Kathmandu, May 1st, 2020
The ICT industry of Nepal witnessed a milestone in 2017 when the cabinet endorsed May 2 as National ICT Day. Past President of the CAN Federation, Er. Binod Dhakal made it possible with the help of Hon’ble Prem Bahadur Singh, Former Minister for Science & Technology. This means the first National ICT Day was observed on May 2, 2018.
However, the celebration of the first ICT day in Nepal dates back to 2011. It was celebrated with the initiation of the CAN Federation with support from the government.
Let’s hear from the man himself who had a huge role to play in the endorsement of National ICT Day.
Interview with Biplav Man Singh – Former President (2004-2008)
Q. Can you give us some insight into the history of ICT Day in Nepal?
A: The 1990 Nepalese Revolution led to the establishment of many associations and organizations. At that time, there were only a few institutes that dealt with computer importing and training. CAN Federation was started in the building of Nepal Chamber and the first official letter in support of this association was written on May 2.
Eventually, the idea of ICT day came forward. We proposed to mark the National ICT Day on the same day as CAN’s anniversary. Basically, it is the day when the Federation of CAN was formed.
Q. What can be the importance of National ICT Day?
A: The purpose of marking any day nationally or internationally is to raise awareness about it. Basically, it is to remind people that this topic exists and there are people working on it. And, the ICT day is as important as other occasions and deserves a place in the calendar.
It is important to realize the importance of the ICT sector and at least on this day, people in the field should engage in events. In fact, we started a trend of celebrating the National ICT Day for a whole week instead of just one day.
For this, the CAN Federation and the government should not be the only ones responsible to mark this day by organizing engaging events and activities. There are other public and private organizations working in the ICT sector as well. In fact, the regional branches of the CAN Federation also host local events to mark the National ICT day.
We have been celebrating it as a festival and all the local or national-level events are aimed at spreading awareness among the general public.
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Q. What are the roles of public and private associations in marking the National ICT Day?
A: Firstly, the Government has already endorsed this event as a national occasion. So, the public sector must move forward with the recognition of National ICT Day. The CAN Federation has been leading the celebration of this event since the beginning.
So, the government should support CAN in organizing events during the ICT day or week. Similarly, other public organizations could also endorse certain events to support the purpose of the occasion.
Currently, the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) is exemplary in the ICT sector with the arrangement of events like ICT awards that accommodate all ICT sectors. So, I believe such collaboration and understanding should continue in the future for the betterment of the sector.
Interview with Er. Binod Dhakal – Former President (2012-2017)
Q. When and How did ICT Day start in Nepal?
A: The CAN Federation started the celebration of the first ICT day in Nepal from 2007/2008. The need for a national ICT day was realized to spread awareness among the general public. At that time, there was a huge misconception regarding ICT that this sector was only for privileged and high-class people.
There is no specific reason why we chose the specific date to celebrate ICT day. However, many development activities in the ICT sector of Nepal were witnessed in May. Thus, we initiated several activities and events to mark the ICT day on May 2.
The government also eventually started taking an interest and saw potential in the ICT sector. At CAN’s Silver Jubilee celebration and AGM (Annual General Meeting), I proposed the government to endorse the ICT Day in the presence of Hon’ble Prem Bahadur Singh, the Chief Guest for the event. He seemed impressed with the proposal and asked me to bring a formal proposal to his office.
Soon enough, it finally happened and the government endorsed May 2 as the National ICT day. This year, we will be celebrating the 3rd Official National ICT Day.
Q. What is the importance of National ICT Day?
A: Firstly, it is important to note that it is not an international celebration. We started this event to eliminate the digital divide and develop the ICT sector in Nepal. Also, one major focus has always been to digitize governmental services for the convenience of the general public.
In most ways, the core purpose of the celebration of this national event is spreading awareness. The scope of the ICT industry is vast and the more people understand its importance, the more we can step forward towards Digital Nepal. That is why our slogan “let’s build e-Nepal Together We CAN”. Our e-Nepal concept was adopted as Digital Nepal by the Government. We are happy about that.
Similarly, we already had an IT Park in Nepal but due to lack of awareness, it couldn’t operate as expected. Eventually, people and the government is realizing the ICT sector as a backbone for the development of the country in the digital era. The majority of the credit for this goes to the CAN Federation.
In fact, I believe we should continue the celebration of the National ICT Day with the same objective. It will help us cover a wide area since there are still some areas in Nepal that lack the resources and knowledge of ICT.
Q. What are the roles of Public and Private organizations on National ICT Day?
A: Since the first ICT Day celebration in Nepal, many private companies in Nepal have participated in the events. With more and more like-minded people in the sector, it has been easier to drive our aim forward every year.
Now, since the National ICT Day has been endorsed by the government, it is important that the government initiates its celebration as a national festival. We used to plan 5-6 months prior to the event day but since the official endorsement, the planning phase has been reduced to 1-2 months. However, it doesn’t mean that private organizations stay still.
CAN has been organizing several events to mark the National ICT Day but I believe this year, it will be following a digital approach due to the lockdown. The leading organizations like NTA, Department of IT, and Nepal Telecom also organize programs to aware and engage more people in the past. Similarly, district branches of CAN Federation also conduct programs in the past. We are expecting this sort of support every year so that we can observe a nationwide celebration of the event.
The authorities and leaders of the ICT industry and the government should coordinate to plan the event. Moreover, it is necessary to go forward with the Digital Nepal Framework as well. CAN Federation has a huge role to play in digitizing Nepal with the development of the ICT sector.
Interview with Hemant Chaurasia – Immediate Past President (2017-2019)
Q. Why do we need a National ICT Day?
A: CAN Federation moved forward with celebrating ICT Day as a national festival with the endorsement from the government. In today’s time, no country can move towards development by leaving its ICT sector behind. The development of a nation is unimaginable without Information and Communications Technology.
So, through the celebration of the event, we aim to spread awareness of its importance throughout the country. Similarly, events like these will play a part in enhancing the ICT infrastructure in remote places of Nepal. That’s why the government and CAN Federation have joined hands to promote this event on a national level.
Q. What are the roles of public and private associations to celebrate this National event?
A: The stakeholders and other associations under the CAN’s umbrella need to participate or host productive events. CAN Federation still has to act as the leader but with an association of the government. In the past, we have seen the involvement of the government by collaborating with private sectors to celebrate National ICT Day.
However, the organizations won’t be able to conduct such events to celebrate National ICT Day 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown. But, CAN is planning to ‘go digital’ this year to mark the day which is a huge step forward in the light of the Digital Nepal Framework. This will hopefully inspire other sectors like Education, Health, Tourism, and more to invest in ICT for long-term sustainability.
Finally, I wish to congratulate everyone on the occasion of the National ICT Day 2020. I believe if more people realize the importance of ICT and support the digital movement, then we can speculate about the development of our nation.
The CAN Federation and ICT sector has achieved milestones under these distinguished former Presidents. The National ICT Day supports the core aim of drawing attention towards ICT infrastructure development. Meanwhile, the events and activities on this day are directed to spread awareness among people throughout the nation.
CAN Federation, being the umbrella organization of ICT in Nepal, needs to lead the nation towards the digital era. The more people understand the concept of digital Nepal, the sooner we can achieve it. It is important that people realize they need of ICT and adaptation to technology.