Image

DIGITAL REVIEW of
AsiaPacific

2009–2010

Image

To obtain a comprehensive picture of the state of play of ICT development and application in any given economy, the chapters on individual economies should ideally be read alongside the chapters on these economies in previous editions of the Digital Review of Asia Pacific, all of which are available for download at:

http://www.digital-review.org

DIGITAL REVIEW of
AsiaPacific
2009–2010

Image

EDITORS: Shahid Akhtar and Patricia Arinto

EDITORIAL BOARD:

Danny Butt

Claude-Yves Charron

Laurent Elder

Alain Modoux

Suchit Nanda

Maria Ng Lee Hoon

Rajesh Sreenivasan

Krishnamurthy Sriramesh

Jian Yan Wang

CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS:

Musa Abu Hassan

Ilyas Ahmed

Salman Ansari

Lkhagvasuren Ariunaa

Jon Baggaley

Tian Belawati

Axel Bruns

John Budden

Danny Butt

Chriv Kosona

Abel Pires da Silva

Masoud Davarinejad

Fortunato de la Peña

Chamindra de Silva

Deng Jianguo

Tan Sri Dato’ Gajaraj Dhanarajan

Paz Hernandez Diaz

Timoteo Diaz de Rivera

Anita Dighe

Donny B.U.

John Yat-Chu Fung

Maria Teresa Garcia

Goh Seow Hiong

Lelia Green

Hameed A. Hakeem

Greg Hearn

Jong Sung Hwang

Malika Ibrahim

Seungkwon Jang

Arthur Jorari

Kuenga Jurmi

Keisuke Kamimura

Robyn Kamira

Syed S. Kazi

Kyungmin Ko

Thaweesak Koanantakool

Emmanuel C. Lallana

Luiz Gonzaga Lau

Heejin Lee

Molly Lee

Lim Hock Chuan

Yu-li Liu

Harsha Liyanage

Luis Chi Meng Loi

Naveed Malik

Osama Manzar

Muhammad Aimal Marjan

Fengchun Miao

Rapin Mudiardjo

Mahendhiran Nair

Wai-Kong Ng

Nguyen Thi Thu Huong

Siti Zobidah Omar

Thein Oo

Pan Sorasak

Sushil Pandey

Sang-Hyun Park

Adam Peake

Phonpasit Phissamay

Hitendra Pillay

Kishor Pradhan

Ananya Raihan

Massood Saffari

Shahida Saleem

Partha Pratim Sarker

Sheldon Shaeffer

Tengku Mohd Azzman Shariffadeen

Basanta Shrestha

Abhishek Singh

Rajesh Sreenivasan

Samuelu Taufao

Myint Myint Than

Chadamas Thuvasethakul

Tran Ngoc Ca

Kalaya Udomvitid

Sambuu Uyanga

Eunice Hsiao-hui Wang

Sangay Wangchuk

Ruvan Weerasinghe

Yong Chee Tuan

Zhang Guoliang

Image

Image

Image

The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and editors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publishers. The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the publishers concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitations of its frontiers or boundaries. The publishers do not guarantee the accuracy of the data published here and accept no responsibility whatsoever for any consequences of their use.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any from or by any means, electronic, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers.

Orbicom Network of UNESCO Chairs
in Communication
Suite J-4351
Université du Québec à Montréal
P.O. Box 8888, Downtown Station
Montréal, QC, H3C 3P8
Canada
www.orbicom.ca

International Development Research Centre
P.O. Box 8500
Ottawa, ON, Canada K1G 3H9
www.idrc.ca
ISBN (e-book) 978-1-52550-377-5

Image

SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd
B1/I-1 Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area
Mathura Road, New Delhi 110 044, India
www.sagepub.in

SAGE Publications Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, California 91320, USA

SAGE Publications Ltd
1 Oliver’s Yard, 55 City Road
London EC1Y 1SP, United Kingdom

SAGE Publications Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd
33 Pekin Street
#02-01 Far East Square
Singapore 048763

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Available

ISBN: 978-81-321-0084-3 (Pb)

The SAGE Team: Rekha Natarajan, Madhula Banerji, Rajib Chatterjee, and Trinankur Banerjee.

The Digital Review of Asia Pacific wishes to acknowledge the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) for its proactive engagement and financial support, for its commitment and encouragement to regional research and authorship, and for its dissemination of research results within and beyond the Asia Pacific region.

Contents

Foreword Noeleen Heyzer     vii

Preface Claude-Yves Charron, Alain Modoux, Laurent Elder, and Maria Ng Lee Hoon     ix

Introduction Shahid Akhtar and Patricia Arinto     xi

Acronyms     xv

A. Regional overviews

ICT for development in Asia Pacific: Emerging themes in a diverse region
Danny Butt and Partha Pratim Sarker     3

An overview of regulatory approaches to ICTs in Asia and thoughts on best practices for the future
Rajesh Sreenivasan and Abhishek Singh     15

Managing innovation in the network economy: Lessons for countries in the Asia Pacific region
Mahendhiran Nair and Tengku Mohd Azzman Shariffadeen     25

B. Regional issues in ICT in education

Education for All in the digital age Tan Sri Dato’ Gajaraj Dhanarajan     45

Distance education in Asia Pacific Jon Baggaley, Tian Belawati, and Naveed Malik     51

ICTs in non-formal education in Asia Pacific Anita Dighe, Hameed A. Hakeem, and Sheldon Shaeffer     59

Capacity-building for ICT integration in education Wai-Kong Ng, Fengchun Miao, and Molly Lee     67

Public-private partnerships in ICT for education Hitendra Pillay and Greg Hearn     77

C. Sub-regional perspectives

Pacific Island Countries Arthur Jorari, John Budden, and Samuelu Taufao     91

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Maria Teresa Garcia with Emmanuel C. Lallana     103

Association of Southeast Asian Nations Lim Hock Chuan     111

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Kishor Pradhan and Harsha Liyanage     119

D. Review of individual economies

.af

Afghanistan: Muhammad Aimal Marjan     129

.au

Australia: Lelia Green and Axel Bruns     135

.bd

Bangladesh: Ananya Raihan     144

.bt

Bhutan: Kuenga Jurmi and Sangay Wangchuk     152

.bn

Brunei Darussalam: Yong Chee Tuan     160

.kh

Cambodia: Pan Sorasak and Chriv Kosona     167

.cn

China: Zhang Guoliang and Deng Jianguo     175

.hk

Hong Kong: John Yat-Chu Fung     182

.in

India: Osama Manzar and Syed S. Kazi     192

.id

Indonesia: Donny B.U. and Rapin Mudiardjo     201

.ir

Iran: Masoud Davarinejad and Massood Saffari     210

.jp

Japan: Keisuke Kamimura and Adam Peake     219

.kp

Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of: Heejin Lee, Seungkwon Jang, and Kyungmin Ko     229

.kr

Korea, Republic of: Jong Sung Hwang and Sang-Hyun Park     234

.la

Lao People’s Democratic Republic: Phonpasit Phissamay     241

.mo

Macau: Luiz Gonzaga Lau and Luis Chi Meng Loi     249

.my

Malaysia: Musa Abu Hassan and Siti Zobidah Omar     255

.mv

Maldives: Malika Ibrahim and Ilyas Ahmed     262

.mn

Mongolia: Lkhagvasuren Ariunaa and Sambuu Uyanga     268

.mm

Myanmar: Thein Oo and Myint Myint Than     274

.np

Nepal: Sushil Pandey and Basanta Shrestha     280

.nz

New Zealand: Robyn Kamira     286

.pk

Pakistan: Salman Ansari and Shahida Saleem     294

.ph

Philippines: Fortunato de la Peña, Timoteo Diaz de Rivera, and Paz Hernandez Diaz     302

.sg

Singapore: Goh Seow Hiong     312

.lk

Sri Lanka: Ruvan Weerasinghe and Chamindra de Silva     324

.tw

Taiwan: Yu-li Liu and Eunice Hsiao-hui Wang     335

.th

Thailand: Thaweesak Koanantakool, Kalaya Udomvitid, and Chadamas Thuvasethakul     342

.tl

Timor-Leste: Abel Pires da Silva     351

.vn

Vietnam: Tran Ngoc Ca and Nguyen Thi Thu Huong     358

About the contributing authors     367

Index     382

Foreword

The current edition of the Digital Review of Asia Pacific vividly paints the picture of a major dimension of change in the Asia Pacific region, and indeed in the world. Asia Pacific is my main concern at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), but changes here and globally are quite similar. Communication and networking enabled by information and communication technologies (ICTs) are proving to be economically, socially, and politically transformative over time. For example, in both poor and wealthy countries, mobile phone use has been skyrocketing and facilitating the expansion of markets, social business, and public services. In fact, an entire range of economic services, enabled by mobile phones, has begun to emerge: micro finance and insurance, marketing and distribution (for example, farmers and fishermen connecting with markets, reduced distribution margins, and buyer control), employment services (for example, drivers and casual workers), personal services, and public services (such as telehealth and distance education). And beyond the economic impacts, improvements are being made in other freedoms or dimensions of well-being — personal security, political participation and accountability, social peace, dignity, and opportunity.

These developments are important, where they are thriving. But we should not forget the negative aspects and possibilities of communications-based transformation, such as mobile phones being used to fan violence, cybercrime and terrorism, and our vulnerability to disruption of communication. Nationally and internationally, control of communications is contended, and openness generally considered best. Internationally, the spread and appropriation of ICTs is a key globalization driver and knowledge carrier. In these circumstances, societies need to build communications systems and manage them well, develop infrastructure and the capacity to use it, and implement good policy and regulation. In the right environments, both business and non-profit enterprise are effective in rapidly expanding connectivity, using low-margin, high-volume business models. Affordable mobile Internet — smart phones and data services — exists today in wealthier societies and could be near universal in the next generation. These are stories that the Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2009–2010 tells, in vivid and thoroughly researched detail, in snapshots as well as dynamic pictures of the development and use of digital storage, processing, and communications systems in 30 economies, with sub-regional and regional overviews.

Browse and be drawn into these pictures and narratives. Read previous editions of the Digital Review of Asia Pacific online to highlight changes and trends. In 2009 and 2010, partners of ESCAP, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and many other organizations will be monitoring the impacts of the global financial and economic crisis on economies, businesses and employment, public services and households, and identifying and carrying out key mitigation measures. Negative impacts spread through international ‘transactions’, falls in exports, remittances, foreign direct and portfolio investment, possibly official development assistance and, increasingly, transactions in knowledge. Impacts on digital systems and their users in particular could be substantially negative, arresting progress in economic and other spheres, with particular impact on the poorest. At stake in all sectors are advances in incomes, jobs, work, education, health, security, equity, and social functionality. Good management and responses, reported in the current and future editions of the Digital Review of Asia Pacific, will be central to reducing negative impacts. So enjoy, respond to, and do not miss the next editions of the Digital Review of Asia Pacific.

Noeleen Heyzer
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
and
Executive Secretary, ESCAP

This page intentionally left blank

Preface
ICT FOR DEVELOPMENT IN THE ASIA PACIFIC REGION:
RIDING THE WAVES OF CHANGE IN A ‘FLAT WORLD’

The Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries of the world,
long ago made the choice to invest the present and the future of the poor in ICT.
ICT is a new opportunity for grassroots innovation.
I saw an opportunity for the poor people to change their lives
but only if this technology could be brought to them to meet their needs
.
(Muhammad Yunus 2007)

The sudden onslaught of the current economic turmoil comes just when this edition of the Digital Review of Asia Pacific (DirAP) went to press and long after the authors had submitted their manuscripts. But the publishers, editors, and authors of DirAP will be closely monitoring the impact of this turbulence on the appropriation of information and communication technology (ICT) in the region throughout 2009 and 2010. Dr Yunus has showed the way to all who are working toward empowering poor communities, to address their development challenges through effective access to ICTs. At the same time, we are learning that even as communities adopt and use ICTs, it is imperative to track and understand the positive and negative effects of ICTs on specific communities. Each wave of global change impacts not only the international and regional levels, but also, more and more, poor rural households.

In the maiden 2003–2004 edition, we referred to DirAP as an analysis of ‘a new type of public sphere [that is] more participatory and intentional’. That statement was made at a time when we had yet to see the real power of ICT. Since then, we have seen ICTs completely transform our lives, including the way politics and governance are played out. This started in Asia with the now famous ‘coup de text’ in the Philippines, followed by similar innovations in China, Korea, Malaysia, and Pakistan. More recently, in the United States (US), the Obama campaign demonstrated the importance of ICTs in creating awareness and motivating action. The 2005–2006 edition of DirAP sought to prepare the DirAP audience for this kind of phenomena. The edition included reference to disruptive ICTs, with a close-up examination of the social, political, and cultural aspects of e-governance and the need to develop appropriate ICTs using Open Source programs and local language tools. In the 2007–2008 edition, we featured developments in mobile and wireless technologies, as the remarkable growth of cellphone technology and Web 2.0 tools are impacting on public socialization and conscientization. This prognostic element is central to our motivation in producing DirAP as a regular Asia-watch serial.

In addition to tracking the way ICTs are used for political change in Asia, DirAP keeps a close eye on the impact of ICTs on the education, health, and livelihood of communities in the region. For the 2009–2010 edition, we have selected education as a principal theme. We are focusing on the state of ICT deployment and innovation in basic education, non-formal education, distance education, capacity-building for education policymakers and practitioners, and public-private partnerships in ICT for education.

DirAP has evolved since its inception in small and big ways. It has increased in volume, with a growing network of writers from the Asia Pacific region. It has adopted a co-authoring style to reflect multiple voices — a methodological posture that has been constant since the creation of DirAP and that can be summarized as follows:

The voices of DirAP are independent and if they are ideological at all, they are the voices of these writers who are the key movers and shakers in the ICT for development arena in the region. We believe that this multiplicity of voices, which includes those of policymakers, professionals from the private sector and senior scholars, offers a unique opportunity to access the richness and the complexity of the debates, of the choices being made and to be made, and of the major issues in the interface between communication and development. And we strongly believe in the importance of this complementarity and diversity of voices, ensuring that, as in Kurozawa’s Rashomon, the perspectives of the different actors are represented but also debated through research and statistical evidence. (Ng and Charron 2007)

The last three editions of DirAP were launched at the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva (2003) and Tunis (2005), and at the Global Knowledge Partnership GKIII Conference in Kuala Lumpur (2007). They reached both Asia Pacific and international stakeholders in ICT for development (ICTD). Chin Saik Yoon and Felix Librero expertly served as chief editors of these previous editions. This year, we are most grateful to Shahid Akhtar and Patricia Arinto for convening this diversity of voices. We thank DirAP’s editors and the editorial board for helping to transform the ferment in the field into a rather unique series of studies over time.

DirAP has ventured outside the ICT arena to bring in other disciplines to explain the effects of ICT in their fields. DirAP will continue to evolve, perhaps toward more interactive, participatory electronic formats. Whatever changes we make for the future editions of DirAP, we hope that the publication remains a useful source of research in ICTD that allows for an unfolding view and narrative. We hope too that ICTD stakeholders in Asia Pacific see DirAP as an opportunity to publish about ICTD efforts in the region and to reflect on platforms that they consider important for influencing change. And we hope that other ICTD stakeholders around the world will learn from these testimonies and experiences of ICTD in Asia Pacific unfiltered by what Edward Said (1978) referred to as an Orientalist bias.

Kenichi Ohmae’s (1990) metaphor of a ‘Borderless World’ and Thomas Friedman’s (2005) concept of a ‘Flat World’ might sound a bit stale to some. But in the current global crisis, one could argue to the contrary — that they are absolutely right. Moreover, Servaes’s (2000) view that strengthening the educational sector through the use of technology is a necessary precondition to meeting the challenges of a global world seems to ring more true today than it did at the beginning of the millennium. As publishers, we are proud to share with readers these narratives from different voices in the field, each of them attempting from their own perspective to respond to the current and future imperatives of ICTD in a networked society that seems to have shifted to a new age from that foretold by Castells (1996).

Claude-Yves Charron and Alain Modoux
Orbicom, Network of UNESCO Chairs
in Communication

Laurent Elder and Maria Ng Lee Hoon
International Development Research Centre

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Castells, M. (1996). The rise of the network society. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Friedman, T. (2005). The world is flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century. New York: Farar, Strauss and Giroux.

Ng Lee Hoon, M. and C.Y. Charron. (2007). Preface. In F. Librero (Ed.), Digital review of Asia Pacific 2007–2008. New Delhi: IDRC, Orbicom, and Sage Publications.

Ohmae, K. (1990). The borderless world. New York: HarperCollins.

Said, E. (1978). Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books.

Servaes, J. (Ed.). (2000). Walking on the other side of the information highway: Communication, culture and development in the 21st century. Penang: Southbound.

Yunus, M. (2007). Foreword. In F. Librero (Ed.), Digital review of Asia Pacific 2007–2008. New Delhi: IDRC, Orbicom, and Sage Publications.

Introduction

The information age has been driven and dominated by technopreneurs — a small army of ‘geeks’ who have reshaped our world faster than any political leader has ever done…. We now have to apply these technologies for saving lives, improving livelihoods and lifting millions of people out of squalor, misery and suffering. In short, the time has come to move our focus from the geeks to the meek.
(Sir Arthur C. Clarke)

When Marshall McLuhan coined the term ‘global village’ in 1962, he was referring to the removal of space and time barriers in human communication as a result of the communication revolution taking place at the time. Today, we are living in a global village in every sense of the term. This has never been more evident than in the financial and economic crisis gripping the world today.

Banks are failing and stock markets are tumbling. The automotive, construction, insurance, manufacturing, tourism, and other industries are suffering their greatest losses in years. The prices of commodities like oil, copper, lead, nickel, platinum, and wheat have fallen 65–88 percent from their peaks. Households have lost billions in real estate and pension fund reserves are dwindling. Countless small and medium-sized companies are going bankrupt and millions of jobs are being lost. The Asian Development Bank estimates that more than USD 50 trillion in invested wealth vanished into thin air in 2008. The world is in a deflationary spiral.

Much of the crisis concerns the United States (US) and countries in the European Community. But given the interconnectedness of the world’s financial and economic systems, economies around the world are experiencing a downturn. Even the biggest economies, like China, are hurting. Li Yizhong, head of China’s Ministry of Information and Technology, has noted that ‘the international financial crisis is having a severe domestic impact’ and ‘just about every industry has over-capacity’. Zhang Ping, head of China’s planning body, predicts that ‘[e]xcessive bankruptcies and production cuts will bring massive unemployment, stirring social unrest. Owing to dramatic changes in the international economic and financial environment, the Chinese economy faces growing downside pressure’. And the head of the Australian central bank, Glenn Stevens, whose country is one of the key suppliers of natural resources to China, has said that ‘[t]he most striking real economic fact of the past several months is not continued U.S. economic weakness, but that China’s economy has slowed much more quickly than anyone had forecast’ (Sagami 2008).

It will take several years, maybe even a decade, before the recession (some call it ‘depression’) that the world is facing today can be fully turned around and all the losses made up. The next several years are not going to be easy for most developing countries and many that were already struggling to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) goals and targets are going to be facing even greater difficulties in realizing these goals. The new information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been a driving force of the globalized world in which we find ourselves today. Do ICTs have a role in helping to turn the global situation around?

Now more than ever, countries need more efficient, accountable and transparent government. And it is a well documented fact that use of ICTs assists in sharing information more effectively and delivering better services to the public. ‘ICTs, wisely deployed, can potentially impact almost every sector, making development budgets, private sector investments and commitments from development partners go that much further in terms of cost effectiveness, impact and reach’ (UNDP 2005, p. 1). ICTs help to increase transparency and accountability and decrease corruption. They promote economic growth by improving the interface with business and empowering citizens to participate in advancing good governance. ICTs also help to accelerate the pace of sustainable human development and to ‘… increase the effectiveness of new and more responsive solutions in the fields of health, education and related MDG focus areas’ (UNDP 2005, p. 1).

The Digital Review of Asia Pacific (DirAP) aims to serve as a guide for ICT-related policy development, planning, research, and project implementation in the region. Like the previous editions, the 2009–2010 edition of DirAP reports on key ICT for development (ICTD) initiatives across the Asia Pacific region. The present edition of DirAP consists of four parts:

• Part A includes regional overviews on ICTD, regulatory approaches to ICT, and managing innovation.

• Part B, consisting of five chapters, focuses on various aspects of ICT in education.

• Part C assesses the ICT initiatives of four sub-regional groupings.

• Part D reviews the digital status of 30 economies.

The chapters in Part D report on the status of the technology infrastructure, ICT industries, digital content, online services, key ICT initiatives, enabling policies, regulatory environment, education and capacity-building programs, open source initiatives, ICT-related research and development, and ICTD trends and challenges up to mid-20081 in each of the 30 economies covered. The common framework that underpins these reports allows readers to undertake a comparative analysis and assess progress across the region.

The chapters in Parts A and C provide two types of comparative analyses of the ICT initiatives presented. In Part C, the comparative perspective is sub-regional, with four chapters reviewing the ICT initiatives of four political and economic groups. Budden, Jorari, and Taufao describe the digital status of the Pacific Island Countries. Garcia and Lallana provide an overview of the ICT initiatives of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Lim outlines ICT-related aspects of the work of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) toward building the ASEAN Community. Pradhan and Liyanage review recent initiatives by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to foster regional collaboration in ICTD.

Part A provides regional perspectives. In ‘ICT for development in Asia Pacific: Emerging themes in a diverse region’, Butt and Sarker outline some key concepts that are useful for analyzing and evaluating ICTD initiatives in the region. In ‘An overview of regulatory approaches to ICTs in Asia and thoughts on best practices for the future’, Sreenivasan and Singh compare regulatory approaches in Asian jurisdictions, and describe what they consider to be the four pillars of ICT policy, namely, citizen-focused e-government services, improving access to education, open source software development, and localized and indigenous digital content development and regulation. In ‘Managing innovation in the network economy: Lessons for countries in the Asia Pacific region’, Nair and Shariffadeen consider the role of national innovation ecosystems in enhancing the innovative capacity and competitiveness of nations in the network economy. They propose a quantitative method of assessing national innovation capacity and outline strategies to close the digital and innovation divides between countries in Asia Pacific and other regions.

The chapters in Part B of this edition of DirAP revolve around the theme of ICTs and education. Strengthening the innovative capacity of countries and ensuring broad-based and equitable development require, among others, giving priority to education for all citizens. Indeed, the second MDG is the achievement of universal primary education. Education is a basic human right, and it is a precondition of economic and social development. ICTs are increasingly recognized as an important means of providing education for all and building the capacity of individuals and communities to survive and thrive in the knowledge-based economy. The 2005 UNDP Regional Human Development Report notes that ‘ICTs are already creating new possibilities for “reaching the unreached” and also for making lifelong education feasible for all’ and that ‘these trends would only gather momentum and could imply a revolution, provided determined efforts are made to promote appropriate use of ICTs as innovative new delivery mechanisms for system-wide provision of education’ (UNDP 2005, p. 12).

In the chapter titled ‘Education for all in the digital age’, Dhanarajan describes the important role that the new digital technologies can play in the global movement toward Education for All (EFA) that was launched in 1990 at Jomtien, Thailand, and affirmed in 2000 through the Dakar Framework for Action. The chapter also outlines factors that policymakers must consider in harnessing ICTs to provide education for all. These include the need for policy recognizing different modes of education, including open and distance learning, and alternative learning.

Baggaley, Belawati, and Malik, in their chapter titled ‘Distance education in Asia Pacific’, provide an overview of trends in distance education in the region, including the use of mobile phones in learning. The chapter discusses issues affecting Asian distance education institutions, such as lack of access to e-learning technologies, and the need to develop a distinctively Asian approach to distance education.

ICT use in non-formal education programs for out-of-school youth and adults is the focus of ‘ICTs in non-formal education in Asia Pacific’ by Dighe, Hakeem, and Shaeffer. Arguing that non-formal education has an important role to play in achieving quality education for all sectors of society, especially marginalized groups that comprise a significant percentage of the population in developing countries, the chapter critically examines the progress made and the lessons learned in the use of ICTs in non-formal education in the Asia Pacific region.

In ‘Capacity-building for ICT integration in education’, Ng, Miao, and Lee focus on building the capacity of policymakers and educators in Asia Pacific countries to integrate ICT in education. The basic elements of a holistic ICT in education policy and an ICT in education toolkit for policymakers and planners are detailed, as well as the dimensions of integrated teacher professional development that would enable teachers to use ICT effectively and appropriately to support national education goals. A case is made for moving away from technocentric planning and implementation approaches to ICT integration, to models that focus on establishing sound policy and support strategies leading to capacity development and empowerment.

The final chapter in the thematic section on ICT and education is on ‘Public-private partnerships in ICT for education’ by Pillay and Hearn. ICT-supported education requires large investments not only in equipment and infrastructure but also in human resource development. Public-private partnerships are described as a means for governments to meet increasing demands for ICT-supported education reform and expansion.

In describing and analyzing trends and issues in the use of ICT in key areas such as education and governance in the Asia Pacific region, this edition of DirAP hopes to give its readers greater insight into the application of ICTs for sustainable human development. ICTs have been instrumental in the realization of a globalized world. Globalization has brought greater interdependence, with both positive and negative effects on economies and societies. When used wisely, ICTs can help mitigate some of the negative impacts and maximize the positive outcomes of interdependence, through better coordination and monitoring of development efforts, building partnerships between the public and private sectors and between governments and citizens, and fostering the innovative capacity and entrepreneurial spirit of individuals and communities.

Shahid Akhtar and Patricia Arinto
Editors, Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2009–2010

NOTE

1. As is normally the case with analytical reviews, there is a time lag between when such reviews are actually written and their formal publication. The chapters on the individual economies reflect conditions at the time of writing, which was essentially around early to mid-2008, prior to the global economic and financial crisis beginning in late 2008.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Sagami, T. (2008). Five insiders give dire warnings about China. Money and markets. 16 December. Retrieved 16 December 2008 from http://www.moneyandmarkets.com/five-insiders-give-dire-warnings-about-china-2-28749

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (2005). Promoting ICT for human development in Asia: Realizing the millennium development goals. The regional human development report. New Delhi: Elsevier. Retrieved 15 December 2008 from http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/regionalreports/asiathepacific/South_East_Asia_2005_en.pdf

This page intentionally left blank

Acronyms

2G

second generation mobile phone standards and technology

3G

third generation mobile phone standards and technology

A&E

Accreditation and Equivalency

AAOU

Asian Association of Open Universities

ABAC

APEC Business Advisory Council

ABS

Australian Bureau of Statistics

ABS-CBN

Alto Broadcasting System-Chronicle Broadcasting Network

ACBT

Australian College of Business and Technology

ACC

ASEAN Coordinating Council

ACEN

APEC Cyber Education Network

ACMA

Australian Communications and Media Authority

ACS

Australian Computer Society

ACSA

Afghan Computer Science Association

ACTOS

Association of Computer Training Organizations

ADB

Asian Development Bank

ADSL

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line

AEC

ASEAN Economic Community

AEEMA

Australian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association

AGC

Attorney-General’s Chambers

AGIMO

Australian Government Information Management Office

AHAN

Aik Hunar Aik Nagar (One Village One Product)

AIATSIS

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

AIG

Australian Industry Group

AIIA

Australian Information Industry Association

AIL

Afghan Institute of Learning

AIMS

Afghanistan Information Management Services

AIOU

Allama Iqbal Open University

AiTi

Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry

AKAKOM

Akademi Komputer or East Timor Computer Academy

ALP

Australian Labor Party

ALU

Alcatel-Lucent

ALS

Alternative Learning System

AMCAM

American Cambodian Business Council

AMN

Afghan Media International

ANDC

Afghanistan National Data Centre

ANDS

Afghanistan National Development Strategy

ANZ

Australia New Zealand Bank

AOTS

Association for Overseas Technical Scholarships

APEC

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

APEC TEL

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Telecommunications and Information Working Group

APIAN

APEC International Assessment Network

APIIT

Asia Pacific Institute for Information Technology

APJII

Asosiasi Penyelenggara Jasa Internet Indonesia (Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association)

APKOMINDO

Asosiasi Perusahaan Komputer Indonesia (Indonesian Computer Business Association)

APNIC

Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre

APPEAL

Asia Pacific Programme of Education for All

APT

Asia Pacific Telecommunity

ARC

Administrative Reforms Committee

ARCOM

Autoridade Reguladora das Communicações or Communications Regulatory Authority

ARPU

Average revenue per user

ARTC

APPEAL Resource and Training Consortium

ASC

ASEAN Security Community

ASCC

ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community

ASEAN

Association of Southeast Asian Nations

ASEC

ASEAN Secretariat

ASED

ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting

ASFI

Advanced Software Foundation Inc

ASP

Application Service Provider

ASSI

Asosiasi Satelit Indonesia (Indonesian Satellite Association)

AST

ASEAN Science and Technology

ASTI

Advanced Science and Technology Institute

ATM

Automatic teller machine

ATRA

Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority

ATRC

ASEAN Telecommunications Regulators Council

AUAF

American University of Afghanistan

AWARI

Asosiasi Warnet Indonesia (Indonesian Internet Kiosk Association)

AWCC

Afghan Wireless Communication Company

BA

Bachelor of Arts

BASIS

Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services

BayanDSL

BayanTel Digital Subscribe Line

BayanTel

Bayan Telecommunication

BBS

Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics

BCCP

Bangladesh Centre for Communication Programs

BcN

Broadband Convergence Network

BdOSN

Bangladesh Open Source Network

BDT

Bangladeshi taka (currency)

BEDB

Brunei Economic Development Board

BFAD

Bureau of Food and Drugs

BHMPS

Bhutan HRD Master Plan and Strategies

BHUs

Basic health units

BICMA

Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority

BIPS

Bhutan ICT Policy and Strategy

BIR

Bureau of Internal Revenue

BIT

Bachelor of Information Technology

BMC

Budget and Management Committee

BND

Brunei dollar

BNU

Banco Nacional Ultramarino

BoC

Bureau of Customs

BOI

Board of Investment

BOT

Bank of Thailand

BPAP

Business Processing Association of the Philippines

BPO

Business Process Outsourcing

BPPT

Badan Pengkajian dan Penerapan Teknologi (Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology)

BRAC

Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee

BRTI

Badan Regulasi Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Indonesia Telecommunication Regulatory Body)

BSA

Business Software Alliance

BSNL

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd

BT

Bhutan Telecom Ltd

BTCL

Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited

BTN

Bhutanese ngultrum (currency)

BTRC

Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission

BTS

Base Transceiver Station

BTTB

Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board

CA

Certification Authority

CAGR

Compound Annual Growth Rate

CAL

Computer-aided Learning

CAN

Computer Association of Nepal

CASIA

Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Automation

CAT

Communications Authority of Thailand

CATV

Community Antenna Televsion, now known as Cable Television

CBN

Capacity Building Network

CBO

Community-based organization

CC

Creative Commons

CCC

Ceylon Chamber of Commerce

CCRTVU

China Central Radio and TV University

CCT

Science and Technology Committee

CD

Compact disc

CDAC

Centre for Development of Advanced Computing

CDMA

Code Division Multiple Access

CD-ROM

Compact Disc-Read Only Memory

CeC

Community e-Centre

CEDFIT

Cebu Educational Foundation for Information Technology

CEO

Chief Executive Officer

CEPAS

Specification for Contactless e-Purse Application

CERTs

Computer Emergency Response Teams

CET

Connect East Timor

CETC

SPC Community Education Training Centre, Fiji

CGIAR

Consulative Group on International Agricultural Research

CHA

Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies

CHED

Commission on Higher Education

CIA

Central Intelligence Agency (US)

CIC

Community Information Centre

CICC

Center of the International Cooperation on Computerization

CICT

Commission on Information and Communications Technology

CID

Harvard Centre for International Development Model

CIDA

Canadian International Development Agency

CII

Confederation of Indian Industry

CIMA

Chartered Institute of Management Accountants

CIO

Chief Information Officer

CIT

Communications and Information Technology

CITREP

Critical Infocomm Technology Resource Programme

CLC

Community Learning Centre

CMA

Computer Misuse Act

CMC

Community Multimedia Centres

CMMI

Capability Maturity Model Integration

CMOS

Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor

CMS

Clinic Management System

CMTS

Cellular Mobile Telephone Service

CNMI

Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas

CNNIC

China Internet Network Information Center

COO

Chief Operating Officer

CoP

Communities of Practice

CP

Certificate Policy

CPE

Customer Premises Equipment

CPP

Calling Party Pays

CPS

Certificate Practice Statement

CPTTM

Macau Productivity and Technology Transfer Center

CRAT

Cyber Regulatory Appellate Tribunal

CRC

Communications Regulatory Commission

CRO

Communications Regulatory Organization

CROP

Council of Regional Organizations of the Pacific

CRULP

Centre for Research in Urdu Language Processing

CSAT

College Scholastic Ability Test

CSL

Computer Services Ltd, Samoa

CSMS

Computer Science and Management School

CSSL

Computer Society of Sri Lanka

CTI

Committee on Trade and Investment

CTM

Companhia de Telecomunicações de Macau (Macau Telecommunications Company)

CTT

Direcção dos Serviços de Correios, Telefonicos e Tegraphicos de Macau (Telephony and Telegraphy Bureau)

DAISY

Digital Accessible Information System

DANIDA

Danish International Development Agency

DBCDE

Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

DCI

Data Communications Company

DCITA

Department of Communication, Information Technology and the Arts

DCSF

Diliman Computer Science Foundation

DDC

Dzongkha Development Commission

DDD

Digital Divide Data

DE

Distance education

DEEWR

Department for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

DEF

Digital Empowerment Foundation

DEMP

Distance Education Modernization Project

Depbudpar

Departemen Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata (Department of Culture and Tourism)

Depdiknas

Departemen Pendidikan Nasional (National Education Department)

DepEd

Department of Education

DEST

Department for Education, Science and Training

DETIKNAS

Dewan TIK Nasional (National ICT Council)

DFAT

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

DICT

Department of Information and Communication Technology

Digitel

Digital Telecommunications Phils. Inc.

DIMS

Diploma in Information Management System

Dirjen Postel

Direktorat Jenderal Pos dan Telekomunikasi (Directorate General of Post and Telecommunication)

DIT

Department of Information Technology

DLTV

Distance Learning Television

DMB

Digital Multimedia Broadcasting

DNA

Deoxyribonucleic acid

DNOP

Data Network Operators Pakistan

DOEACC

Department of Electronics and Accreditation of Computer Courses

DOI

Digital Opportunities Initiative

DOH

Department of Health

DoS

Denial-of-Service

DOST

Department of Science and Technology

DOTC

Department of Transportation and Communications

DPI

Data Processing Iran Company (ex-IBM branch in Iran)

DPR

Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat (House of Representatives)

DRM

Digital Rights Management

DRMASS

Digital Multiple Access Subscriber System

DSEJ

Direcção dos Serviços de Educação e Juventude (Education and Youth Affairs Bureau)

DSGs

Deputy Secretary-Generals

DSL

Digital Subscriber Line

DSRT

Direcção dos Serviços de Regulação de Telecomunicações (Bureau of Telecommunications Regulation)

DSWD

Department of Social Welfare and Development

DTAS

Diagnostics Tutorial Assessment System

DTI

Department of Trade and Industry

DTIS

Diagnostic Trade Integration Studies

DTT

Digital Terrestrial Television

DTV

Digital television

DVB

Digital Video Broadcast

DVD

Digital versatile disc

DWDM

Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing

E3

Philippines’ Electronic Governance for Efficiency and Effectiveness

EBS

Educational Broadcasting System

EC

Economic Committee

ECA

Electronic Commerce Act

ECER

East Coast Economic Region

ECSG

Electronic Commerce Steering Group

ECTI

Electronic Computer Telecommunication and Information

ECVN

e-Commerce Vietnam

EDB

Economic Development Board

EDGE

Enhanced Data Rate for GSM Evolution

eDLTV

eLearning Based on Distance Learning Television

EDMS

Electronic Document Management System

EDNET

APEC Education Network

EDS

Electronic Documents and Signatures

EDXL

Emergency Data Exchange Language

EECV

Emergency and Education Vehicle

EFA

Education for All

EFT

Electronic Funds Transfer

EGD

e-Government Directorate

EGTAB

e-Government Technical Advisory Body

EGTL

e-Government Leadership Forum

EHR

Electronic Health Records

ELK

Enabling Language Kit

EMIS

Education Management Information Systems

e-NTF

e-National Task Force

ESCAP

Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

ESFRD

Electronics Support Fund for Research and Development

ETPI

Eastern Telecommunications Philippines Inc.

EU

European Union

EUP

Eco-Design of Energy-using Products

EVN

Electricity of Vietnam

FDCT

Science and Technology Development Fund

FDI

Foreign Direct Investment

FE

Fundamentals of IT Engineer

FECS

Fundamentals of IT Engineer Certification Standards

FedGIS

Federated Geospatial Information System

FERI

Foundation of Education Research and Education

FFA

Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency

F-FDTL

Falintil-Forcas Defesa de Timor-Leste or Timor-Leste Defense Force

FITIS

Federation of IT Industry in Sri Lanka

FLEMMS

Functional Literacy, Education, and Mass Media Survey

FLOSSWorld

Free/Libre/Open Sources Software (FLOSS) World

FMAC

Macau Foundation

FMC

Fixed Mobile Convergence

FMIC

French Medical Institute for Children

FNRI

Food and Nutrition Research Institute

FOSS

Free and Open Source Software

FPCCI

Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry

FRST

Foundation for Research, Science, and Technology

FSM

Federated States of Micronesia

FTA

Free-to-Air

FTI

Fast Track Initiative

FTII

Federasi Teknologi Informasi Indonesia (Indonesia Information Technology Federation)

FTTH

Fibre-to-the-Home

FTTN

Fibre-to-the-Node

FUP

Fundação das Universidades Portuguesas

FWA

Fixed Wireless Access

G2B

Government-to-Business

G2C

Government-to-Citizen

G2G

Government-to-Government

G4C

Government-for-Citizens

GATS

General Agreement on Trade in Services

Gb

Gigabyte

Gbps

Gigabits per second

GCA

Government Certification Authority

GCC

Government Computer College

GCIO

Government Chief Information Officer

GCS

Global Care Solutions Company Limited

GDDS

General Data Dissemination System

GDLN

World Bank’s Global Distance Learning Network

GDOI

Global Digital Opportunity Initiative

GDP

Gross Domestic Product

GDTTI

Gabinete para o Desenvolvimento das Telecomunicações e Tecnologias da Informação (Office for the Development of Telecommunications and Information Technology)

GeSCI

Global e-Schools and Communities Initiatives

GIC

Government Information Centre

GILAS

Gearing Up Internet Literacy and Access for Students

GIS

Geographical Information System

GLOCOM

Japan’s Center for Global Communications

GNH

Gross National Happiness

GNP

Gross National Product

GNU Linux

GNU’s Not Unix Linux

GoM

Government of Mongolia

GoP

Government of Pakistan

GOSL

Government of Sri Lanka

GPDP

Office for Personal Data Protection

GPMS

Government Personnel Management System

GPRS

General Packet Radio Service

GPS

Global Positioning Systems

GRP

Government of the Republic of the Philippines

GS

Grama Sevaka (village headman)

GSIS

Government Service Insurance System

GSM

Global System for Mobile Communication

GTZ

Deutche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zussammenardeit — German Technical Cooperation

GXA

Games Exchange Alliance

HCA

Ho Chi Minh City Computer Association

HCCR

High Council of Cultural Revolution

HCDG

Human Capital Development Group

HCI

High Council of Informatics

HCID

High Council of Information Dissemination

HDD

Hard Disc Drive

HDDI

Hard Disc Drive Institution

HDIA

Human Impact Development Assessment of Trade

HDSL

High bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line

HDTV

High Definition Television

HEIs

Higher Education Institutions

HFC

Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial

HIES

Household Income and Expenditure Survey

HIV

Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the cause of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)

HLCIT

High Level Commission on IT

HRD

Human Resource Development

HRDWG

Human Resource Development Working Group

HRM

Human Resource Management

HSBC

Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation

HSDPA

High Speed Downlink Packet Access

HSPA

High Speed Packet Access

IA

Infocomm Accessibility

IAC-ICTS

Interagency Committee on Information and Communication Technology Statistics

IAEA

International Atomic Energy Agency

IAMAI

Internet and Mobile Association of India

IAS

International Accounting Standards

IC

Integrated Circuits

ICAM

Intelligent Content Assessment Marking

ICANN

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

ICDL

International Computer Driving Licence

ICI

Interconnection Institute

ICIMOD

Nepal’s International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development

ICM

Information, Communication, and Media

ICMA

Information, Communication, and Media Act

ICP

Internet Connection Provider

ICT

Information and Communication Technology

ICTA

Information and Communication Technology Authority

ICT4D/ICTD

Information and Communication Technology for Development

ICT-TL

Timor-Leste ICT Association

ICTWG

ICT Working Group

ICX

Interconnection Exchange

ID

Identity/Identification

IDA

Info-Communications Development Authority of Singapore

IDC

International Data Corporation

ID-INC

Indonesia-Network Information

IDM

Interactive Digital Media

IDN

International Domain Name

IDR

Iskandar Development Region

IDRC

International Development Research Centre

IDRCC

International Development Research Centre of Canada

ID-SIRTII

Indonesia Security Incident Response Team on Internet Infrastructure

IDTUG

Indonesia Telecommunication Users Group

IEAA

Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia

IFRS

International Financial Reporting Standard

IG

International Gateway

IGNOU

Indira Gandhi National Open University

IGOS

Indonesia Goes Open Source

IIREM

Innovating ICT for Rural Education of Mongolia

IIT

Informatics Institute of Technology

IITA

Institute for Information Technology Advancement

IITC

International IT Conference

IIUM

Macau Inter-University Institute

IKC

IlmuKomputer.com

ILDTSP

International Long Distance Telecommunication Services Policy

ILO

International Labour Organisation

IMF

International Monetary Fund

IMS

Interactive Multimedia Subsystem

INESC

Institute of Engineering Systems and Computers

Info Timor

Info Exchange East Timor

iNSPIRE

iNfocomm Spark an Inspiring and Rewarding Experience

IOB

East Timor Institute of Business

IP

Internet Protocol

IPA

Ingrated Programme of Action

IPC

Informatization Promotion Committee

IPM

Institute for Studies in Theoretical Physics and Mathematics

IPR

Intellectual Property Rights

IPRA

Intellectual Property Rights Act

IPTV

Internet Protocol Television

IPv4

Internet Protocol version 4

IPv6

Internet Protocol version 6

IRCTC

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited

IRQUE

Improving the Relevance and Quality of Undergraduate Education

IRTI

Act Right to Information Act (India)

ISDN

Integrated Service Data Network

iSLRCs

i-Schools Learning Resource Centers

ISOC

Internet Society

ISP

Internet service provider

ISPAK

Internet Service Providers of Pakistan

ISPAN

Internet Service Providers Association of Nepal

ISPANZ

Internet Service Providers Association of New Zealand

IT

Information Technology

ITC

Information Technology Company

ITEC

Indian Technical and Economic Co-operation

ITES

IT enabled Services

ITFP

Information Technology Foundation of the Philippines

ITH

Income Tax Holidays

ITMX

Interbank Transaction Management and Exchange

ITRC

Iran Telecommunications Research Center

ITS

Intelligent Transport System

ITU

International Telecommunication Union

IX

Internet Exchanges

J2ME

Java 2 Micro Edition

JARDIKNAS

Jaringan Pendidikan Nasional (National Education Network)

JEDI

Java Education and Development Initiative

JETRO

Japan External Trade Organization

JETS

Japanese-European Technology Studies Institute

JICA

Japan International Cooperation Agency

JITEC

Japan Information Technology Engineers Examination Center

KADO

Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion

Kbps

Kilobits per second

KC

Knowledge Channel

KCC

Korea Communications Commission

KCF

Knowledge Channel Foundation

KCS

Korea Customs Service

KEPCO

Korea Electric Power Corporation

KIPA

Korean International Promotion Agency

KISDI

Korea Information Society Development Institute

KMPCD

Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Crime Division

KOICA

Korea International Cooperation Agency

KPO

Knowledge Process Outsourcing

KREN

Korean Education Network

KRW

Korean won (currency)

KSFC

Korea Software Financial Cooperative

KT

Korea Telecom

LAMP/WAMP

Linux, Apache, Mysql, and Php/Link Access Procedure for Modems/Windows, Apache, Mysql, and Php

LANIC

Lao National Internet Committee

LCD

Liquid Crystal Display

LDCs

Least Developed Countries

LDI

Long Distance and International Services

LEARN

Lanka Education and Research Network

LED

Light Emitting Diode Lamp

LETAS

Local Enterprise Technical Assistance Scheme

LGN

Lanka Government Network

LGU

Local government unit

LIFE

Literacy Initiative for Empowerment

LINX

London Internet Exchange

LIPI

Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (Indonesian Institute of Science)

