This is our request to Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) and Nepal Telecom Authority (NTA) Government of Nepal for leading in formulation of National ICT Policy 2015. We heartily thank MoIC and NTA for inviting FOSS Nepal Community for consolation meeting on ICT Policy 2015. We, on behalf of all Nepalese Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) practice, would like to raise following amendment and changes in proposed ICT Policy draft.

                                                                                                                     

  • Include Specific Section for National and Local Language in Computing.
    The proposed draft policy has not mentioned about National Standards of Government Data particularly. The official language of Nepal Government is Devanagari Script, so, ICT Policy must include this issue in a specific section. It must make it clear about bringing standardization in language perspective and addressing the issue of developing and enabling local language computing. Establishment of Nepal National ICT Standard Institution (NNISI) to liaise individuals must be included in this section.
  • Specific Section for Local Digital Content Development must be made.
    Though proposed draft of ICT Policy has mentioned about the content in one section heading, it has failed to provide its due importance. Thus, a separate section is needed to be made for local digital content development. It also needs to raise the issue related to content developed by Government of Nepal for public consumption and progress of society in education, health, culture and so on. It must be made so that all Nepalese can use it maximally without any language obstacles. Like, the government reports, audits and documents etc. are going to be made available and accessible by the Government individuals for public to make best use out of it.
  • Clause 5.8 ‘Nepal will continue to uphold the principle of freedom of expression on the internet and net neutrality’, here inclusion of technical standardization and negotiation of the internet and its governance must be done.
  • Clause 7.1.1 which addresses the development of human resources and ICT must consider establishment of an institution which will facilitate and ensure quality HR in ICT in Nepal.
  • Under 7.4.5 ‘ Special incentives to local ICT industry will be provided with a view to helping them develop into a globally competitive software industry based on proprietary, free and open source solutions to serve the domestic and export markets. Along these lines, specific measures will be taken to lower the barriers to entry of local IT firms and service providers in participating in government ICT projects funded through internal or international resources”. These specific measures needs to ensure that the non-Nepalese companies/service-providers of this software/services/solution for government agencies will require a special case-to-case basis permission from respective Government of Nepal ICT council on the grounds of non-availability of Nepalese company/service provider for the technical job mentioned in the application.
  • The section 7.5 on ICT for Government service innovation and good governance must add this clause –“First priority must be provided to Open Standards and Local-companies to provide solutions for ensuring strategy control in e-governance applications and systems for a long-term perspective.”
  • Clause 7.6.3 has mentioned, “Steps will be taken to create an internationally compatible legal and regulatory framework that accommodates rules for commercial transactions;” under the section 7.6, SMEs and e-commerce must be added in the policy for enabling online payment gateway and international debit/credit card payment transaction in cooperation with Nepal Rastra Bank.
  • Clause 7.16 has said about Conformance, Interoperability and Standards in Tele-Communications and ICT. However, the policy must include the issue of data Inter-interoperability e.g. Bilingual data input, zero (0) byte loss and data encoding, sorting and storing.
  • Clause 11.19 said, “To promote the use of free and open source software as well as open standard in software development for government agencies” needed to be changed as:- “To adapt free and open source software and open standards in software usage, development and practice in government agencies must be done”.
  • A new clause is needed to be added with the following statement “A policy for adoption of Open Source Software for Government of Nepal will be developed. It must ensure that the E-Governance projects of GoN shall include a mandatory clause for considering Open Source Software (OSS) as a preferred option in comparison to Closed Source Software (CSS). Suppliers shall provide justification for exclusion of OSS in their response.
  • The GoN will develop Nepalese Open Source National Operating System so that it can be used in all the government agencies by 2020.
  • In section 12.2, it must be added that, in education, research & development sector Free and Open Course Curriculum Content must be made in primary medium for teaching/learning activities for ICT in education for adopting its importance clearly.
  • Clause 12.5.1 has mentioned, “Proper institutional and staffing arrangements will be made with a view to driving e-government initiatives, securing periodic update of GEA and providing crucial coordination support. It will also set ICT standards and implementation guidelines, with an emphasis on open standards and reducing total cost of ownership of IT implementations in government agencies”. This sentence needs to be changed as: “Proper institutional and staffing arrangements will be made with a view to driving e-government initiatives, securing periodic update of GEA and providing crucial coordination support. It will also set ICT standards and implementation guidelines, with mandating open standards and reducing total cost of ownership of IT implementations in government agencies.”
  • According to clause 12.5.2, “E-government initiative of the Government of Nepal will be conceptually premised around open government theme, embracing transparency, accountability and cooperation among the public sector, private sector and civil society. Along these lines, opening up of government data will be promoted so that people and businesses can access and make use of this data, using multiple channels and technologies.” should be re-phrased as “E-government initiative of the Government of Nepal will be conceptually premised around open government theme, embracing transparency, accountability and cooperation among the public sector, private sector and civil society. Along these lines, opening up of government data as Open Data in Open Formats and Open Standards with the right to further process and/or analyze will be promoted so that people and businesses can access and make use of this data, using multiple channels and technologies.”
  • A government body will be established for benchmark security level and certify the security level of any software/company/service.
  • Under a new section Update and Revision of Policy, the time interval and procedure of Update and Revision of IT Policy needs to be clearly mentioned.

These reviews were prepared in due consultation with more than 1500 members of the FOSS communities in Nepal and abroad. Discussion on this review and feedback was hosted for all Free and Open Source practitioners for more than a week’s duration. After their valuable feedback on the proposed draft ICT Policy 2015 hosted at the NTA’s website, these reviews were consolidated and drafted for sharing with NTA and MoIC.

We believe that these sincere feedback will be taken with due prominence by the MoIC and NTA on its behalf. Once again, we thank NTA and MoIC for being open to suggestions from the concerned stakeholders on ICTs in Nepal. And we look forward for incorporation of all of our suggestions in the final ICT Policy 2015 of Nepal.

Co-ordination with Hempal Shrestha