Kathmandu, Nepal – Nepal hosts the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in the capital this week, welcoming leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan.
In preparation for the conference on Wednesday and Thursday, Kathmandu is undergoing a facelift of sorts. Roads are being repaved and buildings renovated in order to beautify the capital city.
Hundreds of portable solar panels, meanwhile, have been installed on the main streets that will be traveled by SAARC delegates, in a country facing daily electricity shortages.
The government of Nepal has already incurred expenses reportedly totaling $20m, and completing the infrastructure work will likely exceed that figure.
In addition to worries about costs incurred, concerns have also been raised about the decision by the Nepalese government to limit press access, only allowing one videographer and one photographer for each country represented to enter Singha Durbar, city hall, the main venue for the summit.
Nepal is hosting SAARC for the third time. The summit of South Asian nations was first held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 1985.
Issues to be discussed this week include enhancing rail and road connectivity, and setting up a regional power grid.