Inclusive rural digital transformation
Rural transformation is a big global project in the world scenario for meeting the need of ambitious digital transformation worldwide. Around 50% of the developing world’s population (Nepal: 80%; India: 66%; China: 40%) is living in the rural sector, mostly in agrarian sectors with lack of incentive and facilities for modern education system. A large percentage of them are impoverished and do not have access to latest electronic technology and digital transformation revolutionizing the urban world because of the availability of information. This is becoming a situation of a digital divide between rural sector and urban sector.
Challenges and opportunities of digital transformations
Process of change in rural areas depends on many factors and dynamics; the challenges and opportunities of rural transformation derive from rural-urban linkages.
Rural transformation is recognized as a process impacting on development with or without interventions. It is a process of comprehensive societal change whereby rural societies diversify their economies. In many low and middle-income countries, rural areas are undergoing fundamental processes of change that affect not only their economic structure but also their social, cultural and political fabric.
Digital Nepal Framework
Government of Nepal has initiated the Digital Nepal framework with different sectors such as energy, tourism, finance, agriculture, health, education and urban development. Digital foundation as broadband connectivity and Data Center is the most important foundation to make all those mentioned sector being digital possible. Connectivity and Data Center as the root of a tree, to provide water and nutrition for the fruitful outcome of digitization in different sectors. More factors such as friendly ICT policy, advanced technology, good local service and ICT talents can be the enabler to make the big tree of digital Nepal grow healthier. The joint effort of all ICT stakeholders in Nepal, commited stakeholders will make everyone in Nepal be benefited from the digital world, to fulfill the vision of Prosperous Nepal.
Information and communication technologies (ICT) are increasingly available to advance the ease and efficiency in many areas of life. ICT holds particular promise in areas of governance and public participation. Governments in the digital age can use information to reduce corruption and increase government transparency, accountability, efficiency and citizen participation. Human rights advocates contend that successful use of ICT in governance requires access to information, education and the ability to share information for citizens
Eight Sectors and Eighty Digital Initiatives under the Digital Nepal framework, eight sectors – digital foundation, agriculture, health, education, urban infrastructure, energy, tourism and finance have been identified based on close engagement with stakeholders. The Government's big plan Digital Nepal is designed to facilitate Nepal to connect its driving socioeconomic growth of citizens which will help and support to achieve the sustainable development goal.
By joint effort with telecom operators in Nepal, international stakeholders have brought 2G/3G/4G technology to Nepal and have made connectivity available across the country from Himalayas to Terai. With the introduction of 4G technology, Nepal has seen a massive increase in the use of internet over the past years with high quality and speed. This technology has made the country progressive not only for communication sector but also for other online activities such as ecommerce, online education, digital finance, online video streaming, online social networking and benefiting overall socio-economic sector.
Besides building connectivity, some stakeholder's ICT technology and ecosystem is helping organizations in different sectors from government to financial institution, airlines, Internet Service Provider, media etc. It has helped to speed up the progress of digital transformation by using ICT technology to improve their internal efficiency, and making their services more convenient, easy, and fast processing.
Converging technology revolution
The converging technology revolution comprises the synergistic combination of four groups of technologies: information technology, bio-technology, nanotechnology and cognitive technologies. They go beyond digital technologies, although they are underpinned by the latter. Data is central to the converging technology revolution; a unique feature is the integration of data from the human, physical, biological and cyber worlds. High speed computing power and connectivity are the other two factors powering this revolution. These characteristics drive both the potential and the risks from the converging technology revolution. The development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), itself a combination of information technology and cognitive science and made possible by the availability of vast amounts of data, cheap high speed computing power and ubiquitous connectivity, is further enabling and driving the converging technology revolution. These developments have profound implications for human capital – creating the possibility of rapid accumulation of human capital through technological innovations in education (e.g., by improving learning quality), health (e.g., by improving stunting or reducing non-communicable diseases) and social protection (e.g., by addressing informality of the labor force) sectors; as well as supporting sectors such as agriculture, water, energy, sectors critical for Nepal’s development.
There is a serious requirement of engaging Think Tanks of the country to explore strategic opportunities to ensure that converging technologies are integrated into public sector policies, plans and programs in effective and equitable ways. Some of these technologies are already being used by the private sectors, however, not extensively for human capital development. There is a further need to identify constraints that prevent the effective implementation at the ground level, including the sectoral silos that need to be opened up to incorporate these technologies to produce greater impact. And this is particularly pertinent in the context of implementing policies and programs in the relatively new (and fragile) federal structure, in which converging technologies could potentially offer more effective pathways to improve service delivery. IT forces of the nation should be integrated along with concerned stakeholders to strengthen better service delivery at the ground level of the fragile federal structure of Nepal.
