Brussels, 10 Jan 2003
The European Union is to spend three million euro on initiatives to promote the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the developing world.
In a communication entitled 'The role of ICTs in EC development policy', the Commission states that the promotion of ICTs in developing countries is not a priority in itself, but rather should be viewed as a tool within its overall development strategy.
An annex to the communication states that: 'The decision to embrace these new opportunities belongs to developing countries themselves and [to] local communities. Ownership by them is indispensable. For its part the international community can play an active role, by pointing to the potential benefits of new policies and assisting interested countries in designing [them].'
The initiative, which is being run by the EuropeAid Cooperation Office, aims to integrate developing countries into the global economy through participation in the information society, specifically through pilot projects in the following areas:
- promoting ICT policy development and regulatory reform in individual developing countries, as well as collective participation in the discussion of policy and technical issues raised by ICTs and the Internet;
- developing the ICT capacities of individuals and institutions through a range of targeted training, education and knowledge sharing measures;
- encouraging participation in global e-commerce and other e-networks;
- encouraging the development of e-government in developing countries, with a focus on local content development and indigenous languages.
It is hoped that, within the developing world, such measures will promote awareness at the highest political level of the need to move towards a knowledge-based economy. The measures also aim to assist these countries to set up regulatory frameworks that facilitate the development of information societies and conform to international agreements.
In deciding which areas will be the first to benefit from EU financed initiatives, priority will be given to the world's least developed countries, including a number from sub-Saharan Africa, for example, followed by low to middle income developing nations and the rest of the developing world.
The impact of the pilot projects will be assessed by various means, including measurement of the levels of telecommunications and Internet traffic, assessment of awareness and use of ICTs, monitoring the number of ICT strategies and policies created, and recording the interest shown by the private technology sectors and civil society. To see a copy of the communication, please http://europa.eu.int/prelex/detail_dossi er_real.cfm?CL=en&DosId=1709