Govt preparing plans to put IT sector in high gear

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KATHMANDU, JAN 06 - The government has been preparing the National Information Technology ( IT ) Road Map, a wide-ranging plan to put the development of the IT sector in high gear. The Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment said it would have a draft plan ready within a week.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony of the two-day IT Conference being held on the sidelines of CAN Info-Tech on Sunday, Technology Minister Umakant Jha said that the road map would be a base for the development of the IT sector.

"We will be giving importance to m-governance and other emerging sectors in the road map," said Jha. He added that due to the convergence in mobile technology, it had become urgent to focus on sectors like m-education and m-heath as they were inevitable.

The road map is being prepared amid complaints that the Science and Technology Ministry has been neglecting the IT sector. A taskforce under the coordination of Birendra Mishra, director general of the IT Department, is working on it.

After the draft is completed in a week, the ministry plans to collect feedback from stakeholders and other ministries. Som Lal Subedi, secretary at the Technology Ministry, said that the IT sector had not been able to make progress at the desired pace as it had to deal with a number of government agencies.

"There is confusion about who is responsible for what among the government agencies," he said. The road map will consist of plans for the development of the IT sector under the public-private partnership model, he added.

Meanwhile, participants in the IT Conference said that after the convergence of mobile technology and IT , a need to restructure the responsibilities of government agencies had arisen.

As per the current division of responsibilities among government agencies, telecom affairs come under the Ministry of Information and Communications while IT is related to the Science and Technology Ministry. They have underlined the need for increasing the use of mobile technology for m-commerce, m-governance, m-education and m-health. Madan Mohan Rao, a knowledge management and mobile media expert from India who is currently in the capital to participate in the IT Conference, said that there was a need to make mobile services available to farmers to empower them through m-agriculture. "Mobile phones are now becoming the medium for almost everything," he added.

During the first day of the conference, local participants, experts and international guests from India and Bangladesh discussed issues like mobile application, mobile value-added services, security issues of m-governance and telecom and mobile value-added services.

On Monday, the conference will focus on the socio-economic impact of mobile financial services, prospects and challenges of m-commerce, m-payment system, m-health, m-education, growth and future of m-services and re-engineering higher education with technologies, according to Romkant Pandey, coordinator of the CAN IT Conference. Similarly, there will be a separate panel discussion on the use of mobile technology for social transformation in Nepal's context.

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