Another topic has popped up as a conversation or rather a topic to rant on among netizens in Nepal. A tech founder has written a Facebook post that claims the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology is coercing him to change the name of his company because apparently when people search ‘Digital Nepal’ on Google, his company domain comes on top.
On a Facebook post Mr. Aditya Raj (Founder & CEO of E-Digital Nepal) writes that they want him to either change his company name or re-brand his products and company itself.
What’s the issue?
According to that post, it seems that they’re not happy that when you search on Google using the keyword ‘Digital Nepal’, his company domain comes on top rather. The concern that the ministry has is perhaps is that the people will confuse the company with their own Digital Nepal initiative which ironically probably wants Nepali startups to do good as well. There’s a line in the 2018 Digital Nepal Framework “Growth of eCommerce in Nepal is inhibited due to lack of supporting eco-system”.
And E-Digital Nepal founder is not happy that they’re asking him to do so when his startup/company is existing legally since 2015 and a lot of capital has been invested specifically in branding (SEO, mobile app, product development, etc). He also raises some questions such as how is it their fault that the government isn’t being able to rank their website higher and how could one do such a rebranding amidst a pandemic?
Is there more?
If you read some reports online, it’s been said that the officials and the ministers rather used a menacing tone. They seemed to have called him, verbally attacked him, and given him an ultimatum. It also seems to have been hinted that other means shall be used if he doesn’t comply.
With a vision of digitization of educational institutions, it turns out the company in the past had earned multiple awards such as the ICT startup award, and has been reported to be presented one of these awards by the current Prime Minister himself.
If the truth is as is reported, then this is not done. It’s valid for the ministry to have concerns that people might get confused between the two portals but this could have been dealt with in a much better way. They could rather have collaborated with the company and reached a much more pragmatic solution.
One way to deal with it could have been putting up a redirection banner/link in the company’s site in case somebody is looking for the government portal. And as somebody had already pointed out on Facebook, people could be made aware that the government websites end with a suffix ‘.gov.np’ instead of the top-level domain ‘dot com’.
What’s the point of Digital Nepal if we are going to coerce and bully our tech entrepreneurs for doing things within their legal rights? Wasn’t it about tech in the first place?