Information & Communication Technology
This is another
sub-theme of the" Accelerating the Equitable Development of the South"
Communication Technology (ICT) is key to accelerating development
and self-reliance among NAM member countries. However, the
implementation of ICT on a global scale has brought about a widening
digital divide, not only between developed and industrialised countries
but also among NAM member countries.
Establishing the NAM
CSSTC Networking System with NAM Member Countries
access to lCT facilities is critical to overcoming this growing
disparity.But this can be difficult in developing countries-including in
many NAM member countries-where even basic infrastructure such as
electricity and telephone lines, especially in rural areas, are not
this in mind, NAM CSSTC held an expert group meeting in March 2001 in
Jakarta to discuss the establishment of a NAM CSSTC networking system.
Representatives from 5 regions-East Asia/Pacific, Africa, South and
Central Asia, Latin America and West Asia-reported on their networking
status and plans. The countries in these regions have varying levels of
connectivity and e-readiness with, in general, a much lower penetration
ratio than developed countries.
The meeting therefore
recommended that the goal for the establishment of the NAM networking
system should be to encourage and furthermore, produce regional policies
to develop the ICT capacity and capability of NAM member countries in
order to narrow the digital divide.
What benefits would NAM
member countries gain from joining the network? First, they would have
the opportunity to learn from the experiences of other NAM member
countries with regard to, for example, ICT policy, infrastructure,
regulatory frameworks and so on. They would also have access to training
programmes and information on indigenous and innovative initiatives for
cost-effective networking; access to sources of funding and skills
databases; and a channel for finding partners to collaborate on various
projects. A major benefit would be the collective voice provided by such
a network for increased bargaining power in international forums.
With the rapid
expansion of ICT capacity and e-commerce in an increasingly liberal
world market, the need for NAM to establish a networking system is
urgent indeed. The meeting therefore resolved that immediate action
should be taken to establish regional e-linkages in west Asia, South and
Central Asia and Latin America, all with links to the NAM Networking
System. For East Asia and the Pacific, the target is to develop the
interconnectivity and interoperability frameworks needed to establish
such a system. In the Africa region, meanwhile, the priority is to
develop the capacity and capability needed to establish regional
networking. In support of this, the meeting recommended that an e-NAM
Task Force be formed, with associated working groups, to work on
organisational and technological infrastructure issues in order to make
the NAM Networking System a reality.
e-linkages Among NAM Member Countries Through NAM CSSTC
electronic linkages among the NAM member countries and strengthening
their ICT capacity has been a major thrust of NAM CSSTC's activities in
2001. The expert group meeting in March (see previous article)
recommended several immediate actions to be taken towards setting up the
NAM Networking System. As a follow-up to this, a meeting was held in
August to discuss the technical feasibility of establishing regional
linkages, One of the most important products of the meeting was a series
of manuals on e-readiness: "Self-assessment for E-readiness" (one
volume), "Improving E-readiness" (three volumes, for basic, developing
and advanced levels) and a supporting reference, "Computer History and
With the help of the
self-assessment manual, the forthcoming e-readiness survey will yield
accurate figures on e-readiness at national level. This would also be an
important first step towards establishing regional e-linkages.
various means for promoting the participation of NAM member countries in
the NAM CSSTC Networking System; this included the enhancement of NAM
CSSTC's website, for example, by hyperlinking it to individual member
country websites, and improving Internet security issues.
Experts from the
different countries raised various issues on this topic, among them
being the need to recognize the importance of regional groupings in the
network, the need for databases, and the need to make member country
governments aware of the importance of ICT diffusion and connectivity.
support is crucial since NAM CSSTC itself is not in a position to fund
infrastructural upgrading in the respective countries-this has to be the
responsibility of the countries themselves. However, e-leadership
seminars and training could be arranged at regional or national level by
NAM CSSTC in cooperation with the countries concerned. The feasibility
of finding low priced computers for electronic tele-centres in the rural
areas is being looked into.