator revenues to help pay for the provision of telecoms services in rural areas. The newly announced investment will go towards four main projects: the District Optical Fibre Network programme (NPR1 billion of the total spend); broadband infrastructure development in 14 earthquake-affected districts (NPR330 million); the establishment of one model e-village development committee in each of the country’s 75 districts (NPR75 million); and the extension of internet services to 500 rural community schools and colleges (NPR75 million).

Separately, the Nepalese government is hoping to push through a new ICT Policy by the completion of the current administration’s term at the end of August. According to a report from the Kathmandu Post, the new policy is expected to clarify the jurisdiction of a number of ministries and agencies which oversee the ICT sector, and there has also been discussion over the creation of a new Ministry of ICT (MoICT) to replace the current Ministry of Communications (MoC), while the regulator, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), will be restructured as the Nepal Communication Authority (NCA). If approved, the changes would take effect in 2016. The new policy would also aim to address security concerns in ICT, promote public access and content development, develop the ICT industry sector, and increase access to telecommunications for people with special needs.