Of course, it is not realistic to expect that the government will leap-frog to higher levels of digital maturity overnight. Institutionalising new technologies and digital governance will require coordinated action between the government, development partners and the societal ecosystem as a whole.
The post-pandemic reality will require the Nepal government to take a policy and regulatory lead in digitising services. The government will have to lead by example synchronising an enabling environment for e-payment systems, telehealth, demand for digital services, including online education.
We must not let the past shackle us and move confidently ahead to implement transformational change in state services through digital processes. As Yuval Noah Harari says: ‘Future historians will see Covid-19 as a turning point in the history of the 21st century. But which way we turn is up to us.’
For Nepal, as immobility grips the economy and traditional processes are disengaged, it is fitting to ask if the government will cling to the past, or advance towards a bold new digital future.
Ashutosh M Dixit is an economist based in Nepal.