Online classes amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has boosted the import of mobile phones in Nepal, according to data released by the country’s Department of Customs.
As online teaching is continuing, demand for smartphones has grown substantially in the Himalayan country, leading to a growing import of mobile phones during the first 11 months of the current 2020-21 fiscal year which ends in mid-July, reports Xinhua news agency.
According to the Ministry data, Nepal imported mobile phones worth 34.14 billion NPR ($287 million) during the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, in contrast with 15.74 billion NPR over the same period of last fiscal year.
As to the number of mobile phones, 6.55 million sets were imported during the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, as against 4.07 million for the same period of the last fiscal year.
“Soaring demand for smartphones for education purposes is the main reason behind a massive growth in import of mobile phones,” Sanjaya Agrawal, chief executive officer of Tele Direct, an authorised smartphone distributor, told Xinhua.
“Another reason is that border control measures taken to control the spread of coronavirus have also discouraged the entry of smuggled and counterfeit mobile phones.”
Last year, Nepal imported over 60 per cent of mobile phones from China, according to Agrawal.
According to the Department of Customs data, Nepal imported mobile phones from China worth 20.76 billion NPR during the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, which accounted for some 61 per cent of the total value.
Meanwhile mobile phones valued at 11.83 billion NPR were brought in from India during the same period, the data further revealed.
The Panini School in Kathmandu does not allow students to carry mobile phones normally. But since the starting of online classes, around 400 students have been making such gadgets part of their daily lives.
The Kathmandu Valley has been put under a lockdown since late April in response to a new wave of the pandemic, under which schools are shut down to help control the spread of the virus.
“Most of our students are now taking online classes,” said Karna Bahadur Shahi, founding principal of the Panini Education Network which runs the school.
“In the past, we had to advise the students not to overuse mobile phones and other gadgets but such a gadget has been indispensable for their study due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”