Dynamics of rural transformation
The complexity of the rural transformation process calls for multi-layered governance and new forms of technical and financial assistance. The debate on the structural and political changes in rural areas is vivid and ongoing. There are many working groups and forums, with different constituencies and mandates, that explore the central and unifying role.
All Platform activities in the strategic initiative constitute a longer-term exercise in close cooperation with a growing number of institutions and initiatives towards the better informed positioning of various stakeholders including donor programs within the new development framework.
Rural transformation is a complex and on-going process in the rural space in all countries. The direction and effects of these rural transformation processes can be shaped and steered to prevent and mitigate negative effects and produce outcomes that are beneficial for rural populations on a national and subnational level. The process of rural transformation must thus be addressed by a policy agenda aimed at making rural transformation ecologically more sustainable and socially inclusive.
Building Technology platforms, Policies. The critical insight to a Nepal’s journey of success is that it requires one to be able to work with and grow the ecosystem, rather than grow itself. IT sector also need to have volunteers from not-for-profit Think Tank, staffed mostly by volunteers from the tech world, who dedicate their time, energy and expertise towards Nepal’s hard problems. This group should remain committed to being in the background, taking pride in the success of partners who are solving for Nepal’s hard problems.
Rotary club and strength mobilization
The strength of Rotracts specially the females of Rotary clubs all across the nation can be mobilized to transform rural sector. The motivation for volunteering is hard to explain to those who have not experienced the joy volunteering brings. Rotracts under Rotary club could be mobilized in integrated manner with IT professionals. They should find market players and government entities with the conviction in this approach and help everyone work together and function together. In practical terms, this means that the government builds the digital public infrastructure, and the market participants build businesses on top of it. Groups in regional countries have iterated this model and are continuing to improve and refine this model. To play such role they use their mission to align with the Government partners, Market partners and their own volunteers.
They should convert ideas into policy proposals to take to the government, stakeholders. As part of their advocacy efforts they should explain, educate and inform government policy makers and other policy bodies that a vibrant software product industry is vital to Nepal’s future. They should strive to have a symbiotic relation with trade organizations including professionally run institutions and see them leading the charge of converting policy prescriptions into reality.
There is a serious need of input from futurists if we have to survive in the race of technological advancement. Bringing capabilities from AI and Big Data, Robotics, Automation and Drones, . Cloud Computing, . Faster Networks, 5G., Extended Virtual Reality etc are emerging at faster rate. People are looking at streaming data for predicting analytics. Companies will be offering automated data ware housing and helping stream line business processes. Microsoft, Amazon, Google are offering lot of capabilities that will transform the coming decade.
Technology management today is considered as most strategic which has to be well understood by both government and private sectors of Nepal. Technology reaches people through business functions. Firms requires shift of IT and IT requires transformation of IT function, in the past IT was support functions the IT organization was peripheral to business strategy. The IT organization focused on automation of transaction intensive processes and IT was therefore a cost center however in the competitive environment it moves to center stage. It is central to business strategy, product differentiation and market performance of firm. This cost center now drives innovations in firms and IT is therefore transformed to bring a key competitive advantage yet firms are unprepared for this transformation various industry reports a like quitted here tell you that it managers and leaders strongly believes that they have a critical role to play in the transformation of their company however they also believe equally strong they are their IT organizations are unprepared for this transformation. The transformation not only reflects shift in thinking but it functions but also a requirement for a new breed of it managers, managers who can examine technology through a business lens and that is the context business technology management specialization.
To carry out entire process we need to understand details of these four components - Technoware, Humanware, Orgaware and Infoware which inter connected as ZigSaw puzzle and need to have balance of these four components. These technologies are managed through cutting edge technology. Leaders of developed nations who have resources to execute continuous research and developing countries who don’t have resources will tend to import technology. The leaders of poor countries need to have very deep understanding of what kind of technologies they are trying to import. These poor countries will not be able to negotiate for a good technology need if they don’t have good understanding of the needs. These countries should have close watch over technology development, research and development, technology transfer, intellectual property right, licensing etc. Strategic decisions should be made so that decisions are made on the correct technology which is aligned with business strategy of the organizations. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR ) funds also get affected with the collective understanding of businesses of organizations and technology adoption in real time
Female students going through difficulties specially in remote areas should be encouraged to get digitally connected with role models with similar experiences from urban settings. It is not what happens to life it is what you do with it, When one goes through difficult and challenging times that he/she will be always aware of surroundings, Pattern recognition also works in community building interactions. I learnt to understand how to work with communities specially with those who underwent similar experiences.
