Example 7. African Information Society Initiative African Information Society Initiative In Africa, the African Information Society Initiative (AISI) provides a framework for the development and implementation of national information and communication infrastructure plans in all African countries and the pursuit of priority strategies, programmes and projects which can assist in the building of a sustainable Information Society. A key component of the AISI is the development of national e-strategies, or the NICI plans, policies and strategies aiming principally at assisting countries to deploy, harness and exploit ICTs for development.The AISI also defines the role of government as being that of providing a vision, a strategy and an enabling environment to develop national information and communication infrastructure and to ensure that all sectors of society benefit from it. To fulfill its role in achieving these objectives, the AISI recommends that each African government AISI, African Information Society Initiative, published by the Economic Commission for Africa, (http://www.uneca.org/aisi/docs/AISI+10.pdf) establishes or assigns a lead national agency to be responsible for broad-based coordination and collaboration within government as well as with other sectors. This role also includes the development of national policies and plans for adopting ICTs within the government to improve the effectiveness of government service delivery.
To ensure the smooth implementation of the national information and communication infrastructure in African countries, governments are also advised to address the legal and regulatory environment, which currently constrains the use of ICTs. This would require modification of laws and regulations in different areas such as communication, intellectual property, privacy and free information flow.
Source: UNECA, Citizens’ needs in the Information Society in developing countries In order to benefit from the opportunities provided by the Information Society (IS), citizens should be prepared for the current economic, social, cultural and technological advances.
Citizens’ e-readiness describes the degree in which a country’s society is qualified to participate as proactive agents in the different sectors and levels of the Knowledge Economy (KE), and the ability to accept the challenges posed by the new economic and technological environment. (Finquelievich, 2005) To this effect, the following elements, among others, are needed:
• Access to ICT infrastructures: hardware, software, connectivity; fast, free or low-cost access to Internet.
• ICT training (not only technological literacy, but also education in business management and organizations using ICTs); life-long education and training in courses, professions and skills related to the IS.
• Information and creativity to identify the opportunities offered by the IS.
• Information and social organization to demand from governments the ICT infrastructures, innovative education systems, legislation and public information, which are necessary to benefit from the opportunities offered by the IS.
• Effective ICT use: the capacity and opportunity to successfully integrate ICTs into the accomplishment of self or collaboratively identified goals.
. State and non-state provision of telecommunication infrastructure and connectivity services contributes to the people e-readiness. Cybercafs, which are mostly the result of private micro-undertakings, nowadays represent the access door to cyberspace for a large number of Latin American, Asiatic and African people.
Example 8. Planning in Western Asia Planning in Western Asia As a result of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) third preparatory conference (PreCom-3), which was held in Geneva, from September 15-26, 2003, working documents were produced for the Draft Plan of Action and the Draft Declaration of Principles. These documents were set to become final drafts to be adopted at the Summit after further deliberations between Governments to solve outstanding differences.
The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), through its Information and Communication Technology Division, produced and advanced a tentative plan of action for Western Asia, which is based on the global Draft Plan of Action but tailored for the ESCWA region.
This customized plan was built around a framework that is flexible on many levels. Within that context, activities can be launched in parallel, amended to fit national priority areas, extended to include innovations in the field of ICT and executed at different times and according to the levels of application and the use of information technology in a country, or e-readiness status. This report endeavours to be a source of of guidance on the plan of action and to stimulate further discussions at both national and regional levels.
The tentative plan of action for the region is an evolving document that aims at igniting further cooperation among ESCWA member countries. ESCWA hopes that this report assists in drafting a final plan of action for the region, paving the way for effective strategies devised by regional and local communities and supported by proper policies that can lead to the information society in Western Asia. This new society can sustain development and reduce the digital divide by using ICTs as a tool to process and disseminate information and, more importantly, to empower people with knowledge, even in remote areas. Within that context, the following objectives form the main basis for cooperation and coordination among all stakeholders:
(a) To trigger substantive inputs specific to the ESCWA region with added value to local communities;
(b) To agree on tentative Information Society actions and indicative targets for priority areas that contribute to the compilation of a plan of action for ESCWA member countries;
(c) To promote social inclusion and increase the social and economic potential of ESCWA member countries, particularly vulnerable communities;
(d) To recommend an implementation framework;
(e) To devise guidelines for a monitoring mechanism in order to report on the progress of work.
Source: ESCWA, In Turkey, endeavours on transformation into an information society have also started to gain momentum since early 2000s in parallel to these developments. The “eTransformation Information Society Project” that was included in the 58th and 59th Government Urgent Action Plan was launched in 2003, Hence all individual studies being carried out in this country have been gathered under an umbrella project and accelerated.
The e-Transformation Information Society Project aims to carry out the process of transformation into an information society in a harmonious and integrated manner throughout society with all citizens, enterprises and public segments.
