KATHMANDU, March 26: At a time when Nepal boasts of being the first nation in South Asia to introduce third generation (3G) telecom services, a report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has identified the country as one of the least networked in the world.
The report, titled Global Information Technology Report 2008-09, has placed Nepal in 127th position in the Networked Readiness Index among 134 nations of the world. Nepal was in 119th position last year. Nepal’s neighbor China leapfrogged to 46th position from 57th last year while India fell to 54th position from last year’s 50th.
The only Asian country to make the top 10 list was Singapore. Bangladesh, Cambodia and Timor-Leste were among Asia-Pacific countries in the bottom 10.
Rankings were given on the basis of availability of mobile telephony and other ICT (information and communication technology) network, and access to cell phones and internet services. Factors such as presence of an ICT-conducive environment and actual use of ICT by individuals, businesses and the government were also taken into consideration.
Biplav Man Singh, co-chairman of ICT Development Committee under the High Level Commission on Information Technology, cited Nepal’s slow pace in developing ICT infrastructure as the factor behind the country’s poor showing. “It’s a race between 134 countries,” he said. “The index shows we ran slower and fell behind.” The only way to improve our position, he added, is to run faster.
The Global Information Technology Report, first released in 2001, has been tracing the ICT revolution and evolution for eight years while generating awareness about many benefits associated with fully leveraging ICT in everyday life, in business practices, and in a government’s activities and interactions with its citizens.
WEF, in its report this year, highlights the importance of mobile telephony in social and economic development in a country and the role its plays in facilitating economic growth. “Mobile telephony has proven instrumental in raising prosperity and reducing poverty in developing countries, where it has boomed in recent years,” the report said.
The report also observes that high-speed internet offers a unique, cost-effective opportunity to enhance competitiveness and rise above physical geographical constraints. It has called high-speed networks the basic infrastructure of any country and one of the foundations of the knowledge economy.