Oct 092016
 

Charikot before the town was devastated by the earthquake in 2015

Charikot before the town was devastated by the earthquake in 2015

Charikot, the capital of Dolakha, was devastated by the earthquake in 2015, but it’s coming back to life – also when it comes to the local tourism sector. Situated just five kilometres from the epicentre of the second massive tremor, most hotels and guesthouses in this scenic town collapsed and were turned into rubbles. Indeed, the massive destruction left many locals with little hope to rebuild. But tourism entrepreneurs have started to pick up the pieces and to again turn Charikot into a growing tourist destination. Continue reading »

May 132016
 

Growth rates in 2015/16: many sectors in the economy were hit hard by the earthquake, the blockade, draught, wildfires and more.

Growth rates in 2015/16: many sectors in the economy were hit hard by the earthquake, the blockade, draught, wildfires and more.

It’s no surprise but now the numbers are out. This fiscal year was extremely tough on almost everybody! The earthquake aftermath, months of blockade, and widespread draught created the worst economic climate ever since the height of the Maoist conflict. The government spent a mere 20 percent of its capital budget, as against 60 percent in some previous years, and economic growth took a steep fall. Growth this fiscal year was below 1 percent, not least due to a staggering 10 percent drop in manufacturing, and in the agricultural and non-agro sectors the growth rate fell from 4.72 and 5.43 percent, respectively, to just 1.14 and 0.62 percent! Only fish farming and a few other sectors saw real growth. Can the economy rebounce? Well, recent data suggests it is already. But it is from a much lower level than before the downturn in 2015/16 began.

Here’s more:
Economic growth to slump to 14-year low at 0.77 pc.
IMF lowers Nepal’s economic growth
ADB report projects Nepal’s GDP growth lowest in South Asia

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Apr 192016
 

Cement hub about to grow bigger: another cement factory under construction in Nawalparasi (central Terai)

Cement hub about to grow bigger: another cement factory under construction in Nawalparasi (central Terai)

Nawalparasi is already firmly established on the map as one of Nepal’s most industrialised rural districts. Located between Rupandehi to the west and Chitwan to the east, it’s exactly on the half-way mark along the Mahendra East-West Highway. Major industries like Chaudhary Udhyog Gram (CUG), Bhrikuti Pulp and Paper Factory, and Lumbini Sugar Industry and Triveni Distilleries, are already there. But above all, the district is known for its large cement production sector – and that’s just about to grow bigger!

PM laying foundation stone for Pokhara International Airport: reconstruction, roads and more set to boost cement demand in coming years

PM laying foundation stone for Pokhara International Airport: reconstruction, roads and more set to boost cement demand in coming years

Earthquake reconstruction and projects like new airports and highways means that demand for cement is set to explode, and domestic as well as international companies are moving in for a share. Many producers prefer to set up shop – like in the past – in Nawalparasi. Sarbottam Cement is preparing to press the start-button on two freshly installed plants, aiming to fill 30,000 sacks of cement the first year already, while Shivam Cement – a private Chinese-Nepali joint venture – is in a rush to build a bigger factory geared to produce 120,000 sacks every year!

Cement boom is about to stimulate employment too: one of many job ads coming out of Nawalparasi cement sector recently

Cement boom is about to stimulate employment too: one of many job ads coming out of Nawalparasi cement sector recently

The investments are not small either. Sarbottam Cement, established by the domestic Saurabh Group, has already pumped 4 billion rupees into its factory, while Hongshi-Shivam Cement has invested 2 billion rupees with more to come, and those are just the most recent examples! In fact, in the last few years entepreneurs have poured in 65 billion rupees in new cement plants in Nawalparasi altogether, and that means jobs too. As a case in point, Sarbottam Cement now employs 200 people, and cement production stimulates other sectors too, like transportation.

So, why Nawalparasi? First of all, the short distance to India, where it’s easy to buy necessary implements, is attractive to many companies. Plus it’s a matter of the district’s location right on the halfway mark along the Mahendra Highway: access to markets both east and west can’t get much easier than that. The quality of the infrastructure is relatively good, too. Damodar Poudel, a chief executive in the business, explains in short: “As investors look for road access first, cement factories are concentrated near the highways”.

With demand for cement set to explode, even more companies might soon throw out the anchor in Nawalparasi. But at the same time, a few other districts are lining up in the race too. Will Nawalparasi keep the lead – and what’s the bigger picture in Nepal’s booming cement sector? Here’s more!