General coordination of the Project has been assigned to the State Planning Organization and the e-Transformation Executive Board with the participation of the State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Transportation, Ministry of Industry and Trade, top-level bureaucrats and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the Advisory Council with the participation of public and private sectors and NGOs having been established.
Source: ISD, What is the role of the State in the access and integration of the IS, translated into policies and strategies Connectivity plays an outstanding role in developing countries’ digital agendas. Although it is not always necessary for the state to provide social equipment for connectivity, such as telecentres, it is essential to regulate and optimize the operation of private places for public use, such as cybercafs. To regulate implies to set regulations in terms of equipment, comfort of users, e-security, times of use, and to facilitate the setting-up of cybercafs in low-populated areas through tax allowances or others, etc. To optimize implies, in this case, to enhance the roles of cybercafs, including training courses in ICT use, their use for social purposes, etc. In this way the state is relieved from the need to implement expensive infrastructure, and at the same time ensures access to Internet and related services to all people.
Once the population is acquainted with the daily use of cybercafs for all kinds of communication purposes and knows and uses community telecentres and TCC on a regular basis, they will be more willing to progress towards other uses of these technologies beyond mere access and consumption, thus contributing to the empowerment and human, economic and social development of communities.
As posed by Gmez and Martnez (2001), “[t]he ‘digital divide’, which usually refers to inequities in the access to new ICTs, particularly Internet, is not the cause but the expression of the existing social, economic and political gaps, at global, national and local levels. Focusing only on the digital divide will not help communities to improve their living conditions, overcome poverty or have a more equitable access to goods and services.” In developing countries it is necessary to build a new economy - the Information Economy - and adapt it to the needs, advantages, challenges, obstacles and potentialities of the region.
The role of the state is to foresee the needs and interests of the different social actors and be prepared for their legislation and control, as well to establish operative articulations among them. For this reason, the strategies and policies of developing countries’ governments should be aimed at turning countries into pioneers in terms of technological, social and economic management. In order to achieve this it is necessary to focus on technological and scientific production, innovation, specialized training, knowledge management and the use of existing brains, avoiding “brain drain” and promoting “brain gain” through coordination with S&T centres abroad.
And above all, it falls on the ability to predict the trends towards technology needs and consumption of the population as well as the private sector offer for the purpose of acting promptly, not only in response to these trends, but in anticipating them when referring to the legal framework, regulations, strategies, and actions. In short, it is necessary and urgent for governments to implement integral policies in the sectors of telecommunications, informatics and ICTs in general and that these are aimed at coordinating the technological, economic and scientific development strategies with initiatives for social, cultural and communication development.
What is this Guideline methodology about This guideline methodology for the development of National Information Society Policies and legislation (NISP) is intended to allow governments associated with enterprises, community organizations, or other organizations interested in creating, implementing and updating agendas to develop these policies and legislations access to the methodology itself, as well as to general information on Information Society policies, legislations, existing examples, processes, mechanisms, and information sources. This methodology is flexible, adaptable to countries with diverse development levels, and able to be implemented by governmental officers and “expert pools" in each country.
The work reviews existing relevant documents in the field of Information Society Planning, legislation, policies and declarations; diverse countries’ expertise in the field of Information Society Planning and Legislation (Explicit National Digital Agendas, National, Regional and local Information Society policies, national and regional legislations, etc.); and international relevant documents in the field.
The text is divided into three Working Modules:
1. The first Module provides a Theoretical Framework which supplies definitions of the main concepts used in this work and identifies the existing information on National Information Society Policies: relevant documents in the field of Information Society Planning, legislation, policies and declarations; diverse countries’ expertise in the field of Information Society Planning and Legislation (Explicit National Digital Agendas, National, Regional and local Information Society policies, national and regional legislations, etc.); and international relevant documents in the field. It also describes briefly the diverse legal, economic, social, and technological contexts regarding Information Society, as well as the explicit national, regional, and/or local Information Society policies, either general or specific for given sectors (egovernment, e-inclusion, e-education, e-health, etc.).
2. The second Module is a concrete guideline methodology, a Template for the development of national information society policies and legislations, so that the diverse social actors (governments, enterprises, NGOs, or other organizations) involved in creating, implementing, and updating agendas to develop these policies will have access to the existing information, methodology, general information, processes, mechanisms, and information sources. The Template includes three main phases: the starting point or formulation of an NISP; the implementation of the NISP; and the monitoring and adaptation of the NISP. This methodology tends to be dynamic, flexible, and adaptable to countries at different levels of development. Moreover, a variety of activities are provided so that the individuals and groups charged with the formulation of the NISP may check if they have taken all the necessary steps to complete their work. The Module also includes the general bibliography.
3. Finally, the third Module is a glossary of all the terms and expressions currently used in Information Society policies and strategies. This Glossary also provides sources of information and links to relevant web sites related to these issues.
The work is complemented by an ANNEX containing a list of the most commonly used ACRONYMS in the field.
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