LKLUG

Lanka Linux User Group

LL

Local Loop

LMS

Learning Management System

LRC

Labour Recruitment Committee

LRT

Likelihood Ratio Test

LSF

Lanka Software Foundation

LSPN

Labour and Social Protection Network

LTO

Land Transportation Office

LUGS

Linux User Group of Singapore

M&As

Mergers and Acquisitions

MA

Master of Arts

MAMPU

Malaysian Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit

MAP

Management Association of the Philippines

MASTEL

Masyarakat Telematika

MB

Megabit

MBA

Master of Business Administration

Mbps

Megabits per second

MCEA

Myanmar Computer Enthusiasts Association

MCF

Myanmar Computer Federation

MCH

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

MCHE

Maldives College of Higher Education

MCIA

Myanmar Computer Industry Association

MCIT

Ministry of Communications and IT

MCMC

Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission

MCPA

Myanmar Computer Professionals Association

MCSDC

Myanmar Computer Science Development Council

MCTV

Macau Cable TV

MDA

Media Development Authority of Singapore

MDec

Multimedia Development Corporation

MDGs

Millennium Development Goals

MDIRD

Macau Document Information Resource Database

MECS

Ministry of Education, Culture and Science

MED

Ministry of Economic Development

METI

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

MGP

Macau Grand Prix

MGTO

Macau Government Tourist Office

MIB

Maldives Internet Banking

MIC

Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication

MICA

Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts

MICT

Ministry of Information and Communication Technology

MIMOS

Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems

MISPA

Mongolian Internet Service Providers Association

MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MKE

Ministry of Knowledge Economy

MMP

Macau Memory Project

MMS

Multimedia Messaging System

MNP

Mobile Number Portability

MoC

Ministry of Commerce

MOCIE

Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Energy

MoE

Ministry of Education

MOECS

Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science

MOET

Ministry of Education and Training

MoEYS

Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport

MoF

Ministry of Finance

MOGAHA

Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs

MOH

Ministry of Health

MoIC

Ministry of Information and Communication

MOIT

Ministry of Industry and Trade

MoITT

Ministry of IT and Telecommunications

MOPAS

Ministry of Public Administration and Security

MOSA

Mongolian Software Industry Association

MOST

Ministry of Science and Technology

MOU

Memorandum of Understanding

MOWD

Ministry of Women’s Development

MPDF

Mekong Private Sector Development Facility

MPEG

Moving Picture Expert Group

MPLS

Multi-Protocol Label Switching

MPO

Management and Budget Organization (formerly PBO)

MPT

Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications

MPTC

Ministry of Posts Telegraph and Communications

MPTT

Ministry of Post, Telegraph, and Telephone

MRA

Mutual Recognition Agreement for Conformity Assessment of Telecommunications Equipment

MS

Microsoft

MSAR

Macau Special Administrative Region

MSC

Multimedia Super Corridor

MSN

Microsoft Network

MSUE

Mongolian State University of Education

MTNL

Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd

MTVS

Mobile Television Services

MUST

Mongolian University of Science and Technology

MVNO

Mobile virtual network operator

MyICMS 886

Malaysian Information, Communications and Multimedia Services 886

NADRA

National Database and Registration Authority

NARC

National Administrative Reforms Council

NASSCOM

National Association of Software and Services Companies

NAST

National Authority for Science and Technology

NBIS

National Basic Information System

NBN

National Broadband Network

NBTC

National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission

NCC

National Computer Center (Philippines)

NCER

Northern Corridor Economic Region

NCIT

National Centre for Information Technology

NCLHCR

National Centre for Linguistic and Cultural Research

NCSKSC

National Committee for the Standardization of Khmer Script in Computers

NCSTP

National Council for Science and Technology Policy

NDA

Non-Disclosure Agreements

NDAP

National Digital Archives Program

NDCC

National Disaster Coordinating Council

NDP

National Development Plan

NeGP

National e-Governance Plan

NECTEC

National Electronics and Computer Technology Center

NEDP

National Education Database Project

Nepse

Nepal Stock Exchange

NFE

Non-Formal Education

NGAs

National Government Agencies

NGN

Next Generation Network

NGNII

Next Generation National Information Infrastructure

NGO

Non-government organization

NGPP

National Grid Pilot Platform

NHRD

New Century Human Resource Development

NIA

National Information Society Agency

NIBM

National Institute of Business Management

NICF

National Infocomm Competency Framework

NICI

National Information and Communications Initiative Committee

NICT

National Institute of Information and Communications Technology

NICTAA

National ICT Alliance of Afghanistan

NICTCA

National ICT Council of Afghanistan

NiDA

National ITC Development Authority

NIE

National innovation ecosystem

NII

National Information Infrastructure

NIN

National Identity Number

NIOS

National Institute of Open Schooling

NIPO

National Intellectual Property Office

NIR

Network Information Resources

NIS

National Innovation Summit

NISC

National Information Security Center

NISER

National ICT Security and Emergency Response Centre

NISPAA

National ISP Association of Afghanistan

NITA

National Information Technology Agenda

NITC

National Information Technology Council

NITP

National Information Technology Park

NISTPASS

National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategy Studies

NIXI

National Internet Exchange of India

NLP

Natural Language Processing

NMRIA

National Mapping and Resource Information Authority

NPTA

National Post and Telecom Authority

NPTEL

National Project on Technology Enhanced Learning

NREN

National Research and Education Network

NSA

Non-State Actors

NSB

National Statistical Bureau

NSCB

National Statistical Coordination Board

NSO

National Statistics Office

NSTDA

National Science and Technology Development Agency

NSW

National Single Window

NT

Nepal Telecom

NTA

Nepal Telecom Authority

NTC

National Telecommunications Commission

NTT

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone

NTU

Nanyang Technological University

NUM

National University of Mongolia

NUOL

National University of Laos

NUS

National University of Singapore

NZ

New Zealand

NZD

New Zealand dollar

O&O

Outsourcing and Offshoring

OAK

Open Access to Knowledge

OCEI

Open Content in Education Initiative

OCR

Optical Character Recognition

ODA

Official Development Assistance

ODF

Open Document Format

ODL

Open and distance learning

ODLAA

Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia

OECD

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

OFDMA

Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex Access

OFLC

Office of Film and Literature Classification

OIC

Organisation of the Islamic Conference

OLE-Nepal

Open Learning Exchange-Nepal

OLPC

One Laptop per Child

OpenCARE

Open exchange for Collaborative Activities in Response to Emergency

OPGW

Optical Power Ground Wire

OS

Operating system

OSCC

Open Source Competency Center

OSS

Open Source Software

OSSF

Open Source Software Foundry

OTBIP

Open Technology Business Incubation Program

OUHK

Open University of Hong Kong

P&G

Procter & Gamble

PIII

Pentium 3

P2P

Peer-to-Peer

PAC

Public Access Centre

PACCS

Pakistan Automated Commercial Community System

PaCCS

Pakistan Customs Computerized System

PACINET

Annual Technical Conference, and Annual General Meeting of PICISOC

PacNOG

Pacific Network Operators Group

PAGASA

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration

PAIM

Plan of Action on Information and Media

PAN

Pan Asia Networking

PANDI

Pengelola Nama Domain Indonesia (Indonesia Domain Name Registry)

PANdora

PAN Asia Networking Distance and Open Resource Access

PANGTEL

Papua New Guinea Authority Telecommunications

PAP

Public Access Provider

PAQTVET II

Philippine-Australia Quality Technical Vocational Education and Training Project

PASHA

Pakistan All Software Houses Association

PAT 2004

Plan of Action on Telecommunications 2004

PBO

Plan and Budget Organization

PC

Personal computer

PCASTRD

Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology R&D

PCC

Proteur-created content

PCT

Portuguese/Chinese Bi-directional Translation System

PCCW

Pacific Century Cyber Works

PDAs

Personal/Portable digital assistants

PDF

Portable Document Format

PDH

Plesiochronous Digital Hierarchy

PECC

Pacific Economic Cooperation Council

PEDC

Philippine Export Development Council

PEZA

Philippine Economic Zone Authority

PFIF

People Finder Interchange Format

PhilNITS

Philippine National Information Technology Standards

PHP

Philippine peso

PHS

Personal Handy-phone System

PIC

Pacific Island countries

PICISOC

Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society

PICWIN

PAGASA Interactive Climate and Weather Information Network

PIFS

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

PiL

Partners-in-Learning Initiative

Piltel

Pilipino Telephone Corporation

PISA

Programme for International Student Assessment

PITA

Pacific Islands Telecommunication Association

PKI

Public key infrastructure

PLDT

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company

PLUG

Philippine Linux Users Group

PMIS

Personnel Management Information System

PMO

Prime Minister’s Office

PMS

Presidential Management Staff

PMTDP

Philippine Medium-Term Development Plan

PNG

Papua New Guinea

POS

Point of sale

POSS

Philippine Open Source Summit

POSX

Pampanga Open Source eXchange

PPP

Public-private partnerships PRs Permanent Representatives

PSA

Panos South Asia

PSEB

Pakistan Software Export Board

PSTN

Public Switched Telephone Network

PTA

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority

PTCL

Pakistan Telecommunications Company Ltd

PTI

Portuguese Telecom International

PTTC

Provincial Teacher Training College

PUST

Pyongyang University of Science and Technology

QGIS

Quantum Geographic Information System

QUEST

Quality Education and Skills Training Alliance

R&D

Research and development

RA

Registration Authority

RAB

Rapid Action Battalion

RAM

Random Access Memory

RDTL

República Democrâtica de Timor-Leste, the official name of Timor-Leste

READ

Rural Education and Development

RFID

Radio-frequency identification

RFP

Request for Proposal

RGoB

Royal Government of Bhutan

RIC

Rural Internet Centre

RICE

Regional IT Centers of Excellence

RICS

Pacific Islands Rural Internet Connectivity System

RIS

Regional Innovation Systems

RISC

Reduced Instruction Set Computer

Ristek

Riset dan Teknologi (Research and Technology)

RLIC

Regional Learning and Innovation Culture

RMC

SPC Regional Media Centre, Fiji

RMI

Republic of the Marshall Islands

R-NGN

Rural NGN

ROI

Return on investment

RPC

Revised Penal Code

RSS

Really Simple Syndication

RTCs

Rural Telecentres

RTGS

Real-time interbank gross settlement system

RTI

Right to Information

RTM

Department of Broadcasting (Malaysia)

RTOB

Real Time Online Branches

RTTC

Regional Teacher Training Centre

SAARC

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation

SaaS

Software as a Service

SAFMA

South Asia Free Media Association

SAFP

Direcção dos Serviços de Administração e Função Pública (Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau)

SAIC

SAARC Agricultural Information Centre

SAP

Satellite Service Provider (Satellite Access Provider in Persian)

SARS

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

SASEC

South Asian Subregional Economic Cooperation

SAVE

SAARC Audio-Visual Exchange

SBS

Special Broadcasting Services

SCA

Spam Control Act

SCCP

Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures

SCIT

Supreme Council of IT

SCORE

Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy

SCORM

Shareable, Content Object Reference Model

SCPC

Single Channel Per Carrier

SCZMC

SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre

SDC

SAARC Documentation Centre

SDH

Synchronous Data Hierarchy

SDMC

SAARC Disaster Management Centre

SDSL

Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line

SEA

Software Exporters Association

SEAMEO

Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization

SEA–ME–WE

South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe Cable System

SEAMOLEC

Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Open Learning Centre

SEC

SAARC Energy Centre

SEI

Software Engineering Institute

SEMP

Secondary Education Modernization Project

SEWA

Self-employed Women’s Association

SG

Secretary-General

SGD

Singapore dollar

SGI

Sentral Gerbang Internasional (International Central Gate)

SGNIC

Singapore Network Information Centre

SHCI

Secretariat of HCI

SHRDC

SAARC Human Resource Development Centre

SIC

SAARC Information Centre

SIDA

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency

SIGS

Security in the Government Sector

SIJs

Silver Infocomm Junctions

SIM

Subscriber Identity Module

SIN

Single Identity Number

SINGAP-TL

Sistema Integrado para a Nova Gestão da Administração Pública de Timor-Leste or Integrated System for a New Management of East Timor’s Public Administration

SingPass

Singapore Personal Access

SingStat

Statistics Singapore

SingTel

Singapore Telecommunications Limited

SIPA

Software Industry Promotion Agency

SIT

School of Information Technology

SiTF

Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation

SIRC

SMIE Infocomm Resource Centre

SJI

Silver Infocomm Junction

SKS

Sustainable Knowledge Systems

SLASI

Sri Lanka Association for the Software Industry

SLCERT

Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Response Team

SLCVA

Sri Lanka Computer Vendors Association

SLI

Sambungan Langsung Internasional (International Direct-Calls)

SLICTA

Sri Lanka ICT Association

SLT

Sri Lanka Telecom

SMCS

School of Mathematics and Computer Science

SME

Small and medium/medium-sized enterprises

SMEDA

Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority

SMP

Significant Market Power

SMRC

SAARC Meterological Research Centre

SMS

Short Message Service

SNPL

Spice Nepal

SNS

Social Networking Service

SoC

System on Chip

SOE

Standard ICT Operating Environment

SOM

Senior Officials’ Meeting

SONA

State of the Nation Address

SOPAC

Secretariat of the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission

SOSA

Singapore Open Source Alliance

SOX

Sarbanes-Oxley

SPC

Secretariat of the Pacific Community

SPIDER

Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions

SPIN

South Pacific Islands Network

SPNL

Spice Nepal Private Limited

SPREP

Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme

SPT

Saigon Postel Telecommunication Company, Vietnam

SQL

Structured Query Language

SSME

Service Science, Management, and Engineering

SSO

Shared Services and Outsourcing

STAG

Science and Technology Advisory Group

STC

SAARC Tuberculosis Centre

STI

Skill, Technology and Innovation

STL

Suara Timor Lorosae or the Voice of Timor-Leste

STM

synchronous transport module

S/W

Software

SWCS

Software Design and Development Certification Standards

TAE

Trans Asia Europe

TAFE

Technical and Further Education

TAKFA

Development of Information Technology Applications

TAM

Telecommunications Authority of Maldives

TASMA

Production and Management of Electronic Content

TAVANIR

Iran Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Company

TCF

Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum

TCI

Telecommunications Company of Iran

TCO

Total Cost of Ownership

TCPI

Telecommunications Consumer Protection Institute

TDCA

Telecom Development Company of Afghanistan

TDF

Telecom Development Fund

TDM

Teledifusão de Macau S.A. (Macao TV Broadcasting Co.)

TDSCDMA

Time Division-synchronous Code Division Multiple Access

TELMIN

Telecommunications and IT Ministers Meeting

TELSOM

Telecommunications and IT Senior Officials Meeting

TESDA

Technical Education and Skills Development Authority

TFMEC

Task Force on the Measurement of Electronic Commerce

ThaiCERT

Thai Computer Emergency Response Team

THDL

Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library

TIAC

Technology and Industry Advisory Council

TIFA

Trade and Investment Framework Agreement

TIG

Trade Information Gateway

TIGO

The Lao Millicom Company

TIP

Technology Innovation Programme

TITS

Telecommunication and Information Technology School

TOT

Telephone Organization of Thailand, now incorporated as TOT Corporation Limited

TPD

Teacher professional development

TPK

Te Puni Kokiri (Ministry of Maori Development)

Trade SWAp

Cambodia’s Trade Sector Wide Approach Policy

TRC

Telecom Regulatory Commission

TRCL

Telemedicine Reference Centre Limited

TRIDI

Telecommunications Research and Industrial Development Institute

TSTIP

Tehran Software and IT Park

TTP

Technology Transfer Program

TUANZ

Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand

TV

Television

TVRO

Television Receive Only

TVTL

Televizaun de Timor-Leste or Television of Timor-Leste

TWB

Transactional Web Presence

TWEA

Trading with the Enemy Act

TWWW

Te Waka Wahine Wa-Hangarau — Society for Professional Maori Women in Information Technology

UBD

Universiti Brunei Darussalam

UCC

User-created content

UCSC

University of Colombo School of Computing

UGC

University Grants Commission

UK

United Kingdom

UMAC

University of Macau

UN

United Nations

UN-ASPA

United Nations-American Society for Public Administration

UNATIL

Universidade Nacional de Timor-Leste or Timor-Leste National University

UNCITRAL

United Nations Commission on International Trade Law

UNCTAD

United Nations Conference on Trade, and Development

UNDP

United Nations Development Programme

UN ESCAP

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia and the Pacific

UNESCO

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

UNFPA

United Nations Population Fund

UNICEF

United Nations Children’s Fund

UNIDO

United Nations Industrial Development Organization

UNMIT

United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste

UnPLUG

University of the Philippines Linux Users’ Group

UNSW@ADFA

University of New South Wales Australian Defense Force Academy

UNTAC

United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia

UNTAET

United Nations Transitional Administration

UNU-IIST

United Nations University — International Institute for Software Development

UoM

University of Moratuwa

UoP

University of Peradeniya

UPITTC

University of the Philippines Information Technology Training Center

UPOU

University of the Philippines Open University

URL

Uniform Resource Locator

US

United Sates

USAID

United States Agency for International Development

USB

Universal Serial Bus

USD

United States dollar

USF

Universal Service Fund Guarantee Ltd

USN

Ubiquitous sensor network

USO

universal service obligation

USOF

Universal Service Obligation Fund

USP

University of the South Pacific

USPNet

USP Wide Area Network

UT

Universitas Terbuka (Indonesia Open University)

UTL

United Telecom Limited

VAIP

Vietnam Association of Information Processing

VAS

Value added services

VAT

Value added tax

VCCI

Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry

VCD

Video compact disc

VCN

Village Communication Network

VDC

Village Development Committee

VECOM

Vietnam e-Commerce Association

VHF

Very high frequency

VHS

Video Home System

VINASA

Vietnam Software Association

VNNIC

Vietnam Internet Network Information Center

VNPT

Vietnam Post and Telematics

VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol

VPN

Virtual Private Network

VSAT

Very small aperture terminal

VSNL

Varat Sanchar Nigam Limited

VU

Virtual University of Pakistan

W3C (W3)

World Wide Web Consortium

WA

Western Australia

WAB

Wireless Broadband Access

WAN

Wide Area Network

WAP

Wireless Application Protocol

WAS

Web Archive Singapore

WASN

Wireless ad hoc Sensor Network Lab

WB

World Bank

W-CDMA

Wideband Code Division Multiple Access

WCPFC

Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission

WDM

Wave Division Multiplexing

WEF

World Economic Forum

WFB

World Fact Book (a CIA publication)

WGIG

Working Group on Internet Governance

WHO

World Health Organization

WiBro

Wireless Broadband

WiFi

Wireless Fidelity

WiMAX

Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access

WIPO

World Intellectual Property Organization

WISEPORT

Wireless-broadband-access for SEaPORT

WITSA

World Information Technology and Services Alliance

WLAN

Wireless Local Area Network

WLL

Wireless Local Loop

WMP

Workforce Mobilization Program

WSIS

World Summit on the Information Society

WTO

World Trade Organization

WWF

World Wildlife Fund

XMG

eXtensible MetaGrammar

XML

Extensive Markup Language

YD07

YouDecide2007.org

YUST

Yanbian University of Science and Technology

This page intentionally left blank

Part A Regional overviews

ICT for development in Asia Pacific: Emerging themes in a diverse region

An overview of regulatory approaches to ICTs in Asia and thoughts on best practices for the future

Managing innovation in the network economy: Lessons for countries in the Asia Pacific region

This page intentionally left blank

ICT for development in Asia Pacific: Emerging themes in a diverse region

Danny Butt and Partha Pratim Sarker

In late 2008, a series of financial shocks highlighted the risks emerging from a highly networked, information economy. Governments were forced to respond quickly as movements in one financial market overnight had unpredictable effects on investor confidence in the other side of the world the next day. While investment banks collapsed or were bailed out, governments were forced to underwrite individual deposits, and reluctantly admitted that there was little that could be done to decisively reverse their nation’s market fortunes or insulate them from the radical volatility of advanced economies. When advanced economies such as the United Kingdom have over 60 percent of their wealth in real estate (Hopkins 2008), sudden write-downs in value can occur as property markets fall.

It was a reminder, perhaps, that the question of development in the networked economy is far from straightforward, and the issue of wealth acquisition requires developing economies to ask: what kind of wealth? Many commentators assume that because information and communication technologies (ICTs) are equated with higher overall standards of living, then the deployment of these technologies and associated infrastructure will automatically result in higher levels of development. However, a historical view suggests that when disruptive technologies such as the Internet emerge, it is those with substantial capital who are best placed to reap the dividends (Noe and Parker 2005), and in a networked economy, this usually means those in advanced economies.

A focus on human rather than purely technological development is becoming evident from governments in the Asia Pacific region, with the aim of making the labour force globally competitive in the ICT and related industries. Localization is a key strategy in ensuring that productive workforces are retained and developed, as this workforce becomes the most strategic asset in responding to a rapidly shifting information economy.

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY ICTD?

The field of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICTD) now includes a vast variety of projects with many different aims and objectives. When we look at the path traveled by the term ‘ICT’ in recent years, its expanded coverage should come as no surprise. ‘Information’ — or structured data — is now widely recognized as central to economic production. Even traditional business sectors such as agriculture are increasingly reliant on human information interventions such as the genetic modification of crops or classification systems for produce. Communication technologies are a key factor in these developments as they are the means by which information is stored and circulated. ICTs are the transportation networks of the information economy, and their exponential growth and diversification are well documented in recent reports (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia 2005).

‘Development’ itself is a term with many competing definitions. Most policymakers focus on macroeconomic growth as a key indicator of development; social entrepreneurs like Muhummad Yunus of the Grameen Bank emphasize access to credit and business development; and economists such as Amartya Sen (1999, p. 10) describe development in the holistic terms of personal freedom, noting that economic gains are not the only measure of effective development and that we must also examine the state’s role in helping to provide: ‘(1) political freedoms, (2) economic facilities, (3) social opportunities, (4) transparency guarantees and (5) protective security’. Recently, trends toward measuring and valuing development include a collective dimension outside the nation-state and the individual citizen, encompassing collective cultural development of indigenous groups (Coombe 2003) and the natural environments that support people’s lives. These various aspects of development are sometimes in conflict with each other, making the terrain of development, and ICTD, a complex political field.

Increasingly, development is linked to sustainability, as economic development has often involved the use of finite natural resources and short-term economic growth may result in fewer opportunities for development in the future. Elina Zicmane (2004, pp. 8–10) notes that the European Commission defines sustainable development as ‘development in which present generations find ways to satisfy their needs without compromising the chances of future generations to satisfy their needs’. She notes that a common analytical framework is the ‘4D’ interpretation, which looks at four dimensions of sustainable development: ecological, economic, social, and cultural. ‘Regardless of a separate definition of each dimension,’ she says, ‘all four of them are strongly linked and require a cross-cutting approach.’ (‘Sustainability’ is discussed further later in this chapter.)

So it would be a brave person who would propose a succinct overall definition of development. However, development aspirations become clearer when we move toward the actual impact of development activities on the ground: human development. The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) give development this pragmatic lens, emphasizing the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger; universal primary education; gender equality; the reduction of child mortality; maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; environmental sustainability; and a global partnership for development.

The role of ICTs in addressing the most pressing concerns of the least developed territories is far from clear. However, we believe that in looking closely at how various technological initiatives are taking shape on the ground, we can gain a better understanding of the opportunities and risks of ICTD activities. In this respect, the Asia Pacific region provides a rich testing ground with both important success stories and instructive failures.

In this overview chapter, we outline some key concepts that are useful for considering contemporary ICTD initiatives in the region, to assist the reader in analyzing and evaluating the other chapters in this edition of the Digital Review of Asia Pacific. We also discuss initiatives and themes gathered from the Digital Review authors’ meeting in Singapore in March 2008 where 50 experts from the region shared their views. Greater detail on policy initiatives can be found in the overview chapter on ICT regulatory approaches and detail on specific initiatives will be found in the chapters on individual economies.

ICTD: THE STATE OF THE ART

An important part of the Digital Review of Asia Pacific is to develop more specific and nuanced scenarios of ICTD. Therefore, we must critically address the expectations of ICTD. By ‘critically’ we do not mean ‘negatively’, but simply in a manner that questions assumptions that are not matched to lived experiences on the ground. In particular, as Richard Heeks (2007, p. 1) notes, ‘Very little work to date has drawn from the D of ICT4D — linking concepts in development studies to this research domain.’ Our aim here is to avoid the technocratic or economistic approaches often associated with ICTD discourse from an informatics background, and to keep the people-centred view of development at the centre of our analysis.

Anita Gurumurthy and Parminder Jeet Singh (2006, p. 18) trace the idea of ICTD back to the Digital Opportunities Initiative (DOI) report authored by the US-based consulting firm Accenture, the US-based non-profit Markle Foundation, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2001. This report ‘developed some key concepts of what came to be known as ICT4D, and… form(s) the basic framework of ICT4D thinking even today’. The view of development that the DOI report projected was market-oriented and saw development mostly in terms of dominant economic growth paradigms that have come from the developed world.1 However, the concept of ICTD probably emerges most clearly from the first Global Knowledge conference held in Toronto in 1997 by the World Bank and the Canadian government. While international agencies such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have been acting in this field since the ‘MacBride Report’ of 1980, ICTD galvanizes a new understanding about the links between communication and economic development that departs from a ‘cultural’ model.

As ICTD matures as a field, a number of reviews of ICTD literature that question some assumptions and embedded world-views are beginning to appear (see, for example, Ekdahl and Trojer 2002; Wilson 2002). A key issue is that the way that ICTs are conceived has a big impact on the efficiency of development projects, and the views of ICTs of policymakers and practitioners on the ground are often different.

In particular, three ‘articles of faith’ identified in ICTD must be questioned if we are to learn from the work of others and not simply promote what ethnographer Eric Michaels (1990, p. 20) described as ineffective but well-meaning advancement projects, ‘the discarded skeletons of which litter the countryside’. First, metaphors of catch-up, progress, and leapfrogging in the ICTD literature present development as a linear pathway. ICT is seen as a positive, or at least neutral, influence on progression along this pathway. Second, there are common demands for urgency and the need to act quickly on ICTD in order not to be excluded from fast-paced developments. This advocacy of urgency persists even though the ranking of national human development indicators listed in the UN Human Development Reports remain remarkably stable over time. Third, assumptions are made about what kinds of information are valuable for development through the creation of the category of ‘information-poor’ peoples who are compared to the knowledge-holders of the developed world rather than viewed in terms drawn from their own experience.

Taking a human development and human rights perspective, we counter that no nation is inherently underdeveloped socially, culturally, and environmentally. While ICTs often drive standardization and interoperability, we cannot assume that, for example, the speakers of over 800 languages spoken in Papua New Guinea ‘lack information’ when their languages are not represented online (Gordon 2005). They would not necessarily benefit from a single language. It makes more sense to say that text-oriented ICTs such as the Internet are currently incompatible with many large bodies of information, particularly those held in non-dominant language groups. Rather than the deficit model common in the modernization development discourse, a more responsive approach in ICTD will mean that the socio-cultural development of peoples in their cultural environment will be given serious consideration as an opportunity for thinking about the future possibilities of ICTs.

Sein and Harindranath (2004) note that many donors and project sponsors see ICT as purely a tool for technical use, but more sophisticated projects attend to what ICTs represent or mean for users and the way this fits into the larger context of their aspirations. They see a number of different use strategies for ICTs — as a commodity, as a support for development activities, or as a driver of economic transformation — that need to be evaluated differently (Sein and Harindranath 2004, p. 20). They note that the impact can range from simple substitution of one practice for an (hopefully more efficient) ICT-enabled one, to a growth in desirable phenomena occurring because of ICTs, through to the emergence of new structures due to ICTs. These are different orders of impact, and the risk and consequences grow as higher-order change is attempted. It goes without saying that wholesale economic transformation is unlikely to occur due to a single ICTD project. ICTs are not a single neutral technology, but a complex field of activity encompassing many different technologies and various types of information that existed prior to these technologies coming into being. As Gunnar Swanson (1994) suggests about design, ICTs are ‘syncretic and integrative’ — they combine existing information in ways that are new, yet also reflect prior modes of economic and social life. ICTs are not in a place that people move to from their pre-ICT world, but are a complex set of systems and protocols that link people together. ICTs are fundamentally relational.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1987), discussing ICT-enabled markets as presented in the US media, made this case very plainly more than two decades ago. She noted that while capital investors such as the Lehman Brothers are described as being able to, thanks to computers, earn ‘about USD 2 million for … 15 minutes of work’, this economic story writes itself upon another where ‘a woman in Sri Lanka has to work 2,287 minutes to buy a T-shirt’. For Spivak, the developed economy is not a more advanced version of an underdeveloped one: they are linked through the technologically-assisted movement of people, labour, and finance capital, and the respective interests of these economies may not only be different but sometimes antagonistic. One aim of this chapter is to make clearer the differential impacts of ICTs for economically developing communities.

Globalization and Migration

It is well known that ICTs not only increase the flow of materials, products, and information through communications networks, but also facilitate greater human mobility. This human movement creates challenges for regional economic development, as it is not always clear how the benefits of ICT will remain in a local area or even a nation when they enhance the flow of talented humans away from communities. In some ways, our conception of ICTD is bound in this tension around a future that is ‘global’, enticing people to become more mobile, and at the same time attempting to be an impetus for benefits in local communities. This tension leads to confused planning about the actual results of ICTD initiatives.

Jeb Brugmann (2002) notes that most cities remain victims to four ‘strategic flaws’ that reduce the capability for sustainable development and these are particularly noticeable when looking at ICTD compared to other development initiatives. First, we tend to focus on the future rather than on strengthening existing capability.

Second, we usually attempt to avoid, rather than to address, our conspicuous institutional and political issues. Third, we tend to forget that our strategic position is also a product of routine practices and incremental decisions rather than somewhere we ‘choose’ to be. And fourth, as a combination of the other three, we tend to treat the market as a measure of development rather than as a tool to enhance well-being.

These suggestions encourage us to look closer at the context of development, particularly in underdeveloped regions, and to unlock the potential for sustainable development in less revolutionary but more effective measures based on existing capacity and capability. In most regions, the rural poor are the most targeted in development programs, and addressing the social and economic issues they face will require interventions in the agricultural economy. The potential for ICT interventions is not so much to allow entry into a new economy, but to enable families to have access to health information and capital and to take better advantage of remittance economies (Richardson 2006, p. 8). As Richardson notes, the end goal of these ICT interventions is not improved agricultural production, but ‘poverty reduction in the context of improved livelihoods, recognising the clear importance of the rural family as the hub of agricultural production in areas of poverty, and within national economies’ (Richardson 2006, p. 9).

Ironically, by focusing on the rural family in underdeveloped areas, the degree to which local development involves global issues becomes clear. For example, remittance economies are crucial throughout the Asia Pacific region, and are radically underestimated by analyses that account only for official channels of economic trade. As Seddon et al. (2002) note, the majority of remittances are ‘informal or illegal’ and between 13 and 25 percent of Nepal’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is attributable to remittances from abroad. As the bulk of the work undertaken by families abroad is service work, the remittance economy relies to a large extent on ICT skills, whether such skills are used directly in employment or as a means of connecting to a wider economic infrastructure in a host community where a migrant worker will travel.

Remittances are a very specific way in which underdeveloped communities make use of global networks, and their often informal nature should not prevent ICTD initiatives from supporting these inward flows of resources. However, supporting such family-led redistribution of resources involves less work on high-level global economy issues such as free-trade agreements that support capital mobility, and more attention to difficult political questions such as labour force mobility within and between countries.

Evaluating Gender in ICTD

Gender constitutes an increasingly important dimension of evaluation in ICTD projects. Rural economic development relies on women, who make up two-thirds of the economic activity in agricultural areas. For this reason, an understanding of gender issues is essential for effective implementation of ICTD projects. The gap between the leadership role of women in rural areas and the gender gap in ICT leadership where women lag behind creates negative impacts within the communities that ICTD seeks to assist. The bias of ICTD toward technological, global discourse means that issues relating to families and their holistic development are sidelined, even though ICTs are often central to family life and readily used by women. This is an important opportunity for the ICTD community to address.

Initiatives such as the Association for Progressive Communication’s Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) highlight the importance of women’s experience as an analytic tool. They also identify strategies for intervention at the policy and project evaluation level. There are three questions the tool asks as a starting point for analyzing gender components (Ramilo and Cinco 2005, p. 82):

• Was there a discussion of gender issues in the project planning phase?

• What assumptions were made or research done on how ICTs can facilitate change for women and men?

• How were women or groups of women identified in the project?

These questions help clarify that gender cannot be an add-on for ICTD or relevant only to projects for women, but are central to achieving meaningful development outcomes. Indeed, it is sometimes in projects that say the least about women in particular where the questions can be most useful.

ICTD and Environmental Sustainability

It has already been noted that the issue of sustainability is being given increasing importance in ICTD. This is driven by an increasing awareness that the pace of change suggested by ICT innovation has not necessarily led to rapid improvements in the relative positions of rich and poor peoples with respect to equity and life experience (McNamara 2003). When ICTs revolutionize non-digital practices, how can we ensure that those benefits are maximized not just in the immediate present, but for generations to come? This perspective prompts us to consider the physical environments where people live and work in the information economy. These concerns become particularly pressing in an era of global warming, an unintended consequence of previous technological innovations that have been central to economic development (The Presidents of National Science Academies 2005). The potential of ICTs to reduce resource consumption — through the reduction of paper use and travel expenses and through efficiency gains — is well-known. However, the negative environmental effects do seem to be distributed to less developed countries where appropriate regulatory controls are not always in place to govern the disposal of obsolete computer products.

Grossman (2006) notes that the world generates somewhere between 20 and 50 million metric tons of ‘e-waste’ every year, and that the elements that illuminate liquid crystal display (LCD) screens in portable technologies can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs. These issues are not necessarily present when we are considering the ICTD potential of mobile phones for example. But when we note that over one billion phones are expected to be sold in 2009, and that only 5 percent of them are ever recycled, the scale of the issue becomes clear (Huang and Truong 2008).

These waste products enter other parts of the human ecosystem in ways we do not expect. For example, Weidenhamer and Clement (2007) found that some jewellery manufactured in China was highly leaded (ranging from 0.07 percent to 99.1 percent lead content), consistent with the use of recycled solder from electronics production. Such jewellery has already caused consumer deaths and, undoubtedly, there are negative effects on those working in the manufacture of these items. It should be noted that China is unique only in the scale of its manufacturing, and it has taken many legislative steps to ensure the responsible use of e-waste (People’s Republic of China — Ministry of Information 2006). However, it is clear that with e-waste being increasingly sent to developing countries in the region for disposal, the issue will require stronger enforcement of regulations and sensitivity to the downstream effects of electronic production. Ironically, although ICTs can reduce the use of resources such as paper, the largest gains in resource savings occur in already resource-rich regions, while unsafe byproducts are much more likely to be distributed in poorer regions.

INFRASTRUCTURE

So far, we have discussed the analytic lenses that are important in ICTD. At the level of infrastructure, connectivity has continued to dominate ICT discussion in the Asia Pacific region. Between 1999 and 2006, the number of Internet users in Asia and the Pacific increased five-fold, from two to 12 per 100 inhabitants. But this is still below the world average of 17 and far below the figures of 69 in North America and 43 in Europe (UN ESCAP 2007). Nevertheless, economies of scale and the increased number of Internet users pushed the demand in this sector from ‘no or limited connectivity’ to broadband and a level of ‘bandwidth redundancy’. However, in 2006, there were still only three broadband subscribers per 100 people in Asia and the Pacific, compared with 20 in North America and 16 in Europe (UN ESCAP 2007).

It is not only the throughput (usually measured in bits per second) of the Internet connection that is important. The latency of commonly used satellite-based bandwidth makes it unsuitable for many services such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). One solution for these countries has been to join consortia to install and use under-the-sea fibre optic cables. The first South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe cable system (known as SEA–ME–WE) was introduced in 1985. Fibre optic cable was laid to establish SEA–ME–WE 2 connecting the three zones in 1994. SEA–ME–WE 3 introduced ‘Wave Division Multiplexing’ (WDM) technology in 1999, connecting 39 landing points in 33 countries from Germany to Australia. In November 2005, SEA–ME–WE 4 would carry 1.2 terabytes per second (Tbps) of bandwidth. This cable system has connected 16 landing points in 14 countries in the three continents (Undersea Cable 2006).2 Most of the companies that formed this consortium are government- or state-owned enterprises.

However, the submarine cable system does not seem to be adequate for the demand and it is susceptible to disruption of services. Thus, governments have been looking to the private sector to develop alternative or additional submarine cable systems. For example, Bharti Airtel, a private company in India, is joining five other companies in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and the US to build a high-bandwidth, undersea fibre optic cable linking Asia and the US, to go live in 2010. The Bangladesh government has also decided to allow a second submarine cable financed by the private sector to maintain uninterrupted overseas voice and data communications and to back up its existing undersea cable.

Google is involved as a service provider and non-telecom investor in all three additional under-the-sea fibre optic networks that connect the US with the Asia Pacific region, marking a significant shift in funding models for data. The Trans-Pacific Express Cable System is going to connect the US with China, the Republic of Korea, and Taiwan. The Asia–America Gateway Cable System, which is being planned to come on service in the first quarter of 2009, will connect the US and several South Asian countries. The third cable is being planned by Reliance FLAG with a speed of 2 × 1.28 Tbps. When operational, these three cables will change not only the present landscape of bandwidth capacity, but also the price regime of connectivity in the Asia Pacific region, leading to further multimedia- and connectivity-based services in the region. The unknown economic question is whether the region is a net consumer or producer of such services.

In parallel to these external connectivity opportunities, there is a push by national governments to add capacity, and share or build up backbone infrastructure. In some landlocked countries such as Nepal and Cambodia, government-owned telecom entities are laying out fibre optic backbone connecting to the nearest country that has access to under-the-sea cable. Afghanistan is building its national fibre optic backbone following the national ring-road infrastructure and is planning to connect this with under-the-sea cable through Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan.

Some governments are making it a licencing obligation for service providers to rollout to rural areas. For example, in Pakistan, the private sector has led the expansion of three new nationwide optical fibre systems. One private telecom entity in Sri Lanka already owns a nationwide fibre network that is supplemented by Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) technology for broadband to the door. The Indian government has directed the private incumbents to extend the network to rural areas (Samarajiva and Zainudeen 2008).

As the chapters on individual economies in this volume show, investment vehicles are being developed so that costs can be shared by various entities using the infrastructure. Australia has developed a hybrid plan where private companies would provide the infrastructure to the populous areas and government funding would make feasible the rollout of services to most regional, remote, and rural communities. The Bangladesh government has recently signed a deal with the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh Limited to provide backup fibre optic network to the existing one.

Different governments in the region are also making substantial political commitments to broadband expansion, which is making investment in backbone infrastructure more viable in areas that were not commercially viable earlier (Samarajiva and Zainudeen 2008). For example, the Indian government is expecting 20 million broadband connections by 2010 and plans to ensure broadband connectivity in every school, health centre, and Gram Panchayat (local government units). Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) users in Pakistan now number 100,000, and the target is to reach 1.6 million in 2009. The National Telecommunications Commission of Thailand has already granted 12 licences for operators to conduct commercial trials of broadband wireless access and allocated frequency for this. The Malaysian government’s Information, Communication, and Multimedia Services 886 Strategy (MyICMS 886) talks about eight new services to build up eight essential infrastructures that includes high-speed broadband. In the Republic of Korea, the IT839 strategy consists of the introduction of eight new services that it is hoped will prompt investment in the building of three essential networks. The synergies here are aimed at stimulating nine new sectors, including intelligent services and home networks. Notable is the link between enabling infrastructure and technology and the clear identification of the economic sectors to be stimulated, even if such outcomes are not always determined in advance (Shin 2007). Some of the roles governments can take in stimulating infrastructure are taken up further in the overview chapter on ICT policy.

At the logical layer of Internet infrastructure — between the hardware and end-user applications — changes are also occurring as many Asian countries are introducing next generation Internet protocol, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), which allows greater flexibility in assigning addresses. IPv6 can support a bigger set of 3.4 × 1038 (340 undecillion) unique addresses while Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), which is still widely used, was designed to provide about four billion unique Internet Protocol (IP) addresses only. China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Taiwan have been at the forefront of the first wave of IPv6 deployment, while the second wave has been led by Australia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and others. One of the motivations for Asian countries to move to IPv6 was that Asian countries control only 9 percent of the allocated IPv4 addresses while they have half of the world’s population. However, even though the protocol has been ratified for some time, IPv4 remains widely used and the challenges in stimulating widespread uptake point to the unusual governance questions that arise in an Internet environment with decentralized authority, as there are no incentives for managers of core infrastructure to deploy the new protocol.

Mobile and Wireless

While fibre optic cable is still the dominant technology for back-haul within and between countries, the ‘last mile’ of connectivity is increasingly wireless. The Republic of Korea launched the world’s first Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) 2000 1x3G network in October 2000 and Japan launched the world’s first Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (W-CDMA) 3G (2 Mbps) network in October 2001. It is important to note that CDMA2000 and W-CDMA are types of third generation (3G) cellular network that refer to mobile communications with roaming capability, broad bandwidth, or high-speed communication (upwards of 2 mbps) and represent a shift from voice-centric services to multimedia-centric ones. China, on the other hand, has developed its own 3G technology standard — Time Division-synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (TDSCDMA) — to reduce its dependency on western standards.

Although W-CDMA is the fastest growing technology in the richer economies of the Asia Pacific region (e.g. Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea), in other parts of Asia, such as in South Asia, CDMA2000 is experiencing substantial growth. India made an interesting example by not grouping 3G services with the older second-generation (2G) services and by offering its available radio frequencies not only for 3G services, but also for WiMAX services. A typical 3G or WiMAX mobile network can deliver very high-speed connectivity that can enable the network to run a variety of applications such as video telephony, video conferencing, mobile TV, interactive gaming, streaming video, music downloads, and mobile TV on a hand-held device.

In some other countries, like Indonesia, the government has taken the initiative to introduce local WiMAX service after the 3G service is rolled out by private operators. The government there is introducing 2.3 GHz local WiMAX using the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication network. But for many other countries, this WiMAX deployment is much more private sector-led. Taiwan, for example, has already issued licences to six operators to deploy WiMAX throughout the country by 2008. Global network performers such as Nortel and Intel have been deploying WiMAX service in South-East Asian countries. It is expected that by the end of 2009, Asia Pacific WiMAX subscribers will account for 45 percent of the total subscribers in the world. WiMAX services are rolling out very quickly in countries where 3G services are not yet available. For example, Tata has rolled out one of the largest WiMAX networks in the world at 3.3 MHz in 10 Indian cities, including Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.

The 2007 UN ESCAP report suggests that at least three economies in the region (Macau SAR, Hong Kong SAR, and Singapore) have more than one mobile cellular telephone per person. The Maldives, along with China, India, and Macau SAR, registered the most notable increases in the absolute number of mobile phone subscribers in the last few years (see the relevant chapters in this volume).

Technological Developments (Including Convergence)

The development of bandwidth infrastructure described earlier enables new forms of connectivity and also responds to demand coming from new applications (particularly audio-visual content delivery). Technological convergence continues as device manufacturers, software suppliers, traditional telecommunications companies, mobile operators, content companies, social networking companies, and providers of new wireless infrastructure jostle for position in determining the content and services that are delivered through ICTs. This leaves ICTD practitioners in a difficult position as ICTs are reliant on standards and multinational companies attempt to become ‘default standards’, often leaving standards bodies and governments catching up in a reactive mode.

Vickram Krishna believes that ‘the recent development and commercial launches of ultra-compact low-energy consuming network-ready devices, such as the Asus EEE PC available at stunningly lower price points than previous “advances” in computing platforms, is seminal’ (Vota 2007). The same is true for the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) XO and the Intel Classmate PC that are integrating features such as durable rugged design, flash memory (rather than hard drives), rechargeable power systems, built-in multimedia and wireless devices, and the like. These devices are competing with each other to get access to poor underserved classrooms of children, although there are substantial debates about total cost of ownership and the long-term suitability of these solutions for the least developed countries (Vota 2007). A case study in India, for example, shows that the introduction of computers in schools has resulted in the misallocation of resources and neglect of infrastructural facilities, which should be a higher priority (UNDP 2004).

At the other end of the scale, the rise of feature-rich, application-centric multimedia handsets led by Apple’s iPhone model are rapidly changing the market. While many of these features are designed for more affluent users, they have the effect of setting the agenda for convergence and establishing models for associated service delivery that drive standards development. For example, the bundling of Google’s video streaming application YouTube and mapping applications helps cement these sites as default platforms for such services. YouTube, for example, launched an Indian site with local content partners on 7 May 2008; many other territory-specific versions of the platform are being developed. As the iPhone begins an unprecedented rollout to over 46 carriers in 42 countries through 2008 (Elmer-DeWitt 2008), its importance, like that of the iPod before it, will be not only in terms of the volume of sales it makes, but also the way it shapes the market for telecommunications and integrated digital content. Asia Pacific is the world’s largest market for smart mobile devices, accounting for 46 percent of worldwide shipments of 23.2 million in the first quarter of 2007 (Burns 2007).

Overall, the convergence of audio, video, and Internet content is rapidly reshaping the media experience in the region, and Internet networks and new ICT devices are central to the new content distribution platforms. Because national governments and content owners have little control over the development of standards used in integrated devices, there will be a number of challenging issues for content regulators and traditional content business models.

EDUCATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

This edition of the Digital Review has a number of chapters on ICT for education, and here we briefly touch on some of the larger trends. Given the awareness-raising and catalytic role of access to information for development, programs to eradicate illiteracy and support non-formal education through the increased use of ICTs such as radio, television, and the Internet are important. Furthermore, the development of the ICT sector in general depends on the preparedness and capacity of the critical mass who are the users, innovators, and developers of ICT applications in specific settings. Therefore, capacity and human development through ICT education remain a key policy focus for Asia Pacific countries.

In Brunei, for example, the Ministry of Education is involved in designing different programs related to ICT training and have introduced ‘e-learning systems’ in all higher academic institutions that standardize Web technologies for creative learning environments. The Government of the Republic of Korea actually launched a separate program called the ‘IT Education and Training Plan for 10 Million People’ in 2000 where they educated 13.8 million Koreans, including many employees of different government organizations. In 2004, they launched another program, called ‘Mid- to Long-Term Plan for Reducing the Digital Divide’, where a key objective has been to develop computer literacy and capacity by offering different training programs. The Thai government has supported the availability of cheap computers (USD 230 per computer with a monitor) in the country and its introduction in different education institutes.

These examples indicate that many governments in the region are committed to the ‘development of ICT’ by providing hardware, laying out infrastructure, and offering ICT training courses. This comes from a historical understanding of ICT as an independent field. But policies are being developed that respond to ICT as an enabling platform that crosses many fields. For example, the new Australian government’s ‘education revolution’ policy not only discusses ICT capacity development in all secondary schools, but also acknowledges that ‘computer technology is no longer just a key subject to learn, it is now the key to learning in almost every subject’. The policy also aims to provide broadband or equivalent connection and one computer for each child in all secondary schools in Australia.

Almost all countries in the Asia Pacific region have advanced programs in computer education, particularly at university or higher education levels, and it is interesting to see that some countries do not necessarily have such programs at the lower levels. Take the example of the Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, and Nepal. Maldives College started to offer degree programs in Information Technology (IT) in 2005 and Villa College has been offering courses in computing and IT since 2007. In Myanmar, the University of Computer Studies in Yangon and the University of Computer Studies in Mandalay have started to offer degrees in computer science. On the other hand, countries such as India have emerged as pioneers in IT education and have been franchising their IT education businesses in different Asian countries using brand names such as Aptech and NIIT. One of India’s most renowned IT institutes, the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Bangalore, has started to make its science and engineering courses freely available on YouTube (youtube.com/nptelhrd.com) on a trial basis (Rebello 2008). The project is part of the National Project on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), a joint venture between the seven IITs and the Indian Institute of Science funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

MEDIA AND CONTENT DEVELOPMENT

User motivation to access content and services is the key to the survival of infrastructure or the adoption of a technology platform. Whereas in the past it may have been adequate to build infrastructure or promote last-mile technology solutions, policymakers increasingly recognize that issues such as software localization and production of digital content are critical to the development of sustainable demand for ICTs.

There are two prominent drivers of these processes. As more governments go online in line with their e-government policy, there is an increasing demand from the citizens to get content and related services in their local language. Users also have an increasing appetite for digital content and this has fuelled the growth of the three main online content markets: music, videos, and games.

In the 2003–2004 Digital Review of Asia Pacific, challenges in content development were identified in terms of tools, standards, human capacity, financial models, political culture, and legal frameworks. Although many of these challenges still exist, there have been many developments in the availability of some technical standards (such as Unicode) for many Asian languages and in the action plans of governments to include development or access to content as part of their policy framework. The PAN Localization Project, for example, has made considerable progress in developing the LINUX operating system in Nepali (Nepal) and in Dzongkha (Bhutan); optical character recognition and text-to-speech software in Sinhala (Sri Lanka), Bangla (Bangladesh) and Lao (Lao People’s Democratice Republic); and a wide range of supporting applications and utilities, such as lexicons and fonts, in languages such as Khmer in Cambodia, Pashto in Afghanistan, Tamil in Sri Lanka, and Urdu in Pakistan. The project is also supporting more localization standards/tools that are being developed in Mongolian (Mongolia), Tibetan (China), and Urdu (Pakistan). In many countries such as the Republic of Korea and Vietnam, the localization process is led by different private companies that enjoy support from the government. The Vietnamese language has been standardized to Unicode UTF 8 by the Vietkey Group in Vietnam. Some other native languages of Vietnam, like Thai, Cham, Jarai, Bah’nar, ÊImageê, M’nông, Sê ImageImageng, and K’hor are also in the process of Unicode standardization.

In many cases, government initiatives are important in spurring localization, particularly for minority language groups that may not yet constitute a sizeable market for ICT products. The Indian government has set up the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) that has developed a localization framework for different Web applications, desktop-based applications, localized browser solutions, and the like. The Australian government has put policy emphasis on getting some endangered indigenous languages online as part of its digital content policy. The Afghan Computer Science Association has converted Microsoft Windows XP and Office 2003 into the Pashto language. And the Cambodian National Committee for the Standardization of Khmer Script in Computers (NCSKSC) has been instrumental in sensitizing the need for localization, introducing Khmer scripts in different government offices and offering ICT training programs in the Khmer language.

In Sri Lanka, all government websites are required to be multilingual (in Sinhala, Tamil, and English) and to use Unicode fonts. The Bangladesh government is working to enact the Right to Information Act that would enable more government information to be easily available on demand. India passed a Right to Information Act in May 2005. In Pakistan, an ordinance was promulgated in June 2002 ensuring people’s access to information. All these would mean that content services from the government side would be a focal point of citizen’s demand in the coming years.

Localization is often pioneered by local volunteers and self-help groups in distributed networks, often without a formal organizational structure. The Bangladesh Open Source Network is an informal network that has not only developed a Bengali interface or version of different applications (such as Ubuntu Linux, Mozilla Firefox) in the local language, but also promoted localization through training camps in different institutions and by facilitating Bengali content development at Wikipedia. As of January 2008, Bengali Wikipedia has over 16,000 entries, one of the highest in the non-English language versions of Wikipedia. Sinhala Unicode Communities is a volunteer network in Sri Lanka that has been involved in promoting the use of Unicode in Sinhala and was supported by several freelance bloggers who organized themselves into community journalism forums to promote local content.

As the cost of access is reduced, we see an increased number of users producing and distributing content through blogs or short/multimedia message service (SMS/MMS) to connect and empower people through campaigns and action. In countries where the press enjoys little freedom, posting and reading content anonymously on the Internet have become an important source of media coverage. In Iran the number of Persian blogs run by Iranians is estimated to be around 800,000 this year, a 30 percent increase since the last year. In China, the population of bloggers is growing rapidly.

Digital content makes for a booming music, video, games, and animation industry. A recent report of In-Stat’s Consumer Media and Content Service found that by 2011 in the Asia Pacific region online music revenues will reach USD 1.4 billion, video revenues will reach USD 2.7 billion, and the game industry will exceed USD 9.5 billion (Potter 2007). The question is how much of this revenue will remain in the economies in question and how much will travel to rights-holders outside the locality of sale. The importance of viable locally-owned content markets is reflected in the increasing emphasis on the creative industries in economic development strategies.

CONCLUSION

The pace of change in ICT continues to be intimidating for those seeking to make new innovations available for all. It seems that as soon as new bandwidth becomes available, new audiovisual services, which require ever more data, become the norm. The challenges for policymakers and for development practitioners are similar: how to make sense of it all and determine the best way to prepare stakeholders to benefit from these applications? When infrastructural issues develop so quickly, it is not simply a case of rolling out 2G, 2.5G, 3G, 4G, on the pathway toward development. Instead, the decision to implement the conditions for certain technologies always has an eye to the past (embedded capability and capacity to use new technologies) and the future (ability to build on the experience with learning that will be sustainable).

The Asia Pacific region is uniquely positioned with respect to ICTD. It is home to the largest manufacturing capability for ICTs, yet it is also home to over half the 1.6 billion people in the world who live without electricity (UNDP 2007). The region includes nations such as China that are undergoing rapid economic growth, and highly developed nations whose economies are adapting rapidly to the high-technology manufacturing capabilities emerging in other areas. It also includes nations facing severe development challenges and structural poverty that will not be easily solved. The region has been in the media spotlight due to recent natural disasters, as well as the technologies that are being deployed to mitigate their effects. And the Asia Pacific region contains most of the world’s languages and a growing infrastructure for cultural exports — a fact that ought to have some relevance for the focus on cultural development and creative industries such as digital content.

While it is difficult to generalize about the position of the Asia Pacific with respect to ICTD, the chapters in this edition of the Digital Review show that the different parts of the region have much to learn from each other, even as the region as a whole must respond to critical decisions that might be made in North America or Europe regarding device standards. In the technology sector, we are used to valuing the cutting-edge and innovative. But in the realm of development the promises of ICTs must be tested against their effects on human development in our specific locations in the Asia Pacific region. As ICTs continue to change the structure of economies and the processes of globalization, governments and communities will need to respond in ways that take into account the important and complex issues that go to the very heart of development.

NOTES

1. See DOI report at www.opt-init.org/framework/pages/contents.html

2. The 16 companies that form the consortium include Algeria Telecom (AT), Bharti Tele Ventures (India), Bangladesh Telecom (BTTB), Telecom Thailand (CAT), France Telecom, MCI, Pakistan Telecom (PTCL), Singapore Telecom (SingTel), Sri Lankan Telecom (SLT), Saudi Telecom (STC), Telecom Egypt, Telecom Italia Sparkle, Telecom Malaysia, Tunisia Telecom, VSNL (India), and Etisalat (UAE).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brugmann, J. (2002). The strategic city: Sustaining local values in a global economy. In Are We on the Right Track, GVRD Conference, 17 January 2002. Burnaby, British Columbia.

Burns, S. (2007). Smartphone sales break records in Asia. ITNews. Retrieved 10 May 2008 from http://www.itnews.com.au/News/51976,smartphone-sales-break-records-in-asia.aspx

Coombe, R. (2003). Works in progress: Traditional knowledge, biological diversity and intellectual property in a neoliberal era. In R.W. Perry and B. Maurer (Eds), Globalization under construction: Governmentality, law and identity (pp. 273–314). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Dougherty, M. (2006). Exploring new modalities: Experiences with information and communications technology interventions in the Asia-Pacific region. A review and analysis of the Pan-Asia ICT R&D Grants Programme. New Delhi: UNDP-APDIP/Elsevier.

Ekdahl, P. and L. Trojer. (2002). Digital divide: Catch up for what? Gender, Technology and Development, 6(1), 20.

Elmer-DeWitt, P. (2008). iPhone rollout: 42 countries, 575 million potential customers. Retrieved 12 May 2008 from http://apple20.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2008/05/16/iphone-rollout-42-countries-575-million-potential-customers/

Gordon, R.G. Jr. (Ed.). (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (15th ed.). Houston: SIL International.

Grossman, E. (2006). High tech trash: Digital devices, hidden toxics, and human health. Washington: Island Press/Shearwater Books.

Gurumurthy, A. and P.J. Singh. (2006). Civil society and feminist engagement at WSIS: Some reflections. In A. Gurumurthy, P.J. Singh, A. Mundkur, and M. Swamy (Eds), Gender in the information society (pp. 15–26). Bangkok: UNDP-APDIP-Elsevier.

Hauxwell, J. (2007). Mobile payments — A discussion. Blogtwopointzero. Retrieved 23 November 2007 from http://blogtwopointzero.blogspot.com/2007/11/mobile-payments-discussion.html

Heeks, R. (2007). Theorizing ICT4D research. Information Technologies and International Development, 3(3), 1–4.

Hopkins, K. (2008). UK worth £7tn — but mainly in bricks and mortar. The Guardian. Retrieved 1 September 2008 from http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/oct/29/property-economy-ons-house-prices

Huang, E.M. and K.N. Truong. (2008). Sustainably ours: Situated sustainability for mobile phones. Interactions, 15(2), 16–19.

McNamara, K. (2003). Information and communication technologies, poverty and development: Learning from experience. Background Report for infoDev Annual Symposium. 9–10 December 2003. Retrieved 1 September 2008 from http://infodev.org/en/Publication.17.html

Michaels, E. (1990). A model of teleported texts (with reference to Aboriginal television). Continuum, 3(2), 8–31.

Noe, T. and G. Parker. (2005). Winner take all: Competition, strategy, and the structure of returns in the Internet economy. Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, 14(1), 141–64.

People’s Republic of China — Ministry of Information. (2006). Administration on the control of pollution caused by electronic information products order # 39. Retrieved 6 May 2008 from http://www.chinarohs.com/docs.html

Potter, E. (2007). Rapid digital content growth in Asia/Pacific. Retrieved 14 April 2008 from http://www.in-stat.com/press.asp?Sku=IN0703701ACM&ID=2165

Ramilo, C.G. and C. Cinco. (2005). Gender evaluation methodology for internet and ICTs: A learning tool for change and empowerment. Melville, South Africa: APC.

Rebello, S. (2008). Attend IIT classes on YouTube. Hindustan Times. 24 January 2008. Retrieved 12 June 2008 from http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print.aspx?Id=00d02ff7-d10d-4185-b80a-8ece2449220e

Richardson, D. (2006). ICTs — Transforming agricultural extension? Report of the 6th Consultative Expert Meeting of CTA’s Observatory on ICTs. Wageningen: ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). Retrieved 1 September 2008 from http://www.anancy.net/documents/file_en/WD8034.pdf

Samarajiva, R. and A. Zainudeen (Eds). (2008). ICT infrastructure in emerging Asia: Policy and regulatory roadblocks. New Delhi: Sage Publications/IDRC.

Schware, R. and A. Jaramillo. (1998). Technology in education: The Turkish experiment. Information Technology for Development,8 (1), 29–33.

Seddon, D., J. Adhikari, and G. Gurung. (2002). Foreign labor migration and the remittance economy of Nepal. Critical Asian Studies,34 (1), 19–40.

Sein, M.K. and G. Harindranath. (2004). Conceptualizing the ICT artifact: Toward understanding the role of ICT in national development. The Information Society,20 (1), 15–24.

Sen, A. (1999). Development as freedom. New York: Alfred Knopf.

Shin, D.H. (2007). A critique of Korean National Information Strategy: Case of national information infrastructures. Government Information Quarterly,24 (3), 624–45.

Spivak, G.C. (1987). Scattered speculations on the question of value. In In other worlds: Essays in cultural politics (pp. 154–75). New York: Routledge.

Swanson, G. (1994). Graphic design education as a liberal art: Design and knowledge in the university and the ‘real world’. Design Issues, 10(1). Available at http://www.gunnarswanson.com/old/writingPages/GDasLibArt.html

The Presidents of National Science Academies. (2005). Global response to climate change. Joint Science Academies’ statement. Retrieved 26 August 2008 from http://royalsociety.org/document.asp?id=3222

Undersea Cable. (2006). History of underseacable. Retrieved 15 April 2008 from http://www.underseacable.net/

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (2004). ICT and human development: Towards building a composite index for Asia realising the millennium. New Delhi: Elsevier.

———. (2007). Human Development Report 2007/8. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, for UNDP.

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP). (2007). Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2007. Retrieved 1 September 2008 from http://www.unescap.org/stat/data/syb2007/index.asp

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. (2005). Information Society Indicators. New York: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.

Vota, W. (2007). OLPC Nigeria’s shocking electrical power costs. Retrieved 1 September 2008 from http://www.olpcnews.com/hardware/power_supply/olpc_nigeria_electricty_cost.html

Weidenhamer, J.D. and M.L. Clement. (2007). Leaded electronic waste is a possible source material for lead-contaminated jewelry. Chemosphere, 69(7), 1111–15.

Wilson, M. (2002). Understanding the international ICT and development discourse: Assumptions and implications. The Southern African Journal of Information and Communication, 3, 1–14. Retrieved 1 September 2008 from http://www.sajic.org.za/index.php/SAJIC/issue/view/27

Zicmane, E. (2004). Impact of ICT on sustainable development [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 21 March 2008 from http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/atwork/hot_news/publications/documents/impact_ict.pdf

This page intentionally left blank

An overview of regulatory approaches to ICTs in Asia and thoughts on best practices for the future

Rajesh Sreenivasan and Abhishek Singh

INTRODUCTION

This chapter has two objectives. First, it provides an overview of the themes evident in the regulatory approaches taken toward information and communication technology (ICT) policy in various Asian jurisdictions. In doing so, the chapter draws on the chapters on individual economies published in this edition of the Digital Review of Asia Pacific. Second, it conducts an in-depth analysis of policy approaches to four areas of growing importance in the digital realm.

In the first part of the chapter, we juxtapose the regulatory approaches in developed and developing Asian jurisdictions. In the second part, we take a more in-depth look at e-government services, the role of ICT policy in improving access to education, the growth of open source software in the region, and the growth of localized and indigenous digital content and its regulation. We focus on the best practices that regulators might consider adopting in regard to these four areas that we view as pillars of ICT policy in a number of jurisdictions in Asia.

THEMES IN REGULATORY APPROACHES TO ICT IN CERTAIN ASIAN JURISDICTIONS

In this section, we briefly examine the themes in regulatory approaches to ICT, particularly in regard to key institutions and organizations dealing with ICTs and key ICT policies, thrusts, and programs, in developed and developing jurisdictions in Asia. Developed jurisdictions, which include Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, have relatively mature ICT markets with definite plans (some already in execution phase) to put in place next generation infrastructure, multiple competitors in a market, and market demand for services and products healthy enough to encourage innovation. Developing jurisdictions include countries where ICT markets are growing rapidly due to economic prosperity and large populations capable of sustaining such growth, but where this has been a recent phenomenon (e.g. China and India), as well as countries whose economies and ICT take up is not expanding at a rapid pace due to their small population and market sizes, relative geographic locations, and/or economic size.

Key Institutions and Organizations Dealing with ICT in Asia1

Both developed and large developing markets have a higher number of key government institutions and organizations dealing with ICTs than the small developing markets. In Hong Kong, for instance, there is the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, Office of the Telecommunication Authority, Innovative Technology Commission, Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute, Broadcasting Authority, Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited, Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, and Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited (which is wholly owned by the Government of Hong Kong). In Japan, there are a number of ICT sector initiatives under the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Singapore has the Info-Communications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), Media Development Authority of Singapore, Interactive Digital Media Office, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF), Economic Development Board, Attorney-General’s Chambers, and a number of universities and polytechnics actively engaged with the ICT sector.

The same appears to be true in a number of large developing ICT markets. For instance, China has, among others, the Ministry of Information Industry, the China Internet Network Information Center (a body under the Ministry of Information Industry), the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and within it the Computer Network Information Center, and the Secretariat of the Internet Policy and Resource Committee under the Internet Society of China. India has the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, within which operate the Department of Telecommunications and the Department for Information Technology, the National Knowledge Commission, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, the Controller of Certifying Authorities, and the Cyber Regulatory Appellate Tribunal.

The picture changes when one looks at developing ICT markets that have smaller economies and are only recently becoming more integrated into the globalized demand and supply chain. For instance, in Afghanistan, there is only the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA). In Cambodia, ICT projects are overseen by the National Information and Communication Technology Agency and the Ministry of Commerce. In the Maldives, there is the Telecommunications Authority of Maldives and the National Centre for Information Technology.

Vietnam, however, is an interesting case in that it has taken a number of steps characteristic of a rapidly developing ICT market. In 2007 the Vietnamese government created the Ministry of Information and Communication by merging the Ministry of Post and Telematics with parts of the Ministry of Culture and Information. There is also ICT-related work being carried out in the other Ministries, such as the Ministry of Science and Technology. They have also recently passed legislation and guidelines aimed at providing a clearer regulatory regime for ICT:

ICT-related laws that took effect in 2006 include the Law on Electronic Transactions (by Decision No. 51/2005/QH11 of the National Assembly), the Law on Information Technology, the Law on IPR (by Decision No. 28/2005/L/CTN) that has a special section on software development, and the Decree on e-Commerce No. 57/2006/ND-CP. As such, it can be said that 2005–2006 was when a strong legal foundation for ICT development was laid in Vietnam. (Tran and Nguyen, this volume)

To concretize these laws and decrees, more specific regulations were enacted in 2007. The more notable among these are:

• The regulation regarding financial management of funds for public telecom services.

• Directive No. 04/2007 enhancing the protection of copyright on software.

• Decree No. 26/2007 on digital signatures.

• Decree No. 35/2007 on electronic transactions in banking.

• Directive No. 03/2007 enhancing information security over the Internet.

Why has Vietnam suddenly become proactive about putting in place regulation for its ICT market? The answer perhaps is that necessity is the mother of invention, but in this case, necessity is felt only when a government starts to see the tangible benefits of rapid economic growth, as Vietnam has witnessed in the past few years, with a lot of this growth attributed to inward bound foreign investment.2

But is increased interest from foreign investors the catalyst for putting in place clear and stable regulation and legislation in ICT sectors in developing countries? If so, why? Is it because a number of smaller developing countries rely on strong supply side equations in developed countries to drive their own internal engines of growth? Is it because their own population’s per capita is too low to expect an indigenous demand high enough to drive growth? These questions are beyond the ambit of this paper, but they might make for an interesting study in the ICT context.

Key ICT Policies, Thrusts, and Programs in Asia3

The observation one draws from looking at the thrust of ICT policies and programs in developed versus developing ICT markets is primarily that developed markets, along with China, appear to be grappling with issues related to expanding the size of the local ICT markets. There seems to be a particular emphasis on promoting inclusive ICT growth, with the aim of increased ICT use across all income strata and demographics. Meanwhile, in developing markets like Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Vietnam the thrust appears to be on the build up of infrastructure and competencies in ICT sectors where they feel they can be competitive in the global marketplace.

For example, Hong Kong has the Digital 21 strategy promoting wireless hotspots in government premises and free wireless broadband at public housing estates, the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework for increasing the sustainability of the ICT sector, the Sector Specific Programs policy, and the Digital Solidarity Fund. In Singapore, IDA has launched a fairly comprehensive set of initiatives aimed at improving the ICT readiness and competitiveness of small and mediumsized enterprises (SMEs), as well as programs to increase ICT penetration and awareness across all sectors, including programs like the Assistance on Commonly Used Software, SME Infocomm Resource Centre, Technology Innovation Program, and Local Enterprise Technical Assistance Scheme; the NEU PC Program, Silver Infocomm Junctions, and Infocomm Accessibility Centre; the National Grid Pilot Platform; the Infocomm Security Masterplan; and the Intelligent Nation 2015 Masterplan or iN2015. In Afghanistan, the key policy thrust over the past few years has been on building up infrastructure, as well as trying to attract business process outsourcing start-ups to locate in Afghanistan where the cost of personnel and infrastructure is relatively low compared to other jurisdictions.

In Singapore and Japan, there appears to be importance given to regulating dominant players. Japan has announced the commencement in 2010 of discussion about the regulation of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) as the dominant telecommunications player. IDA Singapore is implementing the Code of Practice for Competition in the Provision of Telecommunications Services 2005, particularly in regulating the position of Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) in the Singapore market. These suggest an implicit agreement by the regulators in these countries of the need to seriously consider the role of dominant players in building a telecommunications and technology sector that is competitive in an environment characterized by technology-driven paradigm shifts in business models. Increasing the competitiveness of the ICT market requires a willingness to experiment and take risks that a dominant entity with stable cash flows from its own internally determined investments and infrastructure might not be willing to make. In short, some dominant entities might have financial interests that are not aligned with acting in the best interests of increasing the competitiveness of the ICT market. Hence, there is the need to regulate such entities.

Many developing countries are not yet focusing on these kinds of issues, as they concentrate on building ICT infrastructure to ensure a suitable foundation presumably for subsequent development of their ICT markets to developed country standards. That said, it is refreshing to see Articles 21–24 of the Afghanistan’s Telecommunications Services Regulation Act dealing head on with the issue of competition. Crafted in the broad language of primary legislation, the articles nonetheless deal with the issues of anti-competitive conduct and abuse of a dominant position at a high level. They may require subsidiary guidelines to provide the Afghan ICT market with guidance on how the relevant authority (the ATRA) intends to interpret and apply these articles.

KEY ISSUES SHAPING THE REGULATORY APPROACH TO ICT MARKETS IN ASIA

This section of the chapter looks at the four key issues that we believe will play an instrumental role in shaping ICT regulatory approaches in several jurisdictions in Asia. The four issues are:

1. Citizen-focused e-government services;

2. ICT regulation and policy’s role in improving access to education;

3. Open source software’s continued growth in the region; and

4. The availability of localized digital content and its regulation.

Citizen-focused e-Government Services

‘E-Government’ services refers to the provision of government services, from taxation and licensing through to passport application and issuance, via electronic means. While the overall concept of e-government can often have a wider meaning,4 we use this limited view of e-government because it offers a minimum threshold of e-government or a common baseline goal for e-government services that any government should aspire to.

E-Government has come a long way in Asia, from basic computerization of government records to a stage where at least in developed ICT markets, the availability of e-government services is a given. Governments and regulators in these markets must now think about the next stage of evolution as technology and penetration rates expand the scope of possibilities and service delivery channels for e-government services.

As may be expected, the state of e-government services in different Asian jurisdictions depends in large part on the stage of development of the ICT market in those jurisdictions. Generally, the more developed the ICT market, the greater the capability of regulators. This is due to the added experience garnered from facing and resolving a greater range of issues in deeper and more developed ICT markets.5

Singapore and Japan provide an interesting contrast in terms of the content and timing of their approaches to e-government services. Singapore has had a long and reasonably fruitful experience with e-government. It has long passed the need for developing policies enabling the delivery of basic e-government services,6 and is now grappling with the issue of how to deliver e-government services as seamlessly as possible over multiple channels in a bandwidth-rich and increasingly bandwidth-irrelevant environment (in the case of bandwidth-intensive applications). This is evident from the kinds of policies the government is pursuing under iGov 2010, such as issuing unique establishment identifiers, rollout of services via the mobile phone channel, and build out of a common operating platform across all ministries and departments responsible for the provision of e-government services to ensure a seamless user experience and a unified backend.7

Japan began thinking about the large-scale deployment of e-government services around 1994 and seriously started implementing e-government programs around 2000, which seems surprisingly late for a ‘technology leader’. Given the high levels of technology infrastructure and penetration rates prevalent in Japan, it is not surprising that the primary focus of e-government policies is similar to that of governments and regulators in other ICT leading jurisdictions such as the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan. Specifically, Japan is concerned with refining the user experience of e-government services as well as unifying the backend to enhance processing times and lower costs for the government.

The picture looks a little different, but reasonably encouraging, in China and India. China and India’s paths to ICT market development and e-government adoption have been somewhat counter-intuitive. In China ICT development and e-government adoption were a result of the Politburo’s belief in the virtues of effective computerization as a means of achieving progress. Early policies encouraging computerization and the adoption of information technology as a tool for more efficient governance ultimately paved the way for the growth of the ICT sector. In contrast, in India the ICT sector grew because the government never seriously regulated the sector, allowing the entrepreneurial spirit and elusive providence to work together without over-regulation driving a wedge between the two.

That said, both China and India have work to do to catch up with developed Asian jurisdictions in e-government. While both countries have made headway in the computerization of government backend, they have some way to go before a streamlined suite of government services will be available. To be fair, this has as much to do with the size and added complexity of larger jurisdictions as with political will and priority government agendas. Additionally, in China and India improving technology penetration and literacy rates in rural areas is arguably a higher priority than focusing resources on rolling out a flawlessly functioning suite of e-government services.

Something that both governments should try to get done sooner rather than later is to improve access to information and transparency in government decision-making through the use of ICT. There is arguably real scope for curbing corruption if there is political will to implement systems that enable the public to access information and trace government decisions to individual civil servants at all levels (Bhatnagar 2004). Political will is the key to making such a system work, from the minister ordering system implementation, to the civil servant who needs to submit data on decisions, to his or her superiors who must resist the temptation to doctor publicly accessible data entries where there appears to be incentive to do so and there is no means of tracing any actual tampering of data entries. India has made progress in this regard with the enactment of the Right to Information Act 2005 (IRTI Act). However, there remains under Section 8(1) of the IRTI Act significant discretion vested in the public authorities to refuse disclosure of certain information. While most of the grounds for refusal are valid (such as confidential information that may adversely impact national security or undermine sovereignty), certain provisions, such as Sub-sections 8(1)(d) and (e) — where the ‘competent authority [i.e. the relevant government department] is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information’ — could be used to arbitrarily deny requests for information. Admittedly, there will always be discretion involved in the disclosure of information, as what information is revealed, at least in some cases, is a political choice.

Countries like Singapore and Japan on one hand, and China and India on the other hand, can learn from each other the virtues they have each developed in their respective geopolitical realities. The developed ICT markets of Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan share the common factor of being relatively small countries with relatively small domestic markets (except for Japan). In contrast, China and India are very large markets and therefore more complex, with a far higher volume of data points, increased dispersion around the mean due to the existence of multiple economic sectors with different averages and income scales, and increased skewing at the lower end of the income scale. All these amount to a more unpredictable environment for planning e-government services across a range of diverging and increasingly competing sociopolitical objectives. Specifically, in China and India, large disparities in income means e-government service choices that benefit one segment versus another, and it becomes difficult to justify these choices to a segment for which they pose no significant tangible benefit. For example, consider the policy choice between allocating limited resources to the development of an e-government procurement portal for agricultural produce and the development of a portal designed to make it easier to apply for venture funding from a government-backed incubator. Which agency gets the requested funding? How is the choice justified?

Nevertheless, China and India can learn from developed ICT jurisdictions how to formulate implementable policy and how to develop the talent to decisively execute such policy. These two factors would arguably form part of any equation of success in an e-government services strategy. On the other hand, what the regulators in the developing markets of China and India can teach the developed ICT jurisdictions is how to formulate policy that needs to be coordinated across state and federal levels, and that impact far larger and more diverse populations and markets than a relatively small domestic market. This can help regulators in developed ICT jurisdictions to incubate and develop the domestic ICT talent seeking to build or improve its competitive position in global markets.

This section on e-government has been deliberately selective in looking at the state of e-government in developed ICT markets and the developing markets of China and India. It has not taken an in-depth look at the markets lying between these two points on the ICT development continuum, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, where e-government deployments have been on a lesser scale and where the full potential of such services has yet to be realized. We now turn to the issue of ICT regulation and the role of policy in improving access to education.

ICT Regulation and Improving Access to Education

That ICT can play a substantial enabling role in improved delivery of education is well accepted in Asia. In this section, we wish to highlight the idea that regulators concerned with access to education should be aware that ICT policy must act in coordination with other policies that address the basic social, cultural, and economic issues associated with improving access to education. For example, a policy focused on increasing computerization in schools by itself would arguably have far less impact than if it were coordinated with a policy to make computers and technology more affordable. One can go further and argue that an effective way to tackle the issue of affordable access would be to take a strong stance encouraging competition at all levels in the information technology supply chain, regardless of the nationality of any participant with significant market power. Such an approach would perhaps lower prices more effectively than a plan to subsidize technology purchases for lower income households. Similarly, and more directly linked to the issue of computerization of schools, is whether there exists a clear policy on ICT competencies for teachers as well as for continuing teacher professional development in technology integration.

The other obvious advantage ICT policy offers is the possibility of increasing access to education through distance learning. Coupled with a drive to increase access to computing technology in rural and less urbanized areas, this could broaden access to education for all. (See the chapters on ‘Education for All in the Digital Age’ and on ‘Distance Education in Asia Pacific’ in this volume.)

However, there are still a number of questions about whether and to what extent ICT use in education is beneficial without due consideration of its actual impact on student learning and curriculum goals. One pertinent critique from a 2005 study of ICT in education policy in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries has been that education planners and technology advocates think of the technology first and then investigate the educational applications of the technology later. A case in point: tablet Personal Computers (PCs) can be beneficial in educational settings, but their Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screens are not as easy to read as paper.8 This raises the more abstract but nonetheless important policy question of how computers would be integrated into curricula at all education levels (primary, secondary, and tertiary) and how teaching practices would have to be modified or adapted. The same study also notes that there is little compelling or unequivocal data to back up the belief that ‘ICTs can empower teachers and learners, promote change, and foster the development of 21st century skills’ (Trucano 2005).

We do not believe that this implies that any policy seeking to promote the use of ICTs to improve access to and the quality of education is doomed to failure. On the contrary, we believe that this critique strengthens the case for regulators to take a more coordinated and holistic approach to devising ICT in education policy and regulation. Such an approach would address several questions. First, what are we seeking to achieve? Second, what factors need to be in place in order for technology use to benefit users and students (e.g. improving ICT penetration rates in rural areas)? Third, what can be implemented with minimal administrative delay and to the greatest effect?

Also, given the critical role of education in any country especially in the age of knowledge workers, it would be prudent for the regulators to devise appropriate metrics to measure the effectiveness of any ICT policy aimed at improving access to education, and to arrange for such data to be regularly collected in order to determine what works and what does not.

The Growth of Open Source in Asia

The Open Source movement has developed a steadily growing mass of fans in Asia, especially in India and China. Run a simple Google search on ‘open source India’ or ‘open source China’ and proof of this observation comes in the wealth of material available on the phenomenal growth of Open Source in these countries.

That Open Source has found a large following of believers in Asia is not surprising. Many countries in the region do not have the kinds of per capita incomes and living standards enjoyed in the West. Many governments prefer to save money on licencing fees when they can, particularly as there is affordable and in many cases free, robust, and good quality software that can essentially perform the same tasks that Windows-based systems can.

With the increasing user-friendliness of the more popular Linux distributions, their adoption rates in Asia are likely to grow. The kind of functionality certain Linux distributions have, the quality of the current crop of Linux kernels, and the programming that goes into the distribution are quite remarkable. The PCLinux Operating System (OS), for example, offers among others out-of-box compatibility with Microsoft Word files and Adobe PDFs. The openoffice.org software bundled with the distribution has an in-built capability to convert .doc files to .pdf, as well as the ability to run specific graphical enhancements akin to those available in Windows Vista. Even more remarkable is the fact that the graphical enhancements run perfectly well using an Open Source set of rendering drivers on a machine with a measly 256 MB of Random Access Memory (RAM) and a generic Intel graphics chipset with less than 128 MB of memory, a configuration significantly lower than what is recommended for running Windows Vista.

In software and operating systems that run mission critical servers and data farms, Open Source has likewise been making steady inroads. The server market in Asia is perhaps the best source of revenue for entities like Novell with its Suse Linux Enterprise Server product, and Red Hat with its Linux distributions for servers.

We believe that, especially in China and India, the move toward greater use of Open Source software in government was prompted at least in part by World Trade Organization commitments regarding non-use of pirated software. Open Source poses no real issue with regard to licencing fees and intellectual property restrictions — this despite Microsoft putting itself in an advantageous position in China through a massively coordinated campaign of lobbying and targeted Microsoft development and training actions culminating in President Hu Jintao endorsing Bill Gates as a friend of China and the Chinese people.

In India, the view is equally positive about the future of Open Source. About the only thing holding India back from an explosive growth of the indigenous market for Open Source programs is the lack of coordination among groups of coders and programmers across the sub-continent, and it is only a matter of time before this issue is progressively resolved. This brings us to the following question: Does the growing adoption of Open Source warrant a regulatory response in Asia?

At the moment, we believe that an appropriate policy response ought to be policy and/or regulation focused on:

1. Enhancing the adoption of Open Source systems in developing markets in Asia, as increased adoption of Open Source standards (so long as Intel and Advanced Micro Devices — AMD — keep making chipsets that work with the code) can lower the overall costs of systems used for increasing ICT penetration rates in rural and non-central urban areas;

2. Using Open Source to provide an ideal and affordable platform for the development of local content; and

3. Competition regulation to ensure that entities with significant market power and market share in the software markets in a jurisdiction and their distribution networks in the region will not enter into or promote potentially anti-competitive tying arrangements.

Encouraging the Growth of Localized and Indigenous Digital Content

This section provides an overview of the issues facing developing Asian nations seeking to encourage the migration, availability, and accessibility of local content on the Internet, and suggests policy and regulatory approaches that can accelerate or catalyse this process.

The campaign for more online content could have the following objectives:

1. To increase awareness of the content by making it easily accessible to a larger audience;

2. To strengthen local identities;

3. To reaffirm local identities particularly in the context of a people’s diaspora; and

4. To provide local content creators with an increased revenue source via licencing.

Another interesting motivator is that more local content may increase the penetration rate of ICT in developing nations. That is, people may well decide to access the Web more regularly if they know that the content they have grown up with and strongly identify with, and which is symbolic of their own culture, is available online.

However, increasing local content online faces several challenges. One of these is the ubiquity of English and the resultant gaps in the technology powering the Web. The Internet is no stranger to the laws of supply and demand, and it is those laws that have thus far dictated the major language of the Web — English. Much of the early development and evolution of the Internet took place in the United States, an English-speaking jurisdiction. Moreover, the demand for paid as well as unpaid Web content has been predominantly from an English-speaking audience. In addition, throughout the 1970s to the mid-1980s, the vast demand for information technology hardware and software was from North America and Europe (Japan being the only exception in Asia), which resulted in the vast majority of hardware, firmware, and software being designed with the English speaker and writer in mind.

However, lately the situation has been changing for the better, and while English remains the primary language of the Web, multi-language support has been built into applications powering the Web, content development applications, and browsers (both Internet Explorer and Open Source browsers like Firefox and Opera). These changes have come about again as a consequence of rational economic behaviour. As the multilingual world comes online, the technology they use to communicate, create, collaborate, and interact with must similarly become multilingual. After all they comprise a far larger market than the United States and other English-speaking populations.

Changes at the application and browser levels have come about due to the Unicode Consortium’s development and adoption of the Unicode character set, which is capable of assigning unique numbers to up to one million separate characters for a given language or symbol set. Its adoption has resulted in popular Internet browsers having font support for most major world languages. This has also led to the building of hardware that makes it easier to encode in a local language. For instance, a keyboard with the Bhutanese and Tibetan Dzongkha script is now available. The keyboard mapping is based on the Unicode Dzongkha values.

Meanwhile, on the software development front, Microsoft has been publishing and educating developers on building ‘world ready’ applications that will run in the Windows operating system. Microsoft in fact advocates that ‘world ready’ applications running in Windows should be fully Unicode-enabled.

Are these steps enough? Arguably not, since at the end of the day, software and Web developers in developed nations are usually English speakers themselves. Consequently, it is only natural that their tendency would be to focus on developing a user interface that, while translatable into numerous languages, may not necessarily be appropriate to another language or sensitive to other cultural mores and norms.

Therein lies an opportunity for regulators in developing Asian nations to address a need. Arguably, there is an untapped demand for culture, language, and geography-centric user interfaces for various applications. These can layer on top of existing applications and complement the Unicode support that allows the application’s original layout and user-viewed instructions to be displayed in a local language. The role of regulators and policymakers is to create an enabling environment for local entities to engage in these processes through a viable business model.

Another challenge that regulators in developing Asian countries need to address is the relatively low Web usage and penetration. A quick review of Internet penetration statistics in developing Asian countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Laos, Mongolia, and Pakistan reveal that Web penetration in developing Asia lags well behind that in North America and Europe. According to International Telecommunications Union statistics, penetration rates in developing Asian nations can be almost non-existent (e.g. 0.2 percent in Bangladesh), very low (e.g. 3.5 percent in India), and low (e.g. 10 percent in China). Contrast this with penetration rates in developed nations like the European Union (51.9 percent), the Republic of Korea (66.1 percent), and the United States (69.4 percent).

As discussed earlier, increasing the ability of people to communicate online more easily in local languages, and giving them the tools with which to put local content online and create it online, may in fact lead to increased Web penetration. But such a policy ought to be implemented alongside policies that aim to encourage the build up of broadband infrastructure and the growth of Internet service providers via innovative licensing and cost sharing methods.

Indeed, there is scope for innovative regulatory strategies to accelerate the process by which local content can get online or be created online. Here we discuss a two-pronged approach that regulators and policymakers can customize and adopt to encourage the growth of local content online. The essence of this approach is that any set of policies aimed at achieving the increased migration of local content online must address the issue of building demand for local content and making it easier for such content to be supplied. The regulatory skill would lie first in deciding the right policies to address each side of the equation, and second in concertedly and effectively implementing such policies.

Demand side policies aim to increase the exposure of the local content. This can be done by increasing awareness of the content, and by making it more easily accessible. The appropriate licencing model plays a key role here. In addition, there is the issue of making local content viewable in other languages. This in turn increases the potential market audience for such content. The other facet of demand is increasing local demand via policies encouraging progressive and sustainable deployment of broadband and high-capacity bandwidth infrastructure. Public-private partnerships and innovative financing models in this context are well worth exploring.

Supply side policies cover policies like building localized user interfaces to layer onto applications (discussed earlier). In addition, there could be policies to encourage ventures that can digitize existing content easily, preferably in a form that is digitally modifiable (think MSWord and not Portable Document Format — PDF). This might be by offering subsidies or better tax rates to businesses engaged in the creation or digitization of local content (i.e. favoured tax rates on revenues from digitizing and creating local content). Additionally, consider encouraging research and development in Open Source applications. Open Source software is gaining increased acceptance, and there is a close to zero entry cost barrier (in terms of development licences) for developers who wish to develop software for Open Source platforms. For that matter, if a locally developed application is good enough, there are a number of cross-over programs that can allow it to run on multiple operating systems (although usability remains an issue). Examples of such cross-over programs are Wine and Cross-Over by Codeweavers.

The licencing model to be adopted is very important because it influences both the demand and supply of content. A balance should be struck between incentivizing increased production and development of original local content (via the promise of adequate economic return) and encouraging demand through a licencing model that is, and is perceived to be, fair to users.

Much content today is protected by rather restrictive copyright protection where even fair use often requires permission from content owners. Add to that the digital rights management (DRM) software that arguably extends protection to content beyond the intended scope of copyright and content starts to look more ring-fenced than was perhaps intended by traditional intellectual property rights regimes that allowed for fair use. Unless demand for content far outstrips supply, this may indeed drive people away from such content. Worse, it may lead people to circumvent DRM schemes and simply try and get content for free. Once others get content for free, those who actually want to use it commercially may also decide to go the free route.

Instead of the traditional copyright and DRM models, policymakers in the developing Asian nations can consider adopting suitably modified versions of the Creative Commons (CC) licencing model. This model differs from the traditional licencing models in the following significant ways:

1. It is free for anyone to use and customize to suit their needs.

2. It allows for a greater degree of flexibility in terms of what can be offered to those who wish to use the content noncommercially and those who wish to use it commercially.

3. It takes what seems to be a more pragmatic approach that is more cognizant of the nature of online use of content.

4. It allows for a content–owner–friendly approach to customization of licences if required.

5. It tends to encourage an ‘open to full view and review’ approach to content, with revenue derivation encouraged only for cases of commercial use. In this sense it discourages non-porous DRM.

The main Creative Commons licences9 are as follows:

1. Attribution Non-commercial No Derivative: The work can be copied and shared as long as the author is identified. Permission is required before any derivative work based on this work is created or any commercial use is made of the work.

2. Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike: The work can be copied, remixed, tweaked, and built upon non-commercially. All new work based on the original must also carry the same licence. Permission is required for commercial use.

3. Attribution Non-commercial: This has the same terms as Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike except that derivative works need not be licensed on the same terms as the original work itself.

4. Attribution No Derivatives: Redistribution of the work is allowed for commercial and non-commercial purposes so long as the work is passed on whole and unchanged with due attribution to the content author.

5. Attribution Share Alike: This allows remixing, tweaking, and building upon work for commercial and non-commercial purposes. Attribution is required and new works must carry an identical licence, which means that derivative works would also allow commercial use.

6. Attribution: The only condition is attribution. Any commercial or non-commercial use is allowed.

There are also specialized licences for specific types of content and content owners, as summarized by the following excerpt:

Sampling Licences allow for snippets (not whole work) to be remixed into new works, even commercially. Our Public Domain Dedication lets you free works from copyright completely, and our Founders Copyright lets you do the same, but after 14 or 28 years. Musicians looking to share their work with fans might want to look at the Music Sharing licence. The Developing Nations licence lets you offer less restrictive terms to countries that aren’t considered high income by the World Bank, and finally, for those licensing software, we offer the GNU GPL and GNU LGPL licences. (Creative Commons)

These models can be tweaked to suit the specific circumstances of a developing Asian nation. For instance, works can be offered on Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike plus Developing Nations licence terms, with the Developing Nations terms being offered to commercial users in developing and developed nations so as to reach a larger audience and increase the chances for collaborative derivative works.

One might also consider another strategy as follows: once local content online achieves a healthy level of mainstream acceptance, developing Asian nations may consider coordinating their licencing approaches and collectively offering less restrictive licence terms for local content to developed nation users, in exchange for less restrictive terms for access to content from developed nations.

In global knowledge trade today, licence fees are essentially tariffs and licence terms are the conditions of trade. In essence then, this is nothing more than trade block theory applied to knowledge goods and concrete intellectual property.

In sum, we argue that in the era of knowledge goods and knowledge trade, content is the product and the controllers of content are king. In such a world, it is wholly pertinent for developing Asian nations to consider devising strategies and policies to encourage the proliferation of their own local content online as the Internet is the world’s unrivalled distribution network for content. Innovative tools exist for the development of local content online. The art lies in determining what will work for a particular nation in terms of improved demand and supply for local content online, and to then constructively and effectively implement those policies at the national and international level.

