Nepal’s businesses have begun to digitize, and technology startups are emerging. Nepal has a dynamically developing IT sector that focuses on application development, consulting, and system integration services with growing IT services exports. There are over 350 startups in areas such as software as a service, travel, health, education, real estate technology, and e-commerce.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated startup activities with entrepreneurs launching mobile money, e-commerce, online learning, and telehealth applications. Relatively unconstrained by gaps in physical infrastructure (such as roads), logistics, high land prices and small domestic market, the IT services sector can expand good job opportunities for skilled youth, improve the productivity of other sectors and facilitate good governance.
The growth of the private IT sector is complemented by the Government of Nepal’s objectives to position digital development as a key enabler of growth and of resilient and inclusive development. This is embedded in its Digital Nepal Framework (DNF), a national game-changing program adopted in 2019. The DNF seeks to promote innovation and competitiveness in the private sector.
Yet, Nepal’s IT sector faces many constraints, including limited higher-level technical and managerial skills and experience, regulatory issues including weak intellectual property enforcement capacity, limited access to finance, and gaps in digital infrastructure. This implies missed opportunities for Nepal’s digital economy to grow. A major constraint is limited skills: existing digital businesses and startups note the lack of adequately skilled and employable people, with specific skills gaps among women limiting their participation in digital jobs and entrepreneurship.
This event discussed ideas to build links between the active and well-established Nepali diaspora (ND) in the USA (and possibly elsewhere), many of whom work in the IT industry or related fields. It also initiated a conversation with a larger group of ND members from the US to mobilize investments, talent, and visibility to develop the digital industries in Nepal. Specific objectives of this event were to:
- Organize a forum for the Nepali diaspora based in the US to share their views on the opportunities and challenges facing Nepal to fully participate in the global digital economy
- Engage with key Nepali diaspora members working in the digital sector in the US to identify short to medium term ideas to signal that “Nepal is open for business” on the digital economy
This event aimed to trigger a wider and deeper engagement of the ND in the USA to support Nepal’s digital ambitions, supported through continuing dialogue with the Government and among ND members through various forums.
Last Updated: May 18, 2023