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How is the building of an inclusive and equitable Information Society to be developed by the different social actors in developing countries What elements should be focusing the efforts of governments, the private sector and civil society to implement National Information Society Policies (NISP) What sources of financing should be encouraged to ensure the implementation of these NISPs What are the conditions required to ensure that multistakeholder participation in the creation and implementation of NISP becomes a reality Characteristics of Developing countries Although strategies for developing a local ICT sector date back to the 1980s (Singapore, India, and Brazil were some of the pioneers), a development application only emerged in the late 1990s. The expectations raised by the turn of the millennium contributed additional support to this shift in focus. With the support of new global public-private partnerships, such as the G-8 Digital Opportunity Task Force (DOT Force), and the UN ICT Task Force, countries shifted from random pilot experiences to more comprehensive policy approaches with national participation in international conferences on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD) strategies as the cornerstones. The goals set in this context ranged from identifying applications for ICT in development, to the development of entirely new domestic ICT industries (Brazil, India, Ghana, Argentina, and Uruguay, among others). The last decade has witnessed substantial increase in the development of ICTD strategies. In Africa alone by 2003 more than 35 countries had completed, or were in the process of completing related efforts (Zambrano and Browne, 2004).

Nevertheless, Zambrano and Browne (2004) sustain that although more than 90 developing countries had already embarked on the design of national ICTD strategies before 2005, the results have been far from optimal. There is an urgent need to streamline approaches. Many of the strategies have a technological focus and aim at promoting the development of a local ICT industry (mostly software). Others are over-ambitious and lack the credibility to attract the required financial resources for implementation. Yet others do not identify concrete priorities and/or adequate implementations plans and are, for the most part, government driven excluding all other sectors from the process. Moreover, most of them are not linked with national development agendas, such as poverty reduction and the MDGs.

Regarding the construction and updating of public policies and legislations for the Information Society, these authors affirm that developing countries face the following problems:

I. Lack of or insufficient of policy awareness, at all levels of government and citizenship, of the potential role of ICTs in social and economic development;

II. Lack of or insufficient technical and policy capacity on ICT issues, particularly regarding cutting edge technologies and new policy areas switched to IP networks, as well as Internet issues in general;

III. Weaknesses in national and regional policymaking processes, including:

i. lack of political leadership;

ii. absence of national ICT strategies;

iii. ineffective coordination between different government departments and agencies with ICT responsibilities;

iv. lack of private sector and civil society participation in national decision-making;

v. inadequate preparation for international meetings; and vi. Ineffective use of financial and human resources.

Already in 1999, ESCAP had identified the factors affecting the formulation of national ICT policies in developing countries. That study stated that [t]he importance of ICT policies is understood at the highest political level in many developing countries, and some countries have already adopted their own policies (). The effectiveness of an ICT policy in one country does not guarantee that the same recipe would work in another and many developing countries face similar constraints that need to be taken into account when ICT policies are formulated. (ESCAP, 1999) Some of the factors identified by ESCAP (1999) are:

- ICT infrastructure is weak. Information presented illustrates that the lack of computer and telecommunications infrastructure is a key problem in many developing countries. National ICT policies therefore need to be very strong in this area.

- ICT-related goods and services are made available on suppliers' terms and low per capita purchasing power does not allow markets to mature. While the processing cost per unit calculated or stored has dropped dramatically, the unit price of the average personal computer sold has not fallen very much (). Basic information technology, such as personal computers, their peripherals and software are available in major cities of developing countries. However, low purchasing power keeps the number of vendors down.

Government ICT policies can help the development of ICT markets by reducing red tape, reducing import taxes and creating a favorable entrepreneurial environment.

- Telecommunications monopolies still exist. National ICT policies cannot afford to ignore the fact that the need for low-cost telecommunications services in developing countries is higher than ever. The policies also need adjustments because the existing market mechanism is being taken over by new modes of operation.

- ICT readiness varies significantly between government departments. Departments and agencies operating in a naturally ICT-intensive field are likely to be more advanced than others. A government can help by identifying a coordinating agency to maintain information about government ICT development ventures.

- Public sector is a significant employer. The computerization of routine functions allows governments to reduce staff and simultaneously to improve the quality of their services.

- Management structures and styles are not conducive. Most failures in ICT application development are caused by poor planning and management, and not by the lack of resources or poor technology choices. Management of ICT projects is often made more difficult by overly hierarchical organizational structures that are not conducive to innovative ideas. This can create a problem if the management is unaware, or resists becoming aware, of the benefits that could be achieved through the application of ICT.

- Governments are struggling to find money for basic public services. Government budgets tend to be tight, especially in developing countries, and this can create problems for rational ICT development and hamper the ability to react quickly to new requirements or to buy the latest technology. In order to get value for money, ICT policies should require that the specifications of systems developed or purchased are reaffirmed by third-party experts before the order is placed.

- The penetration and influence of the Internet are still minimal. The Internet is changing the way in which data and information are collected and disseminated and how services are provided to clients. Thus, most new systems should be developed with either immediate or future Internet connectivity in mind.

