Remote Areas of Nepal to Get Web Access

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a $25 million grant to bring the Internet and other information technology products and services to remote areas of Nepal, in line with government efforts to promote economic expansion and eradicate poverty.

Nepal is a geographically challenged country, with its estimated 25.3 million people scattered throughout mountainous terrain that presents barriers to sustainable growth and development.

"The government recognizes that information and communication technology is the most effective way to counter the obstacles presented by the country's geographic barriers, providing new methods of service delivery and introducing innovations that will create opportunities for economic and social development," said Dong-Soo Pyo, Principal Financial Analysis Specialist for ADB's South Asia Department.

The project will provide 38 districts in remote regions with wireless broadband networks through public-private partnership arrangements. It will also establish a government information and communication technology network to allow government-to-government exchange of data and central management of government information through an information and data center. The project will also develop various Internet applications for the government and design human resources development programs.

"In the past few years, technologies that hold significant promise for expanding rural connectivity have substantially reduced broadband access costs and become commercially available," said Hyunjung Lee, Information and Communication Specialist for ADB's Regional and Sustainable Development Department. "WiFi and WiMAX networks promise convergence and economic access by leapfrogging older technologies directly to the broadband environment. Wireless technologies will play a critical role by lowering costs and increasing bandwidth for applications like VOIP (voice over Internet protocol), education via the Web and government services accessed electronically."

Community centers will be established to connect those in remote rural areas to information and communication technology through wireless broadband networks, focusing on the poor who cannot afford to pay for such access. The remote villages will be connected by village networks and a village network portal to be established in Nepali, the local language and in English.