Minister of State Kitt launches Information and Communications Technology Strategy for DCI
Mr. Tom Kitt T.D., Minister of State for Development Cooperation and Human Rights at the Department of Foreign Affairs, today launched an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) strategy for the Government's official development assistance programme - Development Cooperation Ireland.
The launch of the strategy coincides with the opening of the World Summit on the Information Society which will be addressed by the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern T.D., on Thursday, 11 December.
The objective of Minister of State Kitt's new strategy is to use the power of Information and Communications Technologies in support of the fight against extreme poverty in the world's poorest countries.
The strategy is based on the work of a Task Force, including representatives from the private sector, NGOs, development specialists and academics which the Minister of State established in December 2002.
Speaking at the launch of the strategy at Media Lab Europe in the Digital Hub in Dublin, Minister of State Kitt said:
“….we have some of the most energetic and innovative ICT companies in the world in Ireland. We also have a world class programme of development cooperation. It is time to bring the two together in partnership.”
The Minister of State said that in its use of ICTs, Development Cooperation Ireland would focus on four key areas:
Broad and equitable access;
ICT policy, strategy and regulation;
Effective and efficient use of ICTs in Public Service provision.
The key elements of the ICT and development strategy are:
• Our national economic transformation has provoked widespread interest in developing countries who want to learn from our experience. Development Cooperation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and relevant Government Departments will establish a new mechanism to enable Ireland to respond to requests for partnership, advice and information on the policies and strategies which underpin Ireland's own move into a knowledge economy.
• Ireland and the World Bank will co-host a conference on the lessons learned from Ireland's experience of the knowledge economy in the second half of next year.
• Development Cooperation Ireland will facilitate partnerships between Irish ICT companies and ICT companies in its seven programme countries – Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Tanzania, Lesotho, Mozambique and Timor Leste.
• These partnerships will be taken forward through a new private Sector Forum which will bring the Irish private sector and Development Cooperation Ireland together for discussions about opportunities and challenges for the private sector in developing countries. The first meeting of the private Sector forum will take place in the New year.
• Development Cooperation Ireland will work to establish a Corps of ICT Volunteers from the private sector. Minister of State Kitt said: “Ever since I initiated the process of preparing ICT and development strategy, I have been approached by many people in the ICT sector to say that there is a huge reservoir of goodwill out there. I am now challenging the ICT sector to live up to this commitment, to work with Development Cooperation Ireland in bringing the power of ICTs to bear on the fight against poverty.”
• Promote stronger relationships between Irish educationalists, including our Universities and Technical Colleges with Governments, international organisations and private companies involved in the development and use of distance learning. Distance learning is beginning to take off in Africa and Ireland must play a leading role in its future development.
• Include a stronger private sector input into the preparation of Development Cooperation Ireland's development strategies, particularly in the ICT area.
• Advocate regulatory regimes that facilitate competition and widespread access to the Internet.
Commenting on the importance of working with the private sector, Minister of State Kitt said: “The launch today of the ICT and Development strategy is the third pillar of a modernisation programme I am undertaking in Development Cooperation Ireland. The other two pillars are Volunteer 21, which I launched last Friday, and the Private Sector Forum. All three initiatives are linked. All include a strong focus on the private sector, in particular the ICT private sector.
It is my firm conviction that a partnership between Irish ICT companies and Development Cooperation across all of these three pillars would be a marriage made in heaven.”