CONCLUSION

In this chapter, we sought to provide a snapshot of the regulatory approaches being taken in the ICT sector in various jurisdictions in Asia. We focused on the following areas to draw out observations and comparisons between regulatory approaches in developing and developed ICT markets in Asia:

• Key institutions and organizations dealing with ICT

• Key ICT policies, thrusts, and programs

• Citizen-focused e-government services

• ICT policy and improving access to education

• Growth of Open Source software

• Growth of localized digital content and its regulation

Across developed ICT markets, regulators and policymakers are focusing on developing a more inclusive approach to enable larger segments of the population to use ICTs and benefit from them. Indeed, for holistic development of an ICT sector, especially the kind of development that will enable developing ICT markets to compete in an environment marked by rapid technological changes, policies, and regulations that address the demand side of the ICT equation are necessary.

Developing ICT markets in Asia seem to realize this as well, although understandably, the focus in such markets is on state-sponsored build-up of physical ICT infrastructure and the development of indigenous ICT services sectors that have lower personnel and operating costs, while also trying to encourage ICT adoption among the populace.

Whether and to what extent these regulatory approaches lead to the beneficial evolution of ICT markets in Asia remain to be seen. But the recognition of the need for policies that holistically address the demand and supply sides of the ICT equation for the healthy development of competitive ICT markets in Asian jurisdictions is certainly encouraging.

NOTES

1. Unless otherwise indicated, information on key organizations and institutions dealing with ICTs in the jurisdictions mentioned in this section of the chapter is taken from the chapters on individual economies in this edition of the Digital Review of Asia Pacific.

2. See, for instance, TMC News (2007) at http://asia.tmcnet.com/news/2007/11/27/3123957.htm

3. Unless otherwise indicated, information on key ICT policies, thrusts, and programs in the jurisdictions mentioned in this section of the chapter is taken from the chapters on individual economies in this edition of the Digital Review of Asia Pacific.

4. For instance, Bhatnagar (2004, p. 19) defines e-government as ‘the use of ICT to promote more efficient and cost-effective government, facilitate more convenient government services, allow greater public access to information, and make government more accountable to citizens’.

5. Unfortunately, we are limited to expressing this hypothesis based on our observations and experiences in Asia, since we are not aware of any studies to test this.

6. As is evident, for instance, by examining the range of government services available via Singapore primary e-government portal, www.gov.sg, and browsing through the services available under the ‘Citizens & Residents’, ‘Business’, and ‘Non-Residents’ tabs at the site.

7. See, for example, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (2007b) at www.igov.gov.sg/NR/rdonlyres/C8F242DE-6C0D-4D40-A7A7-D94B7D2F6A09/19110/SOE_factsheet_Oct2007.pdf

8. e-Ink technology, which currently provides the closest approximation to paper, is still in its infancy in terms of worthwhile commercial applications.

9. Full descriptions of these licences, including ‘plain English’ and legal texts of the licences, are available at http://creativecommons.org/licence/and http://creativecommons.org/about/licences/meet-the-licences

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bhatnagar, S. (2004). e-Government: From vision to implementation. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore. (2007a). iGov2010. Retrieved 4 November 2008 from http://www.igov.gov.sg/Strategic_Plans/iGov_2010/

———. (2007b). Standard ICT Operating Environment Fact Sheet. Retrieved 4 November 2008 from http://www.igov.gov.sg/NR/rdonlyres/C8F242DE-6C0D-4D40-A7A7-D94B7D2F6A09/19110/SOE_factsheet_Oct2007.pdf

International Monetary Fund (IMF). (2008). World Economic Outlook Database, April 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2008 from http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2008/01/weodata/index.aspx

International Telecommunications Union (ITU). (2007). World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators 2006. Retrieved 4 November 2008 from http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/index.html

Loxley, W. (2004). Current status and trends of e-learning. Asian Development Bank. Retrieved 4 November 2008 from http://www.adb.org/Education/e-learning.pdf

TMC News. (2007). Vietnam: Foreign investment in 2007 reaches $15b. Retrieved 15 September 2008 from http://asia.tmcnet.com/news/2007/11/27/3123957.htm

Trucano, Michael. (2005). Knowledge maps: ICTs in education. Washington, DC: info Dev/World Bank. Retrieved 4 November 2008 from http://www.infodev.org/en/Publication.154.html

Websites

Afghanistan Telecommunication Services Regulation Act. (2005). Retrieved 4 November 2008 from http://www.mcit.gov.af/Documents/PoliciesandLaws/Afghanistan%20Telecom%20Law.pdf

Computer Misuse Act (Singapore). (1993). Retrieved 4 November 2008 from http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/non_version/cgi-bin/cgi_retrieve.pl?actno=REVED-50A&doctitle=COMPUTER%20MISUSE%20ACT%0a&date=latest&method=part&sl=1

Creative Commons Homepage. Retrieved 4 November 2008 from http://creativecommons.org/

PCLinuxOS Magazine. Retrieved 4 November 2008 from http://www.pclinuxos.com/

Postal Services Act (Singapore). (1999). Retrieved 4 November 2008 from http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/non_version/cgi-bin/cgi_retrieve.pl?actno=REVED-237A&doctitle=POSTAL%20SERVICES%20ACT%0a&date=latest&method=part&sl=1

Right to Information Act (India). (2005). Retrieved 4 November 2008 from http://persmin.nic.in/RTI/WelcomeRTI.htm

Spam Control Act (Singapore). (2007). Retrieved 4 November 2008 from http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/non_version/cgi-bin/cgi_legdisp.pl?actno=2007-ACT-21-N&doctitle=SPAM%20CONTROL%20ACT%202007%0a&date=latest&method=part&sl=1

The Government of Singapore Portal (SINGOV). Retrieved 4 November 2008 from http://www.gov.sg/

Managing innovation in the network economy: Lessons for countries in the Asia Pacific region

Mahendhiran Nair and Tengku Mohd Azzman Shariffadeen

INTRODUCTION

The information or knowledge revolution has been under intense scrutiny and debate for several decades now. The spectacular rise of the Internet and the Web is the major reason for this wide interest. And yet, while information and knowledge are as important as the Internet if not more so, they often take a back seat in the debate. Their abstract and diffuse nature has made them less amenable to quantitative analysis, rendering the information and knowledge discourse largely descriptive, anecdotal, and qualitative. Orbicom was one of the pioneering organizations to make the connection between the digital and knowledge revolutions and to do it in a quantitative manner (Sciadas 2005). In its ‘monitoring the digital divide’ initiative, it formulated a fresh way of measuring the digital divide based on the infostate of a country, which results from the combination of its infodensity and its infouse.

In a similar spirit, this chapter presents a quantitative method of assessing the innovative capacity of countries. It is proposed as a framework enabling a more detailed analysis of what makes a country innovative, which in turn would make possible the setting of goals that would serve as guideposts on a country’s journey toward greater innovativeness, productivity, and competitiveness. Such an analytic approach would help policymakers and government leaders manage the process of knowledge-based development to enhance the quality of life and well-being of a country’s citizens.

In the last three decades, the Asia Pacific region has been one of the most dynamic in terms of socio-economic development. Many of the countries in the region were underdeveloped when they achieved independence in the 1940s–1960s. World War II decimated many of these economies, with conditions worsening further as a result of post-war regional conflicts. However, despite a bleak past, many of these countries were able to transform their economies into leading producers of automobiles, electronics, and other consumer durables. These transformations were made possible first by the adoption of industrialization, and lately, by the adoption of new technologies, including information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Still, although there has been significant socio-economic development in the region, many countries remain ‘underdeveloped’. Some studies have shown that the widening ICT gap is a significant contributor to the increasing wealth gap between developed and other countries in the Asia Pacific region (cf. Nair et al. 2005; Sciadas 2005). The role of ICT in enhancing competitiveness and sustainable development has been widely debated in the literature. Studies by Gurbaxani et al. (1998), De Gregorio (2002), and Criscuolo and Waldron (2003) show that ICT has increased the productivity, efficiency, and market reach of firms all over the world. On the other hand, Lau and Tokutsu (1992), Kraemer and Dedrick (1993), and Kim (2003) argue that investment in ICT infrastructure alone is not sufficient for economies to achieve sustainable development, and that a skilled workforce is an important precondition for nations to benefit from ICT investments. This is supported by the infostate conceptual framework, where infodensity refers to the ICT capital and ICT labour stocks that complement infouse, which refers to the usage flows of ICT. In other words, a causal relationship between investments in human capital and infrastructure development on one hand, and the information and knowledge flows engendered by them on the other, produces higher levels of economic performance.

Realizing the potential of ICT in enhancing economic prosperity, Asia Pacific countries have increased investment in ICT over the past decade. The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) predicts that the Asia Pacific region will outstrip other regions in ICT spending, with a compounded annual growth in ICT spending of 11.1 percent from 2005 to 2009 (WITSA 2006). However, it remains unclear whether ICT investment has helped countries in the region close the innovation gap with more evolved economies. While there is evidence that ICT does contribute significantly to socioeconomic development, there is uncertainty about how this comes about and how it may be improved.

This chapter aims to empirically examine the linkage between ICT development and innovative capacity in Asia Pacific countries. More specifically, it looks at the gaps in ICT and innovative capacity between developed and other countries in the Asia Pacific region, and outlines measures to close the digital and innovation divides between countries. The chapter is organized as follows: a brief review of the network economy is provided, followed by an explanation of the proposed theoretical framework and empirical method to measure the national innovation ecosystem (NIE). The empirical results are then presented and discussed, followed by strategies for enhancing the NIE in the Asia Pacific region. The final section proposes a way forward.

REVISITING THE NETWORK ECONOMY

The network economy is also sometimes referred to as the information economy, virtual economy, digital economy, or electronic economy. The wide variety of ‘network effects’ manifesting the digitization of information contributes to socio-economic development via two channels. First, the digital medium has resulted in the emergence of new sectors related to software, hardware, systems, and ICT-related services. For some countries, these new economic sectors provide opportunities for higher value added products, and thereby, a more competitive and productive economy. Second, the interactive digital environment has opened up new dimensions for communication, commerce, trade, knowledge gathering, and technology transfer. This aspect of the network economy can be enjoyed by all countries, regardless of whether they aspire to develop an ICT economic sector. The only condition is that they learn to effectively apply ICT to all important economic sectors across the board. Since this enabling function of ICT is of great interest to most countries, we provide several developmental examples.

The digital medium facilitates communication and faster exchange of information between suppliers and consumers of goods and services. Multiple sourcing from the global markets allows firms to reduce their cost and diversify their market risks. Consumers are also able to use ‘shopbots’ (also known as ‘shop robots’) to quickly search for information on products and services at a relatively low cost. The new multimedia and computing technologies likewise allow firms to track and study changing global market trends, which in turn enables them to produce a wider range of products that meet the needs of diverse markets. For example, the LEGO Group (http://www.lego.com) uses the digital medium to identify changing market demand by providing various incentives for its customers to provide feedback on improving product designs. By such means network-savvy firms like the LEGO Group are able to pursue economies of scope.

In the network economy, the production of goods and services transcends the limitations of traditional factors of production, namely, land, labour, and capital. In the traditional economy, nations with large endowments of land, labour, and capital were in a better position to lead the innovation and competitiveness race. However, in the network economy, national competitiveness is a function of the level of connectivity to the global economy. Nations with a small land mass are able to move from ‘place’ (land), which is limited, to ‘space’ (cyberspace), which is unlimited. The relaxation of physical constraints has helped small nations to catch up with more developed countries.

In the digital space, there is also greater cooperation among buyers. This is changing how goods and services are produced and traded in global markets. For example, new technology like Skype (http://www.skype.com) pools unused and spare computing power to allow people to make free calls over the Internet. The cost of communication is significantly reduced — reportedly by as much as 90 percent (Hof 2005) — through the sharing of a resource (unused computer space). The increased cooperation among consumers facilitated by the ICT revolution has led to positive network externalities. The Web provides a platform for consumers to meet, share information, and exchange knowledge (e.g. ratings) about goods and services. Thus, ‘cooperative consumer activism’ spurred by the network revolution can determine the successful expansion of a firm’s market reach. These firms provide a significant boost to the competitiveness and global presence of their host country.

The digital medium also plays a key role in fostering greater cooperation among firms, related organizations, and consumers. In the network economy, organizations are better able to tap into the ‘collective intelligence’ of consumers, suppliers, and other stakeholders. Instead of having a few researchers working to develop a new innovation, firms can take advantage of the ‘network brain’ that is made up of millions of people working on similar projects. For example, Procter & Gamble (P&G) with a research budget of USD 1.7 billion uses a network of 80,000 independent researchers from 173 countries to collectively solve research problems (Hof 2005). P&G’s investment in the network brain has increased product development from outside the organization 20–35 percent (Hof 2005). There are thousands of enterprises like P&G that use network technologies to locate solutions and innovations outside their firms. Thus, the ICT revolution has enabled ‘open innovation’ on a grand scale.

Several empirical studies show that firms that have invested in ICT infrastructure and human capital development have benefited in terms of increased productivity and efficiency. For example, Baily (2002) found that greater use of ICT increased multi-factor productivity in the service sector in the United States (US) in the 1990s. Kumar (2002) concluded that investments in ICT and education contributed to economic growth in the US from 1964 to 2000. Becchetti et al. (2003) showed that ICT investments had a positive impact on the productivity and efficiency of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Italy from 1995 to 1997. They also showed that telecommunications investment increased the development of new products and processes, while software investment increased the demand for skilled workers and improved labour productivity. A more recent study by Timmer and van Ark (2005) indicated that ICT contributed to the growth of labour productivity in the European Union (EU) and the US through ICT-capital deepening and total factor productivity growth due to the production of ICT goods. The study found that these two channels are responsible for labour productivity in the US surpassing labour productivity in the EU from 1995 to 2001.

In sum, the digital revolution has powered greater interdependence and interconnection between markets, economic agents, and nations. The so-called ‘network effects’ of the digital revolution have produced a critical mass of ICT users, with each user able to benefit from the shared information and knowledge made available by other users connected to the system. The enhanced convergence of new technologies and the development of highly integrated systems are blurring the boundaries between the different economic sectors and the roles of economic agents. Nations and enterprises that have learned to play by the ‘new rules’ of the network economy are in a better position to enhance innovative capacity and achieve sustainable socio-economic development.

In the next section, we apply this qualitative understanding of the dynamics of the network economy to derive an analytic framework for measuring innovative capacity that can be used for quantitative analysis.

MEASURING INNOVATIVE CAPACITY IN THE NETWORK ECONOMY

Joseph Schumpeter popularized the term ‘creative destruction’ for innovative capitalist products and methods that will continually displace old ones. Schumpeter (1934, 1942) gave numerous examples to illustrate the point, from factories wiping out blacksmith shops to automobiles replacing buggies and horses. In more recent times, the concept of creative destruction captures the underlying structural changes taking place in the knowledge-based economy whereby traditional corporations are being replaced by virtual teams and network-based organizations. Smaller nations and firms are demonstrating that they are equally capable of tapping into global markets to gain competitive advantage.

Here we present an analytic framework for examining the underlying structure of the network economy. We discuss the enabling environment that contributes to the innovative capacity of nations, and describe an empirical method to measure the ‘building blocks’ of the NIE and their contribution to the innovative capacity of nations. The empirical analysis also benchmarks NIE developments in Asia Pacific and other regions.

Framing the Innovation Challenge: Moving from Description to Measurement

In the industrial economy based on the manufacture of physical goods, larger economies such as Japan, Germany, the UK, and the US were the dominant players. However, with the rise of the network economy, smaller nations such as Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore, and Taiwan have shown their ability to rapidly enhance their competitiveness, and in some sectors of the economy, these smaller economies have surpassed the traditional economic superpowers. Much of their success is attributed to investment in ‘creative capital’ and the development of a resilient NIE that continuously adapts to global technological changes.

Several studies show that innovation is an important source of socio-economic development. Romer (1986, 1990) has argued that technology coupled with human capital development and research and development (R&D) are important sources of economic growth. Lucas (1988) has shown that economic disparities between countries are a function of varying levels of stock of human capital to undertake innovative activities, with developed economies being more competitive in attracting the best knowledge workers from other countries, especially from underdeveloped economies. The ‘brain drain’ from underdeveloped economies undermines their innovative capacity and hinders sustained socio-economic development in these countries.

A number of economists have been critical of the traditional economic models that attempt to explain the different innovation levels of countries. They argue that such models fail to capture the enabling institutional framework for sustaining innovation. Among the pioneering works that attempt to capture the role of institutions in innovation are those by Nelson and Winter (1977) and Nelson (1981). Building on their ideas is the concept of national system of innovation, the key studies of which include those by Freeman (1987), Dosi et al. (1988), Lundvall (1992), Nelson (1993), and Edquist (1997).

In the national system of innovation literature, two schools of thought have emerged. The first school is led by Nelson (1993), who argued that the national system of innovation is centred on the institutions that coordinate and enable innovation in a country, including institutions that are responsible for rules and regulations. Nelson (1993, p. 4) defines the national system of innovation as a ‘set of institutions whose interactions determine the innovative performance of a nation’s firms’. The second school is led by Lundvall (1992), whose primary argument is focused on ‘learning-by-doing’ and ‘learning-by-using’. Lundvall (1992, p. 2) describes the national system of innovation as ‘constituted by elements and relationships which interact in the production, diffusion and use of new, and economically useful, knowledge’. Lundvall’s work contributed to the concept of the ‘knowledge economy’ (Godin 2006).

More recent studies have attempted to measure underlying factors that impact upon the innovative capacity of a country, which is defined by Furman et al. (2002, p. 900) as ‘the ability of a country — as both political and economic entity — to produce and commercialize a flow of new-to-the-world technologies over the long term’. They argue that national innovative capacity is a function of three factors, namely (i) innovation infrastructure; (ii) the industrial cluster environment; and (iii) the linkage between (i) and (ii). Innovation infrastructure is defined as key investments and policies that support innovation. These include investment in human capital development, financial support for science and technology development, and policies and regulations that promote research and commercialization. The ‘cluster-specific environment’, the second factor, is defined as the geographical locations of interconnected firms based on the Porter Diamond Model (Porter 1990) where the competitiveness of the clusters is dependent on the following drivers: the intensity of rivalry in the local market, demand conditions, the presence of local supporting industries, and the availability of high quality factor inputs.

Although Furman, Porter, and Stern’s model (2002) captures the key drivers of national innovative capacity, it is not without limitations. One of these is that the three pillars of innovation are too broad, and thus are unable to capture the impact of technological infrastructure (especially ICT) on other key drivers such as human capital, regulations, institutions, and interactions between the key stakeholders in the system.

To overcome this limitation, Nair (2007) has proposed a model that measures the impact of ICT on the quantity and quality of human capital, strategic linkages, good governance, incentive systems, and institutions — all key pillars of the NIE. Nair (2007) argues that a nation’s innovation capacity is dependent on the level of development of the NIE, which in the network economy is characterized by two important building blocks called the foundation and driver conditions.

The foundation condition captures the infrastructure that connects people to the global economy. Connectivity to the global economy contributes to economic development through two important channels. First, infrastructure spending, especially in ICT, can lead to economic growth through the production of ICT products and services. Second, ICT infrastructure investment has several spillover benefits to society, among these the creation of virtual communities leading to new generation products and services; increased global reach of enterprises; and ability to attract multiple sources of production inputs at a relatively low cost. These spillover benefits allow firms to simultaneously pursue economies of scale and economies of scope, both of which are important for achieving competitive and comparative advantage. It is arguable that these spillover effects are more important to most countries as they lead to higher levels of productivity and competitiveness in all economic sectors, and are not limited to the ICT sector alone.

The foundation condition is a necessary condition for sustained socio-economic development in the network economy. But it is not sufficient to stimulate innovation and economic development. A second set of conditions, called the driver condition, works in combination with the foundation condition to create an enabling environment to stimulate economic growth. The driver condition encompasses five factors that are vital for nations to move up the innovation value chain:

• Intellectual capital development, including the ability to increase the supply of a skilled workforce and sustain them in the economy.

• Interaction between stakeholders in the economy, especially between research institutions and enterprises, and between enterprises.

• Integrity and good governance (including adherence to best practices and global standards and benchmarks).

• Incentives to stimulate creativity and innovation, including fiscal and non-fiscal incentive policies that will encourage foreign enterprises to bring in high-technology investment and new know-how and encourage local enterprises to adopt new technologies and engage in R&D activities.

• Institutions for the effective operation of the network economy, including legal and regulatory institutions.

Figure 3.1 shows how the foundation condition and the driver condition together impact innovative capacity. A highly innovative country is able to create more value, and thus becomes more productive and competitive, which leads to greater opportunities for wealth creation and a higher standard of living. Greater wealth produces surplus income that may be reinvested to further improve the foundation and driver conditions, thereby closing the feedback loop. A well-managed innovative economy then becomes a mutually supporting system that produces sustained and accelerated growth.

The foundation condition contributes to innovative capacity in two distinct ways. First, it directly enhances the reach of all economic agents in the economy, which is an important feature of the network economy as discussed earlier. Second, the foundation condition operates in tandem with the driver condition to magnify the impact of the driver condition on innovative capacity.

The wide range of factors that influence innovative capacity as reported in the literature shows that the underlying structure of the economy is highly complex, characterized by interaction between and among many key institutions and stakeholders in the system. The inter-relationships between these institutions and stakeholders are the primary drivers and catalysts of the production, diffusion, and use of knowledge in the new economy. Key building blocks of the NIE were identified through detailed literature review, and these have been incorporated into the new innovation system framework presented here.

The proposed framework provides a holistic model of a complex system that makes it possible to analyze innovative capacity empirically and quantitatively. In the following section, we empirically examine the impact of the foundation and driver conditions on the innovative capacity of developed

Figure 3.1
The ‘building blocks’ of the new economy

Image

(Source: Nair 2007)

and developing countries in Asia Pacific and other regions. In particular, the empirical models will assess whether a highly developed foundation condition is an important requirement for enhancing the impact of the driver condition on the innovative capacity of countries, both developed and developing.

Measuring the Impact of the Foundation and Driver Conditions on Innovative Capacity

Five empirical models are presented to measure the impact of foundation and driver conditions on innovation in Asia Pacific countries and in countries located elsewhere. Details of the models are provided in Appendix 3.1A to avoid technical complexity in the main presentation.

Model 1 seeks to answer the following questions:

• What is the impact of foundation and driver conditions on the innovative capacity of countries?

• Do the foundation and driver conditions complement each other, and if so, how?

In other words, the model should enable us to say whether the framework formulated is a useful measure of innovative capacity to begin with. It also allows us to show whether the foundation condition is an important ‘precondition’ for enhancing the contribution of the driver condition on innovative capacity.

The next four models compare the innovative capacity of selected developed and developing countries. Four groups of countries are considered:

1. Developed countries in Asia Pacific

2. Developing countries in Asia Pacific

3. Developed countries in other regions

4. Developing countries in other regions.

Model 2 seeks to answer the following questions:

• Is innovative capacity different in the four groupings of countries?

• How significant are these differences?

A comparison of innovative capacity among the four groups of countries will show the relative positions of each, as well as the significant differences between these country groupings, if any.

Model 3 seeks to answer the following questions:

• Is the contribution of the foundation condition to innovative capacity in the four groupings of countries different?

• How significant are the differences?

Model 4 seeks to answer the following questions:

• Is the contribution of the driver condition to innovative capacity different in the four groupings of countries?

• How significant is the difference?

Model 5 seeks to answer the following questions:

• Are the complementary effects of the foundation and driver conditions different in the four groupings of countries?

• How significant are the differences?

Data for the countries included in this study (listed in Table 3B.2, Appendix 3.1B) were obtained from the Global Competitiveness Report for three sample periods: 2001–2002, 2002–2003, and 2004–2005. A detailed discussion of the variables used in the study and the data sources is given in Table 3B.1 (Appendix 3.1B). Internet penetration rates were used as a proxy for the foundation condition. The driver condition was taken as the average of the variables measuring intellectual capital, interaction, integrity, incentives, and institutions. All of the variables used were converted to base 100 so that they can be formed as a composite index.

EMPIRICAL RESULTS

In this section, we discuss the empirical results obtained from the application of the five models. Figure 3.2 is the scatter plot for the foundation and driver conditions for 104 countries for the period 2004–2005. It shows that there is a positive correlation between foundation and driver conditions. This suggests that for these 104 countries there is a strong relationship between foundation and driver conditions.

Figure 3.3 is the scatter plot for the foundation condition against innovative capacity. The plot shows that as the foundation condition improves, the innovation capacity of countries increases.

Figure 3.4 is the scatter plot for the driver condition against innovative capacity. It shows that as nations improve their driver condition, their innovative capacity also improves. From Figure 3.3 to Figure 3.4, we observe that the driver condition has a greater explanatory power for innovation than the foundation condition. Both plots confirm that the foundation and driver conditions greatly influence innovative capacity and thus provide an effective means of measuring the NIE.

The estimated results for Models 1 to 5 are reported in Table 3B.3 (in Appendix 3.1B). Pair-wise comparisons between the coefficients in the models are reported in Table 3B.4. The key findings for the different models are thus summarized.

Figure 3.2
Scatter plot of the foundation and driver condition

Image

Figure 3.3
Scatter plot of the foundation condition and innovative capacity

Image

Figure 3.4
Scatter plot of driver condition and innovative capacity

Image

The estimated results for Model 1 suggest the following:

• The foundation condition alone is not sufficient to raise the innovative capacity of nations.

• The driver condition is necessary to raise the innovative capacity of nations.

• Connectivity to the global economy via the Internet (the foundation condition) enhances the impact of the driver condition on the innovative capacity of nations, which demonstrates that the foundation condition is indeed a precondition for improving innovative capacity.

The empirical results for Model 2 were similar to those for Model 1. In particular, they support the following observations:

• The innovative capacity of developed countries in the Asia Pacific region is similar to that of developed countries in other regions.

• The innovative capacity of developed countries in the other regions is significantly higher than that of developing countries.

• The innovative capacity of developing countries in the Asia Pacific region is significantly higher than that of developing countries from other regions.

The empirical results for Model 3 suggest the following:

• The impact of the foundation condition on innovative capacity in developed countries in Asia Pacific and other regions is similar.

• The impact of the foundation condition on innovative capacity in developed countries is higher than that in developing countries.

• The impact of the foundation condition on innovative capacity in developing countries in the Asia Pacific region is similar to that in developing countries in the other regions.

The empirical results for Model 4 suggest the following:

• The impact of the driver condition on innovative capacity in developed countries in the Asia Pacific region is lower than that in developed countries in the other regions.

• The impact of the driver condition on innovation in developed and developing countries in the Asia Pacific region is similar.

• The impact of the driver condition on innovative capacity in developing countries in the Asia Pacific region is higher than that in developing countries in other regions.

The empirical results for Model 5 indicate the following:

• The impact of the foundation condition on enhancing the contribution of the driver condition to innovation in developed countries is higher than that in developing countries.

• The impact of the foundation condition on enhancing the contribution of the driver condition to innovation is similar in developed countries in both the Asia Pacific region and other regions.

In summary, the empirical analysis consistently shows that the contribution of the foundation and driver conditions to innovative capacity is higher in developed countries than in developing countries. This is to be expected, as innovation capacity tends to increase rapidly when institutions are in place to stimulate greater interaction and flow of information among all stakeholders in the economy. Further, the level of contribution of the foundation and driver conditions to innovative capacity in developed countries in the Asia Pacific region is similar to that in developed countries in other regions. Likewise, the contribution of the foundation and driver conditions to innovative capacity in developing countries in the Asia Pacific region is similar to that in developing countries in other regions.

The empirical analysis also suggests that a highly developed foundation condition is an important precondition for enhancing the contribution of the driver condition to innovation. It is not surprising that the developed countries are ahead of developing countries in the development of the foundation condition. This enables them to extract greater value from the driver condition, which is also higher, and ultimately become more innovative.

LESSONS FOR ASIA PACIFIC COUNTRIES AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS

The empirical results obtained using the new analytic framework suggests that the innovative capacity of countries in the Asia Pacific region varies according to the level of development of the NIE (i.e. the foundation and driver conditions). Most developed countries in the region have highly developed foundation and driver conditions, comparable to that found in other developed countries. Thus, they are as innovative and competitive as their counterparts in other regions. Further, the different levels of innovative capacity and competitiveness achieved by developed and developing countries in the Asia Pacific region can also be attributed to the varying levels of development of the building blocks of the NIE.

This analysis suggests that lower levels of development of the NIE in developing countries in the Asia Pacific region may be attributed to weak foundation and driver conditions. A weak foundation condition is due to the following:

• ICT services cost more and are of poorer quality in developing countries than in developed countries due to the highly concentrated market structure in developing countries.

• There is a lack of coordination in planning and in the implementation of ICT infrastructure development plans.

On the other hand, a weak driver condition is due to the following:

• The pool of skilled workers, especially technology-savvy workers, is smaller in developing countries due to a relatively weak education system and a serious ‘brain drain’ problem.

• Interactions among key stakeholders, such as government, the private sector, educational institutions, and social networks, are uncoordinated and patchy due to weak communication channels.

• The lack of transparent processes and systems, which leads to corrupt practices.

• Fiscal (grants, subsidies, scientific and technological infrastructure funding) and non-fiscal incentives (tax systems) to support R&D, patenting, and commercialization are not in place or not effectively implemented.

• There is no adequate legal and legislative architecture to support the development of a network-based and knowledge-intensive society. This includes lack of legislation or enforcement of intellectual property rights protection and shareholder protection, and lack of laws against corrupt practices and crimes related to the network economy.

Each of these is enough to cause serious problems for developing countries. But in combination their potential negative impact is far worse. Our empirical analysis based on the framework proposed shows that interaction between factors is a characteristic feature of the network economy. Thus, the framework could help clarify issues and challenges for policymakers seeking to manage their respective NIEs more effectively.

A weak foundation condition (ICT infrastructure) will not only limit the opportunities for people to acquire affordable and quality education and learning, but also hinder strategic linkages between all stakeholders in the economy (especially between government, industry, and enterprises); restrict the ability of firms to access cheaper resources (production materials, technology, human capital, and financing) from global markets; and reduce the opportunities to improve institutions and governance systems. To break away from the vicious cycle of a weak NIE and poor socio-economic development, developing countries in the region should simultaneously improve their foundation and driver conditions.

We now turn our attention to strategies to enhance the effectiveness of the NIE in the region.

An important feature of the NIE is the foundation condition that facilitates connectivity to the global economy. Developing countries in the Asia Pacific region should formulate a clear and coherent plan for developing their ICT infrastructure. The plan should address the digital divide within the countries and identify cost-effective measures to connect people to the global economy. This includes using ‘last-mile’ and satellite technologies. Such a plan should also raise awareness of effective use of ICT population. Tax incentives should be offered to encourage greater ownership of computers in homes and by SMEs (see ‘Internet Connectivity in the Republic of Korea’).

To increase the innovative capacity of countries in the region, equal emphasis should be given to raising the quality of the driver conditions. This entails increasing investments in education, especially in ICT in addition to science and technology. Schools in both rural and urban areas should be equipped with ICT, and school curricula should include the use of ICT in teaching and learning. Teachers should be trained in creative learner-centred ICT-supported pedagogies and encouraged to develop content in the local languages. Moreover, curriculum planning and development should involve industry to ensure that curricula are relevant for the formation of a competitive economy. To strengthen the teaching-learning-research nexus, the private sector should be encouraged to invest in human capital development and R&D programs (e.g. doctoral courses). The human capacity-building efforts of schools may be complemented by ICT training programs for the general public offered through publicly funded ICT telecentres (see ‘Creative Learning Environment and the Content Industry in Finland’).

The level of cooperation between government, universities, and enterprises is dependent on the level of transparency and effectiveness of the public sector in providing efficient and unbiased services. Effective implementation of ICT systems, such as in e-government, can improve access to information; the ability to bypass various levels of intermediaries, thus cutting transaction costs; and the participation of key stakeholders in public policy discussions. Former President of India, Abdul Kalam, aptly describes the key attributes of an e-government system that can instil greater respect for the public sector as ‘transparent smart e-governance with seamless access, secure and authentic flow of information crossing the interdepartmental barrier and providing a fair and unbiased service to the citizens’ (Kalam 2003). Greater transparency and good governance is urgently needed to ensure that the Asia Pacific region remains an attractive location for investors. Governments in the region should hasten the implementation of e-government and e-governance initiatives, and benchmark these initiatives to global best practices.

At the same time, an appropriate legal and regulatory framework for the protection of users of the digital medium, especially from high-priced but poor quality service arising from a monopolistic or oligopolistic market structure, should be in place.

Moreover, national policies to enhance innovation need to be better coordinated, for example, through the establishment of a coordinating council at the highest level of government, with membership coming from the public and private sectors as well as from civil society. This has been successfully implemented in some countries in the Asia Pacific and other regions.

Finally, developed countries could play an important role in helping developing countries to create a sustainable NIE and e-commerce environment. This is so not only because developing countries are confronted by competing demands for limited resources and thus find it difficult to provide basic ICT infrastructure and services, but also, and more importantly, because the global community stands to reap huge benefits from greater connectivity and interaction between all countries and their citizens.

THE WAY FORWARD

This chapter has sought to move beyond description to an empirical measurement and analysis of the innovative capacity of countries based on foundation and driver conditions. Decision-makers in the public and private sectors could apply this framework to gauge its value in addressing the challenges of the network economy.

The empirical analysis shows that developed countries in the Asia Pacific region are as innovative as other developed countries. This is largely due to the rapid diffusion of ICT coupled with a high investment in human capital development; institutional reforms; competitive incentives systems; adherence to global standards; and strong linkages between enterprises, government, and educational institutions.

While several countries in the Asia Pacific have a well developed NIE, many other countries in the region have a weak or practically non-existent NIE. A combination of weak foundation

Internet Connectivity in the Republic of Korea

Internet penetration in the Republic of Korea has increased more rapidly than in most other countries (Figure 3.5). The number of Korean citizens with Internet access jumped from 68.3 per 1,000 persons in 1997 to 656.8 per 1,000 persons in 2004, with the largest increase taking place in 1998 (237.7 per 1,000). Most of those with Internet access now use broadband.

Figure 3.5
Korea’s Internet penetration rate vis-à-vis other selected countries

Image

(Source: http://earthtrends.wri.org/selectaction.php?theme=1)

This rapid increase can be attributed to five reasons. First, in 1998, an alternate mode of accessing the Internet was introduced in Korea, namely, via cable television, which was widely available. Second, the government launched the Korea Information Infrastructure Project to connect 144 cities across the country to the fast Internet services using optical cable networks. Third, the government deregulated the Internet broadband market, resulting in more service providers in the market. This lowered the Internet subscription rate and increased the quality of services. Fourth, the number of ‘PC-bangs’ (PC rooms) increased significantly, with close to 16,000 PC bangs established in 2000 to complement government efforts to increase Internet use (Whinston and Choi 2002). Fifth, the government recognized that the education system required a major overhaul to make it more relevant to the new economy and to increase the number of ICT-savvy citizens. The government connected all schools to the Internet. In 2001, compulsory computer education was introduced from first grade of elementary school, and computer use was required for more than 10 percent of the school curriculum (Im 2002). In addition, the Korean Education Network (KREN) was established in the early 1990s to provide high speed access to all public and private universities. In mid-2000 the government introduced the Ten Million People Internet Education Project to provide ICT training for people who were not ICT literate.

Korea’s innovative capacity improved dramatically with the development of access infrastructure and the expansion of information use.

Coupling a Creative Learning Environment and the Content Industry in Finland

Finland’s education system is recognized as one of the best in the world. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted in 2003 by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed that 15-year-old Finnish students were the top performers in literacy, mathematics, science, and problem solving.

ICT has been a cornerstone of Finnish educational enhancement, fostering independent learning and allowing students to acquire knowledge through networked communities across the globe. Young people in Finland today regard social networking software (the Internet, wikis, and blogs) and sharing technologies as important media for learning. They also recognize the importance of continuous and lifelong learning where knowledge is acquired not only in a formal setting, such as in schools and colleges, but also outside of the school system and throughout the lifespan (Figure 3.6). This learning model requires a living environment that facilitates learning.

Thus, as early as 1996, Finland’s National Board of Education began implementing an ICT program to connect schools with information networks, train teachers in pedagogies suited to a digital environment, and develop ICT-enhanced teaching and learning materials. The ICT rollout in Finnish schools emphasized the following: collaborative teaching and learning environments; networking and teamwork, which are critical for promoting universal learning; multidisciplinary learning and research; and enhancing innovation among the younger generation. This program also led to the development of online education materials in the Finnish language, which met the government’s objective of creating a new content and new media industry.

Figure 3.6

Image

(Source: Academy of Academy of Finland and TEKES 2006)

and driver conditions in these countries gives rise to economies that are dependent on resource-based sectors for socio-economic development. Due to the low utilization of technology, many of these sectors are not globally competitive. For such countries, the analytic framework proposed in this chapter should indicate critical areas for improvement, especially those that will produce the greatest dividends.

Weak foundation and driver conditions will not only hinder innovation, but also limit these countries’ adaptability to major structural changes occurring in the global economy. To break away from the vicious cycle of socio-economic instability, developing countries in the Asia Pacific region must accelerate the development of the foundation and driver conditions and ensure that their ‘blueprints’ for innovation-based development are resilient to global technological and socio-economic tsunamis. Some strategies to strengthen the NIE of countries in the region have been presented. They may be able to stimulate further discussion toward the formulation of more specific policy options, directions, and recommendations.

This study is not without its limitations. One of these is the availability of quality data for developing countries, especially in the Asia Pacific region. Greater attention should be given to improving data collection mechanisms in this region and elsewhere. Up-to-date and accurate information, along with a longer span of the data series, will provide a more robust analysis about the relationships between each of the building-blocks of the NIE (infrastructure, intellectual capital, interaction, integrity, incentives, and institutions) and the innovative capacity of countries in the region. The short- and long-term dynamics between the building-blocks and innovative capacity can be modeled using more robust statistical methods such as panel data econometrics techniques.

Apart from improved data, we encourage more research in this area to enable the construction of more robust frameworks for measuring the innovation capacity of countries. This in turn would provide policymakers and planners with a sound empirical basis for managing their respective economies to achieve greater innovation, productivity, and competitiveness.

APPENDIX

Appendix 3.1A
Technical notes for the empirical models

 

The impact of foundation and driver condition on the innovative capacity of countries was estimated using the following model:

Model 1:

yi = β0 + β1fi + β2di + β3(fi × di) + θ1T03 + θ2T05 + εi

where yi is the innovative capacity of country i. The foundation and driver conditions for country i are denoted as fi and di respectively. The time dummy variables for the period 2002–2003 and 2004–2005 are given as T03 and T05, respectively. The residuals are denoted as εi, and are assumed to be normally distributed with mean 0 and variance σ2. The other models estimated are discussed below.

Model 2:

yi = β0 + β1fi + β2di + β3(fi × di) + ψ1DA1i + ψ2DA2i + ψ3DOi + θ1T03 + θ2T05 + εi

Model 3:

yi = β0 + β1fi + β2di + β3(fi × di) + δ1(fi × DA1i) + δ2(fi × DA2i) + δ3(fi × DOi) + θ1T03 + θ2T05 + εi

Model 4:

yi = β0 + β1fi + β2di + β3(fi × di) + λ1(di × DA1i) + λ2(di × DA2i) + λ3(di × DOi) + θ1T03 + θ2T05 + εi

Model 5:

yi = β0 + β1fi + β2di + β3(fi × di) + ξ1(fi × di × DA1i) + ξ2(fi × di × DA2i) + ξ3(fi × di × DOi) + θ1T03 + θ2T05 + εi

where DA1i, DA2i, and DOi are the dummy variables denoting developed Asia Pacific countries, developing Asia Pacific countries, and other developed countries, respectively. The β’s, θ’s, ψ’s, δ’s, λ’s, and ξ’s are the parameters of interest, and the signs of these estimated parameters will indicate if the explanatory variables have positive or negative impact on y.

Since the dependent variable was bounded between 0 and 100, the Double-Limit-Tobit (DLT) method (with heterosekdasticity corrected residuals) was used to capture the relationship between foundation-driver conditions and innovative capacity of countries in Models 1 to 5. The DLT was used in this study because the response variable is bounded in the interval [0, 100]. Details of the DLT model can be found in Greene (2003).

Pair-wise comparison between the coefficients for four country groupings in the models was conducted using the Likelihood Ratio Test (LRT) Statistic, where the distribution for the test statistic follows a chi-square distribution with 1 degree of freedom.

Appendix 3.1B

Table 3B.1
Data definition and sources

 

Capacity for innovation

Capacity for innovation

Companies obtain technology

1 = exclusively from licensing or imitating foreign companies

7 = by conducting formal research and pioneering their own new products & processes

Info-structure

Internet users

Internet users per 100 people

Intellectual capacity

Quality of public schools

The public (free) schools in your country are

1 = of poor quality

7 = equal to the best in the world

Incentives

Ease of access to loans

How easy is it to obtain a bank loan in your country with only a good business plan and no collateral?

1 = impossible

7 = easy

 

Venture capital availability

Entrepreneurs with innovative but risky projects can generally find venture capital in your country

1 = not true

7 = true

 

Access to credit

During the past year, obtaining credit for your company has become

1 = more difficult

7 = easier

 

Subsidies and tax credits for firm level R&D

For firms conducting R&D in your country, direct government subsidies to individual companies or R&D tax credits

1 = never occur

7 = are widespread and large

Interaction

University-industry research collaboration

In its R&D activity, business collaboration with local universities is

1 = minimal or non-existent

7 = intensive and ongoing

 

State of cluster development

How common are clusters in your country?

1 = limited and shallow

7 = common and deep

Institutions

Burden of regulation by public institutions

Complying with administrative requirements in the country

1 = burdensome

7 = not burdensome

 

Property rights

Property rights, including over financial assets are

1 = are poorly defined and not protected by law

7 = are clearly defined and protected by law

 

Intellectual property protection

Intellectual property protection in your country

1 = is weak or non-existent

7 = is equal to the world’s most stringent

Integrity

Business cost of corruption

Do other firms’ illegal payments to influence government policies, laws, or regulations impose costs or otherwise negatively affect your firm?

1 = impose large cost

7 = impose no cost/not relevant

Note: The data for internet users for the year 2005 were obtained from Porter et al. (2007). The remaining data were obtained from Porter et al. (2002, 2003, and 2004). All the variables were converted to base 100. The sample size used for this study was 75, 80, and 104, respectively for the three periods.

Table 3B.2
The list of countries

Asia Pacific developed countries

Asia Pacific developing countries

Other developed countries

Other developing countries

Hong Kong

Japan

Korea

Singapore

Taiwan

Bangladesh

China

India

Indonesia

Malaysia

Pakistan

Philippines

Sri Lanka

Thailand

Vietnam

Australia

Austria

Belgium

Canada

Cyprus

Denmark

Finland

France

Germany

Greece

Iceland

Ireland

Israel

Italy

Luxembourg

Malta

Netherlands

New Zealand

Norway

Portugal

Slovenia

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

United Kingdom

United States

Algeria

Angola

Argentina

Bahrain

Bolivia

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Botswana

Brazil

Bulgaria

Chad

Chile

Columbia

Costa Rica

Croatia

Czech Republic

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

Egypt

El Salvador

Estonia

Ethiopia

Gambia

Georgia

Ghana

Guatemala

Haiti

Honduras

Hungary

Jamaica

Jordan

Kenya

Latvia

Lithuania

Macedonia

Madagascar

Malawi

Mali

Mauritius

Mexico

Morocco

Mozambique

Namibia

Nicaragua

Nigeria

Panama

Paraguay

Peru

Poland

Romania

Russian Federation

Serbia & Montenegro

Slovak Republic

South Africa

Trinidad & Tobago

Tunisia

Turkey

Uganda

Ukraine

United Arab Emirates

Uruguay

Venezuela

Zambia

Zimbabwe

 

Note: The developed countries were defined based on the IMF classification. Since there were insufficient data for countries in the least developed classification (based on IMF classification) for the Asia Pacific region, the IMF classifications for ‘emerging countries’ and ‘under-developed countries’ were grouped into one country classification called the ‘developing country’ classification.

Table 3B.3
The empirical results

Explanatory variable

Model 1

Model 2

Model 3

Model 4

Model 5

Constant

11.1816**

16.5301

8.8264**

18.1143*

7.4237***

DA1i

 

8.1292**

 

 

 

DA2i

 

2.8376***

 

 

 

DOi

 

10.8679*

 

 

 

f

–0.1729

–0.0614

0.1901

0.0907

0.4959**

d

0.6913*

0.5717*

0.7411*

0.5361*

0.7635*

fi × d

0.0041***

0.0017

–0.004138

–0.0005

–0.0089**

fi × DA1i

 

 

0.2537*

 

 

fi × DA2i

 

 

0.0749

 

 

fi × DOi

 

 

0.3250*

 

 

di × DA1i

 

 

 

0.1191*

 

di × DA2i

 

 

 

0.0555***

 

di × DOi

 

 

 

0.1696*

 

fi × di × DA1i

 

 

 

 

0.0139*

fi × di × DA2i

 

 

 

 

0.0014

fi × di × DOi

 

 

 

 

0.0150*

T03

–3.2491**

–2.9553**

–2.9439**

–2.9588**

–3.0098**

T05

–4.2857*

–3.3365**

–3.5327**

–3.2677**

–3.5908**

Note: The symbols *, **, and *** denote statistical significance at the 1%, 5%, and 10% significance levels, respectively.

