It is that time of the year again. For the eighth year in a row, CAN Info Tech 2002 is in the city, opening to the public today at the Birendra International Convention Centre and runs until 29 January. There will be over 60 exhibitors and the organisers expect 100,000 visitors. Tomorrow, 26 January, the IT conference accompanying the show opens, with more than 30 speakers and 200 participants.
The organisers, the Computer Association of Nepal, seem to be as energetic as ever, not affected by the emergency or the global slowdown in IT. Interestingly, there will be executives from international brands than at any previous CAN show. Brother and Olivetti are sending top-level executives to Nepal, and Canon's general manager for printing will also be flying in from Japan. Canon's local partner, IEC, is very excited and even sponsored the gate at the conference venue at the last moment.
But the biggest name we will see-something of a coup for CAN-is the chairman of Temenos, the world's top banking software company. George Koukis will deliver a keynote speech on the opening ceremony, which highlighted the trends in global banking software.
The International IT Conference series that started at last year's Can Info Tech is also doing well this year, with some 30 speakers from 10 countries. Public participation at the conference will also be higher than last year, when people had to be puled, pushed and cajoled to sign up for the conference. Lasse Laaksonen, president of the Finnish InBitOn Oy, which develops IT software in turnkey projects and performs quality management consulting, will stress Nepal's potential to export software in his keynote address at the conference. Also on the agenda this year is raising awareness about IT education in Nepal. The government's decision to train 50,000 people in IT competence at different levels in three years, as well as the substantial increase in investment in the IT education sector in the past year have both contributed to this. Software colleges may even put up a stronger showing than most traders, who say that the strict implementation of VAT has hurt them.
The total turnover of the IT industry in 2001 is estimated at Rs 3 billion (about $40 million), and though computer sales have decreased, the sale of services, such as networking, has increased. Growth in the sector in the last year has been a whopping 25 percent compared with the same period the previous year. Most visitors to the first CAN Info Tech in 1995 were diehard enthusiasts who simply went to gawk at computers. This year, it seems that anyone with the remotest interest in IT is going to be there. You may not want a Pentium 4, you may not be signing up for classes, but the show is worth a visit regardless-if only to get a glimpse of the inroads the 21st century is making in Nepal.