29 Mar 2006

Forum countries set to approve information technology programme

3:57 pm on 29 March 2006

Ministers from the 16 Pacific Islands Forum countries are tomorrow expected to give the green light to the first stage of a programme to spread Information Communications Technology through the region.

Forum officials have put together a development ladder for a process they say could cost billions of dollars over the next ten years.

The Forum has produced a digital strategy roadmap in which it says ICTs are vital to the efficient and effective development of many other sectors.

The roadmap spells out the need to foster far higher levels of regional cooperation to gain economies of scale.

It says this could ultimately lead to a harmonized regional legal framework governing ICT.

It says it is likely to cost hundreds of millions of dollars if not billions over ten years and that it is a process driven by demand with the private sector expected to take a leading role.

The ministers are expected to call for ICT Steering Committees to be set up in each country to develop a national ICT policy, while a regional Task force would also be established.

Regional organisations will develop ideas such as community telecentres and encourage the develop of e-government even if it is .

As well, studies are likely into the feasibility of regional fibre optic networks and regional satellites.