Table 3B.4
Pair-wise comparison between country groupings

Test

LRT-Stats

Decision

Model 2

 

 

H0 : ψ1 = ψ2

HA : ψ1ψ2

1.2663

Accept Null Hypothesis, H0. The innovative capacity in developed and developing countries in the Asia Pacific is similar.

H0 : ψ1 = ψ3

HA : ψ1ψ3

0.4608

Accept Null Hypothesis, H0. The innovative capacity in developed countries in the Asia Pacific region and in the other regions is similar.

H0 : ψ2 = ψ3

HA : ψ3ψ3

6.4303**

Reject Null Hypothesis, H0. The innovative capacity in developed countries in the other regions is higher than in developing countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Model 3

 

 

H0 : δ1 = δ2

HA : δ1δ2

2.8772***

Reject Null Hypothesis, H0. The impact of the foundation condition on innovation in developed countries in the Asia Pacific is higher than that in developing countries in the Asia Pacific region.

H0 : δ1 = δ3

HA : δ1δ3

1.1277

Accept Null Hypothesis, H0. The impact of the foundation condition on innovation in developed countries in the Asia Pacific region is similar to that in developed countries in the other regions.

H0 : δ2 = δ3

HA : δ2δ3

6.8454*

Reject Null Hypothesis, H0. The impact of the foundation condition on innovation in developed countries in other regions is higher than that in developing countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Model 4

 

 

H0 : λ1 = λ2

HA : λ1λ2

1.7736

Accept Null Hypothesis, H0. The impact of the driver condition on innovation in developed countries in the Asia Pacific is similar to that in developing countries in the Asia Pacific region.

H0 : λ1 = λ3

HA : λ1λ3

2.6873***

Reject Null Hypothesis, H0. The impact of the driver condition on innovation in developed in the Asia Pacific region is lower than that in developed countries from other regions.

H0 : λ2 = λ3

HA : λ2λ3

8.1521*

Reject Null Hypothesis, H0. The impact of the driver condition on innovation in developed countries in the other regions is higher than in developing countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Model 5

 

 

H0 : ξ1 = ξ2

HA : ξ1ξ2

3.3313***

Reject Null Hypothesis, H0. The role of the foundation condition in enhancing the contribution of the driver condition to innovation in developed countries in the Asia Pacific region is higher than that in developing countries in the Asia Pacific region.

H0 : ξ1 = ξ3

HA : ξ1ξ3

1.8317

Accept Null Hypothesis, H0. The role of foundation condition in enhancing the contribution of the driver condition to innovation in developed countries in the Asia Pacific region is similar to that of developed countries in the other regions.

H0 : ξ2 = ξ3

HA : ξ2ξ3

8.5401*

Reject Null Hypothesis, H0. The role of the foundation condition in enhancing the contribution of the driver condition to innovation in developed countries in the other regions is higher than that in developing countries from the Asia Pacific region.

Note: The symbols *, **, and *** denote statistical significance at the 1%, 5%, and 10% significance levels, respectively.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Academy of Finland and TEKES. (2006). Finnsight 2015: The outlook for science technology and society. OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) website. Retrieved 23 October 2008 from http://www.pisa.oecd.org/pages/0,2987, en_32252351_32235731_1_1_1_1_1,00.html

Baily, M.N. (2002). The new economy: Post mortem or second wind. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 16(3), 3–22.

Barro, R. (1990). Government spending in a simple model of endogenous growth. Journal of Political Economy, 98(October), 103–26.

Becchetti, L., D. Bedoya, and L. Paganetto. (2003). ICT investment, productivity and efficiency: Evidence at firm level using a stochastic frontier approach. Journal of Productivity Analysis, 20(2), 143–67.

Bozeman, B. and J.S. Dietz. (2001). Research policy trends in the United States: Civilian technology programs, defense technology and the deployment of the national laboratories. In P. Laredo and P. Mustar (Eds), Research and innovation policies in the new global economy (pp. 45–78). United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Cameron, G. (1996). Catch-up and leapfrog between the USA and Japan. Oxford: Nuffield College. Mimeo.

Criscuolo, C. and K. Waldron. (2003). Computer network use and productivity use in the United Kingdom. Centre for Research into Business Activity and Office of National Statistics, UK. Mimeo.

De Gregorio, C. (2002). Micro enterprises in Italy: Are ICTs an opportunity for growth and competitiveness? Paper presented at the OECD workshop on ICT and Business Performance. ISTAT, Rome, December.

Dosi, G., C. Freeman, R. Nelson, G. Silverberg, and L. Soete. (1988). Technical change and economic theory. London: Pinter.

Edquist, C. (1997). Systems of innovation: Technologies, innovation and organization. London: Pinter.

Freeman, C. (1987). Technology policy and economic performance: Lessons from Japan. London: Pinter.

Furman, J.L., M.E. Porter, and S. Stern. (2002). The determinants of national innovative capacity. Research Policy, 31(6), 899–933.

Godin, B. (2006). The knowledge-based economy: Conceptual framework or buzzword? Journal of Technology Transfer, 31, 17–30.

Greene, W.H. (2003). Econometric Analysis (5th ed.). New Jersey, USA: Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River.

Gurbaxani, V., N. Melville, and K.L. Kraemer. (1998). Disaggregating the return on investment to IT capital. In J.I. DeGross, R. Hirschheim, and M. Newman (Eds), Proceedings of the Nineteenth International Conference on Information Systems (pp. 376–80). Helsinki: ICIS.

Hof, R.D. (2005). The power of US: Mass collaboration on the Internet is shaking up business. The Business Week, (June), 53–62.

Im, Y. (2002). ICT education to narrow digital divide in South Korea. Retrieved 21 November 2008 from http://umpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/apcity/unpan011287.pdf

Kalam, A.P.J. (2003). Citizen Centric e-Governance: Technology and management policy. Finance India, 17(4), 1273–77.

Kim, S.J. (2003). Information technology and its impact on economic growth and productivity in Korea. International Economic Journal, 17(3), 55–75.

Kraemer, K. and J. Dedrick. (1993). Payoffs from Investment in IT: Lessons from the Asia Pacific Region. Irvine, CA: CRITO National IT Policy Publications.

Kumar, S. (2002). An empirical model to assess the impact of ICT, ICT literacy on productivity and economic growth: The case of USA. Unpublished Bachelor of Business and Commerce Honours Thesis. Monash University Malaysia.

Lau, L.J. and I. Tokutsu. (1992). The impact of computer technology on the aggregate productivity of the United States: An indirect approach. Working Paper. Stanford CA: Department of Economics, Stanford University. Mimeo.

Lucas, R.B. (1988). On the mechanics of economic development. Journal of Monetary Economics, 22(June), 2–32.

Lundvall, B.A. (1992). National systems of innovation: Towards a theory of innovation and interactive learning. London: Pinter.

Nair, M. (2007). The DNA of the new economy, Economic Bulletin, 8, 27–59.

Nair, M., M. Kuppusamy, and R. Davison. (2005). A longitudinal study on the global digital divide problem: Strategies to close cross-country digital gap, The Business Review Cambridge, 4(1), 315–26.

Nelson, R.R. (1981). Research on productivity growth and productivity differences: Dean ends and new departures. Journal of Economic Literature, 19(3), 1029–106.

———. (1993). National innovation systems: A comparative analysis. New York: Oxford University Press.

Nelson, R.R. and S.G. Winter. (1977). In search of a useful theory of innovation. Research Policy, 6, 36–76.

Porter, M. (1990). The competitive advantage of nations. New York: The Free Press.

Porter, M. and S. Stern. (2002). National Innovative Capacity. In M. Porter, J. Sachs, P. Cornelius, J. McArthur, and K. Schwab (Eds), The Global Competitiveness Report 2001–2002 (pp. 102–18). World Economic Forum. New York: Oxford University Press.

Porter, M.E, J.D. Sachs, P.K. Cornelius, J.W. McArthur, and K. Schwab. (2002). The Global Competitiveness Report 2001–2002. World Economic Forum. New York: Oxford University Press.

Porter, M.E., K. Schwab, X. Salai-i-Martin, and A. Lopez-Claros. (2004). The Global Competitiveness Report 2004–2005. World Economic Forum. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Porter, M.E., X. Salai-i-Martin, and K. Schwab. (2007). The Global Competitiveness Report 2007–2008. World Economic Forum. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Rodrick, D., A. Subramanian, and F. Trebbi. (2002). Institutions rule: The primary of institutions over integration and geography in economic development. IMF Working Paper, WP/01/189. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund.

Romer, P. (1986). Increasing returns and long run growth. Journal of Political Economy, 94(5), 1002–37.

———. (1990). Endogenous technological change. Journal of Political Economy, 8(5), 71–102.

Schumpeter, P. (1934). The theory of economic development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

———. (1942). Capitalism, socialism and democracy. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Sciadas, G. (2005). From the digital divide to digital opportunities: Measuring infostates for development. Montreal: Orbicom.

Timmer, M.P. and B. van Ark. (2005). Does information and communication technology drive EU-US productivity growth differentials? Oxford Economic Papers, 57(4), 693–716.

Whinston, A.B. and S.Y. Choi. (2002). Summary of the US Team. In M. Kagami and M. Tsugi (Eds), Digital Divide or Digital Jump: Beyond ‘IT’ Revolution. Japan: Institute of Developing Economies (IDE), JETRO.

World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA). (2006). Digital Planet 2006: The Global Information Economy. USA: WITSA.

Part B Regional issues in ICT in education

Education for All in the digital age

Distance education in Asia Pacific

ICTs in non-formal education in Asia Pacific

Capacity-building for ICT integration in education

Public-private partnerships in ICT for education

This page intentionally left blank

Education for All in the digital age

Tan Sri Dato’ Gajaraj Dhanarajan

The faces of marginalised people are legion. They are the faces of African children wasting away from diarrhea that could be prevented if only their desperate mothers knew how to put together a simple saline solution. They are the faces of struggling farmers in South Asia whose primitive agricultural methods have not changed for generations … of oppressed minority groups around the world still denied the right to vote. (UNESCO 1997)

We still live in a world of great inequality. Much of humanity continues to be denied access to an equal share of the planet’s wealth, to justice, and to a decent living. The disparity between those who have and those who do not in terms of food, healthcare, education, and social security continues to be appalling. The inequalities are not just between rich and poor nations but also within nations and communities.

The elimination of these inequalities is a global aspiration expressed through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The first of the eight goals is the eradication of poverty and three others have to do with improving health (i.e. reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases). The seventh goal is ensuring environmental sustainability, and the eighth is developing a global partnership for development. The second and third goals are related to education: achieving universal primary education and promoting gender equality and empowering women specifically through the elimination of gender disparity at all levels of education.

The emphasis on education for development is not surprising. Education has been, and continues to be, the most powerful agent of change. Thus, there is global recognition of education as a basic human right and social responsibility. This underpins the World Declaration on Education for All that ‘every person — child, youth, and adult — should be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their basic learning needs’ (UNESCO 1990a).

In April 2000, some 180 government representatives, donor agencies, and international experts met at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal to assess the progress made by the Education for All initiative that began in 1990. They realized that after 10 years, the world was nowhere near achieving the targets set in Jomtien. Thus, in Dakar, there was a reaffirmation of the global commitment to provide every child with primary basic education of good quality by the year 2015 and during this period to also bring about the equal participation of girls in primary and secondary education, expand early childhood care and education, promote learning and life skills for young people and adults, and improve the quality and relevance of the curriculum and the learning environment. These new targets for the education sector complement those set in other global agendas for development.

Besides target setting, the Dakar Framework for Action also recognized the need to help many nations develop their own action plans to achieve the targets and mobilize resources from all available sources within and outside of national jurisdictions. A further call reiterated the role of civil society in education and the importance of having providers of education commit to defining, designing, maintaining, and sustaining quality in its delivery. All these are tall orders, considering that when the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien was convened:

• There were more than 960 million adults who were illiterate and two-thirds of them were women and girls;

• More than 100 million children, mostly girls, did not have access to primary schooling;

• More than 100 million children and countless millions of adults were failing to complete their basic education programs, while millions more satisfied school attendance requirements but did not acquire essential knowledge and skills; and

• More than a third of the world’s adult population (some two billion individuals) had no access to printed knowledge, new skills and technologies that could improve the quality of their lives and help them to shape social and cultural development.

The region’s share in this challenge is considerable. There have been significant achievements in the education sectors in many of the countries in the Asia Pacific. In the close to two decades since Jomtien, participation in primary education has increased; there are more girl children in school; and retention rates are improving, as well as gender equality in the teaching profession and access to post-primary, post-secondary, and professional education. But these achievements still fall short of global ambitions. While the task of getting a larger proportion of our children and young people into schools, colleges, and universities is by itself a daunting one, what is even more challenging is providing learning opportunities for the many millions of adults in the region. Eradicating illiteracy, improving skills, enhancing knowledge bases, creating windows for learning, and ensuring continuous learning are all fundamental to fulfilling the MDGs. And these must be made possible not only for the fortunate few who live in urban communities and who have access to the communications infrastructure and classrooms. The following must also be given education opportunities to enable them to participate in the creation of the knowledge society:

• Those who are functionally illiterate: Apart from about 900 million illiterates globally, there are almost half as many adults who cannot cope with the demands of daily life on the basis of their prior literacy levels.

• The physically challenged: Annually, in Asia alone, about 15 million people become disabled as a result of war, diseases, accidents, and malnutrition. Their major hope of self-improvement is to pick up skills for self-improvement.

• The long-term unemployed: Long-term unemployment is a debilitating pathology; training people in such situations pose special challenges to delivery and pedagogy.

• Out of school youth, especially boys: This group is highly vulnerable to socially disruptive behaviours. A combination of apprenticeship, employment and self-education is needed to help them to contribute to a productive economy.

• Women and girls: In many parts of Asia and the Pacific, women and girls still find themselves marginalized from participating in education and training. Ways have to be found to circumvent the social, cultural, and economic impediments to their education.

• Refugees, recent immigrants and non-nationals: Today, roughly 125 million people live outside their countries of origin. This flow of people for political, social, or economic reasons is not expected to slow down. They and their families need educational programs that will develop their language, social, and job skills.

Governments are also beginning to recognize that planning for ‘competitive advantage’ will require a labour force that has literacy and numeracy skills beyond three to six years of primary schooling (which is the current situation in most industrialized and newly industrializing countries, and worse in developing countries). Globally, some two billion people in today’s workforce will continue to be there well into the first quarter of the next century. They will need retooling and continuous skills upgrading.

The huge demand for initial, continuing and lifelong education has placed education systems ‘at a crisis point’ (Daniel 1996). The need to expand access, ensure quality, and respond to a diversity of learning needs at a time of diminishing resources presents difficult choices for governments. In confronting these choices, nations, and institutions in the Asia Pacific need to reexamine traditions of schooling, teaching, and learning. And they need to carefully consider the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to meet the demands for universal quality education at all levels.

Even before the arrival of the new ICTs, education institutions such as the Correspondence School of New Zealand, National Open School of India, Open Universities of Sri Lanka and Hong Kong, Alama Iqbal Open University of Pakistan, and Indira Gandhi National Open University of India were providing mass, flexible, and affordable education to remote learners using the older analogue technologies of print, audio and video, and the broadcast vehicles of radio and television. The experiences and successes of these institutions are a testimony to the effectiveness of technologies in taking learning to individuals and large communities simultaneously.

More than two decades ago, Bates (1984) noted that ‘developments in technology are bringing advantages to distance teaching and removing some of the disadvantages … through promises of lower costs, greater student control, more interaction and feedback as well as a wider range of teaching functions and a higher quality of learning’. These remarkable transformations are taking place today not only within the operating environment of distance education but also in all digitally supported education provision in most parts of the Asia Pacific. Digital technologies are replacing analogue and electromechanical solutions, providing greater functionality at lower costs, and enabling efficient networking and utilization. While the educational community has been somewhat slower in adopting these tools than the business community, the pace has started to pick up over the last 10 years, giving rise to improvements in administrative efficiency, better student record management systems, improved course development protocols, a higher level of learner support, and resource-rich learning environments.

As recently as a decade ago, the choice of technologies for delivering education was somewhat limited, partly because they were expensive, analogue stand-alone technologies with limited versatility, and requiring many skilled technicians to create and deliver the product. But today we have a different picture. The limitation to technology application in education is no longer the versatility, convenience, cost, and potential of the technology, but the limitation of our imagination in the way they can be applied. Through integration, convergence, miniaturization, and intelligence, the technologies have become ‘friendly’. The question is no longer whether technologies are useful in the teaching and learning environment but which technologies are best suited for a particular purpose.

Digitization has made it possible to design, develop, deliver, manage, and assess the learning process in many new ways. This is because the new digital technologies are not single technologies but combinations of hardware and software, media, and delivery systems. They are rapidly evolving and converging as seen in personal computers, laptops, notebooks and personal digital assistants; digital cameras; local area networking; the Internet and the World Wide Web; Compact Disc-Read Only Memory (CD-ROM) and digital video discs (DVDs); mobile learning, podcasting, and video sharing tools; and productivity software such as word processors, spreadsheets, simulations, email, digital libraries, computer-mediated conferencing, video conferencing, and virtual reality. The new digital technologies also have a capacity to integrate with the older analogue technologies, making it possible to retrieve information stored in older technologies and to develop synergies between the old and the new.

The new technologies differ significantly from the older technologies in their integration of multimedia, convergence, interactivity, flexibility of use, and connectivity. Until recently, however, their application for development, including education, in the Asia Pacific region has been narrow rather than broad. Fibre optic-based systems, which are a key part of the new information infrastructure in many locations, have not penetrated the peri-urban and rural hinterlands. But coupled with satellite technologies and working in tandem with other wireless systems, they can provide a window of opportunity for education systems to reach far beyond what until a few years ago could only be imagined.

The use of satellite technologies in delivering education, health services, and telecommunication is well documented. An important part of the ongoing economic, social and technological revolution that has come about with the advent of the Internet age are the opportunities provided by the newest forms of satellite communications technology and applications, such as the World Wide Web, multimedia knowledge products, video-conferencing, and video-lecturing options, as well as enormous amounts of data transmissions. These innovations are helping institutions to reach the unreachable. And they are making possible a paradigm shift in the way educators view teaching and learning.

For one, the new ICTs are stimulating a resurgence of interest in diversifying methods of education delivery. Almost on a daily basis, a Web-based course becomes available from one university or another. ‘Smart Schools’ are springing up in the richer parts of Asia and ‘virtual learning’, ‘online learning’, and other newer forms of educational delivery are becoming part of the educational jargon of the new century. These new developments both reflect and give rise to a growing realization among education providers that in order to successfully implement flexible, easily accessible education reaching the masses, they have to reassess their methods, means, structures, and resources.

In relying more extensively on ICTs in educational provision, education administrators and policymakers will need to attend to eight factors:

Policy framework: There is a need for a clearly articulated national education policy that recognizes and places on an equal footing the various modes of education, including open and distance learning and alternative learning. Such a policy should include provisions for a system of accreditation, adequate funding, quality assurance mechanisms, and support for learners, including bridging programs for those without prior learning experience. In Asia Pacific, countries like India, Malaysia, and the Republic of Korea stand out for their farsightedness in having such a policy framework and implementing it at all levels of the education system, including vocational and teachers training, post-primary education, continuing professional education, and undergraduate and postgraduate education.

Unequivocal institutional commitment: This is especially relevant to conventional institutions that take on off-campus education as an added provision, but fail to provide the resources needed to ensure its sustainability. An absence of institutional commitment leads to all kinds of bad practice from poor quality course materials to the absence of learner support and a total neglect of the students outside the campus. The promises made to deliver quality education and the expectations raised for all learners must be kept.

Investment in staff training: The range of skills required to function in a multimedia environment is both demanding and daunting. Organizing and running technology-supported distributed learning programs require staff skilled in a variety of tasks. But institutions, enthusiastic about investing in new systems, applications and connections, are often totally unrealistic when it comes to investing in training. It is vital to provide both academic and non-academic staff rigorous training.

Preventing commercialization: The commercial nature of educational ventures, especially from current vendors, is beginning to cause considerable concern among many who wish to see a growth in technology-assisted educational provision. While private enterprise can and does provide valuable education services, the insensitive brand waving and marketing of education as yet another commodity by some will hurt the cause of innovation if profit appears to be its only motivation. As education becomes increasingly ‘borderless’ and transnational, it is imperative for governments to put regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure that the public has access to quality education and is protected from exploitation by bucket-shop providers and Web cowboys.

A clear purpose for applying new technologies: Technology by itself cannot perform miracles. What is needed is imaginative and creative applications rooted in ground realities and sound training. Apart from the need to develop human capability to use the new technologies, the lack of resources for building the necessary physical infrastructure in a sustainable manner should prompt many governments in the region to take a cautious and well-considered approach to adopting technological solutions.

Minding the shift in costs from institutions to individual learners: New approaches to delivering education on the backbone of cyber pipes are gradually shifting the cost of learning from institutions to learners. Connectivity costs, line charges, and hardware and software costs are being borne by learners few of whom have the level of disposable income to pay for these in addition to tuition and other institutional fees. If providers of education are not mindful, yet another barrier to education can emerge especially for the very communities that these innovations are meant to serve.

Leadership to manage change: Innovations in delivering education require sound management and leadership. Education leaders need to be academically respected, politically connected, astute, charismatic speakers and interlocutors, and clever strategists and tacticians. They not only must manage change, they will also be required to initiate it. As the environment for education changes, there will be mounting pressure on institutions to respond to this change. Leaders with a capacity to manage the rapid rate of change must be found and empowered.

Continuous vigilance to ensure access, equity, and equality of opportunities: At the heart of educational innovation-must be the desire to reach out and reach all. This should be the guiding vision and mission of educators who are committed to the global aspiration of development for all. Similarly, serious attempts have to be made to ensure that equality of opportunity is made possible for all and that those who complete a non-traditional program (e.g. a distance education program) should be allowed to compete effectively for jobs. For this ‘parity of esteem’ to be achieved, a ‘parity of quality’ must be ensured.

In The Death of Distance, Frances Cairncross (1998) postulated a set of trends in the new communications environment that would influence the way we live, work, and play. While the dot-com boom and bust experience of the late 1990s required a review of these postulations, many still have relevance in the context of educational services. One of these is that the size of an organization does not matter, as small or specialized organizations and even individuals can create and transmit knowledge products to many users (at the users’ call) using the power of technology. The other trends that have relevance to the increased use of new technologies in the educational sector are as follows:

The death of distance: The cost of communication will not be determined by distance even in the most regulated environments. Reaching out to students through the electronic highway will be determined more by the willingness of educational providers to utilize the newer technologies than by considerations of cost, as demonstrated by the application of satellite and Web technologies in India and the South Pacific.

The cost of appliances: Such costs will continue to drop even as their computing capacities increase.

Location does not matter: Providers of educational services can be located anywhere on earth and still reach learners wherever they may be as long as there is a basic communication infrastructure. For example, students in India have access to courses in North America without having to be in North America. Similarly, courses in educational institutions in India can and should travel across the globe.

Content customization: Learning can be a multi-channel or a mono-channel experience. The final authority on customization will be the target learning outcomes for the subject and the learning preference of the learner.

People as the ultimate scarce resource: The really difficult challenge for institutions will be to recruit people with the necessary skills to perform the tasks required, as well as to train and retrain those already in service to work in the new environment.

Emergence of a global language: The emergence of English as a dominant second language of science, technology, business, and international relations, as well as education and training, will mean the availability of globally usable knowledge products. There will be an increase in the choice of educational and training courses.

Communities of culture: The opportunity to make available content in languages other than English will become feasible. Declining costs and ease of use of the communication tools will make possible the creation and preservation of cultural products and traditions.

As we look ahead to the future of technology-supported learning in the Asia Pacific region, the challenge will not be the availability, cost, maintenance, and versatility of technologies. Rather, the challenge will be about the capabilities, capacities, imagination, and aspirations of our institutions of learning and pedagogues to use technologies to their full potential.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bates, A.W. (1984). The role of technology in distance education. London: Croom Helm.

Cairncross, F. (1998). The death of distance: How the communication revolution will change our lives. MA, USA: Harvard Business School Press.

Commonwealth of Learning. (2000). Reflections on ten years of the commonwealth of learning. Vancouver, Canada: Commonwealth of Learning.

Daniel, J. (1996). Mega universities and knowledge media: Technology strategies for higher education. London, England: Kogan Page.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (1990a). The world declaration on Education for All. Jomtien, Thailand.

———. (1990b). The international consultative forum on Education for All, 1990–2000: A report to the EFA forum’s steering committee. Paris, France.

———. (1997). Adult education in a polarizing world: Education for All. Paris, France.

This page intentionally left blank

Distance education in Asia Pacific

Jon Baggaley, Tian Belawati, and Naveed Malik

INTRODUCTION

The establishment of the National Extension Institute in the United Kingdom (UK) in 1963 recognized the principle of open education or open learning — that education should be made available to all with minimal restrictions (Perraton 2007). Distance education (DE) technologies have evolved rapidly since then to serve this principle. The open education model stresses the need for flexibility to eliminate barriers to education, such as age, geographic location, time constraints, and economic situation. Open and distance learning1 (ODL) combines the principles of open and flexible learning with DE methodology and uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) to achieve educational goals that conventional face-to-face methods cannot fulfil because of these barriers.

The same ICTs are used in DE across the Asia Pacific region as in the non-formal and basic education programs reviewed in other chapters in this edition of the Digital Review of Asia Pacific. The only functional difference is the formality of the information/communication process — that is, whether or not the messages conveyed lead to formal accreditation for a degree or diploma for example. The current chapter emphasizes the provision of formal, accredited ICT-based higher education, and excludes vocational education, corporate training, and the like. The chapter considers a range of pressing issues affecting Asian DE institutions, such as the lack of access to the Internet obstructing institutional attempts to pursue ‘e-learning’ course delivery. The chapter also discusses the findings of current needs assessment and user and accessibility surveys conducted by the PAN Asia Networking Distance and Open Resource Access (PANdora) network (2005–2008) funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Special attention is given to developments in mobile phone usage for education and training in Asia Pacific. Finally, the need for a distinctively Asian approach to DE pedagogy is considered.

THE NEED FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION IN ASIA PACIFIC

Asia’s population has risen dramatically in the last 15 years to over 3.7 billion (InternetWorldStats 2008), with major increases in South Asia offsetting decreases in Southeast Asia. This has created critical education and training problems in many Asian countries. Conventional education systems in developing nations do not typically have the capacity to provide secondary, tertiary, and lifelong education to the whole population. The Millennium Development Goals (UN 2008) stress the role to be played by ICT and DE methods in overcoming this limitation both in formal and non-formal education.

ICTs have been used for the past 50 years to increase the efficiency of both face-to-face classroom training and distance-based delivery. The usual reasons for adopting DE methods are (Malik et al. 2005):

1. To widen access to higher education for the masses;

2. To provide continuing formal and non-formal education;

3. To train increasing numbers of students in areas that are target zones for socio-economic developmen; and

4. To upgrade the qualifications of primary and secondary school teachers.

The number of DE institutions and their student enrolment is increasing annually, indicating a growing acceptance of this mode of education. Of an estimated 44 ‘mega-universities’ (Daniel 1996) worldwide with at least 100,000 students (Wikipedia 2008a), 13 are single mode (DE) open universities and all practice DE in one form or another. Ten of the mega-universities are in Asia, including three in India alone, with a combined student population of approximately 2.1 million. The 10 largest mega-universities include Asian open universities. It may be argued that the China Central Radio and TV University (CCRTVU), with approximately two million students, should be included in this list, although technically the CCRTVU is a combination of separate institutions. It is estimated that 70 Asian institutions currently offer DE programmes to over six million students (Jung 2007).

The University of the South Pacific (USP), one of the earliest DE providers in the region, has offered degree programs to its 12 member countries since 1968. It currently uses a wide range of print materials, audio-conferencing, and Web-based methods. USP’s Wide Area Network (USPNet) incorporates a 5 MHz Internet Protocol (IP) satellite technology to integrate the University’s DE and administrative functions. Massey University in New Zealand, another early DE adopter, offers a wide range of Web-based programs, and numerous Australian institutions have become world leaders in DE provision, as shown in the activities and publications of the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia (ODLAA). Worldwide, there is a trend of conventional, face-to-face universities beginning to offer DE programs, thereby converting themselves into dual-mode institutions.

The recognition of DE and ODL as a means of human resource development in Asia is indicated by the establishment of professional organizations, such as the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) in 1987 and the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Open Learning Center (SEAMOLEC)2 in 1997. However, DE is still in its infancy in newly transitioned economies like Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, and Vietnam. It has enormous social potential in Asia Pacific, and research and development is now needed for DE to fulfil its goals.

ICT USAGE IN ASIA PACIFIC DISTANCE EDUCATION

The openness and efficiency of DE and training has been enhanced by ICT developments since the late 1990s. E-Learning methods, which use the Internet to deliver educational content and enable interaction between teachers and students (Belawati 2003), have allowed ODL to become interactive and personalized while increasing its geographic and socio-demographic penetration. Many non-ODL institutions have adopted e-learning and become dual-mode systems, delivering their courses by DE methods as well as in the classroom. The rapid development of e-learning since 2000 has been greatly assisted by the emergence of open source software (OSS), which makes learning management systems (LMS) widely available and often without cost. With OSS, ODL systems can be created and maintained with relatively low investment.

DE institutions use a comprehensive range of DE technology models. Taylor (2000) describes these in terms of five evolutionary stages, each solving to one degree or another, the problems of geographic distance (place), other commitments (time), and preferred speed of learning (pace) that many students face. The models are: (i) the correspondence model; (ii) the multimedia model; (iii) the telelearning model; (iv) the flexible learning model; and (v) the intelligent flexible learning model.

This analysis is useful as a general introduction to the range of ICTs available in DE. But it is primarily based on an analysis of the western educational situation, and no technology should be assumed to be appropriate in a particular region without testing. In Australia, Europe, and North America, most ICTs are more universally accessible and more reliable than in Asia Pacific. Panda (2005), for example, has reported that online programs at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in India have only been successful in reaching ‘the digitally rich who have access to the Internet or can manage to visit learning and teaching centres regularly’. Furthermore, the high costs of such technologies for students and institutions alike do not appear to be diminishing and will henceforward require ‘major increases in expenditure’ (Perraton 2007). In addition to accessibility and cost problems, there are capability, technical support, regulatory, and political barriers (Latchem et al. 2008). These may take years to resolve in the least developed countries.

For this reason, mega-universities such as the Open University of Indonesia (Universitas Terbuka: UT) have prudently maintained traditional media alongside online methods (see ‘The Open University of Indonesia [Universitas Terbuka]’). Young Asia Pacific universities such as the Virtual University of Pakistan (VU) also deliver their courses by broadcast television while maintaining traditional delivery systems (see ‘The Virtual University of Pakistan [VU]’). Print materials remain the dominant delivery technology in DE institutions, not only in Asia Pacific but worldwide, while high-end technologies such as satellite TV provide supplementary support for the educational process.

In the newly transitioned Asia Pacific economies, ICT can play a vital role in the provision of vocational education.

The Open University of Indonesia (Universitas Terbuka)

Indonesia has used DE methods since 1955 to broaden access to education for 215 million Indonesians spread across 15,000 islands. A correspondence diploma program to upgrade teacher skills was created and then integrated with other teacher training programs into the curriculum of the Indonesia Open University (Universitas Terbuka: UT) from its launch in 1984.

UT is the only university in Indonesia using DE modes. Its head office in Jakarta formulates institutional policies for the development and production of course materials, test/examination items, and examinations data processing, and 37 regional offices are responsible for daily operations, student registration, face-to-face tutorials, administrative counselling, and examinations. All units are connected through the University’s wide area network (WAN), which uses a public Internet connection soon to be connected with all State universities using the Ministry of National Education’s Intranet system called INHERENT.

The University offers approximately 1,000 courses through 31 study programs in four faculties — Economics, Social and Political Sciences, Mathematics and Natural Science, and Teacher Training and Educational Sciences — and three graduate programs. All course content is delivered through printed learning modules, and 25 percent of course materials are multimedia packages (audio/video-tapes, radio and TV broadcasts, and computer- and Web-based materials). Learning support is provided via face-to-face, online, and broadcast modes. Radio tutorials are broadcast by the government-owned National Radio Station Network. Online courses use a learning management system based on Moodle. All online support services can be accessed by students through the UT-Online portal, which contains online tutorials and exercises, Web-based learning materials, streamed TV programs, a digital library with journals and transcripts, academic counselling, e-book store, and online registration and examination facilities. However, due to students’ limited Internet access, only about 5 percent of them are currently taking advantage of these online services. Ongoing surveys show that students still regard print as the most accessible, affordable, and preferred medium.

The Universitas Terbuka website is at www.ut.ac.id.

Hutchinson (2005) provides a detailed evaluation of the first trial of e-learning in Cambodia, conducted at the International Institute of Cambodia University of Technology. The study indicates that e-learning can increase students’ confidence in online training. The students said they gained new knowledge and skills from learning in the Khmer script, and appreciated being able to obtain educational services without having to travel to the University in Phnom Penh. The courses also increased their eligibility for jobs: 56 percent of them gained a new job or were promoted in their current organization after completing the online course. In general, the e-learning trial was considered a successful pilot validating the potential of e-learning in Cambodia and the enthusiasm of students for it. But the trial was not without problems. Factors receiving the lowest ratings in Hutchinson’s study related to the lack of institutional support for the online process, and the continuing negative perception of DE on the part of politicians and the general public. The results suggest that this perception derives from the association of ‘good education’ with the student’s ability to ask a question and the teacher’s ability to give an immediate answer, and with the ability to see the participants’ expressions and gestures.

Lack of infrastructure, course materials, and technical support have also been noted in other evaluative studies of online education in Asia Pacific (Baggaley and Belawati 2007; Latchem et al. 2008). However, negative conclusions of this type do not seem to be deterring Asia Pacific educators from attempting to implement online DE. The danger is that rushing to implement online DE methods before addressing issues of inaccessibility and ineffectiveness may damage the credibility of DE. Prior to their adoption in new geographic areas and cultures, new online media needs to be carefully evaluated. Some of the necessary measures are rapid adoption of appropriate technologies (e.g. high-compression audio-conferencing) and intensive training and awareness programs informing teachers and the public about the new technologies and practices that make e-learning an increasingly reliable and valid option.

A promising set of conclusions is emerging from the work of the PANdora network, a major collaboration among 13 Asian nations in the development of policy and practice for ICT usage in DE and training contexts funded by IDRC (see Appendix 5.1A). Doung et al. (2008) have reported a study of DE attitudes and technologies in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, with a sample size of 130 teachers, students, and government workers, and with a particular emphasis on gender issues. Their results indicate differences in the use of ICTs between the males (71 percent) and females (29 percent) in the sample. For the men and women

The Virtual University of Pakistan (VU)

Pakistan has a population of 160 million, almost half of which is below the age of 30. In 1999, the established universities stated that they could not cope with the increasing student numbers and lack of qualified faculty. In 2000, the establishment of a ‘virtual’ university became part of the action plan drawn up by the government to fulfil the nation’s ICT needs. The plan for a Virtual University of Pakistan (VU) was approved and funded in 2001, and the first VU students were admitted in 2002 into a four-year BS program in Computer Science/Information Technology.

It was recognized from the outset that it would take many years for broadband Internet to become available nationwide, and it was decided that courses would be delivered via four free-to-air satellite TV channels, with mentoring, tutoring, and teacher–student interaction occurring on the Internet. VU engages world-class resource persons to prepare and deliver lectures from the University’s studios. Animation and slides are added by the VU graphics department, and lecture notes and handouts are provided in print form and through VU’s online learning management system.

The servers used for VU’s website, email system, and learning management system are state-of-the-art machines with redundant power supplies and RAID hard discs. They are located on a 155 Mbps fibre trunk linking to Pakistan’s main router on the national backbone. VU’s TV channels use Pakistan’s first communications satellite (PAKSAT-I). The strategic placement of the servers on the national backbone and the use of the national satellite ensure that any breakdown in international links does not affect university operations.

Although 2002–2007 student enrolment statistics showed a wary attitude to the University on the part of the general public, rapidly increasing student numbers since 2005 have indicated greater acceptance of its ICT-based DE methods. In just six years, VU has been able to establish its credentials as an institution providing quality higher education using a judicious combination of broadcast television with high production-value lectures, Internet support, and student assessment conducted in conventional academic environments.

The VU website is at www.vu.edu.pk.

alike, many DE technologies (e.g. online discussions and text-chats/instant messaging, Internet telephone, and audio/videoconferencing) are inaccessible. But in the case of the more familiar technologies such as texting via cellphones, the women report more frequent usage than the men. The women’s attitudes to ICT and DE are also more positive than those of the men, who are more inclined to doubt that DE can ever equal face-to-face education and that politicians and the public will ever accept it. One may speculate that women are more supportive of DE technologies owing to their more positive attitude to study and self-improvement, which in turn may derive from traditional social roles making education more unattainable for women (Chang 2006; Loh-Ludher 2007).

Another PANdora project has investigated gender issues in educational ICT usage in Bhutan, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (Samaranayake et al. 2008). The study compared male and female students’ attitudes to computers in work and study settings, as well as their work habits and learning styles. Numerous differences are reported between responses given in the three countries and between response of the men and women in each country. So many gender-country interaction effects are observed (e.g. men and women in Sri Lanka showing different gender biases than those observed in Bhutan) that further analysis is needed to confirm these gender-based trends. In general, the study supports the conclusions reported by Champagne and Walter (2000) about the great diversity and differences among Asian learners as a whole, and the lack of clear evidence of a uniquely ‘Asian’ learning style (see ‘A Distinctly Asia Pacific Pedagogy?’).

In general, the PANdora network’s research findings confirm the conclusions reported by Hutchinson (2005) and others, and indicate a major need for organizational upgrading and training to advance DE in the region. Other countries in which similar results have been found include India, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Thailand. To deal with the need for training and information programs about DE in the region, the PANdora project (www.pandora-asia.org) has released an extensive series of DE publications and guidelines.

CURRENT PRIORITIES IN DISTANCE EDUCATION IN ASIA PACIFIC

A major conclusion of evaluation studies of DE in Asia Pacific has to with the need to upgrade the infrastructure for Internet-based education to enable educational institutions to take full advantage of it. It is ironic that the most fundamental problem of Internet-based DE in Asia Pacific — the widespread lack of Internet access — has received relatively little discussion. Hardhono et al. (2007) have attributed the neglect of this basic issue to a tendency on the part of some Asian institutions to adopt online methods ‘as a major symbol of their modernisation’, rather than basing the decision on the results of research and evaluation of e-learning accessibility.

Samaranayake et al. (2007) have shown that while most students in South Asia use computers, very few have Internet access. In Sri Lanka, 79 percent use offline computers in their educational institutions, and among those who have access to the Internet, 42 percent have online access at home, and 35 percent use Internet kiosks. In Pakistan, these proportions are lower in all categories, with 42 percent of students using institutional offline computers and 30 percent or less using facilities like email, Web-based training materials, and text-chat/instant messaging. In Bhutan, the figures are lower still: following an e-learning trial, 83 percent of the student users reported that they had difficulty using the online method due to poor Internet connections, insufficient time, the complexity of the method, and/or the need to travel far to get Internet access. e-Learning is proving more successful in India than elsewhere in the region, although primarily in the corporate sector where access is more readily available.

In an attempt to quantify the issue of Web inaccessibility, the 13-country PANdora network has conducted a study measuring the time taken to access webpages between major Asian cities. The finding: ‘In most of the survey conditions, browser loading times were noted up to four times slower than commonly prescribed as acceptable. Failure of pages to load at all was frequent …’ (Baggaley et al. 2007). The study also analyzed the routes taken by Web hits (i.e. attempts to access material from Web servers) at Asian institutions. All Web hits go through intermediate Web servers before reaching their target, and the more intermediate ‘hops’ involved, the bigger the chance that the access attempt will fail. The study showed that whereas hits by students in Canada on Canadian Web servers may go through half a dozen hops, Web hits by Asia Pacific users commonly go through 20 or more hops and fail to reach their destinations altogether. In addition, the study found that Asian Web hits are commonly routed through countries such as Russia and the United States, for want of more direct local routes. In Cambodia, attempts to access material on a Web server in the next building are typically routed through Vietnam, adding to the time taken and the chance that the Web hit will fail. Improved local Web routes are needed to address this problem.

The substantial extra workload created for the teachers when online methods are considered for adoption also need careful attention. In traditional educational institutions, the use of pre-produced material does not require continuous preparation by the instructors during the academic semester. When online methods are used, the instructor is required to attend to the teaching-learning process constantly, or at least as regularly as in face-to-face instruction.

Meanwhile, most South Asian students have access to other media, such as radio and television, which continue to be used as major educational media by the Asia Pacific mega-universities. In adopting modern technologies in the educational process, Asia Pacific distance educators ought not to abandon traditional media, especially since these technologies are more widely accessible than the Internet and Web in all parts of the world.

One country, Vietnam, is proving successful in the development of e-learning owing in part to its detailed ICT and DE policies (Doung et al. 2007). These include specific policies about DE and the ICT applications supporting it (e.g. use of Open Source software), and a high priority given to vocational training and the education of remote communities.

In countries like Indonesia (Universitas Terbuka), Mongolia (Infocon Ltd), and the Philippines (University of the Philippines Open University and the Molave Foundation), the focus of e-learning innovations is the cellphone, which is the most accessible of all modern media in the region. Software is being developed to enable students to use their cellphones to request information from the University, and to allow educators to use cellphones in ‘pushing’ information to students.

Librero et al. (2007) discuss four types of educational cellphone usage in the Philippines:

1. The cellphone and its short message service/texting (SMS) feature are used as the primary medium for interactive learning.

2. Texting is used to inform students of schedule changes, deadlines, examination regulations, grades, new courses, and library resources.

3. Student groups and organizations use the cellphone to publicize social activities, job fairs, book discounts, etc., and for voting in student elections.

4. University administrators use cellphones to coordinate the admissions process, to conduct marketing campaigns, and to announce grants, surveys and policies, and emergency information (e.g. bad weather, suspension of classes).

Ramos and Trinona (2007) have reported a positive response from the students and the public in Mongolia and the Philippines to the idea of developing cellphone techniques for educational purposes. Students can access learning materials on CDs and DVD, while using automated cellphone methods to interact with their teachers and University administrators on assignment grading for example.

In addition, teams in Mongolia and the Philippines are working with researchers at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, to develop software and LMS modules permitting audio- and video-conferencing over low-speed Internet connections, and a PANdora collaboration between Sri Lanka and Pakistan is developing online software for interactive student assessment (e-assessment) based on Asia Pacific needs (Baggaley and Belawati 2007).

In Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand, Hardhono et al. (2007) have developed an online repository of ‘learning objects’ (LOs) to enable course developers in the three countries to share course materials. The value of this approach in Asia Pacific has yet to be proven. Numerous attempts to create learning object repositories of this kind have been made internationally, with mixed results. On one hand, it is useful for DE institutions to develop digital course materials that can be shared online, and the Hardhono et al. (2007) project is based on the laudable goal of reducing costs by sharing culturally appropriate and compatible objects between different Asian countries. On the other hand, the costs of producing and updating digital materials may prove prohibitive in the Asia Pacific context, and it is by no means certain whether teachers will be willing to share the teaching materials they develop or to use those developed by other teachers. They may also be suspicious of attempts by large international organizations (e.g. publishing groups, commercial Web portals) to impose educational materials on them. Automated approaches to DE have been disparaged as ‘digital diploma mills’ (Noble 1998), and as a cafeteria-style of education serving private sector interests at the cost of educational excellence (Moll and Robertson 1998). The ‘oligopological’ control of information by a relative few reinforces such criticisms.

Many of the problems currently jeopardizing DE initiatives in the region can be addressed by adjusting institutional funding and management practices to make them more specifically attuned to DE and ICT needs. In conventional institutions based on face-to-face teaching and learning, funding needs vary according to student numbers and the demand for sufficient teachers and classroom facilities. For institutions where education relies on the use of ICTs, funding is less sensitive to student numbers and more influenced by the types of technology used. For example, synchronous support technologies such as audio/video-conferencing require more funding than asynchronous methods. A comprehensive set of examples of how DE administration is practised in several ODL institutions in Asia (i.e. at the China Central Radio and TV University system, Korea National Open University, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open Unversity, Universitas Terbuka, Virtual University of Pakistan, and Wawasan Open University) is given by Belawati and Baggaley (2008).

A DISTINCTLY ASIA PACIFIC PEDAGOGY?

Dramatic advances in ICT development in Asia Pacific have opened numerous opportunities for DE in the region. But until the hurdles of accessibility have been overcome, the benefits of online learning applications, including Web 2.0 technologies,3 in specific parts of Asia Pacific will need to be assessed. Careful management and budgeting may partially overcome the problems, allowing educators to develop mixed-media approaches to DE that can effectively address the region’s critical educational challenges. But it is essential that educational institutions do not rush to judgement about the pros and cons of DE technologies before they have been carefully evaluated.

