Nepal - Infrastructure introduction

Energy –

The bulk of the energy in Nepal comes from fuel wood (68%), agricultural waste (15%), animal dung (8%), and imported fossil fuels (8%). Except for some lignite deposits, Nepal has no known oil, gas or coal deposits. All commercial fossil fuels (mainly oil and coal) are either imported from India or from international markets routed through India and China. Fuel imports absorb over one-fourth of Nepal's foreign exchange earnings.

Only about 1% energy need is fulfilled by electricity. The perennial nature of Nepali rivers and the steep gradient of the country's topography provide ideal conditions for the development of some of the world's largest hydroelectric projects. Current estimates put Nepal's economically feasible hydropower potential to be approximately 83,000 MW from 66 hydropower project sites. However, currently Nepal has been able to exploit only about 600 MW from 20 medium to large hydropower plants and a number of small and micro hydropower plants. There are 9 major hydropower plants under construction, and additional 27 sites considered for potential development. Only about 40% of Nepal's population has access to electricity. There is a great disparity between urban and rural areas. The electrification rate in urban areas is 90%, whereas the rate for rural areas is only 5%. Power cuts of up to 22 hours a day take place in peak demand periods of winter and the peak electricity demand is almost the double the capability or dependable capacity. 

Transport -

Nepal remains isolated from the world's major land, air and sea transport routes although, within the country, aviation is in a better state, with 47 airports, 11 of them with paved runways, flights are frequent and support a sizable traffic. The hilly and mountainous terrain in the northern two-thirds of the country has made the building of roads and other infrastructure difficult and expensive. By the end of 2016 there were  10,844 km (6,302 mi) of roads, of which 4,952 kms of roads are paved and 5,892 km of unpaved road, and one 59 km (37 mi) railway line in the south.

As the end of 2016, total number of airports with runways are 48 of which only 11 have paved runways and are operable year-round and only 15 are served by regular scheduled commercial flight. Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA), Nepal’s only international airport, currently handles approximately 3.2 million international and 1.5 million domestic passengers per year. The airport is served by 26 international carriers offering direct connections to 23 destinations in Asia and Europe. Additionally, 34 domestic carriers offer scheduled flights to 14 regional airports, as well as mountain flights.

Telecommunications and mass media –

According to the Nepal Telecommunication Authority MIS May 2012 report, there are seven operators and the total voice telephony subscribers including fixed and mobile are 16,350,946 which gives a penetration rate of 61.42%. The fixed telephone service account for 9.37%, mobile for 64.63%, and other services (LM, GMPCS) for 3.76% of the total penetration rate. Similarly, the numbers of subscribers to data/internet services are 4,667,536 which represents 17.53% penetration rate. Most of the data service is accounted by GPRS users. Twelve months earlier the data/internet penetration was 10.05%, thus this represents a growth rate of 74.77%.

Not only has there been strong subscriber growth, especially in the mobile sector, but there was evidence of a clear vision in the sector, including putting a reform process in place and planning for the building of necessary telecommunications infrastructure. Most importantly, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) and the telecom regulator, the National Telecommunications Authority (NTA), have both been very active in the performance of their respective roles.

Education –

The overall literacy rate (for population age 5 years and above) increased from 54.1% in 2001 to 65.9% in 2011. The male literacy rate was 75.1% compared to the female literacy rate of 57.4%. The highest literacy rate was reported in Kathmandu district (86.3%) and lowest in Rautahat (41.7%). While the net primary enrollment rate was 74% in 2012 enrollment rate was 90%.

Nepal has seven universities: Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu University, Pokhara University, Purbanchal University, Mahendra Sanskrit University, Far-western University, and Agriculture and Forestry University. Some newly proposed universities are Lumbini Bouddha University, and Mid-Western University. Some fine scholarship has emerged in the post-1990 era.

Health -

Public health and health care services in Nepal are provided by both the public and private sectors and fare poorly by international standards. According to 2011 census, more than one-third (38.17%) of the total households do not have a toilet. Tap water is the main source of drinking water for 47.78% of households, tube well/hand pump is the main source of drinking water for about 35% of households, while spout, uncovered well/kuwa, and covered well/kuwa are the main source for 5.74%, 4.71%, and 2.45% respectively. Based on 2010 World Health Organization (WHO) data, Nepal ranked 139th in life expectancy in 2010 with the average Nepali living to 65.8 years.

Diseases are more prevalent in Nepal than in other South Asian countries, especially in rural areas. Leading diseases and illnesses include diarrhea, gastrointestinal disorders, goitres, intestinal parasites, leprosy, visceral leishmaniasis and tuberculosis.  Malnutrition also remains very high: about 47% of children under five are stunted, 15 percent wasted, and 36 percent underweight, although there has been a declining trend for these rates over the past five years, they remain alarmingly high. In spite of these figures, improvements in health care have been made, most notably in maternal-child health. In 2012, the under-five infant mortality was estimated to be 41 out of every 1000 children. Overall Nepal's Human Development Index (HDI) for health was 0.77 in 2011, ranking Nepal 126 out of 194 countries, up from 0.444 in 1980.

Mines & Minerals –

Nepal lies in the centre of the 2,500 km Himalayan belt, which has favourable geography for various minerals (metallic, non-metallic, and fuel). As many as 63 minerals have been identified in Nepal. In 2010/11, 80 mines and quarries for 12 different minerals were in operation. Of these, 29 are limestone quarries and 6 gem mines. In 2011, mines and mineral-based industries contributed 2.4% to Nepal’s GDP.

The Department of Geology and Mines has discovered 1.07 billion tonnes of limestone deposits, of which 540 million tonnes are proven, 110 million tonnes are semi-proven, and 420 million tonnes are feasible deposits. These have been discovered in different districts including Udayapur, Dhankuta, Sindhuli, Makwanpur, Lalitpur, Dhading, Syangja, Arghakhachi, Sukhet, Dang, Salyan, Baitadi and Palpa.

As of January 2014, there are 44 cement plants in Nepal, of which only 12 have their own clinker production units. In the last two fiscal years, Nepal has imported cement worth approximately NPR 16 billion (USD 160 million). The cement industry has experienced a sudden surge in demand due to the construction taking place. It is estimated that Nepal imports about 15–20% of the total cement consumed. The total FDI in this sector till date is approximately NPR 4.1 billion (USD 40 million).