September 19: The Government of Nepal has signed concessional loan agreements worth US$ 415 with the World Bank for trade connectivity and digital transformation of Nepal.
A statement issued by the World Bank says that it will provide $275 million (equivalent to Rs 34.96 billion) for the Accelerating Nepal’s Regional Transport and Trade Connectivity (ACCESS) Project and $140 million (equivalent to Rs 17.79 billion) for the Digital Nepal Acceleration (DNA) Project.
Finance Secretary Krishna Hari Pushkar and the World Bank’s Country Director for the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, Faris Hadad-Zervos, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations amid a programme on Sunday.
“The projects will help unlock Nepal’s economic potential through better connectivity and trade, enhanced digital engagement among people and businesses, and access to regional markets to support the socio-economic development in an inclusive manner,” the statement quoted Finance Secretary Pushkar as saying.
Under the Accelerating Nepal’s Regional Transport and Trade Connectivity Project, the 69 kilometer two-lane section of the Butwal-Gorusinghe-Chandrauta road along the East-West Highway will be upgraded to a climate-resilient four-lane highway, reads the statement. With a focus on ensuring better road safety, the project is expected to reduce travel time by 30 percent, thus providing better access to India’s western seaports.
According to the World Bank, the project will construct at least three market areas with required internet and trade information facilities along the highway to help enhance economic opportunities, especially for women entrepreneurs and traders.
Likewise, the Digital Nepal Acceleration Project supports the implementation of the Digital Nepal Framework, the country’s digital economy strategy that was announced by the Government in 2019. The project will mobilize private capital to increase access to broadband services in rural areas, benefitting people and businesses that are currently not connected to high-quality and affordable internet connectivity, added the statement. It will also support and secure the delivery of digital government services through improvements in Nepal’s public data infrastructure and cybersecurity capabilities, increasing access to digital services by women, ethnic and social minorities, and persons with disabilities.
“The World Bank is committed to support regional integration and digital transformation in Nepal to ensure the country’s trade growth, long-term sustainability, and resilience of investments, and enable an innovative digital economy,” said Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank’s country director for the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.