The evaluation process should also consider whether students in Asia and the Pacific need a distinct DE pedagogy. Since many of the new ICT-based pedagogies in Asian DE have originated in the west, it is debatable whether they are appropriate to Asian learning styles. Strother (2003), for example, suggests that in an interactive audio-conference:

An Asian learner may have a difficult time overcoming his or her traditional role as respectful listener. An Asian learner who has never worked with computer-aided instruction may find it difficult to cope with learning the system while having to master the content delivered through the system.

On the other hand, Champagne and Walter (2000) have observed numerous learning styles in different Asian contexts. Following teaching experiences in various Asian nations, they came to recognize ‘the vast diversity and differences among Asian learners and perspectives, to the extent that we no longer find “Asian” to be a particularly useful concept’. The current writers have come to the same conclusion following their extensive exposure to DE practices and attitudes in the 13 Asian countries involved in the PANdora project.

In general, the PANdora surveys of attitudes to DE accessibility and acceptability have shown a preference by students throughout the region for a more interactive style of education than they are typically given (Baggaley and Belawati 2007). These conclusions have been verified by students in Bhutan, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (Samaranayake et al. 2007), and in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam (Doung et al. 2007). It would seem that students the world over learn best from an active, engaging pedagogy. And it may well be that Asia Pacific teachers tend not to provide their students with new, interactive methods owing to their greater comfort level with the older didactic styles. Whether fundamental philosophical beliefs account for the prevalence of one-way didactic styles in Asia Pacific, or are merely used as an excuse for them, remains a matter for investigation. The resolution of such questions will be fundamental to the increasing social role of distance education in the region.

NOTES

1. The terms ‘education’ and ‘learning’ are used interchangeably in the international DE and ODL literature.

2. SEAMOLEC operates for the benefit of nations including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

3. Web 2.0 is a term describing changing trends in the use of World Wide Web technology toward enhanced creativity, secure information sharing and collaboration. Web 2.0 applications include social networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, and blogs (Wikipedia 2008b).

APPENDIX

Appendix 5.1A
The PANdora Asian DE network

 

The PANdora network project (2005–2008) is a unique collaborative initiative designed to develop the potential of DE across Asia. Sponsored by IDRC in Ottawa, Canada and operated by its PAN Asia division in Singapore, the project includes nine research and development (R&D) sub-projects involving DE specialists in 13 Asian nations: Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. The acronym ‘PANdora’ stands for ‘PAN Asia Networking Distance and Open Resource Access’.

The nine PANdora sub-projects have addressed:

1. Accessibility, acceptance, and effects of DE technologies

2. Viability of mobile SMS technologies for non-formal DE

3. Evaluation and adaptation of DE open source software

4. ICT-based distance teacher education

5. Instructional design training for ICT-based DE

6. A repository of reusable learning objects for Asian DE

7. e-Assessment methods and models for student evaluation

8. Best practices in DE technology for capacity-building

9. DE practices for policy recommendations

The organizations participating in the 2005–2008 PANdora project include:

• Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), Pakistan

• English for Special Purposes Foundation (ESPF), Mongolia

• Fisheries College, Bac Ninh, Vietnam

• Health Sciences University of Mongolia (HSUM)

• Ho Chi Minh City Open University, Vietnam

• ICT4D ASEAN Collaboratory, Indonesia

• Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), India

• InfoCon Ltd, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

• Institute of Information Technology (IIT), Vietnam

• Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports (MoEYS), Cambodia

• Molave Development Foundation, Philippines

• National Science Council, Lao PDR

• Phnom Penh International University (PPIU), formerly IIC

• Royal Government of Cambodia

• Samtse College of Education, Royal University of Bhutan

• Science Technology and Environment Agency (STEA), Laos

• Sukothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU), Thailand

• Universitas Terbuka (UT), Indonesia

• University of Colombo School of Computing, Sri Lanka

• University of Hong Kong (UHK)

• University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU)

• Virtual University of Pakistan (VU)

The PANdora project has generated three volumes of project conclusions, a modular guidebook containing practical guidelines for DE development and administration in Asian educational institutions, conference papers, articles in academic journals, policy briefs, and online audio discussions. The project website is at www.pandora-asia.org.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baggaley, J., B. Batpurev, and J. Klaas. (2007). The World-Wide Inaccessible Web. 1: Browsing speeds; and 2: Internet routes. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 8(2), 1–10. Retrieved 21 April 2008 from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/438/930

Baggaley, J. and T. Belawati. (2007). Distance education technology in Asia. Part 1: Past and present. Lahore: Virtual University of Pakistan.

Belawati, T. (2003). The implementation of e-learning in Indonesian distance education. In D. Andriani (Ed.), Cakrawala Pendidikan: E-learning dalam Pendidikan. Jakarta: Universitas Terbuka.

———. (2006). Financial management system in open and distance learning: An example at Universitas Terbuka. Educom Asia, 12(1). Retrieved from 21 April 2008 from http://www.cemca.org/newsletter/sept2006/sept2006.pdf

Belawati, T. and J. Baggaley. (2008). The PANdora DE guidebook. Lahore: Virtual Unviersity of Pakistan.

Champagne, M.F. and P. Walter. (2000). A Bourdieuian perspective on differences in adult learning styles: Deconstructing Asian learners. Proceedings of the 41st Annual Adult Education Research Conference. Vancouver. Retrieved 21 April 2008 from http://www.edst.educ.ubc.ca/aerc/2000/champagnem&walterp-web.htm

Chang, H. (2006). Entrepreneurship helps education in developing countries. Stanford Graduate School of Business. Retrieved 21 April 2008 from http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/headlines/2006internatldevconf.shtml

Daniel, J. (1996). Mega-universities and knowledge media: Technology strategies for higher education. London: Kogan Page.

Doung, V., C. Chhuon, S. Phanousith, P. Phissamay, and T.T. Tai. (2007). Distance education, policy and public awareness in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Distance Education, 28(2), 163–77.

Hardhono, A., T. Belawati, S. Silphiphat, T. Pusiri, and C. Chhuon. (2007). Developing an Asian learning object repository. In J. Baggaley and T. Belawati (Eds), Distance education technology in Asia (pp. 117–30). Lahore: Virtual University of Pakistan. Retrieved 21 April 2008 from http://www.pandora-asia.org/downloads/07-DETA1_Ch4b.pdf

Hutchinson, K. (2005). Provincial business education through the community information centers project. Evaluation report to the Asia Foundation. Phnom Penh: Silkroad Cambodia.

InternetWorldStats. (2008). Usage and population statistics. Retrieved 21 April 2008 from http://www.internetworldstats.com

Jung, I. (2007). Quality assurance in open, distance, and e-learning. Paper presented at the International Symposium on Open, Distance, and E-Learning. Bali, November.

Latchem, C., F. Lockwood, and J. Baggaley. (2008). Leading open and distance learning and ICT-based development projects in low-income nations. In T. Evans, M. Haughey, and D. Murphy (Eds), International Handbook of Distance Education. San Diego, CA: Emerald.

Librero, F., A. Ramos, A. Ranga, J. Trinona, and D. Lambert. (2007). Uses of the cellphone for education in the Philippines and Mongolia. Distance Education, 28(2), 231–44.

Loh-Ludher, L. (2007). The socio-economic context of home-based learning by women in Malaysia. Distance Education, 28 (2), 179–93.

Malik, N., T. Belawati, and J. Baggaley. (2005). Framework for collaborative research and development in distance learning technology for Asia. Indian Journal of Open Learning, 14 (3), 235–47.

Moll, M. and H.J. Robertson. (1998). No more teachers, no more schools:

Information technology and the ‘deschooled’ society. Technology in Society, 20(3), 357–69.

Noble, D. (1998). Digital diploma mills: The automation of distance education. Retrieved 21 April 2008 from http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue3_1/noble/index.html

Panda, S. (2005). Higher education and national development: Reflections on the Indian experience. Distance Education, 26(2), 205–25.

Perraton, H. (2007). Open and distance learning in the developing world (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

Ramos, A. and J. Trinona. (2007). Mobile technology in nonformal distance education. In J. Baggaley and T. Belawati (Eds), Distance education technology in Asia (pp. 131–150). Lahore: Virtual University of Pakistan.

Samaranayake, V.K., Sheeraz Ahmed, D. Attygalle, K.P. Hewagamage, S. Jamtsho, Z. Khan, S. Rinchen, N.A. Sangi, and P. Wimalaratne. (2007). Accessibility, acceptance and effects of distance education in South Asia. In J. Baggaley and T. Belawati (Eds), Distance education technology in Asia. Lahore: Virtual University of Pakistan. Retrieved 21 April 2008 from http://www.pandora-asia.org/downloads/07-DETA1_Ch1.pdf

Strother, J. (2003). Shaping blended learning pedagogy for East Asian learning styles. Professional communication conference, 2003. IPCC 2003. Proceedings. IEEE International Volume.

Taylor, J. (2000). New millennium distance education. In V. Reddy and S. Manjulika (Eds), The world of open and distance learning. New Delhi: Viva Books. Retrieved 21 April 2008 from http://www.usq.edu.au/users/taylorj/publications_presentations/2000IGNOU.doc

United Nations (UN). (2008). UN Millennium Development Goals. Retrieved 21 April 2008 from http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/

Wikipedia. (2008a). World’s largest universities. Retrieved 21 April 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mega_university

———. (2008b). Web 2.0. Retrieved 31 October 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0

ICTs in non-formal education in Asia Pacific

Anita Dighe, Hameed A. Hakeem, and Sheldon Shaeffer

BACKGROUND

Although education is a basic human right, there are millions of individuals who have not been provided an opportunity for schooling and other means to become literate. It is for this reason that non-formal education (NFE) programs for out-of-school youth and adults have been promoted in most countries of the world. In many countries, NFE forms an integral part of the official programs of basic education, often with independent organizational arrangements as well as a program budget and portfolio of activities.

Over the last two decades, rapid economic, social, and technological changes have taken place globally. Economists acknowledge that, increasingly, knowledge and technology are playing a significant role in what is termed as the ‘knowledge economy’. A linked development, sometimes called the ‘information society’, is taking place due to the advent and spread of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in varying degrees, through all the countries of the world. But while educational applications of technology would be made available to school-based programs, there is a strong possibility that due to scarce resources, the poorest and the marginalized groups will remain excluded in this kind of provisioning. Thus, there is a real danger that with the growing importance of ICTs in knowledge-based societies, groups with little or no literacy will fall further behind those who are literate, and the existing literacy gap will grow even wider. Undoubtedly, this would exacerbate the problem of the digital divide.

NFE has a critical role to play in reaching marginalized groups, and ICTs are a tool in the effective performance of this role. The present chapter critically examines the progress made and the lessons learnt in the use of ICTs in non-formal education in the Asia Pacific region.

A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON NON-FORMAL EDUCATION

NFE has always been loosely defined, and in developing countries, it has come to represent a large variety of programs spanning a wide range of age groups, target populations, and content areas. The concept of NFE needs to be unpacked to better understand the various nuances associated with the term in differing contexts and in changing times.

The original version of NFE emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Coombs (1968) and Coombs and Ahmed (1974) defined NFE as an alternative form of education for adults and children that occurred outside of the traditional classroom environment. The need for NFE arose in the context of the widespread disillusionment with formal schooling in the 1970s (Illich 1973). NFE was then seen as a panacea for the ills of education in developed and developing countries (Freire 1972), and aid agencies made substantial investments in NFE from the late 1960s to the 1980s.

The 1990s witnessed a growing ambivalence toward NFE programs as they became associated with second rate educational programs catering to the needs of poor and marginalized groups. Because accreditation frameworks were weak or non-existent in most countries, NFE students suffered a disadvantage vis-àvis those from the formal education stream in either not being certified or in not getting absorbed in the job market.

More recently, NFE has undergone a resurgence in developing countries because of the realization that formal schooling, in its present form, has limited reach. Furthermore, it is now recognized that the educational needs of young people and adults are varied and should be addressed through suitable programs. In developed countries, NFE has assumed importance in the context of lifelong learning, which sees learning as taking place not only in schools and colleges, but throughout the lifespan, in many different locations and times and in formal, non-formal, and informal modes.

With the growing interest in NFE, it is necessary to understand what constitutes NFE and how it relates to formal and informal education, particularly in light of the diversity of formal education at present. For example, is open and distance learning part of formal or non-formal education? Are private commercial educational programs that lead to various kinds certification part of the formal system? What about e-learning? The boundaries between formal and non-formal education are becoming increasingly blurred. Even within non-formal education, there is a wide continuum of educational programs. At one end is the flexible schooling model that now exists in a number of countries, while at the other end are the highly participatory educational programs that are designed to suit the learning needs of each particular learning group.

Earlier approaches regarded formal, non-formal, and informal education as distinct categories. In contrast, Rogers (2004) proposes that they be viewed as part of a continuum, with fine gradations between them and blurred boundaries. According to Rogers, the key distinction between these three categories of education would lie in the individualization of learning. While formal education would be highly de-contextualized, standardized, and generalized, informal learning would be highly contextualized1 and non-formal learning would be a hybrid that would include informal learning as well as formal learning.

Most countries in the Asia Pacific region have actively promoted NFE programs for out-of-school youth and adults. Many of these programs were well under way even before the Education for All (EFA) Conference held in Jomtien, Thailand, in 1990. In fact, by then most countries in the region had already established separate organizational arrangements for promoting NFE as an effective channel of basic education. Apart from national NFE programs initiated by governments, the last decade has also witnessed the emergence of non-governmental initiatives in NFE.

The current emphasis on creating ‘knowledge-based’ societies has made ‘learning’ throughout life more important, which in turn requires an education system to have greater flexibility to enable learners to enter and leave the system at different points. Thus, accreditation and equivalency and other synergies between the formal and the non-formal learning sectors have become essential. Moreover, a wide range of education providers, including universities, NGOs, government agencies, and the private sector, needs to be involved, particularly because learners, who have diverse learning styles, would need different kinds of skills from formal, non-formal, informal, and distance and open learning institutions.

A joint research project undertaken by member institutions of the Asia Pacific Programme of Education for All (APPEAL) Resource and Training Consortium (ARTC) to document and disseminate innovative approaches to NFE and lifelong learning in the region classifies NFE innovations in the region under three broad categories (UNESCO 2002):

• Functional literacy and adult education for poverty alleviation, as illustrated by case studies from Bangladesh and China. The Bangladesh case study with contributions from 16 NGOs gives considerable attention to linking literacy with economic activities. On the other hand, the study from China highlights that inter-sectoral coordination is critical for lifelong learning and also for linking education with poverty alleviation.

• Non-formal education for sustainable development, as in case studies from India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. The Indian study focuses on the importance of linking NFE programs to demand from the local community and developing locally relevant curricula. In the Indonesian and Philippines case studies, it is the equivalency of the NFE program with the formal educational system that forms the basis for sustainable development, viewed as lifelong learning linked to economic improvement. The case study from Thailand demonstrates an effective approach to sustainable development through building the capacity of the rural population for community-based action in marketing.

• NFE as lifelong learning, as in case studies from Australia, Malaysia, and South Korea. The Australian case study highlights an innovative education program that enabled farmers in Queensland to assess their current situation and improve their confidence in their own ability to make strategic choices, resulting in a better quality of life, more profitable farming, and improvements in the management of land and other natural resources. The Malaysian case study focuses on the effectiveness of a lifelong learning project for capacity-building among rural youth and adults through a massive computer literacy training program. The South Korean case study describes the Credit Banking System (CBS), an open education system that recognizes diverse learning experiences not only in school but also out of school. Thus, when a student accumulates the requisite CBS-approved credits, she or he can obtain an associate or bachelor’s degree. Thus, CBS provides citizens with greater access to various educational opportunities and fosters lifelong learning.

On the whole, the case studies demonstrate that NFE is gaining ground in many countries in the Asia Pacific region. NFE programs are expanding even in countries with a high level of basic education coverage and these programs are making the formal system more flexible. In fact, in most countries, NFE programs are evolving into a potential mechanism for meeting the emerging educational needs of people more effectively than the formal system of education.

ICT IN NON-FORMAL EDUCATION IN ASIA PACIFIC

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Education for All Global Monitoring Report for 2008, there are 774 million illiterate adults globally. Almost all of them live in developing countries, particularly in South and West Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Arab States where the literacy rates are about 60 percent. Women account for 64 percent of adults who cannot read and write with understanding. The problem of illiteracy among women is particularly grave in the South Asian region. Most of the illiterate women are poor, live in rural areas, are older in age, and belong to linguistic, ethnic, and religious minorities.

Achieving education for all and eradicating illiteracy by 2015 are among the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that the global community has set for itself. The education-related MDGs build on the EFA initiative agreed in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990 and reaffirmed at the second EFA meeting in Dakar, Senegal in 2000. In addition, the United Nations launched the UN Literacy Decade (2003–2012), which adopts the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE) global strategic framework for assisting the 35 countries in which 85 percent of the world’s non-literate population lives.

Because of the established relationship between illiteracy and poverty, achieving the goals of the UN Literacy Decade is central to the realization of the MDGs. The International Action Plan for implementing the UN Literacy Decade states that ‘literacy for all is at the heart of basic education for all and creating literate environments and societies is essential for … eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy’ (UNESCO 2002).

The Action Plan calls for a renewed vision of literacy that goes beyond the limited view that has hitherto been dominant: ‘It has become necessary for all people to learn new literacies and develop the ability to locate, evaluate and effectively use information in multiple manners’ (UNESCO 2002, p. 4). In particular, people need to learn skills that are essential in what is now called the ‘knowledge economy’ and ‘information society’ where knowledge and technology, including ICTs, are increasingly playing a significant role and causing social transformation to take place at a rapid pace. Personal participation in knowledge-and technology-driven societies begins with literacy (Wagner and Kozma 2005), but requires continuing education and training throughout the lifespan. NFE programs, with their needs-based approach and flexibility, have an important responsibility to ensure that illiterate adults and out-of-school youth and children, as well as other marginalized and disadvantaged groups, are provided opportunities to access ICTs and to utilize them meaningfully to further their socio-economic growth and development.

In 2002, APPEAL launched the ICT-NFE project with financial support from the Japanese Funds-in-Trust to explore the use of ICTs in the delivery of education and skills training to help improve quality of life, alleviate poverty, and achieve community development through community learning centres (CLCs) and other community-based mechanisms. The project piloted the use of ICTs to foster the participation of disadvantaged communities in literacy, basic education, and continuing education activities in Indonesia, Lao PDR, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Uzbekistan.

The ARTC study that was undertaken in 2002 (UNESCO 2002) and the APPEAL study (UNESCO 2005) highlight the following lessons learned regarding the success of NFE programs as well as the potential benefits of integrating ICTs in NFE programs.

The success of NFE programs has been found to depend on the following factors:

1. A broader definition and scope of NFE: Non-formal learning should no longer be viewed in a narrow way but as part of lifelong learning.

2. Community involvement: The involvement of local communities in the planning and management of NFE programs is vital to ensure that the programs are relevant to their needs and to develop a sense of ownership.

3. Local demand: A demand-driven paradigm for initiating NFE programs not only ensures effective use of the resources but also reinforces accountability among participants.

4. Continued government support: Since NFE programs generally meet the educational needs of marginalized groups, they are invariably dependent on support from the government or from donor agencies.

5. Linking literacy with economic activities: It is essential for NFE programs to go beyond literacy programs and offer functional education that can promote economic development and improve the quality of life of individuals and the community.

6. Addressing the issue of poverty alleviation: Since NFE programs target poorer sections of the society, they need to address the issue of poverty alleviation. Well-designed NFE programs have the potential to alleviate problems arising out of poverty.

7. Multi-sectoral participation: While most educational programs tend to be confined to the educational bureaucracy, NFE programs that attempt to link education with the economic and social aspects of people’s lives need the collaboration of professionals and administrators from the relevant agencies and organizations in the government and non-government sectors.

Integrating ICTs in NFE programs can help meet these requisites for success thus:

• ICT can be used to develop livelihood skills and thus contribute to poverty alleviation: Livelihood skills training is a common activity in CLCs. The use of ICTs as a tool in such training is an engaging way for learners to develop these livelihood skills (UNESCO 2005).

• ICT is a tool for capacity-building: More specifically, ICT can be used as an effective and affordable tool in the professional development of NFE teachers. This is important because although qualified and trained teachers are the key to quality learning and increased learner motivation, in many countries professional expertise, particularly for the provision of non-formal literacy education, is limited and thinly distributed, and training in teaching and learning in NFE contexts consists of one-off programs and lack follow-up and sustainability.

NFE programs can also help develop the digital skills that are now required in public service at the central, provincial, district, and community levels.

• ICT can facilitate documentation and information sharing: ICT can facilitate the print, visual, and video documentation that is needed for the dissemination of information about successful NFE projects. When undertaken by the members of the community, this documentation can help foster a sense of community pride and ownership and ensure continuing support and enthusiastic participation. And while ICTs can promote information sharing between communities, they can also be effectively used to mobilize policy dialogue on the use of ICT for community empowerment.

• ICT can be used to facilitate the process of networking among organizations engaged in the design and delivery of NFE programs: It is essential for the government and other organizations to coordinate their NFE activities to maximize available resources and expertise, including ICT equipment.

• ICT tools can improve the overall effectiveness of monitoring and evaluation: Monitoring and evaluation should be built into the entire planning and management of NFE programs.

• ICT can be used in promoting literacy for community empowerment: Dighe and Reddi (2006) present case studies from India highlighting the effective use of technology to empower rural women in particular. One case study is of the Deccan Development Society (DDS), which has trained poor dalit (the Indian social classification for the poorest and the ‘untouchables’ in the caste system) women in the Medak district of Andhra Pradesh, India, to use video technologies to represent their lives and redefine their status. In Machnoor village, DDS has set up a community radio station with a 100-watt FM transmitter and a 30-kilometre radius reach where, with the support of UNESCO, a small team of dalit women has recorded 300 hours of programming on issues relating to women’s empowerment, agricultural needs of semi-arid regions, public health and hygiene, indigenous knowledge systems, biodiversity, and food security. They have also recorded local songs and drama. In Ahmedabad, India, Self-employed Women’s Association (SEWA) has been using video as a tool for women’s empowerment since the mid-1980s. Video is used as a medium to share information with the women members of SEWA and also as a tool for training and teaching new skills and for reaching policymakers.

Currently there are three types of learning spaces where ICTs are used to enhance NFE: telecentres, Community Multimedia Centres (CMCs) and CLCs.

A telecentre is a public space where community members can access telephones, computers, the Internet, and other digital technologies that can help them gather information and communicate with others. The simplest kind of telecentre is a booth in which the owner of a cellphone sells user-time. This has worked well in countries like Bangladesh where the Grameen Bank has been lending money to rural women to buy cellphones since 1997. A telecentre has a limited educational function but it is empowering to those who are enabled to access information easily. In the case of Grameen Bank, it has also helped in alleviating poverty by augmenting the income of the village women in Bangladesh.

CMCs are non-profit telecentres that aim to promote community empowerment and address the problem of the digital divide. Also known as a community e-centre (CeC), a CMC combines community telecentre facilities (computers with Internet and email, phone, fax, and photocopying services) with a community radio run by local people in the local language. The radio, which is low-cost and easy to operate, not only informs, educates and entertains, but also empowers the community by giving a strong public voice to the voiceless and encouraging greater accountability in public affairs. CMCs provide a gateway to active membership in knowledge societies by enabling everyone to gain access to information and communication tools that they can use to improve the quality of their lives.

UNESCO (2007) defines a CLC as ‘a local place of learning outside the formal education system … usually set up and managed by local people for local people’. CLCs, which may be located in urban and rural areas, ‘are home-grown institutions that … provide education programs that address the specific needs and desires of the populations they serve’. Their aim ‘is to help individuals empower themselves and promote community development through lifelong education for all people in the community, including adults, youth, and children of all ages. A CLC does not necessarily require new infrastructure, but can operate from an existing health center, temple, mosque, primary school or other suitable venue’.

Of all APPEAL-supported regional projects none has generated greater enthusiasm among APEC member states than the CLC project. Initiated in the late 1990s, it has attracted over 20 countries in the region to try out community-based models for learning at the local level. Several countries that have piloted the development of CLCs with the support of APPEAL have now developed models that are being replicated with the support of communities, governments, and other partners.

FACTORS FOR SUCCESS OF ICT-SUPPORTED NON-FORMAL EDUCATION

Simply using ICTs in NFE programs does not make for effective NFE programs. For the potential benefits of ICT integration in NFE to be realized, several factors need to be considered.

The first of these is the need for a coherent policy for integrating ICT in NFE. A meta-survey of ICT integration in 44 countries in the Asia Pacific region conducted by UNESCO Bangkok in 2003–2004 (Farrell and Wachholz 2004) showed countries at different stages with regard to policies pertaining to the integration of ICT in the education system. While all of the countries surveyed had stated that the development of ICT capacity was important to national development, few had grappled with the policy questions related to ICT applications in education, especially in NFE. Few policymakers demonstrated a commitment to ensuring that ICT would be adopted at a mass level.

A policy framework is essential as it provides a vision of desired outcomes and outlines a roadmap for how these outcomes are to be achieved. In such a framework, the vision of NFE would have to be broad-based and all-encompassing and within the overall framework of lifelong learning. Accreditation frameworks for the integration of NFE and formal education would have to be worked out, particularly because at present in many countries these frameworks are either weak or non-existent and NFE is marginalized. Also, a gender equity perspective would have to inform policy formulation to ensure that women as well as men have equal access to ICT and ICT-supported education programs, and gender concerns are addressed at all stages or phases of such programs.

A second factor for success of ICT-supported NFE is providing technology infrastructure and ensuring access. ICT-based non-formal literacy programs have often suffered from inadequate infrastructure and technical support. This was highlighted in a study on the use of ICT in education in seven of the E-9 countries (Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, India, Mexico, Pakistan, and the People’s Republic of China) undertaken by UNESCO (UNESCO 2006). The study recommended that the Literacy Decade should be considered as an opportune time for policymakers to set up the required infrastructure — for example, phone lines, reliable electricity supply, and connectivity.

While CLCs are regarded as a viable strategy for giving rural communities access to ICT, there is a need for innovative and cost-effective ways of broadening access to prevent the exclusion of marginalized communities. Women’s access to ICT is a major problem in some communities. ICT should be located in local institutions that poor women feel they can access without difficulty or restriction (Dighe and Reddi 2006).

Landlines and desktop computers are available in multipurpose community access centres (e.g. telecentres, schools), but there are difficulties in making them available in poor communities. Ongoing development of low-cost technologies is a key to provide ICT for the poor. Currently, Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) promises to provide low-cost broadband ‘last mile’ connectivity in densely populated areas and wireless mobile text messaging is spreading in a range of countries and commercial and public service uses. Research, development, and piloting of low-cost technologies amenable to poor communities would need ongoing support, particularly from social and commercial entrepreneurs.

A third factor in the success of ICT-supported NFE programs is to make them people-driven rather than technology-driven. Case studies undertaken in different countries of the region demonstrate this. Often, however, there is a tendency to invest in technology without making a parallel investment in people. According to Reddi (2004), ‘the bulk of the investment in any project generally goes toward overhead costs and few resources are left for project activities. A parallel investment in people, in good quality social research and community mobilization and involvement, rarely takes place.’

A process of de-mystification of technology has to take place so that poor people can begin to understand how technology functions and the possibilities it has to offer. This process cannot be rushed and people’s pace of learning has to be respected. This has particular relevance for women as they would first need to get over the perception that technology is for men and not for them. It would be necessary for women to feel comfortable with technology, for they are likely to be hesitant in adopting new technology unless they can begin to use technology to respond to their needs.

The impact of ICT also depends on attitudes, expectations, organizational climate, and management styles. It is possible that intermediary organizations implementing ICT projects are hierarchical and bureaucratic in their style of functioning. Any hands-on experience in the use of technology can become a major hurdle in such organizations, and overcoming resistance and negative attitudes is a challenge that has to be overcome. The bottom line is that the focus of ICT-supported NFE programs has to be on people, on organizations and processes, and not just on technology.

Effective planning and program design is the fourth factor in the success of ICT-supported NFE. There is a need to take stock of existing infrastructure and to plan for hardware and software possibilities, taking into account connectivity, affordability, and capability. Equally important is the need to understand the existing information systems of the poor before ICT is introduced. There is a need to understand how ICT and culture intersect, because cultural factors can be a hindrance to ICT adoption in rural areas. This is particularly true for women. Green (2004) therefore advocates that great care be taken to ensure gender-sensitive program design.

Community participation in planning and designing ICT-supported interventions is vital. Experiences in many countries of the region have shown that ICT projects are more useful and sustainable when communities support and commit to them. However, it is important to recognize that communities are not homogenous and they are often divided along class, gender, and sectarian lines. It is necessary to ensure sustained and ongoing consultations with members of the community, particularly the poor members and women among them, to enable them to help make crucial decisions with regard to physical location, timing, and the use of ICT. The poor benefit from ICT when they know and control the technology and related know-how. Rather than simply giving the poor access to information, project designers and implementers should listen to the ‘voice’ of the poor in various decision-making processes.

Capacity-building and training comprise the fifth success factor in ICT-enhanced NFE. There is a need to train NFE functionaries, program administrators, and support staff. Moreover, it is necessary to provide skills training programs of various kinds to ensure that the poor use ICT effectively. Malaysia’s experience has shown the importance of organizing training in basic computer use so that the rural communities are not left behind in the nation’s ICT development process. Such training programs need to be organized on an ongoing basis to ensure operational use of ICT as well as their maintenance and upkeep by the members of the community. This would help instil a sense of ownership among the community.

Women would require gender-sensitive training and ongoing support. Women trainers have been found to be effective in training other women because aside from passing along skills, women trainers also serve as role models.

In addition, the potential of ICT for enhancing and supporting professional development of non-formal education, literacy and development personnel, planners, administrators, and educators should be explored.

A sixth factor for success in ICT-supported NFE is the development of content that is relevant to the learners. ICT can play an important role in stimulating interest and engaging learners, and it can be a useful tool in developing learning materials that are culturally and linguistically appropriate. One such literacy course offered by a CMC in the Madurai district of Tamil Nadu, India enables learners to create their own personalized content using digital cameras, computers, presentation software, and CD-ROMs. The successful experiences of many countries using technologies like television, radio, and video have shown that even ‘low tech’ devices can be very useful in creating a literacy conducive environment (UNESCO 2006), with women, for example, using these technologies in creative combinations with traditional media such as folk songs, dance, and theatre for self-expression and communication.

A seventh factor for successful ICT-supported NFE is planning for sustainability. Because their operating costs tend to be high, most ICT projects tend to close down as soon as the project funds are used up. It is therefore essential to address the problem of sustainability at the planning stage itself. The ‘user pays’ model is the default strategy for generating income for operations and maintenance. However, this business model tends to marginalize the poor, particularly the women among them, because they cannot afford to pay the user fees. Partnerships among stakeholders that will draw on the strengths and assets of various groups and ensure the coordination of efforts of various institutions, ministries, and organizations could address this problem.

Ensuring multi-stakeholder partnerships is the eighth factor for success in ICT-enhanced NFE programs. In such partnerships, the principal role of the government would be to facilitate the creation and equitable diffusion of infrastructure and the adaptation and scaling up of successful pilot projects. In addition, the public sector should provide the lead through strong policy interventions and substantial public investment (Gurumurthy and Singh 2005). The private sector could play an important role in supporting development of content and applications in the local languages. NGOs could partner with the government to ensure the participation of various disadvantaged groups, and to facilitate capacity-building.

The ninth factor for successful implementation of ICT-supported NFE programs is continuous monitoring and evaluation. The literature on ICT-supported development in general tends to be anecdotal and descriptive and there is a paucity of data from well-designed evaluation and research studies. While this is changing, it bears emphasizing that there is a need to undertake honest stock-taking of what worked and what did not work and for what reasons. Formative evaluation is necessary to identify the problems or stumbling blocks so that timely corrections can be taken to ensure that the objectives of the ICT project are met. Considering the multi-dimensionality of non-formal education, an interdisciplinary research approach would be useful to understand the complexities of ICT for NFE projects. Ethnographic action research (Tachhi et al. 2003) has been found to be useful in understanding the information needs of the poor in specific contexts.

THE CHALLENGES AHEAD

In concluding the meta-survey of ICT integration in education in the Asia Pacific region, Farrell and Wachholz (2004) aver that although the majority of countries in the region are still in the early stages of adopting ICT tools in educational systems, the situation is changing rapidly. A shift is taking place from donor-supported, NGO-led, small-scale, pilot projects to systemic integration informed by national government policies and multi-stakeholder-led implementation processes. However, what is disconcerting is that these changes are taking place in the school sector only and the spin-offs in the non-formal sector are not as evident.

The costs associated with setting up ICT infrastructure are forcing many governments to make difficult choices. For most national governments, the priority is primary education. Ironically, the pressure to achieve EFA goals could be forcing a number of national governments to sideline the education of out-of-school youth and non-literate adults. Similarly, the pressure to produce the necessary human capital for a ‘knowledge-based’ economy is resulting in greater investments being made in formal higher education systems.

While governments worldwide have signed up to the UN goal of a 50 percent reduction in illiteracy by 2015, actual investments in the programs that will deliver these goals are abysmally small. Torres (2002) laments that there is a mismatch between rhetoric and practice even among the international agencies as the ‘expanded’ and ‘renewed’ visions proposed in all of the major recent international declarations and commitments — in basic education (EFA 1990), adult education and learning (CONFINTEA V 1997), and literacy (UN Literacy Decade 2002) — tend to remain on paper and are contradicted by the same international agencies that promoted them and that provide technical and financial assistance to the South.

But since a significant proportion of the population in developing countries is out of school and without the literacy skills that will enable them to contribute to economic and social development, governments ignore the non-formal education sector only at their own peril. To develop a cohesive society, increase national competitiveness, and achieve sustainable growth and development, governments need to put in place NFE programs that focus on developing social capital among marginalized communities (Lizardi 2002). Non-formal educational programs for youth and adults should become one of the global priorities of our time.

For this to happen, the formation of alliances among stake-holders across all sectors is vital. The Global Campaign for Education, a coalition of NGOs and trade unions working in over 100 countries for the right to free, good quality education for all, is attempting to play an advocacy role. The hope is that multi-sectoral partnerships and alliances will create a groundswell that can influence national governments and international agencies to honour their commitments, and ignite a global movement that will make quality education truly a right for all.

NOTE

1. Rogers (2004) places much greater value on informal learning which for him is not always unintentional (as previously understood), but which is a natural activity that is continuous and highly individualized and contextualized. It is mainly through informal learning, rather than formal or non-formal learning, that a whole range of perceptions, attitudes, and skills are developed.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Coombs, P.H. (1968). World educational crisis: A systems approach. New York: Oxford University Press.

Coombs, P.H. and M. Ahmed. (1974). Attacking rural poverty: How non-formal education can help. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Dighe, A. and U.V. Reddi. (2006). Women’s literacy and information and communication technologies: Lessons that experience has taught us. New Delhi: Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) and Commonwealth of Learning (COL).

Farrell, G. and C. Wachholz. (2004). Integrating information and communication technologies in education in Asia and the Pacific: Trends and observations. In Glen Farrell and Cedric Wachholz (Eds), Meta-survey on the use of technologies in education in Asia and the Pacific (pp. 265–72). Bangkok: UNESCO. Retrieved 15 April 2008 from http://www.unescobkk.org/fileadmin/user_upload/ict/e-books/metasurvey/4integrating.pdf

Farrell, G. and S. Isaacs. (2007). Survey of ICT and education in Africa. ICT and Education Series. Retrieved 15 April 2008 from http://www.infodev.org

Faure, E., F. Herrera, A.R. Kaddoura, H. Lopes, A.V. Petrovski, M. Rahnema, and F.C. Ward. (1972). Learning to be: The world of education today and tomorrow. Paris: UNESCO.

Freire, P. (1972). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Global Campaign for Education. (2005). Writing the Wrongs: International benchmarks on adult literacy. London: ActionAid International.

Green, L. (2004). Gender-based issues and trends in ICT applications in education in Asia and the Pacific. In Glen Farrell and Cedric Wachholz (Eds), Meta-Survey on the Use of Technologies in Education in Asia and the Pacific. Bangkok: UNESCO.

Greenburg, A. (2005). ICTs for Poverty Alleviation: Basic tools and enabling sector. Stockholm: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

Gurumurthy, A. and P. Singh. (2005). Political economy of the information society: A southern view. Retrieved 15 April 2008 from http://wsispapers.choike.org/papers/eng/itfc_political_economy_is.pdf

Huyer, S. and S. Mitter. (2005). ICTs, globalization and poverty reduction: Gender dimensions of the knowledge society. Retrieved 15 April 2008 from http://gab.wigsat.org/partI.pdf

Illich, I. (1973). De-schooling society. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Lizardi, A. (2002). ICTS and non-formal education: Technology for a brighter future. Retrieved 15 April 2008 from http://www.technologia.org/TKL_active_pages2/CurrentArticles/

Reddi, U.V. (2004). Using ICTs to remove barriers in education. Paper presented at the SEAMEO-UNESCO Education Congress and Expo: Adapting to Changing Times and Needs. Bangkok, Thailand, 27–29 May 2004.

Rogers, A. (2004). Looking again at non-formal and informal education — Towards a new paradigm. The Encyclopaedia of Informal Education. Retrieved 15 April 2008 from http://www.infed.org/biblio/non_formal_paradigm.htm

Tachhi, J., D. Slater, and G. Hearn. (2003). Ethnographic action research. New Delhi: UNESCO.

Torres, R.M. (2002). Lifelong learning: A new momentum and a new opportunity for ABLE in the South. A study commissioned by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). Retrieved from http://fundes.org/mistica/english/cyberlibrary/participants/docupart1/ABLERMTTorresEnglishfinal.doc

Wagner, D. and R. Kozma. (2005). New technologies for literacy and adult education: A global perspective. Paris: UNESCO.

UNESCO. (2002). Innovations in non-formal education: A review of selected initiatives from the Asia Pacific Region. Bangkok.

———. (2005). Information and communication technologies (ICTs) for community empowerment through non-formal education. APPEAL, Bangkok.

———. (2006). Using ICT to develop literacy. UNESCO ICT in Education Programme, Bangkok.

———. (2007). Strengthening community learning centres through linkages and networks: A synthesis of six country reports. Bangkok, UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education.

———. (2008). Global monitoring report Education for All by 2015: Will we make it? Paris.

Capacity-building for ICT integration in education

Wai-Kong Ng, Fengchun Miao, and Molly Lee

INTRODUCTION

Over the last decade or so, governments in the Asia Pacific region have been promoting the use of the new information and communication technologies (ICTs) in education. The nature of this ICT take-up goes beyond using information and communication systems to improve education administration, to large-scale adoption of digital technologies that is impacting on curricular and pedagogical structures. A confluence of economic, social, and political challenges accounts for this development. For one, there is pressure for governments to provide education to all members of the population — even in the face of scarce financial, physical, and human resources — as a precondition for economic and social development. At the same time, globalization and the shift to a ‘knowledge-based economy’ require that educational institutions develop in individuals the ability to transform information into knowledge and to apply that knowledge in dynamic, cross-cultural contexts. ICTs are a means for meeting these twin challenges. ICTs can improve access to and promote equity in education by providing educational opportunities to a greater number of people of all ages, including the traditionally unserved or underserved (e.g. those in rural and remote areas, women and girls, and persons with disabilities). Second, ICTs can enhance the quality of teaching and learning by providing access to a great variety of educational resources and by enabling participatory pedagogies. Third, ICTs can improve the management of education through more efficient administrative processes, including human resource management, monitoring and evaluation, and resource sharing.

However, ICTs are not a panacea or cure-all for gaps in education provision. The right conditions need to be in place before the educational benefits of ICT can be fully harnessed, and a systematic approach is required when integrating ICTs into the education system. This fact is often overlooked and, in their eagerness to jump on to the technology bandwagon, many education systems end up with technologies that are either not suitable for their needs or cannot be used optimally due to the lack of trained personnel. Vendor persistence oftentimes overshadows calm and logical consideration of any new technology to be adopted. For example, in Malaysia, it has been pointed out that ‘[o]ver-dependence on vendors and lack of monitoring are causing the (Malaysian) Government millions of ringgit for the rollout of various ICT initiatives’ (The Star 2008). In the Philippines, the fixation with technology is demonstrated by the fact that the bulk of funding for ICT in schools projects goes to hardware and very little goes to teacher training (Arinto 2006).

This technocentric perspective on ICT in education is both a cause and an effect of the lack of capacity in ICT in education planning and implementation. In the first place, there is lack of capacity to systematically plan for ICT adoption. This in turn gives rise to failure to adequately provide for building the capacity of schools and education personnel to use ICT to improve teaching and learning. Thus, there is often poor implementation of ICT projects in schools.

This chapter focuses on the need to build capacity in ICT integration1 among policymakers and teachers in developing countries in Asia Pacific. While there are other sectors and stake-holders in ICT in education programs, policymakers and teachers have a particularly important role to play in ICT integration. Policymakers2 shape a country’s education policies, including policy on who shall be educated, what they shall be educated about, and how they shall be educated. With respect to ICT in education, policymakers set the framework and make high-level decisions covering all aspects of program implementation. Teachers, on the other hand, implement education policy. In ICT in education programs, teachers are ‘the key to whether technology is used appropriately and effectively’ (Carlson and Gadio 2002, p. 119).

The chapter is divided into two parts. The first part presents the basic elements of systematic and holistic ICT in education policy formulation and strategic planning that policymakers need to know. These principles constitute the basic framework for an ICT in Education Toolkit for policymakers and planners designed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization — Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok), Knowledge Enterprise LCC, the Academy for Educational Development (AED), and info Dev/World Bank. The second part of the chapter focuses on what teachers need to know to be able to teach effectively with technology, and what this implies for the design of teacher professional development programs, including policy on teacher training in ICT integration. The ICT Competency Standards for Teachers released by UNESCO in early 2008 is also presented. The chapter aims to provide an overview of issues of concern in capacity-building in technology integration that might be of relevance to Asia Pacific countries.

POLICY CONSIDERATIONS IN ICT INTEGRATION IN EDUCATION

In 2003, UNESCO Bangkok conducted a meta-survey of the state of ICT use in education across Asia and the Pacific. Not surprisingly, the survey found a great deal of variation in the nature and extent of technology integration in the more than two dozen countries surveyed. Specifically, ‘countries are at different stages of both development and implementation in the areas of policy formulation, ICT infrastructure development and access to it, content development, programme initiatives and the training provided for education personnel’ (Farrell and Wachholz 2003, p. 265). The differences arise not only from differences in the countries’ financial and human resources, but also from differences in policy-making with regard to ICT in education. Farrell and Wachholz (2003, p. 267) sum up these policy-related differences as follows:

[T]he countries are arrayed along a continuum of stages with regard to policies pertaining to the integration of ICT into their education systems. While all of them have stated that the development of ICT capacity is important to the future of their countries, fewer have grappled with the policy questions as they relate to ICT applications in education — and many of those that have lack the resources to implement their strategies, a recurrent theme throughout the reports. This ‘lack of resources’ reflects, however, weaknesses of existing policies and the need to improve them. (italics supplied)

Indeed, weaknesses in policymaking often lead to the misallocation of resources, which in turn exacerbates the existing lack of resources. For example, there is a tendency to emphasize the installation of ICT over the seamless integration of ICT in teaching and learning — i.e. making ICT a part of the educational milieu and ensuring that it results in improved learning outcomes. This results in an ‘incredible influx of financial support for equipment but only a meager trickle for network support or staff training’ (Monahan 2004, p. 373).

In planning for ICT integration in education, policymakers would do well to begin by determining the educational purposes that technologies are to serve before they are brought on board. This means clarifying overall education policy, as this should serve as the rationale and road map for technology integration. It is important to note that technology is only a tool and as such it cannot compensate for weaknesses in education policy. (Guttman 2003; Haddad 2007a)

Once national education goals have been clarified, policy-makers need to decide on what ICT integration approach to adopt. Farrell and Wachholz (2003) found three different approaches being used in Asia Pacific countries: (i) teaching ICT as a subject in its own right, usually beginning at the upper secondary level, to develop a labour force with ICT skills; (ii) integrating ICTs across the curriculum to improve teaching and learning; and (iii) using ICTs to foster learning anywhere and anytime as part of the development of a knowledge society in which all citizens are ICT savvy. Each of these has different infrastructural, personnel, and management requirements, among others.

The key considerations in selecting infrastructure and hardware are appropriateness, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability. (Guttman 2003; Haddad 2007a). Appropriateness refers to fitness for purpose and context, which implies that policymakers must resist the pressure to adopt the newest technologies simply because they are ‘high-tech’ and other countries are adopting them. As Guttman (2003, p. 66) reminds us, ‘some of the greatest educational problems are in the most remote areas, where electricity supplies may be irregular or non-existent, telephones scarce and lines difficult to maintain.’ Policymakers need to be mindful that ICT does not become a source of further inequality, with the digital divide deepening existing disparities.

