February 2011

Forum gets in action frame

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Participants agreed that discussions were broadly completed and there was enough clarity to start executing plans now

By eGov Bureau

On 5-6 December 2010, the Global Alliance    for ICT and Development (GAID) held its fifth annual Global Forum on ‘Information and Communication Technologies for   achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Moving from Advocacy to Action’ at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu-Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The Forum convened relevant stakeholders for an action-oriented dialogue on emerging issues and challenges in the field of ICT for development. The Alliance  also presented, for discussion and feedback, its recently launched   major initiative—the MDG eNabler, a free Web-based set of ICT tools  andresources designed to assist governments and all development  practitioners in their work towards achieving the MDGs. The Forum, chaired by  Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman of GAID, was attended by over 250 participants  including high-level government officials and representatives of United Nations  agencies, private sector, civil society, academia and experts in the field of ICT for development. The forum was also broadcast live to the world using ‘livestream’ technology.

I. Opening session

In his welcoming remarks, Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, UAE, said that empowering people  using ICT was just as important as providing them with basic human needs and  that ICT must be deployed and used at the local level.

In his message to the participants, delivered by Haiyan Qian, Director of the Division for Public Administration and Development Management, UNDESA, Sha Zukang, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social  Affairs, on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, commended GAID for focusing on the strategic role of ICT to achieve the MDGs  and urged the Alliance to support the United Nations in this regard through its network of stakeholders. Cheick Sidi Diarra, Under-Secretary-General, Special Advisor for Africa, and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries,  in a message delivered by Patrick Hayford, Director of the Office of the Special  Advisor for Africa, expressed confidence that GAID will play a strategic role in  developing ICT in Africa specifi- cally. He also stated that the United Nations stood ready to partner in this process. In her keynote address, Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade, UAE, urged participants to  find ways to align ICT activities with economic and social development and take  concrete and sustainable actions to move towards the world’s shared aspiration, echoing the Forum’s title.

II. Plenary discussion: Reality check—ICT for Development

Moderator: Sarbuland Khan, Senior Advisor to GAID Chairman.
Panelists: Stephen Dukker, Chairman and CEO, NComputing (USA), Drupad   Mathur, Director, SP Jain Center of Management (UAE), Ali AlMashat, Chairman, SRCSAT (France), Evelyn Oputu, Managing Director, Bank of Industry (Nigeria), Graciela Chichilnisky, Professor, Columbia University  (USA), Allam Ahmed, Department of Municipal Affairs (UAE) During a lively   plenary session, it was agreed that an action-oriented roadmap towards MDG advancement through ICT, taking into consideration the complex development ecosystem and value chain, must be established and that the Alliance could play a major role in this. Accessibility to the technologies by people living in rural areas and others living without the necessary connectivity to benefit from ICT, was also identified as a major barrier.

III. Plenary discussion: MDG eNabler – A call for action

Moderator: Ivo Ivanovski, Minister of Information Society (Macedonia)
Panelists: Dr. Elham Ibrahim, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy,  African Union, Mohamed Al-Qaed, CEO, eGovernment Authority (Bahrain), Dr.  Jim Poisant, Secretary-General, World Information Technology and Services Alliance (USA), Linamara Battistella, Secretary, State of Sao Paulo, Brazil (represented by Danilo Piagessi), George King, CEO, Global Capacity (USA), Sarah McCue, Founder and President, Blumail (USA).

The discussion focused on the development of the MDG eNabler. Building on the  outcomes of discussion at the previous meetings and seminars with similar focus, the panelists and participants reviewed the current status of the project  and identified what needed to be done to further and strengthen its progress. Panelists agreed that it was now time to move towards building a working,  usable product.

IV. Solution Salons

Solution Salons allowed participants to break into thematic groups of their choice for focused sessions.

Salon 1: ICT for poverty alleviation and hunger and ICT for health

Lead: Najeeb Al-Shorbaji, World Health Organization and Anton Mangstl, Food and Agriculture Organization

Key recommendations:

• The Alliance can play an important role in facilitating the collection and dissemination of local knowledge, and should get involved in collaborative ways to support local institutions.

• GAID could support or host seminars focused on ICT at the ministerial level to  increase awareness in the public sector at the policy level.

Salon 2: ICT for Entrepreneurship

Lead: Armen Orujyan, ATHGO International

Key recommendations:

• GAID could promote or create a virtual environment to support entrepreneurship amongst its members and the global development community.

• The Alliance should continue to promote policies which accelerate  entrepreneurship activities.

Salon 3: ICT for Education

Lead: J?nis K?rkli?š, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural   Organization and John Davies and Richard Hall, Intel Corporation

Key recommendations:

• Teacher professional development and ICT training are essential for progress to be made in the field of ICT for education and GAID should focus on this through.

• Content and accurate data are also critical to advance progress and thus GAID should support appropriate data collection methodologies and the sharing and  dissemination of best practices in ICT for Education content.

Salon 4: ICT for sustainable development

Lead: Graciela Chichilnisky, Columbia University and Dag Nielsen, ICT4Peace Foundation

Key recommendation:

• The Alliance could establish a taskforce that would report possible suggestions for GAID in terms of policies such as trade access to market for infrastructure development and the creation of a multilateral global spectrum market.

Salon 5: ICT for gender equality and ICT for development and youth

Lead: Gloria Bonder, FLASCO (Argentina) – Mohammed Fathy, ICT eLeaders

Key recommendations:

• The Alliance could activate the existing networks and task forces working on gender and ICT4D in order to enrich the framework of the eNabler, collate its contents, indicators, and methodologies.

• A GAID university relations section should be established in order for  students and youth to promote GAID and MDG activities around the world and create student volunteer initiatives.

Salon 6: ICT for people with disabilities

Lead:
Axel Leblois, G3ICT

Key recommendations:

• The Alliance could look for funds to help people with disabilities.; Since there  is a very successful network in GAID today, there should be a way to channel what GAID does into the MDG eNabler.

Salon 7: A start-up strategy for developing countries to harness cloud computing

Lead: Stephen Dukker and Alan Yates,  NComputing

Key recommendations:

• The Alliance can use its networks and convening power to create awareness of  this growing field to ensure its sustainability and to help connect the public and private sectors.

• The public sector must be held accountable and provide leadership and  investment to ensure that the costs of the technology continues to drop.

Salon 8: Reliance on ICT in
governance: how much is
too much?

Lead: Sebastian Muah, Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs, Liberia

Key recommendations:

• The Alliance should begin to build on the Bahrain project by extending its  scope from just the MDG eNabler towards an ICT in Governance policy dialogue; GAID could play a role in regionalising policy dialogues, especially in the southern hemisphere.

Salon 9: ICT for financing development and the MDGs

Lead: Barbara Samuels, Global Clearinghouse for Development Finance

Key recommendations:

• GAID partners can donate their experts and cover related expenses as needed  in order to create global team of experts that can respond to needs from the  private sector and governments; GAID needs to incubate new partnerships as  well as champions in governments and the private sector.

Salon 10: Demonstration of the computer-aided strategic planner

Lead: Professor Amjad Umar, University of Pennsylvania and Harrisburg  University

Key recommendations:

• The GAID community should establish other capacity building centres similar  to the one already created in Bahrain; The MDG eNabler and the different  capacity building centres should provide a common set of vocabularies, methodologies and tools in order to ensure a consistent implementation  around the world.

V Closing

Rashed Al Mansouri, Director-General of the Abu  Dhabi Systems and Information Centre (ADSIC), addressed the Forum  expressing his thanks and appreciation to GAID and all participants.

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