Now, a ‘Digital Karnali’

Karnali River in Humla, one of Nepal's remotest districts which lacks both road and internet connectivity. Photos: NABIN BARAL

The Karnali Basin Conservation Foundation (KBCF), a nonprofit promoting biodiversity conservation and economic development, is collaborating with Nepal’s private internet company, WorldLink Communications, to leapfrog into the information age.

KBCF funds activities that promote biodiversity conservation, livelihood opportunities, healthcare, access to quality education, and eco-tourism in the Karnali River Basin in Nepal’s under-served western provinces.

“It is important to lay a strong foundation for long-term and sustainable growth,” says Radhesh Pant of KBCF, “Having infrastructure, both soft and hard, for a digital economy will be key in this regard. As there is still a lot to accomplish in the region.”

For its part, WorldLink is Nepal’s largest internet service provider, and hopes to bridge Nepal’s digital divide with this partnership that will take information technology to the remotest rural areas of Nepal.

Pant said that making the internet available to the under-privileged will help bridge the great gap between the connected and not connected. “As the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated, with schools and businesses having to move online, access to the internet is more important than ever,” he added.

KBCF was set up to try to help develop a broad investment ecosystem in the Karnali Basin, with a focus on biodiversity conservation and equitable development. In the long term, it aims to boost the economy of the region by balancing nature conservation and development, and making it self-reliant.

Dileep Agarwal of WorldLink Communications said, “The vision of Digital Karnali is in perfect synergy with our vision statement to connect everyone, anywhere, all the time. We will jointly work towards identifying growth zones and providing internet access for commercial business, community groups, and individuals to leverage the opportunities of a stable digital platform”

WorldLink is actively expanding its services to rural areas and remote villages in Nepal. Agarwal says that giving the underprivileged in Nepal’s remotest area access to the internet can close digital divide in Nepal.

The KBCF is supported with USAID’s Paani (Water) Project in Nepal, DSV Advisors, a joint venture company of Dolma Advisors Private Limited, SAFAL Partners, and VRock & Company Pvt Ltd.

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