At the same time, in ensuring universal access to technologies, governments must keep in mind the need to ensure sustainability, which has technological, political, and social dimensions aside from the economic or financial dimensions. Technological sustainability has to do with choosing technology that will be effective over the long term, taking into account the rapid evolution of technologies and the availability of technical support. Political sustainability has to do with the policy environment and management of the change processes involved in technology integration in schools. Social sustainability comes from the involvement of all stakeholders, including those who will use the technology (teachers, learners), those who will be affected by its use, and others with a legitimate interest in education processes (such as parents, political leaders, and business and industry leaders) (Tinio 2003).

The financial cost of ICT acquisition in schools is usually a major focus of attention in policymaking and project planning. But the cost of acquisition is only one aspect, and policymakers and administrators need to budget for the recurring costs that form part of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Maintenance and support account for about a third to half of the initial investment in computer hardware and software (Haddad 2007b). Thus, even if computers may be acquired for free, as in the case of donated computers, they require a substantial financial investment for maintenance and support.

The development of content for ICT-supported teaching and learning is another key policy area. According to Haddad (2007b, p. 58), ‘introducing TVs, radios, computers, and connectivity into schools without sufficient curriculum-related ICT-enhanced content is like building roads but not making cars available, or having a CD player at home when you have no CDs. Development of content software that is integral to the teaching/learning process is a must.’ Policymakers will need to make a choice between acquiring or creating new ICT-enhanced educational content and software. Suitability (including curriculum relevance), availability, and cost are key considerations in making this choice. And the selection of appropriate content and software has to be made not once but many times, since different learning contexts will have different requirements, for example in terms of age and learning abilities, subject-specific demands, and culture and language.

The need for trained personnel who will implement technology integration in schools is also a key area that policymakers need to pay attention to, and they must do so from the outset. Technology by itself is not enough to transform education processes and improve educational outcomes. As Haddad (2007b, p. 60) puts it, ‘appropriate and effective use of technologies involves competent, committed interventions by people. The required competence and commitment cannot be inserted into a project as an afterthought, but must be built into conception and design[ed] with [the] participation of those concerned.’ Capacity-building for teachers is especially crucial and will be discussed in the next section.

All of the key components of ICT integration in education discussed above will need to be integrated into a coherent plan with clearly specified targets, timelines, and costs. Moreover, the plan should first be implemented in pilot mode rather than full scale, in order to determine whether the various elements work singly and in combination. The pilot implementation has to be closely monitored and the evaluation results used to modify the plan for full implementation. The latter requires even more careful planning, and the implementation itself needs continuous monitoring and evaluation so that implementation problems are detected and addressed in a timely manner. It is only through systematic monitoring and evaluation that the educational effectiveness of ICT interventions can be determined (Haddad 2007b).

Different countries will formulate different policies regarding how best to harness the power of ICTs to further their economic and social development goals through education. Even the process of developing policy will differ among countries. However, the ICT in education policy considerations outlined above comprise a basic set of elements that can guide the policy-making process, and that policymakers can use to gauge the information and resources they need in the policymaking, project planning, and project implementation process. In the ICT in Education Toolkit (see ‘A Toolkit for Decision Makers’) that

A Toolkit for Decision Makers

The ICT-in-Education Toolkit was developed by the UNESCO — Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok) in partnership with Knowledge Enterprise LCC, the Academy for Educational Development (AED) and info Dev/World Bank, ‘to assist education policymakers, planners and practitioners in the process of harnessing the potential of ICTs to meet educational goals and targets efficiently and effectively.’ It consists of six toolboxes of interactive instruments and step-by-step guidelines that help users to:

• Map the national, technological, and educational situation;

• Formulate and assess ICT-enhanced programs;

• Plan for physical and human requirements;

• Plan for ICT-enhanced content;

• Generate program costs;

• Create a master plan; and

• Monitor implementation, effectiveness, and impact.

The toolkit also contains a Reference Handbook that summarizes international knowledge, research, and experience on the effective use of ICTs in education. Figure 7.1 shows the structure and main components of the toolkit:

Figure 7.1
ICT in education toolkit for policymakers, planners, and practitioners

Image

(Source: infoDev/World Bank 2007)

While the toolkit provides a set of analytical, diagnostic, and planning tools that can impose a certain discipline on the decision-making process, it does not provide the ‘solutions’ or ‘answers’ to the thorny issues in policymaking and decision-making. It also does not substitute for the political/organizational process of formulating policy. Instead, it encourages teams to work together on the issues identified and to coordinate human resources to come up with appropriate ICT-supported interventions in education.

UNESCO Bangkok is using in its capacity-building program for policymakers and program implementers in Asia Pacific countries, these elements are referred to as the ‘parameters necessary for the potential of ICTs to be realized in knowledge dissemination, effective learning and training, and efficient education services’ (Haddad 2007a, p. 11).

CAPACITY-BUILDING IN ICT INTEGRATION FOR TEACHERS

Even with a coherent and detailed policy and careful planning, ICT integration in education is a complex and protracted process. Various studies in both developed and developing countries point to four broad stages of ICT adoption and use that educational systems and individual schools typically go through (see Figure 7.2).

The experiences and behaviours of teachers and learners learning how to use ICTs can be mapped on to the four stages (see Figure 7.3).

At the first stage, teachers and learners are discovering ICT tools and their general functions and uses, and the emphasis is usually on ICT literacy and basic skills. Discovering ICT tools is linked with the emerging stage in ICT development.

The second stage involves learning how to use ICT tools, and beginning to make use of them in different disciplines. This involves the use of general as well as particular applications of ICT, and it is linked with the applying stage in the ICT development model.

At the third stage, there is understanding of how and when to use ICT tools to achieve a particular purpose, such as in completing a given project. This stage implies the ability to recognize situations where ICT will be helpful, choosing the most

Figure 7.2
Stages of ICT integration

Image

(Source: UNESCO Bangkok 2005)

Figure 7.3
Mapping teaching and learning to the stages of ICT integration

Image

(Source: UNESCO Bangkok 2005)

appropriate tools for a particular task, and using these tools in combination to solve real problems. This is linked with the infusing stage in the ICT development model.

The fourth stage is when the learning situation is transformed through the use of ICT. This is a new way of approaching teaching and learning situations with specialized ICT tools, and it is linked with the transforming stage in the ICT development model.

Progression through the stages takes time. And the transformation of pedagogical practice requires more than ICT skills training for teachers. Too often the approach taken to teacher training in ICT integration is the one-off crash course on computer literacy. This approach does not enable teachers to integrate ICT in their day-to-day activities and master the use of ICT as an effective tool for teaching and learning. A 2004 study by UNESCO Bangkok of ICT integration experiences across six countries in Asia reports the following ‘lessons learned’ with respect to approaches to teacher training in ICT integration:

• Training teachers on ICT-related skills within the context of classroom objectives and activities ensures the development of skills in the integrated use of ICT in teaching.

• School-based training of teachers by their more experienced peers from other schools or senior instructors from the MoE (Ministry of Education) ensures that teachers are trained in the context of their workplace.

• Needs-based just-in-time learning and peer coaching ensure further development of teachers’ ICT and pedagogical skills.

A school-based and classroom-focused approach to teacher training in ICT use takes into account the fact that teachers need to ‘learn about technology … in the context of their subject matter and pedagogy’ (Hughes 2004, p. 347). Teachers learn how to use ICTs more effectively when they see the technologies not as generic and decontextualized tools but as tools for teaching, that is, for motivating, managing, facilitating, enhancing, and evaluating learning (Otero et al. 2005). Teachers also need ‘to see a direct link between technology and the curriculum for which they are responsible’ (Gadio and Carlson 2002, p. 122). As the UNESCO Bangkok (2004, p. 104) study puts it, ‘When teachers perceive ICT as a tool to meet curricular goals, they are more likely to integrate ICT in their lessons.’

Thus, teacher training in ICT integration needs to be hands-on, involving the application of skills learned (through formal training) in the classroom over an extended period of time. This in turn means that the teachers need access to technology resources (computers, training materials, educational software), support from technology managers (i.e. the computer lab manager or ICT coordinator), and support from colleagues and school administrators. The latter play a pivotal role in ICT integration in schools, as they are in a position to inspire a shared vision for comprehensive technology integration and ‘foster an environment and culture conducive to the realization of that vision’ (TSSA Collaborative 2001).

Part of fostering an environment that is supportive of learning how to teach effectively with technology is implementing an incentive system and motivational strategies for teachers. According to Carlson and Gadio (2002, p. 122):

While so-called ‘champion teachers’ ask for and seek out professional development opportunities in the use of technology, the vast majority of teachers do not. Teachers generally are reluctant to change their teaching styles and habits; are cautious of time-consuming activities that may take away from other high-priority obligations (economic, familial, or educational); have difficulty seeing the potential payoff beforehand of this kind of training; and may feel so threatened by technology that they want to distance themselves from it rather than embrace it. Put simply, many teachers require additional motivation and incentives to participate actively in professional development activities.

Providing teachers with access to technology resources within the school post training is one motivational strategy. Having them work with colleagues in technology-supported instructional design projects is another (UNESCO Bangkok 2004). Giving teachers time and recognition for innovation is essential. Teachers need to be given time to participate in training activities and they need to be given time to try out what they have learned in the classroom. The latter means that school administrators should take care not to overload teachers particularly with extra-curricular assignments — although perhaps this is easier said than done in the majority of public schools in developing countries where there is a shortage of teachers. Teachers who successfully complete professional development programs and implement technology-supported teaching and learning innovations should be given public recognition to give them a sense of achievement and encourage them to continue, as well as to encourage others to participate in such programs (Carlson and Gadio 2002).

An important incentive for teachers to upgrade their knowledge of and skills in ICT integration is formal certification of in-service professional development leading to a degree (UNESCO Bangkok 2004). Action on this point clearly goes beyond the school level and even the district or schools division level, to the level of the Ministry or Department of Education, since it is the latter that should certify teacher training programs.

More generally, because national imperatives for ICT integration in education, and the consequent increase in the demand for teachers to be skilled in ICT use in teaching and learning, Ministries of Education need to adopt a new framework for teacher professional development (TPD) that reflects a shift from ‘training’ to ‘lifelong professional preparedness and development of teachers’. This framework specifies the following components of TPD (Carlson and Gadio 2002; Haddad and Draxler 2002):

• Initial preparation/training or pre-service education that builds a solid knowledge base of teaching, consisting of knowledge of content (subject matter) and the curriculum; instructional approaches and strategies, including assessment; classroom management and organization; learners and their characteristics; educational contexts, purposes, and values; and the use of educational technologies.

• Structured opportunities for retraining, upgrading, and acquisition of new knowledge and skills in-service, including workshops, courses, and postgraduate certificate and degree programs.

• Continuous support for teachers as they undertake their day-to-day work.

This TPD continuum requires that there be closer coordination between those involved in pre-service and in-service teacher education. It also implies the need for capacity-building in ICT integration for teacher educators in pre-service teacher education institutions. This is because like schoolteachers, most teacher educators, even in developed countries, are ill-prepared to teach with the new ICTs (Russell et al. 2003).

This new TPD paradigm, which is based on a broad understanding of what teachers (and learners) need to know and how they learn in a rapidly evolving knowledge society, should inform moves by education authorities and policymakers to adopt competency standards for teachers in ICT integration. For one, such standards should go beyond technology literacy or the ability to use hardware and software, to include how technology impacts teaching and learning (and vice versa). Second, such standards should not be imposed on teachers as requirements or rules to comply with, but instead given as guidelines for developing appropriate TPD programs in ICT integration. This distinction is important especially where the policy environment and implementation frameworks and systems for ICT integration are not fully developed or well established.

A model that integrates the various dimensions of building the capacity of teachers to teach effectively with technology is UNESCO’s ICT Competency Standards for Teachers (ICTCST). These new guidelines are intended for teachers and TPD providers, including Ministries of Education, as a planning tool that can then be used to assess levels of attainment during TPD program implementation. The guidelines recognize that the identification of ICT competencies for teachers should be framed by a clear understanding of a country’s overall approach to ICT use in education. Different countries could adopt one of three approaches: (i) to develop a technology-literate workforce to enhance national economic productivity and competitiveness; (ii) to develop knowledge workers, or individuals who can apply knowledge to add value to the economy and society; and (iii) to develop innovators and knowledge creators for the knowledge society. Each of these implies different educational policy directions and modes of organization and practice (see ‘ICT Competency Standards for Teachers’).

CONCLUSION

As governments in the region embark on large-scale adoption of ICTs in education, it is important to move away from technocentric planning and implementation approaches to models that focus on establishing sound policy and support strategies leading to capacity development and empowerment (Uimonen 2004).

For this to happen, policymakers themselves need to develop their capacity in holistic and systematic policy formulation and strategic planning for ICT integration. While they do not need to know the nuts and bolts of technology, policymakers need to understand how technologies and education systems interact. They need to have a good grasp not only of the potential benefits of technologies for education, but also of the conditions necessary for ICTs to be effective in educational contexts and the process of educational change.

A sound policy and holistic plan for ICT integration recognizes the critical role that teachers play in ensuring the appropriate, effective, and sustainable use of ICTs to provide quality education for all. Thus, such a policy and plan give priority to teacher professional development that empowers teachers not just to implement but also to lead educational innovations that will transform schools and ultimately, all of society.

NOTES

1. The term ‘technology integration’ refers to ‘the use of computers and the Internet to support teaching and learning across the curriculum’ (Gaible and Burns 2005, p. 18). In this chapter, the term is used interchangeably with ‘ICT integration’.

2. Policymakers include (i) politicians who are senior members of government and members of parliament; (ii) senior administrators in ministries and government agencies; (iii) personnel in senior positions in national associations representing various interest groups; and (iv) academics serving as consultants or staff members for the first three groups (Postlethwaite 1985).

ICT Competency Standards for Teachers

In January 2008, UNESCO launched an ICT Competency Standards for Teachers (ICT-CST) to provide a common set of guidelines that professional development providers can use to identify, develop, or evaluate learning materials or teacher training programs in the use of ICT in teaching and learning; and a basic set of qualifications that allows teachers to integrate ICT into their teaching and learning, to advance student learning, and to improve other professional duties. The ICT-CST also aims to extend teachers’ professional development to enable to use ICT to develop skills in pedagogy, collaboration, leadership, and innovative school development; and to harmonize different views and vocabulary regarding the uses of ICT in teacher education.

The ICT-CST reflects a three-stage model of ICT integration in education based on the idea that education reform supports national economic and social development in one of three ways, namely:

1. by developing technology literate citizens and workers through the incorporation of technology skills in the curriculum (the technology literacy approach);

2. by developing citizens and workers who can apply knowledge to solving complex, real-world problems and thus add value to society and the economy (the knowledge deepening approach); and

3. by developing citizens and workers who can innovate and produce new knowledge (the knowledge creation approach).

At various stages of development, different countries would espouse one of these three approaches to educational change, and this will be reflected in their policy goals and visions. Moreover, each approach impacts on five other components of the education system, namely, curriculum and assessment, pedagogy, ICT (technology use), school organization and administration, and TPD.

Figure 7.4
UNESCO ICT competency standards framework for teachers

Image

(Source: UNESCO 2008)

The technology literacy approach is the simplest. Its policy goal is to prepare students, citizens, and a workforce that is capable of using ICTs to support social development and improve economic productivity. TPD programs that are coordinated with this policy aim to develop teachers’ skills in using basic ICT tools in delivering the standard school curriculum. Such teachers would know how, where, and when (and when not) to use technology for classroom activities and presentations, for management tasks, and to acquire additional subject matter and pedagogical knowledge in support of their own professional development.

The knowledge deepening approach has a greater impact on learning. Its policy goal is to increase the ability of learners, citizens, and the workforce to add value to society and the economy by applying knowledge to solve complex, real-world problems, such as those related to the environment, food security, health, and conflict resolution. This policy goal requires curricular changes to emphasize depth of subject matter understanding and application. Under this approach, teachers will need to develop skills in the use of more sophisticated methodologies and technologies that will enable them to serve as a guide and manager of the learning environment and enable students to engage in extended, collaborative project-based learning activities.

The knowledge creation approach is the most complex. Its policy goal is to increase civic participation, cultural creativity, and economic productivity by developing students, citizens, and a workforce that is continually engaged in knowledge creation, innovation, and participation in the learning society. Thus, the curriculum goes beyond a focus on knowledge of school subjects to explicitly include the 21st century skills that are needed to create new knowledge and engage in lifelong learning — i.e. the ability to collaborate, communicate, create, innovate, and think critically. TPD under this approach would coordinate the teachers’ increasingly sophisticated professional skills with the pervasive use of technology to support students who are creating knowledge products and who are engaged in planning and managing their own learning goals and activities. This takes place within a school that is, itself, becoming a continuously improving, learning organization. In this context, teachers both model the learning process for students and serve as model learners through their own ongoing professional development.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Arinto, P.B. (2006). Reflections on ICTs in basic education policy and practice in the Philippines. Paper presented at the 2nd National ICTs in Basic Education Congress, Waterfront Hotel, Lahug, Cebu City, Philippines, 6–7 September.

Carlson, S. and C.T. Gadio. (2002). Teacher professional development in the use of technology. In W.D. Haddad and A. Draxler (Eds), Technologies for education: Potentials, parameters, and prospects. Paris and Washington, DC: UNESCO and the Academy for Educational Development. Retrieved 10 August 2008 from http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=22984&URL_DO=DO_ PRINTPAGE&URL_SECTION=201.html

Farrell, G. and C. Wachholz. (2003). Meta-survey on the use of technologies in education in Asia and Pacific, 2003–2004. UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved 22 November 2008 from http://www.unescobkk.org/index.php?id=1807

Gaible, E. and M. Burns. (2005). Using technology to train teachers: Appropriate uses of ICT for teacher professional development in developing countries. Washington, DC: info Dev/World Bank. Retrieved 10 August 2008 from http://www.infodev.org/en/Publication.13.html

Guttman, C. (2003). Education in and for the information society. Paris: UNESCO Publications for the World Summit on the Information Society. Retrieved 23 November 2008 from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001355/135528e.pdf

Haddad, W.D. (2007a). Part 1: Decision makers essentials. ICTs for education: A reference handbook. ICT-in-Education Toolkit for Decision Makers, Planners & Practitioners Version 2.0. Washington, DC: info Dev/World Bank.

———. (2007b). Part 2: Analytical review. ICTs for education: A reference handbook. ICT-in-Education Toolkit for Decision Makers, Planners and Practitioners Version 2.0. Washington DC: info Dev/World Bank.

Haddad, W.D. and A. Draxler. (2002). The dynamics of technologies for education. In W.D. Haddard and A. Draxler (Eds), Technologies for education: Potentials, parameters, and prospects (pp. 2–17). Paris and Washington, DC: UNESCO and the Academy for Educational Development. Retrieved 10 August 2008 from http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=22984&URL_DO=DO_ PRINTPAGE&URL_SECTION=201.html

Hughes, J. (2004). Technology learning principles for preservice and in-service teacher education. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 4(3), 345–62.

info Dev/World Bank. (2007). ICT-in-Education Toolkit for Decision Makers, Planners & Practitioners Version 2.0. Retrieved 1 August 2008 from www.ictinedtoolkit.org

Monahan, T. (2004). Technology policy as a stealth agent of global change. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 2(3), 355–76.

Ng, W.K. (2005). ICT-Pedagogical strategies integration in classroom instruction — A module. Paper presented at the National Training Programme for Teacher Educators on ICT-Pedagogy Integration. Organized by Asia-Pacific Programme of Educational Innovation for Development (APEID), UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education and National Assessment and Accredition Council (NAAC) under the Japanese Funds-in-Trust (JFIT) ICT in Education Programme, NAAC, Bangalore, India, 29 August–2 September.

Otero, V., D. Peressini, K.A. Meymaris, P. Ford, T. Garvin, D. Harlow, M. Reidel, B. Waite, and C. Mears. (2005). Integrating technology into teacher education: A critical framework for implementing reform. Journal of Teacher Education, 56(1), 8–23.

Postlethwaite, T.N. (1985). Policy-oriented research in education. Oxford Review of Education, 12(2), 135–51

Russell, M., D. Bebell, L. O’Dwyer, and K. O’Connor. (2003). Examining teacher technology use: Implications for preservice and inservice teacher preparation. Journal of Teacher Education, 54(4), 297–310.

The Star. (2008). ICT projects ‘too costly’. The Star, Nation, Malaysia, 1 August 2008, p. N33.

Tinio, V.L. (2003). ICT in education. e-Primers for the Information Economy, Society and Polity. Manila: E-ASEAN Task Force/UNDPAPDIP. Retrieved 23 November 2008 from http://www.apdip.net/publications/iespprimers/ICTinEducation.pdf

TSSA Collaborative. (2001). Technology standards for school administrators. Collaborative for technology standards for school administrators, Western Michigan University. Retrieved 1 August 2008 from http://www.ncrtec.org/pd/tssa/tssa.pdf

Uimonen, P. (2004). Empowerment through knowledge: Unleashing the potential of ICT in education, learning and capacity development. In G. Weigel and D. Waldburger (Eds), ICT4D — Connecting people for a better world. Lessons, innovations and perspectives of information and communication technologies in development (pp. 117–23). Switzerland: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and Global Knowledge Partnership. Retrieved 4 December 2008 from http://www.globalknowledge.org/ict4d/index.cfm?menuid=85&parentid=52

UNESCO. (2008). ICT competency standards for teachers: Policy framework. Retrieved 12 August 2008 from http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=25740&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_ SECTION=201.html

UNESCO Bangkok. (2004). Integrating ICTs into education: Lessons learned. Retrieved from http://www.unescobkk.org/index. php?id=1793

———. (2005). Regional guideline on teacher development for pedagogy-technology integration. Retrieved from http://www.unescobkk.org/fileadmin/user_upload/ict/e-books/Draft_Regional_Guidelines/Regional_guidelines.pdf

Public-private partnerships in ICT for education

Hitendra Pillay and Greg Hearn1

INTRODUCTION

A recent World Bank report notes that across the world, per capita economic growth is driven by three information and communication technology (ICT)-related factors: investments in equipment and infrastructure, investments in human capital (i.e. in education and innovation), and efficient use of labour (human resource) and capital that increases productivity (Schware 2005). These three factors have a direct impact on the provisioning of education. For one, the demand to adopt ICT-supported education services, or e-education, is outweighing the capacity of governments to adequately support education reform and expansion.2

At the same time, these three factors are key areas of interest to the private sector, which includes local, national, and international private commercial enterprises, non-government organizations (NGOs), not-for-profit trusts, philanthropic organizations, and development agencies. This interest and support from the private sector can be leveraged to enable the sharing of resources to overcome such obstacles as limited funds and lack of technical expertise and project management capacities in ICT integration in education.

Public and private enterprises associated with e-education projects are driven by different agendas, which results in divergent targets and bottom lines. However, they may share common ‘development’ interests in having educated and healthy citizens, in putting in place the physical and social infrastructure that would improve the quality of learning, and in expanding markets for sustainable growth of e-education. A sharing of resources between public and private enterprises in e-education interventions make possible a shift away from collective, tax-based financing of educational infrastructure and services. Moreover, it is assumed that when public and private partners join forces to improve the provision of e-education services their complementary strengths can accelerate the pace of progress. Such partnerships draw in new ideas and capacities for problem-solving and leverage investments and professional expertise. Thus, the sum of the partnership wields greater influence, touches more people in need, and reaps benefits for all participants. The experience of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries shows that public-private partnerships (PPP) can play a vital role in mobilizing the scale of resources required for financing and building ICT infrastructure, developing applications and locally relevant content, and developing the human capacity required for harnessing the full capacity of ICT productive tools (Ichiro and McNamara 2003).

NATURE AND SIGNIFICANCE OF PPP

PPP in the education sector is not a new concept. The private sector has been involved in different ways and at various levels in the provision of education services. Two definitions that capture the essence of PPP are as follows:

• ‘risk sharing relationships based upon an agreed aspiration between the public and private sectors to bring about a desired public policy outcome’ (Commission on UK Private Public Partnerships 2008).

• ‘a cooperative venture between the public and private sectors, built on the expertise of each partner, that best meets clearly defined public needs through an appropriate allocation of resources, risks and rewards’ (Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships 2008).

The central tenet of PPP is shared ownership of the project, which means sharing of risks and rewards. Thus the importance of a mutually conducive partnership agreement cannot be overemphasized. In general, most PPP frameworks may be shaped around the following concepts:

 

Effectiveness

• Success in meeting the PPP objectives

• Effectively managing and monitoring the delivery of the program

• Scalability/replicability

Efficiency

• Return on investment analysis

• Affordability (public sector support)

• Developing and implementing a regulatory mechanism

Equity and political considerations

• Equity (access for poor and rural populations)

• Political/trade union resistance

• Contingent on wider public sector reform

Sustainability

• Economic returns to the private sector (within the medium to long term)

• Financing risk (within a long-term arrangement)

• Private sector appetitive and capability

• Local stakeholders buy-in

Between fully public sector enterprises and fully private enterprises, there is a continuum of PPPs (see Figure 8.1): managed contracts, lease agreements, joint ventures, build-operate-transfer schemes, build-operate-own schemes, and concession agreements. A totally privatized enterprise does not have any shared responsibility with the public sector; it is a case of full divestiture to the private sector and thus can no longer be considered a PPP.

The perceived commercial potential of providing public services is often associated with the significant market power of the public sector given that it may be the only provider of such services and the consumers do not have choices. The return on investment for the private sector partners may be achieved directly through fee for service, government concessions, or combinations of both. In the case of philanthropic private partners, the return could be non-monetary, such as ensuring a healthy, prosperous, and empowered community.

The different modalities, the number of partners and their roles, and the nature of service sought can affect the level of risk in the partnership. For instance, PPP enterprises in large countries like China, India, and Indonesia can be formed at the federal and state government levels with the federal government forging agreements with the state government, which in turn has agreements with private providers. These multi-layered PPPs seek enhanced outreach capacity through the NGO networks that are often more effective and efficient in delivering public services to the grassroots. It allows the public sector to utilize the strengths of different government entities and NGOs to become more responsive to local demand.

Being negotiated agreements, PPPs are not always straightforward. There must be careful consideration of the medium- to long-term impact of PPPs, as many of the issues may not be readily apparent at the time of negotiations. PPP arrangements can vary across a risk-reward spectrum in terms of planning and design, construction/development, implementation/performance, operating costs and capacity, variation in revenue and demand for service, technology obsolescence and limited expertise, and terminal and residual risks. The partners should separately undertake a risk assessment using a detailed ‘risk allocation matrix’ (see Appendix 8.1A). The risk assessment should be realistic and risks should be calculated for the medium- and long-term. Usually, the greater the risk, the more return the private sector partner will expect before signing up to a PPP agreement.

Figure 8.1
PPP modalities

Image

(Source: The National Council of Private Public Partnerships 2000)

Risks tend to be greater when dealing with ICT in education due to the rapidly changing technology, continuous curriculum reforms, ever increasing competition, and intangible and uncertain returns on investment. Thus private partners are often very cautious in entering PPPs for ICT integration in education. For the public sector the important thing to consider is the level of risk transfer that can be achieved through the PPP.

USING PPP IN ICT-SUPPORTED EDUCATION AND TRAINING

The 2007 Global Knowledge Conference recognized the need to invest in human capacity development in many Asia Pacific countries to enable them to implement ICT initiatives in general and e-education initiatives in particular. Projections of demand for online learning by investment firms such as IDC, Merrill Lynch, and WR Hambrecth & Co., all indicate exponential growth in the future3(Varoglu and Wachholz 2001). This rapidly unfolding demand has emerged alongside an increased responsiveness from the private sector to engage in the development and delivery of education services and products. Traditional models of providing for education and training can no longer meet the demand, opening up opportunities for PPPs both at the national and transnational levels.

Partnerships with private providers of education services have had mixed reactions. Issues of national sovereignty and cultural values, equity and access, quality, and relevance of content to local needs, among others, have been raised and they need to be addressed via a good regulatory framework. Opening up the market to national and transnational providers also has implications for the survival of local providers, as the larger national and transnational providers have the advantage of economies of scale.

Despite these concerns, however, PPPs have become more significant, largely because of the huge capital costs and new types of expertise associated with e-education interventions. Given that e-education has cross-sector, national, and transnational implications, it is important to consider partnerships both within a local and broader framework. For transnational PPPs, the World Trade Organization (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) could provide national authorities some guidance in the development of a regulatory framework for opening up and managing education markets to national and international private providers.

PPPs can be forged for various aspects of e-education provision as discussed here.

PPPs for Infrastructure and Equipment

E-Education is dependent on having good infrastructure and high-quality connectivity. Because these are often expensive to acquire and maintain, governments are increasingly turning to private partners for assistance in national infrastructure development. The following are examples of ways in which PPPs may be applied to infrastructure investments.

In a joint venture, the government jointly invests in developing information technology (IT) infrastructure with private sector partners and either jointly runs the project with the private sector or outsources the management of the infrastructure with caveats in place to ensure equity and quality of service provision. All partners share the risks and rewards on an agreed basis. To ensure that access to the IT infrastructure is available at fair market value, the government puts in place a sound regulatory and policy framework. For example, the Australian federal government has allocated AUD 4.7 billion to build a national broadband network based on joint public-private funding. The private partner is expected to provide access to its existing IT network, and technical and management capacity to expand the network coverage to include the rural areas and also invest financially. The initiative is intended to allow rural schools, farmers, and other regional communities to participate in global knowledge sharing.

In other types of joint ventures, notably private finance initiatives, capital investment is made by the private sector on the strength of a contract with government to provide agreed services. Government contributions in this case may be in kind only, for example providing a guarantee for the loan or assisting the private partner to leverage venture capital on the strength of the association with the government.

In seeding capital, governments provide capital for initial infrastructure development with an expectation that the private partners (both local and foreign) will further develop the infrastructure as the demand grows. Some Asia Pacific countries have opted for this type of partnership. Examples include the Malaysian Multimedia Supercorridor, the Hong Kong government’s HKD 100 million venture capital, and the Bali Camp software development houses. These initiatives have had varied success due to differences in regulatory capacity and the availability of qualified human resources. The Malaysian initiatives have now been extended to the Smart School project, which intends to connect all schools through an education sub-network.

Governments also seek funds and technical expertise from international donor agencies to invest in innovative pilot projects that, if successful, become PPP models for scaling up. But one of the risks in donor-led pilot projects is that one can easily become dependent on the propriety software, technology, and content provided by some of the private sector partners during the pilot stages. Such software, technology, and content may not be the best cost option or be the most relevant to local needs in the long term. Thus, as donor funding ends, pilot projects often fail as there are no agreed exit strategies to ensure continued resourcing.

In leasing and contracting arrangements, government and private enterprises enter into agreements for the use of ICT resources to implement public education policies. Typical lease agreements are for: (i) data hosting and storage spaces, where secure systems that can withstand natural disasters (such as hurricane force winds and floods) and have a backup power supply are key considerations; (ii) access to certain bandwidth on networks to ensure an optimum speed at all times; and (iii) supply of equipment such as computers and other digital equipment with minimum specifications. Many equipment lease agreements have a time-based (3–5 years) equipment upgrade requirement to keep pace with continuous technological and software innovations. One of the biggest risks in entering into a leasing agreement is not sufficiently considering the implications of regular maintenance of the equipment and the quality of service (e.g. factoring in network down times). This should be discussed during the negotiation stage.

Another common lease agreement can be seen in initial attempts to privatize public telecommunications assets. In these cases a private enterprise may lease the public infrastructure and manage the delivery of necessary public services for an agreed fee.

PPP for the Provision of Educational and Professional Training

The increasing demand for education in general and higher education and continuing education in particular cannot be met by the current model for delivering education and training systems. PPPs are an alternative model.

Online ICT skills training: An example of PPP in training is the Cisco Academy, which provides online training through partnerships with public and private institutions or universities that they designate as Learning Solutions Partners or Cisco Learning Partners. The public institutions either integrate the Cisco training within their programs to increase the relevance of their programs and increase student enrolments, or provide space, for a fee, to deliver the training. Online training is also provided by Indian company Aptech in partnership with the Indian Technical and Economic Co-operation (ITEC) as part of a Government of India initiative to provide software design and applications training to local and international participants from a range of sectors, including education. Aptech has also initiated the India Window Program where foreign students and corporate executives are trained in information technology and multimedia in India and participate in a mandatory internship at IT firms in Bangalore, the ‘Silicon Valley of India’. These skills training partnerships provide courses that are driven by specific industry demands and have globally recognized credentials. They enjoy a high status, unlike regular distance and online education programs. But this cannot be said of all transnational online programs, and national and global online training partners have to

Intec Partnership to Promote ICT for Education

Intec is a private IT company in Mongolia providing direct services to private companies. It also serves as a project partner in many public sector projects financed by international donor agencies.

Intec has partnered with Atos Consulting of the United Kingdom (UK) to provide IT expertise to the Information and Communication Technology Authority (ICTA) of the Government of Mongolia (GoM). The partnership pooled the collective expertise of all of the partners to review the e-government strategy of the GoM and give the ICTA recommendations on how to pursue the e-government strategy to be implemented through a PPP model.

Intec has also partnered with Aptech WorldWide to set up a centre in Mongolia that will deliver a two-year software engineering course to fee-paying students and demand- and needs-based IT training courses to private commercial companies and government organizations. The Aptech WorldWide Mongolia Center (http://www.aptechmongolia.edu.mn/) is currently discussing with the GoM the possibility of providing custom-built training for ICTA staff. It has also partnered with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (MECS) of Mongolia to pilot the Aptech Plus — IT Training for Secondary School program. The pilot will provide the MECS feedback about whether to formally adopt Aptech Plus content in its secondary schools.

The Intec website is at http://www.itconsulting.mn/index.htm.

be carefully scrutinized for quality (see ‘Intec Partnership to Promote ICT for Education’).

Corporate online training: The flexibility and cost-efficiency of developing and delivering e-education and training, which traditionally has been the role of universities and IT vendors, has caught the interest of large multinational private organizations. These companies are forming ‘concession’ partnerships to jointly develop and deliver training on new equipment, software, and use of productive tools to public and private organizations. Hewlett-Packard has estimated that it saved USD 5.5 million on training 700 engineers (Hall 2000), and IBM saved USD 200 million in one year by delivering its management development program online (Horton 2000). The Ford Motor company, which operates in 125 countries and six continents, has adopted the e-education services provided by the Ford Learning Network for all training and staff development needs. Lessons from these private sector initiatives have also been adopted for the training of senior managers and technical staff in the public sector, mainly with private vendor companies.

In Asia Pacific countries, the base-level ICT capacity of senior managers, the turnover of staff with ICT capabilities within the public sector, and the peculiarities of individual government agencies can vary significantly. Thus, forging PPP agreements for customized training services on a long-term basis can be very attractive.

University partnership networks: As the significance of ICT is realized, more universities are teaming up with leading ICT companies, such as learning management system (LMS) developers, professional associations and corporate organizations, to jointly develop and deliver new e-education programs. Partnerships for the use of TV and radio for education already exist in countries like China, India, Pakistan, and Thailand. The challenge now for Asia Pacific universities is to use integrated IT platforms for the delivery of university courses. In the West, using IT platforms to jointly develop and deliver training can be seen in the US army forming a partnership with universities in creating a unique e-learning program called ‘eArmyU’. The program allows soldiers to take classes from 32 US universities while working locally or overseas (Voth 2003).

There are also joint research and development (R&D) programs for complex learning management systems, multimedia tools for developing complex simulations and analysis, and course content development.

PPPs supporting university research particularly in the medical sciences, including pharmacy, IT and energy, are common and are likely to increase with the emergence of grid computing, which is largely driven by the private sector. The grid computing paradigm4 provides access to high-quality video conferencing facilities, large-scale distributed meetings and collaboration, and synchronous interactive sessions from multiple locations for research seminars, lectures, tutorials, and training. High-performance computing capacity for digitization, visualization, animation, and mapping has revolutionized research and communication while nanotechnology innovations have increased efficiency in data processing and storage. These technological innovations have the potential to enable large-scale resource sharing and to bring people, computing systems, and information resources together through collaborative partnerships between private and public sector research and education enterprises. To enhance their global research and knowledge innovation capacities, universities can form partnerships not only with other universities through university consortiums but also with private sector partners.

The development of Open Access (www.openj-gate.com) as a means of disseminating findings from government-funded research is being supported by Informatics India, a private enterprise. Similar research databases serving the mutual purposes of universities and the private sector exist in the West. In addition, public sector initiatives like the Australian Research Council’s industry linkage5 scheme provide a facility through which university and private sector partners can engage in joint research, including in ICT innovations.

These research agreements are concession partnerships where limited public funds are provided by the public sector and the private sector partner matches the funding through a mix of cash and ‘in-kind’ contributions. The intellectual property produced or developed is often shared between the university(ies), the private sector partner(s), and the researchers. Indeed it is not uncommon for private companies to tap university professors and students, as well as university infrastructure, in product or applications development. When Microsoft first introduced its Tablet PC, it funded a research trial use of the machine. But in this case the partnership is closer to a contract and the intellectual property is owned by Microsoft.

PPP for e-Education and Social Development

The focus of e-education for social development is building social capital and improving the quality of life of disadvantaged communities by giving them access to information, empowering them to have a voice in how they live and work, encouraging them to participate in the knowledge economy, opening up opportunities for women to improve their social and economic status, and stimulating local business and marketing opportunities. Several international donor and philanthropic agencies have forged partnerships with governments, NGOs, and commercial enterprises to support e-education for social development.

Different partnership models, such as seeding funds, build-operate-transfer, and joint venture schemes, have been used for ICT service delivery to rural and remote telecentres, village information centres, community multimedia centres, information kiosks, and telecottages. The outcomes have been varied. One of the main concerns is the tenuous nature of the partnerships and the question of sustainability. International donors and philanthropic agencies often fund pilot projects but leave to the local partners the challenge of successfully transforming a pilot initiative into an institutionalized function within the community and attracting ongoing support. The transformation is often expected to happen within unrealistic timeframes. There is a need to adopt a long-term approach to seeking buy-in from local stakeholders and thereby ensure sustainability. Shifting to a sustainable model may be particularly difficult in countries that do not have a generous private sector to work with and where the average community incomes may be below poverty levels. Thus, the risks associated with community-based e-education partnerships need to be assessed at the outset.

Despite these difficulties, some PPPs supporting ICT interventions at the community level appear to have matured and have now moved beyond ICT learning centres. They are now seen as providing core information for the daily activities of a community such as local market opportunities or information on health epidemics, agricultural development, and weather forecast, and connecting people subjected to internal migration for economic reasons or due to natural disasters. Many of these community-based ICT centres are becoming consolidated social and information hubs. In many countries the success of some of these NGO-led interventions has been recognized and they have been mainstreamed into the national education system and are now supported through the national budget.

Partnerships between international donor agencies, private companies, and NGOs have also been supporting local content creation. For example, ‘Finding a Voice’ (http://www.findingavoice.org/) is a research partnership jointly funded by the Australian Research Council, UNESCO India, and UNDP Indonesia, and being implemented by researchers from the Queensland University of Technology and several NGOs from Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka. The project works with grassroots communities to develop ICT skills in generating local content. Aside from developing computer and multimedia skills, these kinds of projects deliver integrated education services for farmers, fishermen, and other community folk on topics that are relevant to them, such as public health, parenting, and nutrition (ADB and ESCAP — Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific — 2004).

Many governments in the Asia Pacific region have led initiatives for connecting rural and remote areas. For instance, the federal and state governments of India have entered into a multi-level partnership to include rural and remote communities in the digital economy. The Indian government has established partnerships with NGOs and not-for-profit trusts to deliver its ICT education programs to rural and remote areas. The partnership leverages the strength of NGOs in working with grassroots communities, which is critical for the success of this initiative. The Indian government plans to establish some 2,500 ICT community centres that will not only provide ICT learning opportunities but also act as the delivery point for government services.6

Some NGOs with support from public funding have forged partnerships with commercial private sector partners to provide ICT training to the underprivileged. Project Saraswati for IT Literacy and Project Srishti for Multimedia Training, for example, provide free training for underprivileged children at various Aptech, Arena, and SSi centres.

PPPs with telecommunication corporations with a strong commitment to social development can be pursued in advancing technological innovations, such as wireless broadband, 3G, and Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC),7 with the potential to significantly reduce user costs and increase access to information and knowledge. The Grameen Telecom Corporation in Bangladesh, for example, has the Village Phone Program, which provides universal access to telecommunications services in remote, rural areas. A partnership between the government’s rural development programs and the Grameen Telecom Corporation provides subsidized connectivity to rural and remote villages using more cost-effective technologies such as 3G and wireless.

PPP in ICT for Basic Education

Preparing citizens for the knowledge society will be most effective if e-education is introduced at the basic education level. However, this sub-sector attracts limited interest from the private sector, particularly where the public sector aim is to provide access to education for poor and rural children as part of a policy of universal basic education. This is because the last mile of connectivity tends to be expensive, with little commercial return. Most ICT implementation partnerships in this sub-sector are government-led, such as those found in Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore. In some countries, the interventions are government-led, but in partnership with international donor agencies or vendor companies. These types of partnerships are not mutually exclusive and sometimes it may be an advantage to merge or combine them.

The most common type of agreement is ‘seeding fund’ partnerships with emphasis on front-end costs and mostly capital costs. However, such an approach tends to underestimate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of computers and other ICT equipment, which includes recurrent costs such as ongoing hardware maintenance and upgrades of hardware and software in addition to initial capital outlays. Also, teachers have to devote additional time and effort to learning new skills in content development, approaches to teaching, and methods of assessment.

An important aspect of private sector participation involves contributions ‘in-kind’ of networking equipment, PCs, and concessional access to software licences for an initial period, as well as ICT skills training for teachers and students. For example, Microsoft has partnered with many states throughout India to provide free basic technology training to teachers of state-funded schools. This includes ‘The Innovative Teachers Forums’ that encourage innovative teachers to adopt ICT, award best practices in ICT integration, and support teachers in building global communities of practice (see ‘Microsoft Innovative Schools Program’).

International agencies such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank have also invested in providing ICT to the basic education sub-sector. Some of these initiatives have involved setting up computer labs in schools, computerizing education administration through Education Management Information Systems (EMIS), and developing an e-curriculum with appropriate learning materials. Other initiatives have set up ‘schoolnets’ and school-based telecentre projects where school children use the ICT facility during school hours and the community uses the facility for a fee after hours to generate an income that can help offset the centre’s operating costs. Most of these are initially partnerships between the government and donor agencies but with the expectation that the community will take over the responsibility of ensuring sustainability once donor support ends. However, as mentioned, the transition has been difficult for many projects particularly in low-income communities.

NGOs also enter into partnerships with governments to promote ICT integration in basic education. For example, the US-based World Links for Development plans to work with state governments in India to bridge the digital divide by training secondary schoolteachers in 125 Indian schools in classroom applications of ICT. It will also provide school connectivity, basic computer literacy, and professional development training to teachers. Further support for PPP can be seen in the public–private alliance that is drawing together educational innovators and technology leaders to improve the quality of teaching, motivate children to complete school, and ensure that the skills of young people meet the needs of India’s emerging economy. The Quality Education and Skills Training Alliance (QUEST), a partnership between Indian and American technology corporations with NGOs supported by public funds and working within the basic education system, is targeting the needs of marginalized children using ICT-supported non-formal education as the medium.

Technological innovations, which in turn facilitate the development of more advanced learning materials, have also triggered partnerships. The Singapore-based ICT company Litespeed

Microsoft Innovative Schools Program

The Innovative Schools project is part of the Microsoft Partners-in-Learning Initiative (PiL) launched in 2004.8 Following four pilot projects in Singapore, Taiwan, the UK, and the US, this PPP scheme was extended to 12 locations, including three schools in Singapore and seven in Hong Kong. A local program manager, the Microsoft team, and a working group mentor work closely with the selected schools to formulate a blueprint employing the 6 ‘i’ development processes — introspection, investigation, inclusion, innovation, implementation, and insight — developed in the School of the Future project.

The objectives are to partner with governments, schools, teachers, and technology partners to assist primary or secondary schools in strategic planning and furthering innovation in learning and knowledge discovery, and to equip students with the right skills to meet the demands of a knowledge-based economy. Microsoft provides not direct funding but access to technology solutions, human capital in terms of technology expertise, and knowledge in resources planning, curriculum development, and research findings from other projects such as School of the Future and BackPack.NET. The schools raise their own funding for building the infrastructure and acquiring the appropriate equipment, software, and technologies. After two years, evaluations at the school and program level are conducted by an independent third party research organization.

(Source: Microsoft 2009)

(http://www.litespeed.com.sg/) is a partnership between Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Hewlett-Packard, and SNP panpac that is developing a Diagnostics Tutorial Assessment System (DTAS) and Intelligent Content Assessment Marking (ICAM) system with the potential to revolutionize general education assessment practices. This partnership has also worked with schools and teachers to develop customized e-learning content. Litespeed has entered into partnerships with Education authorities in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore to provide an integrated e-education platform for schools.

