Thursday, 18 February 2010 10:00 PM

ICT Project for Forum Countries

Press Statement - 18th February 2010 - The Pacific Island Forum Countries (PIFCs) are to benefit from an Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) project which is aimed at capacity building and ICT policies, regulations and legislative frameworks in the Pacific Island countries (ICB4PAC).

In response to both challenges and promises of ICT's contribution to political, social, economic and environmental development, the International telecommunication Union (ITU) and the European Commission (EC) joined their efforts and signed an agreement which is a component of programme "ACP Information and Communication Technologies (@CP-ICT)" within the framework of the 9th European Development Fund. The Agreement was signed in December 2007 with a total budget of Euro 8.347.000 for the African, Caribbean and Pacific Island regions.

The specific objective of the project for the Pacific Island is "Building human as well as institutional capacity in the field of ICT through a range of targeted training, education and knowledge sharing measures".

The ITU has appointed Ms Gisa Fuatai Purcell from Samoa to coordinate and manage the implementation of the project. Ms Purcell is located at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji. She reports to the Global Project Manager, Mr. Sandro Bazzanella who is based in the ITU Head Quarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

"The implementation of the Regional Digital Strategy, which was endorsed by Forum Leaders in 2005 as a main component of the Pacific Plan, has faced some challenges including the human resources capacity to introduce ICTs into the economies of the PIFCs. There is also the capacity of member countries to put in place the necessary policies and legislative frameworks to provide a conducive environment for investment into these area," says Feleti Teo, Acting Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Mr Teo commends the objectives of the project and urges PIFCs to come forward with their needs.

"Various studies of the Pacific Island countries have shown that they need to do more to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of capacity to develop and implement national ICT policies, telecommunication regulations and ICT legislative frameworks." says Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau.

"I'm therefore delighted that the European Commission has joined forces with the ITU in funding the project to help assess and address the ICT needs of the PIFCs through targeted workshops and training. The appointment of Ms Purcell is a further step towards ensuring the success of this project."

The ICB4PIS project has been officially launched during a multi-stakeholders meeting that took place in November 2009 in Nadi, Fiji. A total of 42 participants from 15 countries, including six regional organizations, private sectors and academia participated in the meeting. Country participants included Permanent Secretaries, CEOs, Director Generals, Regulators and Assistant CEOs.The main outcomes were the adoption of a common list of priorities and its linkage to existing programmes in the region:

1. National ICT Policy;
2. Interconnection; Cost Modelling and International Roaming
3. Cyber-security;
4. Licensing;
5. Universal Access;
6. Numbering.

Due to the vast distances of the Pacific Island countries, participants advised the Project Coordinator, Ms Purcell that she must pay specific attention to work closely with other regional organizations in order to build synergies and pass experience. The project duration is expected for two years on the field.

You can hear more about the project in an interview with Ms Purcell in the February edition of the Forum Radio Programme which can be accessed on the Forum Secretariat website: www.forumsec.org and the website of the Pacific Islands News Association: www.pina.com.fj.

The documents related to the three sub-projects are progressively uploaded on the dedicated web site as soon as they are approved by the stakeholders
http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/index.html