Tuesday, 22 February 2011 - Information and Communication Technology (ICT) provides a platform for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through the implementation of locally appropriate national development strategies.

'It is essential that the full potential of ICT is harnessed for the benefit of the Palau people, and in particular the marginalized or disadvantaged groups.'

This was the recurring theme of the two-day 'National ICT for Development Workshop' held in Koror, Palau from 9-10 February 2011. The workshop was jointly organised and conducted by Palau's Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce (MPIIC) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) with assistance from the Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (APCICT).

The workshop was opened by the Minister for Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce, Hon. Jackson R. Ngiraingas, and was attended by government officials and Honorable governor of Airai State Ms. Victoria Kanai and Honorable governor of Ngerdmau State Ms. Akiko Sugiyama.

The Pacific regional ICT ministers in their meeting in Tonga last year endorsed the 'Framework for Action on ICT for Development in the Pacific'. The Framework provides guidance to Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) on enhancing national efforts towards ensuring that Pacific communities have access to reliable and affordable ICT services and that ICT is adopted as a national priority in PICTs. The framework also reflects the principles of the Pacific Plan on how regional ICT services can assist countries' in areas of sustainable development, socio-economic growth, governance, and security, and in particular implementing their national plans.

'ICT is a key tool for development in Palau. I would like to acknowledge that our region has now adopted a new roadmap for using ICT to assist sustainable development. I was fortunate enough to take part in the ministerial meeting last year that adopted this new ICT Framework. As a result, we are working closely with partners such as SPC and ITU to move forward ICT development in Palau. In fact, we are currently reviewing and updating our National ICT Policy as we believe it is important to have a plan that is relevant to us Palauan taking into account the rapid advances of technologies,' said Hon. Ngiraingas in his opening remarks.

'Exploring how ICT contributes to development, especially the MDGs, as a key objective of this workshop is very relevant and timely for Palau,' added Hon. Jackson.

'We are happy to work with the Ministry of Public Industries, Infrastructure and Commerce in organising this key workshop to foster a better understanding of how ICTs can be used to achieve social and economic development. We are also encouraged by the initiative of the Ministry to review and update its National ICT Policy. We believe a coordinated and planned approach is key for development and to ensure the limited resources Palau have are used effectively,' explained Mr Siaosi Sovaleni, SPC ICT Outreach Coordinator, in his introductory remarks.

'Lack of ICT capacity is a major challenge for Palau. This workshop will assist in addressing this challenge and help build our understanding and knowledge of ICT and raises awareness of benefits and risks of ICT,' said Mr. Takkon Chin, Chief Communication, Ministry of Public Industries, Infrastructure and Commerce.

The content of the workshop was based on the UNESCAP/APCICT's flagship training programme 'Academy of ICT Essentials for Government Leaders'. The programme has been widely endorsed in a number of countries in the Asia Pacific region and has been translated to a number of languages.