Context and Objectives

 

 

Increased interdependence of the world economy necessitates comprehensive and coherent policies. Neglecting the development dimension will, in time, undermine the pursuit of other objectives. Mutually supportive policies across a wide range of economic, social and environmental issues are needed to accelerate progress on poverty reduction, reduce inequalities and to achieve internationally agreed  development goals including those contained in the Millennium Declaration.


Access to electronic communication networks and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become major factors that drive competitiveness, economic growth and social development. ICTs are crucial to poverty reduction and can improve access to health and education services, and create new sources of income and employment for poor people. In the last decade, ICTs, particularly mobile phones, opened up new channels for the free flow of ideas and opinions, thereby promoting democracy and human rights. But there are substantial discrepancies in access to ICTs between countries, particularly at the North-South level, but also within countries, depending on key factors such as gender, rural coverage, skills and educational levels.


In the 2008 Seoul Declaration for the Future of the Internet Economy, Ministers expressed their determination to ensure that the Internet Economy is truly global, through policies that support expanded access to the Internet and related ICTs, especially for people in developing countries. This includes the promotion of ICT services that can enhance the lives of people with the most limited economic means and can improve the economic and social inclusion of people with different capabilities, education, and skills. Among the priorities Ministers identified, were ensuring that broadband networks and services are developed to attain the greatest practical national coverage and use. Ministers also undertook to increase cross-border co-operation of governments and enforcement authorities in the areas of improving cyber-security, combating spam, as well as protecting privacy, consumers and minors and harnessing the potential of the Internet to tackle global challenges such as improving energy efficiency and addressing climate change.


This workshop, organised jointly by the World Bank/infoDev and the OECD, aims to share and highlight best practices in coherent approaches to meeting the development objectives laid out by Ministers.  This includes treatment of the following themes:


Session 1: Access to ICTs and the Internet:  This session will examine the lessons that can be learned from the spread of mobile phones in developing countries for Internet access; the local innovation that has developed in competitive markets in support of local requirements; the need for promoting coherent policies, the need for the further development of Internet Exchange Points and the need for a successful transition to the new version of the Internet Protocol (IPv6).


Session 2: Broadband policy and development: The number of broadband subscribers around the globe, on either fixed or mobile connections, is likely to exceed one billion for the first time during 2009. This means that the vast majority of Internet users now enjoy speeds at least four times quicker than ordinary dial-up connections, making many new applications possible. This session will explore how developing countries can take advantage of these developments.


Session 3: Access to ICT payment and remittance services: Although they have fallen recently, remittances toward developing countries are still greater than private capital flows and official development aid. The World Bank forecasts international remittances of USD 290 billion in 2009. ICTs, such as mobile phones, can increasingly be used to facilitate the delivery of remittances at lower cost to users with limited means. This session will examine the potential barriers to service development including whether policy coherent approaches are in place in developed and developing economies.


Session 4: Cross border co-operation and security:  The globally interrelated nature of the Internet means that the policies and practices adopted in any country have the ability to affect the security and stability of network use in another. In this context the development of a culture of security which benefits all users around the world, and the expenditure necessary to sustain that environment, will be particularly challenging for the next several billion Internet users.  This session will examine how stakeholders can support capacity building, developmental and cross-border co-operation to build a global culture of security and whether coherent policies and practices are in place to enable this development.


Session 5: ICTs and the environment: One of the key tasks facing all stakeholders is how to harness ICTs to improve environmental performance and mitigate climate change across all sectors of the economy. This session will examine the coherence of policies and practices surrounding the application and use of ICTs in producing sustainable outcomes.


Session 6: ICTs for education:  Greater use of ICTs in schools can help achieve to development goals related to universal primary education and the elimination of gender inequality in education. However, doubts remain as to the priority ICTs should be afforded relative to other educational needs. This session will explore issues related to elaborating coherent educational strategies, including the desirability of the one-to-one model (e.g. one laptop per child initiative), the costs of ownership of computers in schools, the impact of computers in schools in terms of educational attainment, and looking to the future, the relevance over time of core curriculum ICT skills.