The Tunis Agenda for Information Society (2005) states in its Paragraph 80: “We encourage the development of multi-stakeholder processes at the national, regional and international levels to discuss and collaborate on the expansion and diffusion of the Internet as a means to support development efforts to achieve internationally agreed development goals and objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals”. For making this a reality, a transparent and non-discriminatory ICT policy is necessary.
The same Document states in Paragraph 88, that “Building an inclusive developmentoriented Information Society will require unremitting multi-stakeholder effort”.
Later, in Paragraph 90, the Tunis Agenda remarks: “We acknowledge that multistakeholder participation is essential to the successful building of a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society and that governments could play an important role in this process”.
Which are the actors whose participation is key to successful NISP formulation and implementation Governments Government plays the most important role in the formulation of ICT policy and thus decides how countries are able to take advantage of the technical opportunities available to them and exploit them for good. A national strategy includes the combination of a wide range of thematic concerns. Governments can prioritize thematic areas, or orient a whole national strategy around key issues, such as infrastructure and connectivity, bridging the Digital Divide, training of human resources for the ICT sector, among others.
IT Sector, private enterprises:
The private sector plays a vital role in the establishment of the knowledge economy. The national IT sector can (and often does) impulse the elaboration of an NISP. It is a strong actor that frequently leads technological and organizational innovations. Although Information and Knowledge Society public policies are formally led and put in place by governments, the diverse stakeholders and in particular the private sector make inputs into the policy process and affect its outcomes. In the context of globalised markets, large and rich corporations are often more powerful than developing countries’ governments, allowing them to shape the policy-making process. However, it should be taken into account that while private-sector leadership is unquestioned in the process of building-out ICT environments, the public sector has to strive to complement its work.
Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), are key actors in the elaboration of NISPs. UNDP – APDIP (2004) recommends that “National policies must take into account the challenges and public and private sector deficiencies faced by SMMEs (...). Equally important, the government, through policy, should clarify the linkages between enterprise development and human resource development by developing a knowledge-based workforce that supports the needs of enterprises for adopting, maintaining and innovating with ICTs”.
There is no unanimously agreed upon definition of civil society. It can be defined as a diverse gathering of groups, networks and movements with multiple views and positions.
Civil society as a ‘third sector’ is easily identifiable with the interests of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations, or not-for-profit organisations.
With the fast dissemination and social appropriation of the Internet, civil society has been used in a global sense for the first time to allude to extensive sharing of knowledge and expertise within and beyond national boundaries on a voluntary basis (Schauder, Johnson and Taylor, 2006).
Essentially, civil society means community groupings or networks and their activities. Civil society is an expression of shared democratic values and resources which is distinct from, but which intersects with, those of democratic political institutions or businesses. Civil society acts for the public good in the space between state and market sectors. Civil society organizations are increasingly participating in Information Society issues, mainly on access to information, right to information, connectivity, and telecommunications universal service. The concerns and interests of civil society organizations need to be addressed at the highest policy-making level.
Science & Technology sector:
This sector, also called “Academic sector” or “the Academia” comprises national science and technology institutions, universities, science and technology research centres, among others. It is a relevant actor in the Information Society, since it provides both the highly qualified human resources, the researchers and the knowledge to build the Knowledge Society. Another relevant issue concerns the relationships between universities, high technology enterprises, and research programs. Permanent interaction between these three elements is key for ICT development. At times when boundaries between research and innovation policies are fading, scientific and technological research should be accompanied by supporting measures to facilitate the translation into successful products and services.
1.3.5. Assembling an Experts Group In order to achieve a high level of effectiveness in the formulation of an NISP, international experience notes the convenience of assembling a group of experts on the Information Society and its diverse scopes to contribute their knowledge, give advice, and systematize the process of definition, implementation and follow-up of the public policy for the Information Society.
This team or group of experts will work in close contact with the civil service or governmental body in charge of the implementation of the NISP. It is advisable to assemble a multisectorial and multistakeholder experts team.
1.3.6. The importance of an accurate diagnostic This phase identifies and analyzes all aspects directly related to the national situation regarding the Information Society, as well as the external issues which have impacts within the national sphere. The identification of new goals, deriving from the setting of policy guidelines, can also be developed from analysis of national or international best practices in building NISPs. The establishment of the public vision on the issue, including a preliminary time frame to accomplish the consented goals, is followed by a process of formulation of policies and strategies, which in turn will be operatively implemented.
The diagnostic or assessment should involve societal stakeholders in order to explain their perceptions and opinions on the importance of the Information Society as a key element of development. The inclusion of diverse social actors as proactive stakeholders should be ensured from the very beginning of the policymaking process.
In order to assess the economic, social, human and technological conditions of the country regarding the Information Society, studies and research will have to be used and conducted. In some cases, these studies may be produced by chambers of IT enterprises, the government or NGOs. In other cases, they will have to be commissioned to an experts team, to consultants, or to national institutions responsible for statistics and censuses.
The role of the civil servants in charge of the NISP process does not consist of actually carrying on these studies, but to use the studies and research already command them (do not understand “already command them”) to expert professionals and to survey the coherence and accuracy of their results.