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Jul 302015
 
Urbanisation stands out at night: Kathmandu Valley make up almost 25 pct. of the national economy

Urbanisation stands out at night: Kathmandu Valley make up almost 25 pct. of the national economy

Nepal’s economy is becoming steadily more urbanised, according to the government’s Economic Survey for 2014-15. Indeed, cities and towns make up 33.1 pct. of the national economy – Kathmandu Valley a staggering 23.4 pct. alone – and VDCs adjacent to the urban areas account for an additional 30 pct. of the economy. In other words, almost two-thirds of GDP is generated in and around the capital and local towns! This development is linked with demographics too. The urban population is growing while 77 pct. of the immigrants to city and district towns come from the rural areas! Continue reading »

Jun 132015
 

Mid-hill Highway and the north-south corridor roads

Mid-hill Highway and the north-south corridor roads (in light red)

The Mid-hill Highway is flanked by a series of roads that lead north and south, known as the North-south Corridors. These “corridor roads” came on the drawing board several decades ago as a major key to economic growth and development in the Mid-hills. Construction work began in the 1990s, and by the mid-2000s several roads were opened. With the recent completion of the Surkhet-Jumla corridor, there now is a whole network of north-south corridors! Do they help the local economy: it appears so! Continue reading »

Jun 132015
 

On public contract: road construction

Road construction on the way to Jomsom

Kunda Dixit from Nepali Times went up to Jomsom and Lo Montang to examine the new road and its effects on the local community. What he found? Well, both winners and losers. Indeed, the mule drivers were not all that happy for the road which was quickly undermining their business! Truck drivers, on the other hand, were content. After all, trucks are quicker and often cheaper than a mule back. But it was not only that. A whole culture – eovolved around the mule caravans for centuries – seemed set to disappear.

Kunda Dixit writes in his article: “Horses, mules and donkeys have always been a part of Mustang’s landscape and culture. Horses, in particular, have a prominent place in Tibetan lore and language, the animal not just a means of transport but also serving as a potent symbol of speed, certitude and good fortune. But all this is soon about to change with the arrival of the road from the south that will make it possible to drive from Pokhara to Lo Manthang in less than 12 hours, and connect to the road to the Chinese border at Kore La.” Read Dixit’s article on the effects of the new road here…!

Apr 212015
 

Since the end of the Maoist conflict: Chinese investment and trade only up

Since the end of the Maoist conflict: Chinese investment and trade is only going up

India is by far Nepal’s biggest foreign investor and trading partner historically. But China is catching up more than ever. Last year, Nepal’s big neighbour to the north invested more money than India for the first time! In addition, though India is still ahead in commerce, accounting for 53 percent of Nepal’s foreign trade, it’s share is down from 60 percent in 2006, while China’s share is up from just 3 percent to 31 percent! In other words, since the end of the Maoist conflict, Chinese investment and trade in Nepal has been going only up. How is that visible out in the districts? Well, here are the latest major examples. Continue reading »

Mar 212015
 

Willingness to take risks going up: scene from traditional agriculture

Willingness to take risks going up: scene from traditional agriculture

“Agriculture in Nepal is always risky and therefore if you try to change something it becomes even riskier”. Whoever said that – and many did – has a good point. But it also seems that the willingness to try something new at local level is growing. New entrepreneurial initiatives in the local economy are now frequently turning up in the news. Indeed, climate change is drying up the land or causing devastating floods; out-migration is leaving villages half-abandoned and the local labour force depleted; unemployment is soaring more than ever. Nonetheless, local entrepreneurs in districts around the country keep taking risks as they jump into steadily new ventures! Continue reading »

Mar 152013
 
"Michael built it" - a local beneficiary

“Michael built it”: a local beneficiary

We once chatted with some villagers at a teashop about the topic of “development”. Had anything been achieved in their community? Sure, everybody agreed, there was something. Well, of course there was still much to do about the road and the electricity which didn’t reach to their remote part of the VDC. But at least they now had a local school: now the kids no longer had to hike all the way down the hill. The school was next door – a bit small perhaps, only with two teachers, but it was good enough until grade 7. What was unusual about their account of local development was not the school, but who built it. “A guy called Michael”, the Ward Chairman began. “He came Continue reading »

Mar 132013
 
A sewing business

A sewing business

How do you start up a business if you live in a village? Of course it depends on a lot of things. But consider the basics for a moment. Indeed, it’s also hard to be a successful businessman in the city. Living in an urban community does give you certain advantages, like a fairly big market in the shape of lots of people, as well as, say, better infrastructure and easier access to information, even faster internet connection and mobile phone networks. Yet, in the city, getting the “business idea” and making it materialise can be really hard too. However, if you look at a village community, multiply that a couple of times! It is so much harder off the main roads, far away from banks and Continue reading »

Jan 282013
 

DSC02819The government self-employment programme was supposed to create 50.000 jobs but barely made it to 2.000! The facebook page for the programme did not even get a single entry and just a handful of likes. So what’s next for creating youth employment in Nepal’s districts? The future of job creation and self-employment is a question hanging as a dark cloud over the youth in many parts of the country. We want to cover this issue as much as we can. Stay tuned this spring and summer as we hit a number of districts and get the take of young people on the job and self- employment outlook. Even better, are you one of the many youth struggling to find Continue reading »