Communication Technology to Assist Livelihoods of Pacific Communities
Palikir, Pohnpei (Department of Transport, Communication & Infrastructure): July 8, 2010 - Making ICT affordable and more accessible to Pacific communities, especially those living in rural communities, isolated areas and outer islands, was a key message at the recent Pacific Regional Information and Communication Technology (ICT) meetings in Tonga. Chief executive officers, directors and senior government officials from 20 Pacific countries and territories met in Tonga from June 16-17, followed by the Ministers' Meeting on June 18th.
The ICT Meetings started with a two days workshop on ICB4PAC during which Secretary Francis I. Itimai was the key note Speaker. The main objective of these meetings was to discuss and consider the new Framework for Action in ICT for Development in the Pacific (the "Framework") to improve the livelihood of Pacific communities. The Framework, endorsed at the meeting in the Tonga Declaration, acknowledges that national ICT policies and plans, and an integrated coordinated approach, are the principal means through which ICT will contribute meaningfully to sustainable development.
Speaking at the opening of the Ministers' Meeting, Her Royal Highness, Princess Salote Mafile'o Pilolevu Tuita, stressed the importance of ensuring that ICT solutions are targeted at achieving benefits for the people, especially in schools and health facilities, and to ensure the risks of these new technologies are managed.
"What the Framework aims to do is provide a coordinated mechanism that will bring together the different stakeholders and put in place a reporting mechanism based on one implementation plan and one monitoring and reporting framework that involves all partners in the ICT sector," said Dr. Jimmie Rodgers, SPC Director General, in his key note address.
"For a long time, the region has been short-changed in ICT development, mostly due to the dominance of monopolies. Poor access to communication technology because of prohibitive pricing or just simply lack of coverage has undermined opportunities for socio-economic development in many countries," Rodgers said.
Itimai agreed and added that "Pacific countries with similar population size to FSM, such as Tonga and Samoa, through competition in their telecommunication market, enjoyed greatly reduced phone and internet charges by sometimes more than 50%, as well as far better coverage." Itimai also explained that the meeting in Tonga identified SPC to coordinate the implementation of the Framework.
The Micronesian Countries were well represented with Ministerial delegations from FSM, RMI and Palau, and representation for CNMI. Itimai led the FSM delegation and members, consisting of Assistant Secretary for Communication, Jolden Johnnyboy and FSMG Telecom Consultant, Dr. Norman Okamura from UH.
"The Department of Transport, Communication and Infrastructure is currently working on some key areas such as liberalization of the telecommunication sector, considering cyber legislation to combat cyber crimes, and developing a national ICT policy, and the Tonga Declaration reaffirmed our commitments to these key areas," said Itimai.
The FSM delegation also took the opportunity to have bilateral meetings with Representatives from International Telecommunication Union, ICANN, SPC and Tonga Cable Limited. These meetings allowed for the discussion of potential joint projects such as capacity building and technical assistance.
For more information, please contact Jolden Johnnyboy, Dept. of Transport, Communication & Infrastructure by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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