Information and communications technology (ICT) has been widely acknowledged as a powerful tool for development. Through improving access to information, ICTs have the ability to enhance social and economic empowerment particularly amongst women, youth and the disadvantaged.
It has been recognised that there are numerous barriers to the successful implementation of better digital communications including, the limited and unequal access to communications technology, high costs of equipment and services, insufficient telecommunications bandwidth, low investment in networks and the outdated and absence of sufficient regulatory frameworks at the national level.
Our aim is to tackle these barriers by promoting the development of ICTs in the region and facilitating effective coordination amongst policy makers, donors, implementers and other appropriate stakeholders.
Under the Pacific Plan, an overarching strategic objective under economic growth is for "improved efficiency and effectiveness of infrastructure developments and associated service delivery" which was to be delivered through the "implementation of a regional digital strategy for improving information and communications technologies (ICTs)".
The Pacific Regional Digital Strategy is the action plan for the Forum Secretariat in pursuing ICT development in the region stemming from the Wellington Declaration (2006). The priorities are to:
• improve access to communications technology
• reduce the cost of providing ICTs
• establish a higher bandwidth to the global ICT ‘backbone’
• remove inappropriate regulatory environments in order to foster
higher levels of investment
• strengthen ICT skills in the region
The state of the ICT infrastructure in the Forum island countries (FICs) has a bearing on the general deliverance and effectiveness of the media and communications in general. We are working to ensure that basic telephony services, mass media, and the ICT tools such as the Internet serve the same purpose, to deliver and facilitate communications freely without prejudice and harm. It is on this agenda that the Forum Secretariat has been engaged in regional media initiatives specifically through annual workshops at the Forum Economic Ministers Meetings (FEMM) and at the Forum Leaders Meetings.
Pacific Islands ICT Policy and Plan
The Forum Secretariat has undertaken a range of regional cooperation activities supporting developments in the area of ICT. This includes developing a regional ICT policy and strategy, the Pacific Islands ICT Policy and Plan (PIIPP), which is a guiding document for regional ICT development and has been the basis of several FICs national ICT policies and plans.
Pacific ICT Survey 2002
The Forum Communication Action Plan 2002 was produced at the Forum Communications Ministers’ Meeting resulting from an evaluation of the status and the ongoing development of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the region. Accurate, complete and updated data was requested to improve understanding of ICT developments in the region and to enhance decision-making in areas of policy and programme development. Accordingly, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association (PITA) undertook a comprehensive data collection exercise: the Pacific ICT Survey 2002.
We are currently planning a review of the implementation of the Digital Strategy over the last four years and working towards the development of Digital Strategy II (DSII) which will build on what the region has achieved so far and outline a new set of priorities to address the present and future potential of ICTs in the region.
ICT: Key Partners
• Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) particularly Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Pacific Islands Applied Geosciences Commission (SOPAC), University of the South Pacific, Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association (PITA), Pacific Chapter of the Internet Society (PICISOC)
• Key donors include European Union, Peoples republic of China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand