As the global trend toward smart cities gains rampant pace, Nepal, one of the 48 countries classified by the United Nations as being “least developed”, also follows suit. With the intention of addressing the acute necessity for adequate urban infrastructure and attaining sustainable development, smart city initiatives are being put in motion.
To begin with, Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) is working toward replacing traditional analog meters with digital smart meters, thus eliminating the need for meter readers. This will reduce electricity leakage as well as have a positive effect on revenue. Furthermore, by using insulated cables for overhead lines and implementing underground and automated networks, NEA aims to improve the capacity and reliability of networks. This way, NEA is helping Nepal move toward smart grid.
Another initiative is smart water management. For instance, Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Ltd (KUKL) is planning to adopt a computerized system to monitor and control the distribution of water from the Melamchi Project so that water supply does not have to be controlled manually. Moreover, private organizations such as SmartPaani Pvt Ltd have been presenting customized solutions such as rainwater harvesting, water recycling, wastewater treatment and water filtration to provide sustainable water solutions across the country.
Needless to say, Internet connectivity is rapidly spreading to the masses in the country. A recent report by Nepal Telecom stated that Internet penetration reached 63% in January 2018. Companies such as e-Sewa have been making e-commerce more feasible across Nepal. IME Digital, which is working toward a cashless ecosystem through an open application programming interface (API), strives for an economy where all the “wall gardens” are broken down and seamless transactions take place even with their competitors. In addition, ICT start-ups are growing in enormous numbers in various ICT-related areas. It is evident that Nepal is briskly embracing smart technology.
Moving forward, CellApp Innovations recently developed Smart Palika, an integrated software system that digitizes local governing bodies. This includes a mobile application, Website, digital data, and a dashboard. By providing ward-level and municipality-level services online, it increases efficiency by saving time for both the public and government employees. Furthermore, it is easier for government bodies to collate demographic data more effectively. This is a big stride toward smart governance in Nepal.
Finally, companies providing green mobility options are also paving way for Nepali citizens to becoming smart citizens. For example, Future Green Energy Pvt Ltd promotes clean alternative energy and aims to reduce carbon footprint from automobiles. The company’s product line includes all-electric vehicles such as the KIA SOUL EV. It is also working toward developing nationwide EV charging stations.
Therefore, Nepal is evidently embracing at least five parameters of the eight (as defined by F&S) that defines a smart city, namely: smart energy, smart infrastructure, smart technology, smart governance and smart citizen. The government is in the process of selecting firms to build a detailed project report for four smart cities in Kathmandu Valley. Even though these enterprises have only recently been initiated, owing to the fact that the country finally has a stable government, creating smart cities in Nepal definitely looks like a promising venture.