1.3.7. Diagnosing E-readiness E-readiness describes a country’s degree of preparation to participate as a proactive agent in the diverse sectors and levels of the Information Society, and to capitalize on the opportunities of participation offered by the new economic and technological environment (Finquelievich, 2004).
According to the text “Comparison of E-Readiness Assessment Models” in bridges.org11, this implies not only considering if the measurable necessary infrastructures are laid out, but also going further, and considering whether ICTs are accessible to the majority of the population, and if the country has an adequate legislative and regulatory framework to sustain the use and social appropriation of these technologies.
More information at http://www.bridges.org/ E-readiness needs, among other elements:
Access to ICT infrastructures: hardware, software, connectivity, etc.
Training in the use of ICTs (not only technological litearcy, but also training in ICTbased management of enterprises, social organizations, etc.) Lifelong education and training in the careers, skills, and positions related to the Information Society.
Access to public information about public and private initiatives related to the Information Society.
It is important to understand the relevance, for a national, regional or local community, to be prepared (“e-ready”) for the Information Society and to lead an evaluation based on objective criteria, in order to establish milestones and basic measurable values of this ereadiness. In order to integrate the population to the Information Society, and to reduce the digital gap, it would be useful that all these and other issues are approached by a coherent, realistic and attainable strategy.
Diagnosing national or local e-readiness may be used by governments as a mechanism to collect the necessary information to address the formulation of NISPs goals. This evaluation will help governments focus their efforts and identify areas that require the investment of larger resources, external efforts, or extra help.
“In determining what strategy to pursue, countries need to assess their degree of ereadiness—to see where they stand along the route to develop ICTs. By understanding their national strengths and weaknesses with respect to the use and development of ICTs, leaders can position their countries to take advantage of emerging opportunities and stave off competitive threats”, state Paul Ulrich, James George Chacko and Phet Sayo (2004).
Example 14. Examples of ICT policies evaluation methods Examples of ICT policies evaluation methods Checci et.al. have developed a model to assess ICT policies in Arab countries. The research, supported by the US Government National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project Arab ICT policy and IT transfer project at Georgia State University (GSU), concerns the development of an instrument designed to measure the impact of government ICT policies and cultural beliefs on systems outcomes. A multi-method approach is employed for testing. This work combines quantitative (survey-Information Society) and qualitative (semistructured interview) methods.
The model shows a positive relation between national ICT policies and technological infrastructure and systems outcomes. The existence of ICT policies is a social constructio in which beliefs and values are significant. The awareness of policies can be taken as a surrogate of the extent to which the policies have a reality in the social context.
In a region where technology transfer is important, the assessment considers measures of outcomes, including: prediction of success; actual use; intention to use; diffusion; success of system development.
Source: Checchi et. al, Source: Checchi et. al, The following phases include the identification of Identify Information Society ICT policies, through unstructured interviews to policy decision makers; the verification that actual policies were effectively implemented, through semi-structured interviews to policy implementers, to both institutions and individuals; and the measurement of the perceptions and awareness of the policies among the population, using quantitative and qualitative research.
Source: Checchi et. al, The tools used in different countries for these evaluations utilize diverse definitions of ereadiness and different methods for the measurements, such as indicators systems. The evaluations differ in their goals, strategies and results. The right tool, in each case, depends on the objective of the user (the evaluator and/or the government). The user may choose a tool that measures what a particular country is addressing or looking for, guided by a standard adjusted to the users own vision on an e-ready society.
1.3.8. Staff in charge The guidelines will be put into practice by the governmental organization in charge. This group or organization may include other stakeholders (private sector, universities, NGOs, local governments, etc.). Therefore, determining the agency or organization, and the staff that will be in charge of the NISP process, or creating a specific governmental-coordinated mulktistakeholder agency is relevant for the success of the NISP.
Even if the national government will have the final decision in this area, it is advisable to include a multistakeholders’ approach in this choice. If the activities are assigned to diverse ministries or secretariats, or to other stakeholders, a specific agency in charge of the NISP will have to coordinate the different actions.
Example 15. E-Korea Vision 2006 implementation strategies E-Korea Vision 2006 Implementation Strategies The government will establish and implement a yearly operational plan based on the Master Plan, e-Korea Vision 2006 each year. The Master Plan will be revised in response to the rapid environmental changes and technological developments of each year.
The government will develop a detailed action plan in order to evaluate achievements semi-annually and report annually to the Informatization Promotion Committee. The realization of the global leader, e-Korea will be promoted through the systematic management of all issues and outcomes from each area, and cooperation will be strengthened between relevant government ministries and departments for the promotion of related businesses through the coordination of the Informatization Promotion Committee.
Source: E-Korea Vision, The next module, Module 2, is a concrete guideline methodology, a Template for the development of NISPs. It is addressed to the governments and the diverse social actors involved in creating, implementing, and updating agendas to develop these policiesin order for them to have access to the existing information, methodology, general information, examples, processes, mechanisms, and information sources.
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