E-governance at Local Level Public Service Delivery

Author: Swapnil Timsina

We live in a technological era. It is estimated that a staggering 5 billion people around the world own a mobile phone. More than half among them, 2.65 billion use social media. An approximated 40% of the world’s population currently has access to the internet (Darina, 6 Feb 2021). The employment of technology in governance as a global practice is thus no exception. E-governance using information and communication technology (ICT) changes the way of traditional government functions, making it transparent, effective and accountable (Saud, n.d.).


According to the 2020 E-government study by the United Nations, 193 countries were involved in E-Governance practice at present. Denmark takes the lead with a score of 0.9758 on the E-Governance Development Index (EGDI), followed by the Republic of North Korea (0.9560) and Estonia (0.9473) in second and third places respectively. (United Nations, 2020; CAF, 2022)

bar chart diagram of e government development index

Note: The comparative ranking of chosen countries with global, regional, and sub-regional EGDI leadership is interpreted in this graphic from the UN E-Government Knowledge Base of 2020. Nepal’s situation spanning between the years 2003 and 2020 is also depicted in this graph.

The above chart depicts countries in the Asia continent, on average, have an average EGDI score of 0.4059. This index score is higher than several American and African regions. However, if North Korea is excluded then the average score falls dramatically. In the case of Nepal, the efficacy of e-governance is quite low, as it ranks 132 in the EGDI with a score of 0.4699 and 137th in the E-participation index (UN 2020) as a result of its sluggish implementation.

 With Nepal’s first moves toward ICT growth in 1971, a mainframe computer (IBM1401) was brought in for the purpose of tallying censuses. Significant progress was made between 1998 and 2010, with the establishment of the Nepal Telecom Authority, IT policies in 2000, and Telecommunication policies in 2004. Nepal set goals of putting itself on the global e-governance map by creating an enabling environment for the development of a reliable, effective, and affordable telecommunication service with private sector support.

 In 2015, the IT policy 2000 was renamed ICT policy after key developments such as the enactment of the Electronic Transaction Act 2006 and the Electronic Transaction Rules 2007 (n.d.Tech Sansar). These new provisions were adopted with the goal of developing Nepal into a knowledge-based hub and to promote the growth and development of the ICT sector as a means to achieve long-term prosperity. They were also prioritized in implementation as a vehicle to boost addressing issues such as poverty and promoting transparency and accessibility promoting use of ICT in key development areas.  The policy’s main strategies were to encourage the use of ICT in education, health, communication, tourism, and agriculture, as well as to foster human resource development in general. 

Initiation and Development of E-governance at Local Government 

The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD; then) adopted a new effort to promote E-governance at the local level, forming a “University Youth IT Volunteers Scheme” with a total of 141 volunteers, including 8 UN volunteers and 136 ICT volunteers from all local units. The main goal of this organization was to digitize government operations, monitor and strengthen IT infrastructures, and promote volunteers. ICT has been extended to all 753 local units and 7 provinces following the transition of the state to local government (LGs). With MoFALD’s ICT initiative, officials have begun to operate the outlined programs efficiently (MoFALD). Additionally, MoFALD and Tribhuvan University Institute of Engineering (TU/IOE) jointly inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to hire and mobilize fresh engineering graduates nationally to promote the practice of e-governance, offer them with professional prospects, and utilize their ICT experience.

Prospects and potential for growth in ICT are numerous and significant in Nepal. ICT and GDP growth are inextricably linked. According to the World Bank, a 10% increase in broadband penetration is directly associated with a 1.21 percent impact on high-income countries and a 1.38 percent impact on middle- and low-income economies. ICT implementation, if done correctly, would help to improve the socioeconomic position in all the above-mentioned areas. Smart irrigation, digitization of land records, and platforms like e-haat bazaar could all benefit from ICT. In addition, smart classrooms, online learning platforms, biometric attendance systems, and mobile learning centers in remote areas can be used to bring positive change in the country’s currently operating traditional education system.Digitization will be also more transformative if hospitals keep electronic health records and provide mobile health and telemedicine services.

At this time, e-commerce is a worldwide phenomenon. Since the last decade, Nepal has been a strong proponent of e-commerce. For example, the popular South Asia online shopping platform Daraz was created in 2012 and presently serves 5 million customers. We can intuitively estimate the boosts in profit local entrepreneurs can experience if their products and services are channeled globally through e-commerce platforms, given their wide-ranging client reach.

At the local level, e-banking may be made more effective so that individuals can easily make monetary transactions. More importantly, the use of ICT in governance improves integrity and converts the battle against corruption into a digital endeavor (CAF, 2022). This could be a good way to keep an eye on the frequently documented issues of corruption and wrongdoings in local government units. However, this prospect also opens the door to more research.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite its aforementioned high potential, the establishment and implementation of e-governance has its own set of obstacles, particularly in underdeveloped nations like Nepal. The lack of concern and commitment from local governments in the application of e-governance, people’s level of digital literacy, limited local promotion for investment, insufficient resource mobilization, ineffective formulation and implementation of policy for ICT development at the local level, and inability to replace traditional methods with digital methods are among the major challenges.

However, every problem, as the saying goes, has a solution; all you have to do is put in some effort. This statement emphatically applies to the issues posed by ICT. There are procedures that, if implemented properly, can aid in the resolution of such challenges. The first step is to ensure that the local government is appropriately addressed and that it is open to hearing people’s opinions. Before that, people must participate in effective digitalization campaigns to understand its benefits and drawbacks. Both the public and private sectors must work together to achieve adequate investment in essential infrastructure development. As previously stated, there are huge opportunities for ICT development and the benefits that come with it, but this can only be realized if the ruling and the ruled have a more friendly relationship. On paper, public participation in policy design and execution could be a fantastic idea if implemented satisfactorily.

A Model Example

Walling Municipality in Syangja district of Gandaki Province is an example of significant strides made in the improvement of ICT practice at the local level.  Besides being awarded several times before, Walling recently once again stood as the best municipality for institutional development, service delivery and good financial governance. As per the e-Gov module, it is providing e-government ward services to 69. Digitized interaction between local government and public with the help of the ‘Hello Mayor’ program, use of Digital Citizen Charter for providing services to the public and provides ward profiles using web-sites. It uses a module called “Janata Connect” for providing information to the public via push notifications or an email. It also provides information catalogs regarding local business, local productions, projects and others(smartpalika.org).

Despite its various challenges, infrastructure demands, and long-term investment needs, Walling Municipality stands as a shining example of a successfully integrated e-Governance campaign within Nepal. Its success can not only inspire other local government units to follow suit but can also plant the seeds of scaling among private and public actors. Afterall, Nepal is poised to adopt the globally growing e-Governance practice sooner or later. How quickly and how effectively it happens is a matter of prioritization, investment, and effort.


The graphics, views and opinions expressed in the piece above are solely those of the original author(s) and contributor(s). They do not necessarily represent the views of Centre for Social Change.

picture of a boy

Swapnil Timsina is a Bsc. CSIT (Bachelors of Science in Computer Science and Information Technology) student at Mahendra Morang Adarasha Multiple Campus, Biratnagar, a constituent campus of Tribhuvan University(TU), Nepal.

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