The fact that they all speak the same language to each other but whatever reason when they try to communicate the language most of the time the message would not get through from one group to the other. They like personalities who paid attention, listened, cared to what they had to say. We also have things like world wide web and finding my digital voice through technology adoption. I ended up not only becoming brother and sister to most of these people that work with me they became my friends, my extension, my mentor. What mattered was that I was reading great articles, books about ideas. I had potential to reach out to these people. Even if they didn’t know me as long as I found that something to hook to get their interest so I tell them my hypothesis, my ideas what I thought and sometimes they actually responded to me. I felt I was something. They are interested and became positive role models, my digital mentors. I was introduced through the same group of people to the various gatherings and gatherings of with the luminaries.
The more well-known they were they try to add value. What you sent what you get as they contributed to the people around them, built up the social capital. Talk about ideas their social capital started extending into culture and when you start adding your social capital in your cultural capital and amplifying through digital technology you get incredible result. People are investing very heavily on social engagement through the use of multiple channels of distribution to reach multiple audiences on internet. Facebook, Twitter LinkedIn actually did connect with multiple audiences. They started co creating products together what the brains meant together. They did the best in financial teams during the most difficult economic climate.
Companies did the best on financial level are companies which put themselves at the center. The more connected the company is the more employees are digitally literate and encouraged to use that literacy within that organization. They are visible, it is because those companies have more access to information that is pertinent to them. It can make better and quicker decision than their competitors. It has competitive advantage.
The best leaders demonstrate vision but they also influence, empathy, attunements as well as desire to help others, a desire to empower others, People should empower each other. Now Technology is available so people can better understand and add value.
Up loads all connections, contacts so that one can start making meaning out of one’s your life Facebook profile page where all kinds of experiences are collected helps people connect past with present and help co create future adding value. Pick your friend as mentors, because of those people together make you co create your positivity for future through social media. I have created Facebook page of mine called timilayamithapa and have created virtual community. The virtual communities are helping co create positivity for my days ahead. I have created Facebook pages of my father and mother where virtual communities are helping me create list information about the lives of their great past.
Engage stakeholders who has been serving Nepal’s ICT industry. Also engage international parties who are leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices, who are committed to bringing digital to every person, home, and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world. Sustained, heavy investment in R&D is one of the key factor that these companies who have been in leading position of technology. Talented students should be encouraged to improve their skill from programs of such stakeholders.
International stakehilders have always valued their corporate social responsibility in underdeveloped countries who are also engagged in developing ICT talents directly and indirectly from the past several years in these countries. They have been an attractive organization to great talents, and became a gateway to international technology arena for aspiring technophiles.
Strong ICT infrastructure such as 4G/5G mobile broad band network coverage, data center, cloud platform and others, will not only make digital method like telemedicine and online virus contact track tracing to fight the pandemic easier, but also enable the digital economy as the toll to build a platform for strong economy recovery.
Covid 19 Pandemic and digital acceleration
Internet data consumption in Nepal has increased hugely day by day after the pandemic. Online activities have also increased during day time, considering that more and more people are getting used to the modality of work from home and study from home. However, in some rural areas, the weak internet broadband coverage has limited the number of people to use online platform. Beside major cities like Kathmandu, Pokhara, Butwal and Chitwan, most of the remote parts of Nepal are still not covered by broadband connectivity which is affecting peoples’ daily lives and economic activities.
As a responsible corporate organization in Nepal, all the private sectors should be committed to contribute digital foundation to Nepal, including high quality, wide coverage and affordable broadband connectivity and advanced Data Center, with all telecom operators, ISPs, government and all ICT stakeholders in Nepal.
Despite strong evidence regarding the importance of fully incorporating women into the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector, a gender ICT gap still remains in Nepal. Moreover, women are underrepresented in the sector, particularly in technical and decision-making positions. Barriers include lack of role models, lack of limited gender specific networking opportunities as well as the investment one needs to remain up-to-date in this fast-moving industry constantly updating one’s technical skill – stay current. The technological world evolves very quickly and one has to be self-learning all the time.
There are reservations for women in electoral politics and in government services, one of the fundamental pillars of the post-2006 compact—proportionate representation in all state bodies. However, this power has been ignored during implementation of the constitution. Citizens now feel that most of the attributes such as secularism, inclusion, federalism, and even democracy are only limited in documentation only.