Officials from Nepal witnessed an MOU signature ceremony between the Nepalese government and the Busan IT Industry Promotion Agency to create a broad framework for future cooperation today at the 2009 IT Expo Busan.
Juddha Gurung, Member Secretary of the government of Nepal signed an MOU with Kim Kyu-chul, president of the Busan IT Industry Promotion Agency. Also present were Shankar Pokharel, Minister of Information and Communications of Nepall; Yadav Khanal, Minister Counsellor of the Embassy of Nepal in Seoul; Kanhaiya Lal Gupta, member of the Nepal Engineering Council and Deputy Managing Director of Nepal Telecom; Dr. Choi Won-seok, Director of the International Cooperation Division of the Busan IT Industry Promotion Agency; and other representative officials.
After the agreement was signed, they spoke a few words with the Korea IT Times. According to Mr. Khanal, Nepal is very interested in expanding their e-government abilities. They admire the advancement of the Busan Metropolitan Government in electronic governance.
Mr. Gupta put it this way, "IT is the only way out." When asked for clarification, he said that the other sectors of the Nepalese economy, such as tourism, are already mature and if the country is to see any rapid economic growth, that will come from the IT sector. "Nepal is quickly expanding its broadband infrastructure and even remote areas are accessible with broadband," added Mr. Khanal.
Member Secretary Gurung said that the IT manpower in Nepal is highly skilled, and rivals or surpasses other more famous sources of IT manpower such as India or China, with which it shares borders. Nepalese IT workers are becoming more famous and desired in such markets as Silicon Valley in the US.
One specific example of technology that the Nepalese government is interested in is a unified electronic transportation payment system, similar to the T-Money system in Seoul. Busan was the first city to implement such a system in Korea and Nepal would like to work closely with them to develop such a system for their own country, according to Dr. Choi Won-seok. Such a system which provides for data security, secure payment methods, and basic data infrastructure is an essential first step to developing a comprehensive e-government system such as the one in Busan.
This MOU between Nepal and Korea is reminiscent of the recent CEPA signed between India and Korea. However, when asked if such an agreement was possible in the future, all officials involved agreed that it was too early for such a discussion. However, they did seem to view it in a positive light. Perhaps relations between Nepal and Korea can become much closer in the future.
In a final note, Nepal is making 2011 Visit Nepal year, and hopes to invite a million people to the country then. Look forward to that soon!