Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA) Report

Publication Date: February 1, 2022

This report presents the findings of Nepal’s digital ecosystem and recommendations for the Nepal DECA pilot, which took place between April 2020 and October 2020.

Nepal formally embraced a federal democratic government with its 2015 constitution. The 2015 ICT policy and subsequent 2019 Digital Nepal Framework lay out a vision for transforming Nepal into a knowledge and information-based society through rapid advances in ICT across eight priority sectors with a focus on infrastructure expansion and digital inclusion, including gender equity. However, the government’s capacity to implement digital policies and solutions struggles to keep pace with Nepalis’ embrace of the internet. The country’s digital ecosystem does not meet the needs of all Nepalis and runs the risk of falling further behind. In the coming years, equitable access for all Nepalis, establishment of internet connectivity in remote areas, and safe internet use practices for the digitalization of Nepal’s economy are just some of the key challenges that the country will face.

The Nepal DECA took place between April 2020 and October 2020. It included desk research, consultations with USAID/Nepal, and six weeks of virtual key informant interviews. It involved a total of 53 interviews with stakeholders from civil society, academia, the private and public sectors, and USAID/Nepal technical offices. In alignment with the USAID/Nepal 2020-2025 Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS), colleagues at USAID/Nepal identified four priority areas for their current and future programming:

  1. More effective, participatory, and equitable democratic ecosystems
  2. Broad-based and inclusive economic growth
  3. Inclusive health and education systems
  4. More equitable and improved natural resources and disaster risk management

Pillar 1: Digital Infrastructure and Adoption

  • Nepal has met less than 40 percent of its goal to reach 90 percent broadband penetration by 2020. The remaining gap reflects mostly rural communities and will require collaboration with and investment from the public and private sector.
  • Limited connectivity poses obstacles to disaster risk management (DRM) in Nepal, as do the collection and sharing of DRM data between government agencies, local communities, and implementing partners.
  • Digital divides, especially the gender digital divide, can stymie progress and inhibit growth. These divides are grounded in broader inequities; addressing them will require integrating digital with inclusion-based programming.

Pillar 2: Digital Society, Rights, and Governance

  • There is a mismatch between the big-picture vision of a digital Nepal, and the legal and policy-enabling environment to achieve this vision.
  • Digital rights are under threat, with increasing arrests for online ‘anti-national’ speech. Former Prime Minister Oli’s administration relied on outdated laws to control speech, and new laws threaten to expand control.
  • The government faces implementation challenges due to high turnover, limited digital skills, and siloed departments.
  • There is limited and ineffective engagement with civil society, public sector, and private sector actors. Engagement is critical to building trusted partnerships, meeting citizen and stakeholder needs, and bridging government skill and capacity gaps.
  • Overall, these factors contribute to a lack of data-driven practices, poor digital governance, scanty e-government services, and the inability to protect against cyber threats.

Pillar 3: Digital Economy

  • Digital divides by gender and location (urban vs. rural) persist in digital financial inclusion.
  • E-commerce adoption is slowed by weak policy implementation; underdeveloped logistics, transport and postal infrastructure; and customer preferences for cash.
  • While the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the loosening of regulations on digital payments, market constraints perpetuate serious rural-urban disparities in digital financial services access and use.
  • High remittance volumes present an opportunity for digital financial inclusion. Remittances contribute close to one-third of Nepal’s GDP, and initial decreases due to the COVID-19 pandemic were surprisingly short-lived.
  • There is a serious mismatch in the supply and demand of ICT talent. The government is invested in integrating ICT skills into curricula at all levels; however, implementation is slow, and teacher training is inadequate, especially in rural areas.

mAccess Indicators & Rankings

The information below is part of the mAccess Diagnostic Tool and is intended to help assess foundational components of Nepal’s digital ecosystem using indicators on internet availability, affordability, access, and use. Click here to explore the full tool.

Country Snapshot – Nepal

  • 2G Coverage:


  • 3G Coverage:


  • Cost per SMS in USD for 10,000 bulk SMS:


  • EIU Rank:


  • ITU IDI Rank:


  • Number of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs):


  • Living 2G Coverage ( in million ):


  • Living 3G Coverage ( in million ):


  • No of MBBC:


  • Not using Mobile Internet 2G Coverage:


  • Number of active mobile money agents:


  • Number of active mobile money users:


  • Smartphones 3G Coverage:


  • WEF Rank:


Access – Nepal

  • Land-lines per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile broadband connections per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile internet users per 100 inhabitants:


  • Active SIM cards per 100 inhabitants:


Affordability – Nepal

  • Mobile prepaid 1GB basket:


  • Moblie Prepaid 1GB basket – largest operator:


  • Mobile prepaid voice basket – largest operator:


  • Effective price:


  • GB per GDPC:


  • Mobile prepaid voice basket:


Competition – Nepal

  • Market concentration:


  • Interconnection: Mobile Termination Rates:


  • Highest MNO EBITDA Margin in country:


  • Mobile-specific taxes / TCMO:


  • Number of Mobile Operators:


  • Market share of largest mobile operators:


Infrastructure – Nepal

  • International bandwidth per user:


  • Connections per Base stations:


  • Population covered by 3G signal:


  • Population covered by 4G signal:


  • Country level investment per subscriber:


Usage – Nepal

  • Average revenue per user (Blended ARPU):


  • Facebook users per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile Data traffic per active SIM:


  • M2M connections per 100 inhabitants:


  • Minutes of Use per active SIM:


Digital Ecosystem Evidence Map

The information below is part of the Digital Ecosystem Evidence Map (DEEM) and displays up-to-date resources on digital development interventions and the digital ecosystem for Nepal. Click here to explore the full tool.

Find more resources and tools by topic

All Topics