- Governments find it difficult to recruit and retain qualified ICT staff. A key constraint for the effective application of ICTs in developing countries is the shortage of human resources. Apart from a lack of qualified ICT-system personnel, there is often high turnover of such personnel which can seriously hinder systems development or daily operations. In addition, the ICT skills of other related personnel are not very developed.

These problems can lead to delayed and uncoordinated ICT development and contribute to inadequate data security. ICT policies need to address human resource development needs in a broad educational context. (ESCAP, 2007b) Example 6. Highlights from Latin America Brazil Brazils first strategic instrument was the Information Society (SocInfo) Program, created by Decree 3294 in December 1999, under the Ministry of Science and Technology. The SocInfo Program produced a Green Book: Information Society in Brazil (http://www.instinformatica.pt/servicos/informacao-e-documentacao/biblioteca-digital/gestao-eorganizacao/BRASIL_livroverdeSI.pdf), which sets the main strategic guidelines and organizes them into seven sectors: work and opportunities; universal citizen services;

education for the Information Society; contents and cultural identity; government within everyones reach; research and development, Information Society technologies and applications; advanced infrastructure and new services.

Nowadays Brazil is in a process of redesigning their national strategy, having formed the Executive Committee on e-Government, coordinated by the Ministry of Planning, Budgeting and Management in May 2003.

This multi-sectoral committee is working in eight technical groups, seeking to integrate the various scattered national initiatives into a coherent national plan. Mass access and digital inclusion appear as a high-priority strategic sector, especially for e-government.

Source: Fernandez Aballi et al, Source: MIS, Bolivia In March 2002, Presidential Decree 26553 created the Agency to Develop the Information Society in Bolivia (ADSIB), a decentralized entity supervised by the Vice Presidency of the Nation. It was given the task of designing the strategic plan. Then in 2003, the National Committee for the Information Society in Bolivia was created, with ADSIB as its executive secretariat. This Committee is currently responsible for setting strategy and is chaired by the Vice Presidency and includes the Ministry of the Presidency, Ministry of Services and Public Works, Ministry of Sustainable Development and Planning, Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Sports, the President of Private Enterprise, a representative of Universities, with civil society represented by CrisBol, which is conveying the concerns of different NGOs, and a representative of the media.

It is currently completing the design stage for the action plan, called the National Strategy for Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ENTICD), under the Vice Presidency, ADSIB, the Vice Minister of Telecommunications, the Superintendence of Telecommunications and participation by multiple stakeholders from private and public sectors working through a virtual consultation system. ENTICD is receiving support from UNDP. ENTICD is also grouping all programs under way in the NICT area, under common strategic goals and lines of action. These include TIC Bolivia and actions that ADSIB is pursuing in the field of e-government.

Source: Fernandez Aballi et al, Chile Chiles strategy was prepared by the Presidential Commission for New Information and Communication Technologies created by presidential decree in June 1998. This Commission, chaired by the Minister of Economics and comprised of several ministers and undersecretaries, senators and representatives of the private sector and civil society, presented its report, entitled Chile: Toward the Information Society in January 1999. To prepare this document, public and private sector participants were grouped in four categories: Trade legislation and regulation; New technologies and digital networks for productive and technological use; Modernization of the State and use of new technologies;

and Information Society, equity and cultural development.

This led to a large number of projects, especially in the e-government sector, between and 2002, positioning Chile among the worlds most developed countries in this field.

With the new government in 2000, the President created the Committee of Ministers of Information Technologies, which gave rise to the Digital Action Group, comprising representatives of the public and private sector, civil society and academics, and coordinated by the Governmental Coordinator of Information Technologies, reporting to the Under-Secretariat of Economics. The GAD prepared and is implementing its plan of action, Chiles Digital Agenda, with a large number of initiatives under the following STRATEGIC SECTORS: mass access, education and training, e-government, digital development of companies, ICT industry start-up, and legal framework.

Source: Fernandez Aballi et al, In spite of these drawbacks, UNESCAP (1999) sustains that [t]he ICT evolution will take place with or without a systematic, comprehensive and articulated policy. However, they state the lack of a coherent policy is liable to contribute to the development (or prolonged existence) of ineffective infrastructure and a waste of resources.

Listed below are some aspirations that ICT policies often try to meet:

Increasing the benefits from information technology Helping people and organizations to adapt to new circumstances and providing tools and models to respond rationally to challenges posed by ICT Providing information and communication facilities, services and management at a reasonable or reduced cost Improving the quality of services and products Encouraging innovations in technology development, use of technology in general work flows.

Promoting information sharing, transparency and accountability and reducing bureaucracy within and between organizations, and towards the public at large Identifying priority areas for ICT development (areas that will have the greatest positive impact on programmes, services and customers) Providing citizens with a chance to access information, so that they may further specify the quality of that access in terms of media, retrieval performance, and so on Attaining a specified minimum level of information technology resources for educational institutions and government agencies Supporting the concept of lifelong learning Providing individuals and organizations with a minimum level of ICT knowledge, and the ability to keep it up to date Helping to understand information technology, its development and its crossdisciplinary impact.

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