CONCLUSION

In the past few years global initiatives such as the Digital Opportunity Task Force,9 the Global Knowledge Partnership, the UN ICT Task Force,10 and the World Summit on the Information Society have significantly increased awareness of the vital role that international cooperation can play in providing access for all to ICT as a tool for economic and social development. They have established multi-stakeholder partnerships, such as the Global Digital Opportunity Initiative (GDOI),11 as a mechanism for developing creative PPPs and mobilizing private sector interest in supporting ICT for development and education.

There are challenges to confront. On one hand, the private sector is less interested in financial assistance to the education sector than in the profitability of the demand for its products and services in the long run. On the other hand, demand for the new access devices to the Web, new broadband networks, and new social networking applications such as blogs, wikis, and music and video sharing, and the increasing availability of educational content for online learning are becoming a part of global education and learning services. This demand and growth has the potential to generate more interest from the private sectors and provide alternative ways to mobilize community interest and action toward furthering PPP in the education sector.

From a national perspective, e-education is an important strategy for adapting the workforce to the technological revolution. It is also a tradable service with no boundaries. Education for all is a real possibility for the first time in human history and PPPs have the potential to make a significant contribution to delivering this reality.

Perhaps the most challenging task for governments in Asia Pacific countries will be the development of a sound understanding of what is entailed in PPPs and the creation of conducive environments for sustaining the interest of both public and private partners. Knowledge, skills, and expertise in developing, negotiating, implementing, and monitoring projects and programs with partners that may have competing agendas are crucial for the success of PPPs in ICT for education.

NOTES

1. The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of Professor John Ure of Hong Kong University to earlier drafts of this chapter.

2. In many countries in the Asia Pacific region a substantial part (85–90 percent) of the education budget is spent on salaries alone and very little is left for capital investments such as those required for ICT interventions.

3. This demand is not just in the formal education sub-sector but also in non-formal education/community development and continuing professional development of employees.

4. The Grid Computing Information Centre (http://www.gridcomputing.com) ‘enables the sharing, selection and aggregation of a wide variety of geographically distributed computational resources (such as supercomputers, computer clusters, storage systems, data sources, instruments, people) and presents them as a single, unified resource for solving large-scale data intensive computing applications. This idea is analogous to electric power network (grid) where power generators are distributed, but the users are able to access electric power without bothering about the source of energy and its location.’

5. This is an Australian Federal Government initiative to bring together industry and universities to undertake innovative research in Australia, including in the ICT software, hardware and service delivery areas.

6. See the chapters on China, India, and Pakistan in this volume for further information on government-led PPP for e-education.

7. In FMC a single handset can switch seamlessly between making calls over cellular and Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) networks.

8. Other initiatives under PiL include the Innovative Teachers program and Innovative Students program. The Innovative Teachers program consists of an Innovative Teachers Network which provides educators with access to teaching tools through a network of portals and Innovative Teachers Forums, which recognize teachers who demonstrate best teaching practices. The Innovative Students program offers software package at more affordable price than commercial rates.

9. The Digital Opportunity Task Force (www.dotforce.org) was set up and launched by the G8 member countries at the G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit in 2000.

10. The UN ICT Task Force (www.unicttaskforce.org) was created by the Secretary General in 2001 at the request of the UN Economic and Social Council.

11. The Global Digital Opportunity Initiative (www.gdoi.org) is a partnership of the UNDP and the Markle Foundation to engage public and private institutions and individuals to help developing countries formulate a comprehensive national approach, including resource allocation for specific ICT solutions.

Appendix 8.1A
Indicative risk allocation matrix

 

 

 

 

Allocation

No

Nature of risk spectrum

Definition of risk type

Public sector

Private sector

Shared

1.

Design risk

 

 

 

 

1.1

Failure to design to agreed brief

Failure to translate the required products and services into a viable project design with an agreed time frame

 

Image

 

1.2

Amendments to meet requirements of the public sector

The public sector partner may require changes to the design, causing additional design and construction costs

Image

 

1.3

Untenable design due to external influences

Need for a design change due to legislative and regulatory or technical and material unavailability etc.

 

 

Image

2.

Construction and development risks

 

 

 

Image

2.1

Unrealistic schedule and time estimate

Not considering all factors in estimating the time required to complete the construction may result in significant extensions that can incur additional costs

 

 

 

2.2

Unforeseen site conditions

Accelerating the process, resulting in the private sector being unable to carry out necessary surveys prior to commencing work either because facilities are currently occupied or access to the site is not possible

Image

 

 

2.3

Third party claims

Costs associated with third party claims, such as loss of amenity, livelihood, ground subsidence on adjacent properties

Image

 

 

2.4

Force majeure

Additional costs are incurred; facilities may also be unavailable or parties may no longer be able to deliver as per the contract

Image

 

 

2.5

Industrial action by contractor/sub-contractor

Industrial action may cause construction and implementation activities to be delayed, as well as incur additional management costs

 

Image

 

3.

Performance risks

 

 

 

 

3.1

Change in specification initiated by the public sector

During the operating phase of the project, the public sector procuring the services could require changes to the specification

Image

 

 

3.2

Performance of sub-contractors

Poor management of sub-contractors can lead to poor coordination and under-performance by the contractors. This may create additional costs in the provision of services

 

Image

 

3.3

Default by contractor or subcontractor

In the case of default by a contractor or sub-contractor, there may be a need to make emergency provisions. There may also be additional costs involved in finding a replacement

 

Image

 

3.4

Termination due to force majeure

A force majeure could mean the parties will no longer be able to meet their contractual obligations

Image

 

 

4.

Operating cost risks

 

 

 

 

4.1

Incorrect cost estimates for providing services under the contract

The actual cost of providing these services may be different from the projected cost due to unexpected changes in the cost of equipment, labour, utilities, and other supplies

 

Image

 

4.2

Legislative/regulatory changes having capital cost consequences

Changes to legislation/regulation may lead to additional construction costs, and higher building, maintenance, equipment, or labour costs

 

 

Image

4.3

Change in taxation

The scope and level of taxation will affect the cost of providing services

Image

 

 

5.

Variability of revenue risk

 

 

 

 

5.1

Non-performance risks

Payment will only be made by the public sector for services received

 

Image

 

5.2

Poor performance of services

The operator will incur deductions from the performance payment for poor performance of services

 

Image

 

5.3

Changes in the volume of demand for services

The volume of demand for the product and services may change during certain periods or due to demographic changes caused by internal migration

Image

 

 

6.

Termination risks

 

 

 

 

6.1

Termination due to default by the public sector

The public sector defaults on its non-financial commitments, leading to contract termination and no compensation for the private sector

Image

 

 

6.2

Default by the operator causing financiers to step in

The operator or individual service providers default and financiers step in, leading to higher costs than agreed in the contract

 

Image

 

7.

Technology and obsolescence risks

 

 

 

 

7.1

Changes to technology; assets prematurely becoming obsolete

The building, plant, and/or equipment may become obsolete before the project is completed and commissioned

 

Image

 

8.

Residual risk

 

 

 

 

8.1

The public sector no longer requires the assets at the end of the contract

The procuring entity might wish to vacate the asset at the end of the contract period, and the operator may be faced with decommissioning costs

Image

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

ADB and ESCAP. (2004). Building e-community centers for rural development. Report of the Regional Workshop in Bali, Indonesia.

Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships. (2008). About PPP. Retrieved 14 March 2008 from http://www.pppcouncil.ca/aboutPPP_definition.asp

CISCO. (2008). CISCO Networking Academy. Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://cisco.netacad.net/cnams/locators/AcademyClassLocator.jsp

Commission on UK Private Public Partnerships. (2008). About PUK. Retrieved 14 March 2008 from http://www.partnershipsuk.org.uk/About PUK/PUKMission.asp

Hall, B. (2000). Benchmark of best practices, e-learning. A Forbes special advertising section.

Horton, W. (2000). Designing web-based training: How to teach anyone anything anywhere anytime. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Ichiro, T. and K. McNamara. (2003). Global Forum on the Knowledge Economy: A report on the integration of ICTs in development programmes. OECD, United Nations, and the World Bank.

Microsoft. (2009). Partners in learning 2007 progress report. Retrieved 24 April 2008 from http://www.microsoft.com/education/PartnersinLearning/2007ProgressReport.mspx

Schware, R. (Ed.). (2005). e-Development: From excitement to effectiveness. Washington, DC: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank.

The National Council of Private Public Partnerships. (2000). Types of public-private partnerships. Retrieved 24 April 2008 from http://www.ncppp.org/howpart/ppptypes.shtm

Varoglu, Z. and C. Wachholz. (2001). Education and ICTs: Current legal, ethical and economic issues. TechKnowLogia, 3(1), January/February, 15–19. Retrieved 24 April 2008 from http://www.techknowlogia.org/TKL_active_pages2/CurrentArticles/main.asp?IssueNumber=9&FileType=PDF&ArticleID=223

Voth, D. (2003). The Army boots up for e-learning. Learning and Training Innovations, 4(3), 16–20.

This page intentionally left blank

Part C Sub-regional perspectives

Pacific Island Countries

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

Association of Southeast Asian Nations

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation

This page intentionally left blank

Pacific Island Countries

Arthur Jorari, John Budden, and Samuelu Taufao

OVERVIEW

The inhabited islands of the Pacific are spread over an area of about 30 million square kilometres and stretches from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in the North-West Pacific Ocean to Pitcairn in the South East. Estimates in Table 9.1 show that 82 percent of Melanesia, which accounts for 87 percent of the total population of the Pacific Island countries (PIC), live in rural areas and remote communities. In Polynesia, 62 percent of an estimated 650,000 live in rural areas while in the smaller Micronesia states, 34 percent of an estimated 546,000 are rural inhabitants.

The region is characterized by huge diversity in physical geography and culture, languages and socio-political organizations, size, and resource endowment. Some countries such as Nauru and Niue consist of just one coral island, whereas others like Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) consist of hundreds of islands. Melanesia has large mountainous and mainly volcanic islands endowed with rich soil and abundant marine life. In contrast, Micronesia and Polynesia have mostly small atolls with poor soil and with elevations of between 1 and 2 metres (Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and Tokelau). There are some islands of volcanic origin with more fertile land, such as Samoa, Tonga, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Cook Islands.

Although only 0.1 percent of the world’s population live in the Pacific region, it is home to one third of the world’s languages, which indicates enormous cultural diversity and substantial social, political, and behavioural complexities. This situation is most pronounced across Melanesia, with over 700 languages spoken in Papua New Guinea alone and more than 100 each in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. In Micronesia and Polynesia, one national language is the norm in most countries.

There are distinct differences in social organizations and cultural practices between the three broad sub-regions. For example, throughout Melanesia, social and political status and power are usually acquired on the basis of matrilineal, patrilineal, and individual merit and effort. In most of Polynesia, they are achieved on the basis of patrilineal descent. In Micronesia, the situation is more complex: on high islands and more fertile atolls, there are close similarities to the Polynesian system, whereas on the less endowed atolls, age plays a more prominent role, with political control traditionally exercised by councils of elders or chiefs.

Given these socio-cultural, biophysical, economic, and political complexities, it comes as no surprise to observe a rich socio-economic and demographic diversity in a regional population of just over 9.3 million people:

1. Of the total Pacific population, 68 percent live in Papua New Guinea. There is rapid population growth especially in the Melanesian and Micronesian countries, a high fertility rate, a declining population growth in some Polynesian countries due to out-migration, and an increasing influx of imported labour.

2. High population growth rates of over 2 percent annually are observed in five countries — FSM, Nauru, PNG, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. On the other hand, three countries — Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau — are observed to have a loose population, largely due to out-migration to New Zealand.

Table 9.1
Mid-2007 Pacific Island population estimates

 

Region/country or territory

Last census year

Population as counted at last census

Mid-year population estimate (2007)

Urban population (%)

Growth rate

Urban (%)

Rural (%)

Median age

MELANESIA

 

 

8,137,100

18.3

20.8

Fiji Islands

1996

775,077

831,600

46

2.6

–0.5

23.7

New Caledonia

2004

230,789

241,700

63

2.5

1.0

29.3

Papua New Guinea

2000

5,190,786

6,332,750

13

2.8

2.7

20.3

Solomon Islands

1999

409,042

503,900

16

4.2

2.5

19.7

Vanuatu

1999

186,678

227,150

21

4.0

2.2

19.9

MICRONESIA

 

 

545,900

66.2

24.2

Federated States of Micronesia

2000

107,008

110,600

22

–2.2

1.0

19.9

Guam

2000

154,805

172,300

93

1.8

–1.4

28.7

Kiribati

2005

92,533

95,500

44

1.9

1.8

21.3

Marshall Islands

1999

50,840

52,700

68

1.6

1.3

18.6

Nauru

2006

9,429

9,900

100

2.3

n.a.

21.0

Northern Mariana Islands

2000

69,221

84,700

90

3.7

2.3

29.2

Palau

2005

19,907

20,200

64

–1.0

4.4

33.2

POLYNESIA

 

 

649,650

38.2

23.1

American Samoa

2000

57,291

65,000

50

2.4

1.7

21.3

Cook Islands

2006

19,569

13,500

72

3.0

–1.5

26.3

French Polynesia

2002

244,830

261,400

53

1.5

2.1

27.8

Niue

2006

1,625

1,600

36

–1.1

–2.4

32.0

Pitcairn Islands

2005

50

50

48.3

Samoa

2006

179,186

179,500

21

–0.8

0.6

18.9

Tokelau

2006

1,151

1,200

0

22.8

Tonga

2006

101,991

102,300

23

0.5

0.4

21.0

Tuvalu

2002

9,561

9,700

47

1.4

–0.2

24.1

Wallis and Futuna

2003

14,944

15,400

0

24.5

TOTAL SPC COUNTRIES

 

 

9,332,650

22.5

21.2

(Source: SPC Statistics and Demography Programme 2007)

Region/country or territory Last census year

Rapid urban population growth rates of over 3 percent per year occur in the Solomon Islands, PNG, and Vanuatu. Urban population growth rates are increasing in the other countries, especially in PNG and Cook Islands. This leads to increasing rates of urbanization in many countries of the Pacific. Lack of services in rural areas is the main determinant of rural-to-urban or outer-island-to-main-island migration in many countries.

3. While out-migration contributes to declining net population growth, it impacts negatively on workforce development as increasing numbers of skilled and professional people leave the island nations in search of better education and employment opportunities. Out-migration negatively impacts on the productivity of all sectors, with health and education being the most affected, particularly in rural areas or outer islands.

4. The impact of increasing rural-to-urban migration on urban population growth in many countries, combined with poor urban planning, contributes to a range of social and economic problems in urban areas. Increasing urban population leads to rising rates of unemployment, squatter settlements and overcrowded dwellings, and it strains the capacity of government to provide basic services, such as housing, water, sanitation, electricity, health, and education services. Such situations contribute to substandard living conditions and poverty, and fuel other poverty-driven social problems such as crimes, robbery, lawlessness, substance abuse, sexual and domestic violence, and prostitution and HIV. Rural-urban migration is likely to continue if socioeconomic development is concentrated in urban and main islands only.

5. Persistent high urban population growth and overcrowding also has serious environmental consequences, leading to increased environmental degradation and contamination. The impact of climate change in Kiribati and Tuvalu has serious implications for development. Urgent attention is needed for planning for basic needs such as food, housing, and water.

6. At the current rate of population growth, the Pacific population is expected to double in 28 years. This relatively rapid population growth implies further pressures on land, stretched resources for services and infrastructure, and increasing unemployment. It does not allow room for national development to take place. Growing numbers of young people become bored and restless as they search for employment and aspirations beyond village-based agricultural and fishing activities.

7. The health status of the Pacific is challenged by a range of complex public health problems. Health determinants, risk factors, and morbidity and mortality patterns are changing rapidly; local capacity to respond is limited; progress has been slowed or reversed; and the delivery of health services and healthcare is expensive.

8. The number of women dying from pregnancy-related and delivery complications remains high in a number of countries, especially PNG and the Solomon Islands. In addition, the infant mortality rates are still high (over 50 infant deaths per 1,000 births) in Kiribati, PNG, and Solomon Islands. Life expectancy remains low: below 60 years in Nauru and PNG and between 60 and 64 years in Tuvalu and Kiribati.

9. All of these factors contribute to growing poverty, which gives rise to increasing social problems such as domestic violence; increasing rates of divorce and marital separations; early sexual activity among the youth that puts them at risk of sexually transmitted infection, HIV infection, and teenage pregnancies; and poverty-driven prostitution. Addressing these issues puts further pressure on the already diminishing resources of governments.

10. Poverty is a major factor that hinders socio-economic development. Studies by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2004 reveal that at least 20 percent of households in 12 of 13 PICs suffer from basic needs poverty; the proportion of underweight children reaches 27 percent in some countries; and 20 percent or higher of the population is living on less than USD 1 a day in six out of nine Pacific countries.

11. Many school age children, especially in Melanesia, are not attending school due to the inaccessibility of schools, parents not being able to afford the costs of schooling, and lack of space in the schools (see ‘Pacific Island Countries — The Struggle to Educate’).

The challenges facing the PICs to improve livelihoods and services especially in the rural areas and remote communities are immense. Many national reports point to the lack of infrastructure,

Pacific Island Countries — The Struggle to Educate1

Despite favourable developments in recent years, the educational performance of many PICs remains among the poorest among developing countries. For example, more than half of the estimated two million children in the 6–17 year age group are out of school. Over 90 percent of those not at school live in rural areas, remote communities, and outlying islands.

Table 9.2 summarizes actual population figures for age group 6–17 years from the latest available census data for PNG, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Nauru, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Niue, Samoa, FSM, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI).2

For the 12 countries included in Table 9.2, 51 percent or about 933,900 of 1.82 million 6–17-year-olds are not at school. The figures are particularly startling for the bigger Melanesian countries such as PNG and Solomon Islands. For PNG, the 2000 census figures show that more than 57 percent of 717,500 6–17-year-olds never attended school. Similarly in the Solomon Islands, 124,000 (30 percent) of the total population make up the 6–17 year age group and about 37 percent of them are not at school. With only 16 percent of the total Solomon Islands population living in urban areas, it is highly likely that the proportion of ‘not at school’ population is much higher in rural areas and remote communities.

In Micronesia, the figures are equally alarming. For example, in 2005 almost three fifths (58 percent) of Kiribati’s total population of 92,533 were below 25 years old. About a third (30 percent) is between 6 and 17 years old, with 13 percent not at school. Even the Polynesian countries with generally high literacy rates, such as Tonga and Samoa, have some challenges dealing with school dropouts and ensuring that school-age children have equal education and learning opportunities, regardless of their social status and geographic location.

Table 9.2
Population 6–17 years for selected PICs by status for school attendance

 

 

Population: 6–17 years

 

Total population

Total population 8–17

In school

Not in school

Total*

Dropout (P)

No schooling

Total+

6,169,725

1,824,444

856,579

933,972

172,641

751,123

Papua New Guinea (2000)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

5,190,786

1,531,661

633,768

866,138

148,514

717,624

Male

2,691,744

809,779

340,105

452,645

77,548

375,099

Female

2,499,042

721,882

293,663

413,493

70,968

342,525

Solomon Islands (1999)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

409,042

124,131

75,444

46,583

17,483

27,871

Male

211,381

64,840

40,128

23,358

8,716

13,985

Female

197,661

59,491

35,316

23,225

8,767

13,886

Kiribati (2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

92,533

27,393

23,802

3,557

1,067

928

Male

45,612

14,027

11,822

2,192

718

576

Female

45,921

13,366

11,980

1,365

349

352

Cook Islands (2001)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

18,027

4,200

3,641

559

11

205

Male

9,300

2,202

1,898

304

6

96

Female

8,727

1,998

1,743

255

5

109

Nauru (2002)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

10,065

2,875

1,933

942

87

529

Male

5,136

1,514

991

523

62

304

Female

4,929

1,361

942

419

25

225

Tokelau (2001)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

1,537

449

404

45

2

2

Male

761

231

204

27

2

2

Female

776

218

200

18

Tonga (1996–2006)

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1996) Total

97,762

29,173

26,869

2,304

730

Male

49,611

15,258

13,904

1,354

420

Female

48,151

13,915

12,965

950

310

(2006) Total

101,991

28,928

27,331

1,597

632

231

Male

51,772

15,161

14,121

1,040

427

136

Female

50,219

13,767

13,210

557

205

95

Tuvalu (2002)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

9,561

2,547

2,293

254

43

10

Male

4,729

1,363

1,187

176

30

4

Female

4,832

1,184

1,106

78

13

6

Niue (2006)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

1,625

362

338

24

4

Male

802

195

178

17

3

Female

823

167

160

7

1

Samoa (2001)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

176,710

51,491

47,668

3,823

798

320

Male

92,050

27,010

24,528

2,482

554

205

Female

84,660

24,481

23,140

1,341

244

115

FSM (2000)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

107,008

33,801

26,542

7,259

1,934

2,639

Male

54,191

17,569

13,546

4,023

1,130

1,494

Female

52,817

16,232

12,996

3,236

804

1,145

RMI (1999)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

50,840

16,606

13,415

3,191

2,066

764

Male

26,026

8,486

6,810

1,676

1,090

421

Female

24,814

8,120

6,605

1,515

976

343

Source: Latest population census of each PIC.

Note: +Tonga 1996 figures excluded from the totals.
*Total includes those who droped out of high school and those with education status ‘not stated’.
(P) Dropped out after primary school.
Data is difficult to obtain for the following countries — Fiji (1996), Vanuatu (1999), Palau (2000).

(Source: Jorari 2007)

essential services, basic hygiene, primary education, high service costs, and shortage of trained expertise and human resources as major hurdles. Reaching out to remote and rural communities is difficult. The advent of new technologies that are robust, low cost to deploy and operate, portable, and integrated with Internet connectivity provide opportunities that were not previously available. However, Pacific household-based population and housing censuses and survey results show that many households, especially in rural areas or outer islands, do not have access to information and communication technology (ICT).

THE ICT SECTOR

In general the ICT sector in most countries of the region is immature and underdeveloped. The problem starts with poor access to ICT — an issue noted by the Eminent Persons Group that formulated the parameters for the Pacific Plan’s Digital Strategy — and extends to limited applications and lack of local content.

Only four countries (Fiji, Guam, New Caledonia, and PNG) have submarine fibre cable access to the global backbone for telephony and the Internet.

ICT penetration in country is concentrated mainly around the major population centres. In some countries with monopoly operators, such as FSM, French Polynesia, and New Caledonia, newer services such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Wireless Fidelity (WiFi), and pre-paid billing have increased the customer base, reduced usage costs, and significantly lifted customer satisfaction. But for the majority of small island countries, low volumes using existing technologies and existing business models have meant high prices, which in turn have resulted in low uptake.

The low levels of access have hampered the development of government services, economic development, and social cohesion, and placed a brake on development of services.

The situation is set to change (and in some cases it has already changed) with the service and commercial options now offered by newer technologies and sector reforms being undertaken in many states with the assistance of the World Bank, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT), European Union (EU), and other agencies. Faster services such as broadband connections via Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) and very small aperture terminal (VSAT) satellite are now being complemented by wireless mobile and Internet services in many business and community centres. New entrants and business partnerships are challenging the status quo. For example, Digicel South Pacific, which was launched in November 2006, claims to be the fastest growing mobile operator in the Pacific with current operations in Samoa, PNG, Tonga, Fiji, and Vanuatu). In addition, the recent availability of VSAT satellite services combined with ‘wireless IP’ and ‘GSM in a Box’ solutions to the last mile promise to revolutionize access for rural and remote communities (see ‘Key Regional Initiatives’).

However, the key to reform is an understanding by policy-makers of that telecommunications can have a huge multiplier effect on all aspects of the economy and society. For example, in FSM, which has a population of about 107,000 spread across four states in approximately 2.78 million square kilometres of ocean, the government-owned Telecom is able to provide basic fixed line telephony at USD 10.00 per month, including local calls and reasonably priced mobile phone services in all main business centres. Text messaging using mobiles is charged USD 0.04 per message. Internet access for the 5,000 wireless subscribers costs USD 0.08 per megabyte and for the 2,000 dial-up subscribers USD 19.95 per month. All of these services can be paid using Telecom’s pre-paid ‘one-card billing system’. At current wireless Internet pricing, Telecom’s services are considerably cheaper than in many countries, including Australia and New Zealand, and business people and tourists visiting FSM will find the place capable of providing them with reasonably good services to catch up with urgent work and family needs at home. What FSM lacks is good quality and cheap telephone services between the many different islands. But Telecom’s capacity to address this looks promising, if coupled with government support to adapt new technologies and opportunities, such as those provided by low-cost, but robust SkyEdge VSAT terminals.

REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT AND FRAMEWORK FOR ICT

Until five years ago, the Pacific was served by monopoly (usually government or part government) telecommunication operators using Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) technologies. For historical reasons the tariffs had been allowed to drift into a very unbalanced basket with excessive international (and often long distance, mobile, and leased line) rates being offset by uneconomically low line rentals. Universal service obligation (USO) was ill-defined and the relevant authorities were not serious about monitoring the operators’ level of commitment to their obligation. Furthermore, the USO was often used to justify the continuance of a monopoly: it was alleged that the competition would ‘cream skim’ or provide services only to high-value or low-cost customers.

The entry of bypass operators and VoIP technologies was noted but the politically difficult increases in domestic rentals were often delayed or avoided, with the result that these so-called disruptive technologies are precipitating a crisis in cash flows and a reassessment of the USO. Statistics show that with the aggressive growth in Internet uptake, voice traffic in all countries is now just a small part of total usage. There has also been a spectacular increase in mobile phone usage. As new technologies such as General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) for mobile Internet are rolled out, operators still using older commercial models are being seriously challenged. They are finding it difficult to cope with declining revenues and how to tackle the steady inflow of new technologies such as VoIP.

Moreover, the regulators usually confined themselves to spectrum issues, and policymaking based on an understanding of the technologies and the implication of the dramatic effects of convergence and Moore’s Law was almost non-existent. There was a general lack of vision on how ICTs could solve many of the issues facing islanders, including improving quality of education and healthcare, lubricating trade, and building and maintaining social cohesion.

Reforms in the last five years and the introduction of market competition in several countries have destroyed the myth that Pacific markets are too small or fragile for competition. The newer technologies are providing for more distributed solutions. While the natural monopoly still applies to copper and fibre, satellite and wireless with their scalability and flexible rollout are providing a choice in voice and increasingly in data.

The capacity to provide adequate regulation is still lacking, with the result that new licences, interconnection, and USO are often handled in an ad hoc and reactive manner. This has resulted in uncertainty in markets where the capital demands dictate a much clearer and stable environment. But there have also been some significant breakthroughs.

About three years ago, Samoa took concrete steps and appointed its first independent regulator. Since then, competition has seen major readjustments in the cost and quality of services. New entrant Digicel reports that their mobile telephony covers the whole country. SamoaTel, the incumbent operator with a monopoly on fixed telephony services, and the second mobile telephony operator have begun offering broadband Internet services, together with Computer Services Limited (CSL), the main Internet service provider (ISP). The government is serious about privatizing SamoaTel. This will enable the government to concentrate on its regulatory function to ensure fair and equal opportunities for all sector players. This is an attractive model for other island countries to consider.

In addition, as recently as early 2008, the Fiji interim government successfully negotiated opening up the telecommunications sector. The entry of Digicel into the Fiji market can provide very positive results for the Fijian populace as witnessed in Samoa since the issuance of new licences in late 2006. Even island countries with relatively small populations are proving that properly regulated competition can make a significant positive difference to the buying public and incumbent operators.

In PNG, the regulator PANGTEL has issued licences to new entrants, including Digicel. Although the current government prefers that the international gateway remain with the government-owned Telikom operator, it is undeniable that the implementation of competition and policy reforms are underway. The results include better quality of service and reduced costs.

The Pacific Plan Digital Strategy

In adopting the Pacific Plan in 2005, Pacific leaders identified ICTs as a powerful development and stabilization resource and called for a Digital Strategy to identify mechanisms to accelerate the development of ICTs in the region. Based on the understanding that a mechanism for overcoming the undeniable lack of scale in the Pacific is regional solutions, the regional Digital Strategy establishes a broad roadmap of actions toward a regional digital society.

Starting with informed and decisive leadership, the Strategy calls for modern legislation, regulatory development, and the establishment of conducive investment climates based on policies that reflect the potential of ICTs. It supports the installation of new infrastructure and expanded access, and encourages the development of platforms, applications, and content to provide ubiquitous services in society, economy, and government.

Specifically, the Strategy:

• recognizes the potential role of broadcast media and the importance of developing application synergies (e.g. telephony, Internet, media, and ‘add-ons’ like disaster warning or environmental monitoring) to maximize the returns on infrastructure investments in sparsely populated areas;

• recommends where possible that regional synergies be exploited in collective purchasing and sharing of specialist expertise; and

• identifies the lack of human capacity in ICT in all areas as an inhibitor.

Since the Strategy was endorsed in 2005, the engagement of a wide range of stakeholders has been sought and obtained. They include Council of Regional Organizations (CROP) members,3 the Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association (PITA), the Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society (PICISOC), various United Nations agencies,4 regional entities such as APT donors, and other members of civil society. Slowly a ‘leadership model’ is evolving.

The tensions between the old governance models and the new are being reflected in national and sector tensions. It is likely that a more loose, inclusive, bottom-up model akin to that of the Internet will emerge, replacing the more disciplined top-down model of telecommunications in the past. A balance between the orderliness and standardization that ensures interoperability in the top-down approach, and the vibrancy and creativity of the bottom-up approach, is being sought. This finds parallels in the rethinking of broader governance models that might be more appropriate to the Melanesian, Polynesian, and Micronesian cultural fabric.

ICT Ministerial Taskforce

The Meeting of Pacific Island Forum ICT Ministers in Wellington in 2006 developed a step ladder approach to the Digital Strategy. Starting with a request to benchmark the sector and the development of country strategies, it also established a Task Force to advance some of the thrusts of the Digital Strategy, including identifying the regional synergies described above. The task force has formulated a regional regulatory resources support mechanism that has been put to donors and is likely to be implemented in late 2008. Work is in progress on collective purchasing of bandwidth. New initiatives on satellite and cable connectivity are also part of this process (see ‘Key Regional Initiatives’).

e-Readiness Survey

Much of the debate about digital access and digital opportunity misses the point that the root cause of lack of access and application is lack of coherent policies, lack of understanding about potential ICT-based solutions in government and commerce, and lack of ability to mobilize financial and human capacity to drive change. There is urgent need for a change in the current mindset that ‘public services’ must be totally managed and funded through government mechanisms. A step in the right direction is an e-readiness assessment using the Harvard Centre for International Development (CID) model being conducted in all 14 Pacific Forum island countries by a team of experts from various agencies. The results should be available in late 2008 or early 2009. This is an ongoing capacity-building and awareness exercise as much as a data-gathering exercise. It is also an attempt to supplement the leadership deficit alluded to above.

Regional Institutional Framework

To achieve efficiency in support delivery to small island countries, Pacific leaders have initiated a process to rationalize and consolidate agencies in the region in the form of a new Regional Institutional Framework. In the future, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) will limit itself to broad policy aspects of the economics of utilities. Moreover, the capacity of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) to provide technical support and advice will be enhanced together with other key CROP agencies involved in ICT. This process will also seek to exploit the crosscutting nature of ICT and build on the potential of ICT to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of many other sectors and programs.

The Regional Institutional Framework is still a work in progress.

KEY REGIONAL INITIATIVES

Some key regional ICT projects currently managed by PIFS and SPC are the Rural Internet Connectivity System (RICS), South Pacific Islands Network (SPIN), and One Laptop per Child (OLPC) projects. These are the more tangible initiatives directed at access, affordability, and enabling applications envisaged under the Pacific Plan. Involving both donors and government in collective endeavours, they form a backbone onto which the ICT society must be welded.

The RICS project uses the footprint and favourable link budget of an existing GE-23 satellite to enable access anywhere in the Pacific via VSAT. It uses small and ‘cheap’ 1.2m or 1.8m dishes and terminal equipment that require less power than for a laptop computer and can therefore be run on solar power. With funding from the Government of Australia, a Pacific SkyEdge hub was commissioned to manage multiple VSAT, optimize bandwidth usage, route traffic from hundreds of terminals spread around the scattered islands and atolls of the Pacific, and pool resources to support the installation of terminals in remote villages. RICS is designed to demonstrate the potential of ubiquitous access.

On 3 May 2008, the first RICS site was officially launched for operation by the government of PNG at Gaire village with a population of about 3,000–5,000 (according to the village pastor and elders). The village is about 90 minutes drive east from Port Moresby in the central province. It has electricity but no pipe water, sewerage, and fixed or mobile telephony coverage. The RICS pilot, installed at the church compound, was extended to the village school of more than 900 students and the first 100 OLPC laptops distributed there by early June 2008.

As of October 2008, 50 RICS sites had been set up across the region, and 27 were already operational in Cook Islands, FSM, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Niue, PNG, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna. Under SPC supervision, 5,000 OLPC laptops have been donated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for pilot projects covering each of the Pacific islands countries and territories.

According to Oceania OLPC (www.laptop.org), in August 2008 the tiny South Pacific nation of Niue became the first country to deliver the XO laptop to all its children. PNG is expected to rollout the green and white laptop to all schools in 2009, after running a series of successful trials in schools and teacher training institutions in 2008. The project will benefit over 7,000 elementary and secondary schools, 1.16 million children, and 35,700 teachers.

The SPIN project aims to connect a number of Pacific states and territories with submarine optical fibre cable. Replacing satellites for major centres, the cable will provide higher bandwidth capacity, reduce costs, and improve speed to capitals and to other major population centres. It will also supplement the connectivity of the RICS sites by enabling more traffic to be handled within the Pacific.

These initiatives provide not only the mesh connectivity but also an opportunity to revisit the models on which services are based. Sharing a regional satellite that can directly provide coverage to any village highlights the potential to have locally funded and managed telephone, Internet, and broadcasting. Sharing a submarine cable service in the region improves connectivity and reduces costs. It also calls attention to the need for a mechanism for sharing the lumpy investments and returns. This will involve not only countries and operators, but also donors, vendors, and bankers.

A key disincentive for inclusion in the Information Age in the Pacific is the cost of computers. The OLPC and clones are the first steps to improving computer affordability for island countries. Combined with RICS and WiFi, OLPCs can be used to provide quality and specialized education to anywhere in the Pacific. The key will be developing mechanisms to improve applications and content.

The ‘GSM in a Box’ concept presented as a ‘Village Connection’ solution is being seriously considered as one of the more practical, cost-effective, and highly useable last mile devices. It focuses on making available cheap GSM mobile receivers with a price tag below USD 20 for people in rural and remote communities. RICS sites provide the backbone to deliver the calls to other villages and the rest of the world. The Village Connection solution was demonstrated during the May 2008 launch of RICS at Gaire village in PNG. A much bigger pilot scheduled for Niue during the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting held there in August 2008 was dropped by the Niue authorities at the last minute. However, commercial take-up of ‘GSM in a Box’ is being proposed for Tokelau and remote and rural areas in PNG, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands.

EDUCATION AND CAPACITY-BUILDING

The USP IT Centre

USPNet, the distance learning network of the University of the South Pacific (USP), connects all of the extension centres in USP member countries plus the campuses in Apia, Samoa, and Port Vila, Vanuatu to the main campus in Suva, Fiji. This facility makes USP a truly regional university with a good track record of delivering distance education to the majority of its students.

In early 2007, the World Bank moved forward with its plans to upgrade USPNet as the Pacific node for its Global Distance Learning Network (GDLN). A number of opportunities that would arise from an upgraded USPNet and campus facilities include the following:

• Enhanced quality of distance learning courses.

• Enhancement of opportunities for development of research collaboration between USP and other universities around the world.

• Creation of ‘Knowledge Centres’ that would operate as community facilities for knowledge gathering and dissemination of information.

• Access to knowledge content from any of the more than 200 World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) sites worldwide.

• Creation of a Pacific ‘communications superhighway’ that could be expanded to provide international communications access to remote sites within Pacific Island Countries.

• Establishing dialogues and communities of practice for island countries, including for ‘red alerts’ whereby network priority would be given to members dealing with emergency situations, as well as access to World Bank technical assistance in developing learning products and blended learning in particular.

Another major work in progress is a JICA-funded project to enhance USP’s capacity in ICT human resource development. The Fiji-based centre will be a resource for hardware and software education and a mechanism for applications integration across sectors and intellectual policy debate about the role of ICT. With ICT issues shifting from technology and carriage to content and applications in the future, a capacity to discuss the philosophical, cultural, ethical, and consumer issues in an open and rigorous manner is essential.

PICISOC

PICISOC is the regional chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC). Founded in 1999, it is one of the most active ISOC chapters, with a growing membership. It is also generally recognized as the main resource for technical expertise, policy analysis, and unbiased assessment of regional and national ICT issues important to Pacific islanders.

Every year, PICISOC hosts the biggest ICT event in the Pacific — PACINET. Modeled on the original global INET event, PACINET brings together IT practitioners and special interest groups such as GIS users and health and education ICT workers to share their experiences and learn about new initiatives. More importantly, PACINET hosting by small island countries has brought together many expert practitioners to donate their time, expertise, and resources to some key ICT projects nominated by the host nation. For example, PACINET 2005 hosted by Kiribati provided Internet connectivity and video conference facilities for the national Parliament complex in Tarawa. PACINET 2006 hosted by Samoa provided broadband Internet connectivity to the village school in the small island of Manono, more than 30 kilometres from Apia city. In 2007, PACINET hosted by Solomon Islands looked at extending Internet wireless coverage over a much larger area of the Marovo lagoon in the Western province. While PACINET started in 2002 in Fiji with only 20 or so participants, PACINET 2008 in Rarotonga, Cook Islands is likely to have more than 150 participants.

PICISOC has also developed good working partnerships with the Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP); many working groups of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), and the Pacific Network Operators Group (PacNOG); Cisco academies such as those in Fiji and Samoa; UNDP and the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) initiative; and almost all of the organizations with active participation in regional ICT developments.

ICT APPLICATIONS AND SERVICES

The application of ICT in the Pacific environment will not only follow western trends in entertainment and the economy but also exploit certain areas more effectively and faster given the Pacific’s unique attributes.

e-Commerce

e-Commerce has the potential to reduce the disproportionate costs of remittances, a major source of income in most of the Pacific. This in turn would improve the capacity to spread and supplement income and generate capital for village activities. Many private operators such as Western Union offer faster services and better exchange rates than commercial banks although it can still be expensive and inconvenient for the majority in rural areas to get to the collection points, normally located in the towns and urban areas. In some countries such as Fiji, there are emerging opportunities to ‘e-enable’ many public utilities and essential services, including e-banking and mobile rural banking offered by the ANZ Bank and the National Provident Fund. Overall financial services in the Pacific seem set for a major shakeup and significant improvements through use of proven and appropriate ICT solutions.

Tourism is potentially a more lucrative sector for much of the Pacific. While some Web-based promotion and portals exist, the use of ICT to promote tourism, generate new revenue streams such as reliable Internet access, and improve the management of transport and other services has only been scratched.

e-Government

The potential of e-government in the Pacific has barely been touched. The historical governance models of the Pacific were overturned during the colonial period. With ICT, new models of inclusiveness are possible. Such models need to mirror the diversity of the society and be capable of fostering regional stability and security. The introduction of e-government services that merely digitize current processes will certainly increase the reach and efficiency of government but risk perpetuating power relationships.

Government and NGO websites and portals exist throughout the Pacific. At present, the main consumers for the information they provide are those in urban areas. Greater efforts are necessary to introduce and support ubiquitous carrier capacity that will allow access to these resources for the majority of Pacific islanders.

Electronic media outlets and the instant wide coverage provided by the Internet are encouraging positive changes to government policies, procedures, and operations. This is important particularly in light of concerns about the lack of transparency, corruption and the costs of doing business with government. For example, uncertainty about the details of the licence issued to Digicel in PNG has not been helpful in assuring foreign investors about investment opportunities in the country. Perhaps a lack of public explanation is to be blamed. For example, in 2007, the Minister of Finance announced that Digicel had already contributed to an increase in the country’s GDP.

Other Key Applications

Education and health in the Pacific suffer from isolation and economies of scale at the village level. The capacity of the Internet to deliver specialized content and interactivity in health and education anywhere will be a major factor in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of these services and the quality of life in rural areas.

Urban drift and its economic, social, and security consequences are acutely felt in the Pacific. ICT-enabled access to services and relevant applications and content could help arrest the drift.

The preservation of the languages, cultures, and customs of the Pacific is another ICT application worth exploring. However, at present even the simplest technologies for recording, broadcasting and distributing content, such as compact disc (CD) and radio, do not yet have the necessary uptake. The financial resources and human capacity to support these ICT uses need to be strengthened to a significant degree.

These are the types of areas where Non-state Actors (NSA) can play a much larger role than they do at present.

CONCLUSION

The changes being wrought in the ICT sector are far-reaching and fundamental to society. Thus, there is a need to engage as many members of society as possible in the development of policy, the formulation of regulations, and the building of environments. Chambers of commerce and other NSA should be encouraged to participate in this process at both national and regional level. Women and church groups are a particularly significant source of support in the Pacific. Their capacity to infuse moral values and elements of social cohesion to the policymaking and capacity-building process should be exploited.

For many rural and remote communities in the Pacific and specifically for the majority without access to education and basic services, ICT brings new opportunities, knowledge, and improved life chances. ICT can effect the ‘death of distance’, bridge the communication and digital divide, and interconnect remote and rural communities with the global village. ICT can help better preserve local Pacific cultures while fostering better education, healthcare, entertainment, and self-esteem for Pacific islanders, regardless of their location and affiliation.

Ensuring that this potential is realized calls for an increasing share of the policy space and the economy, as well as the engagement of stakeholders. The success of reform will be determined by capacity to engineer the process. This in turn requires informed and decisive leadership on one hand, and inclusive debate on the other.

NOTES

1. The information presented in this section is drawn from Jorari (2007).

2. It was not possible to extract the same data set for Fiji, Vanuatu, and Palau based on their most recent population and housing census. The Pacific territories of American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI), Guam, Pitcairn Island, French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna are also not included.

3. These include the University of the South Pacific (USP), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Secretariat of the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), and Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

4. These include including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and ITU.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Haberkorn, Gerald and Arthur Jorari. (2007). Availability, accessibility and utilization of Pacific Island demographic data — Issues of data quality and user relevance. Asia-Pacific Population Journal, 22(3), 75–95. ESCAP, Bangkok.

Jorari, Arthur. (2007). Primary data analysis for OLPC Oceania initiative. SPC Internal Report. January SPC, Noumea.

Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. (2005). Pacific plan digital strategy. Retrieved 15 February 2008 from http://www.pacificplan.org/tikipage.php?pageName=Digital+Strategy

———. (2006). Forum information and communications technologies ministerial meeting March 30, 2006 — Wellington Declaration. Retrieved 15 February 2008 from http://www.pacificplan.org/tikipage.php?pageName=Wellington+declaration

Rodgers, Jimmie. (2006). 36th Meeting of the Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administration. Director General’s report. November 2006, SPC, Noumea.

Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). (2006). Reaching out to rural and remote areas in the Pacific Island Countries and Territories through the Digital Strategy. 36th Meeting of the Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administration. SPC, Noumea, November 2006.

———. (2007). Bridging the digital divide. Report of the 5th Conference of the Pacific Community. SPC, Noumea, November 2007.

SPC Statistics and Demography Programme. (2007). Pacific Islands Population Poster. SPC, New Caledonia.

This page intentionally left blank

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

Maria Teresa Garcia with Emmanuel C. Lallana

INTRODUCTION

Founded in 1989 with 12 member economies, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has since grown to become a 21-member inter-governmental body that aims to promote economic growth, cooperation, trade, and investment in the Asia Pacific region. APEC’s goals are articulated in the 1994 Bogor Declaration of Goals, which envisions free and open trade for industrialized economies by 2010 and for developing economies by 2012. The Bogor Declaration also calls for the building of an environment where economies can grow; trade can flourish; skills training can be provided; and job opportunities can be created.

To achieve the Bogor Goals, APEC identified three areas of cooperation that are sometimes referred to as the ‘Three Pillars’ of APEC: trade and investment liberalization, business facilitation, and economic and technical cooperation. Trade and investment liberalization focuses on opening markets by reducing and eventually eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and investment. Business facilitation focuses on reducing the cost of business transactions and improving access to trade information. Economic and technical cooperation focuses on providing training and cooperation to build capacities in all APEC member economies. Information and communication technology (ICT) is recognized as an important tool in APEC’s work in all three pillars.

This chapter briefly reviews some of the key APEC policies and activities in the area of ICT development and the use of ICT for development, particularly in the context of APEC’s work mechanisms and processes in pursuit of the organization’s goals.

DIRECTION-SETTING AND PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION

APEC works on the basis of non-binding commitments, open dialogue, and equal respect for the views of all of its 21 member economies.1 All decisions are by consensus, and commitments are made on a voluntary basis. Members have no treaty obligations; they take individual and collective action to open their markets and promote economic growth in a manner that is consistent with APEC’s vision.

APEC’s policy direction is set by the 21 APEC Economic Leaders. The APEC Ministers and the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) make strategic recommendations and are considered by the APEC Economic Leaders as part of the policy-making process. It is at the Economic Leaders’ Meetings that APEC’s policy agenda is shaped.

Sectoral Ministerial Meetings are held regularly on key areas such as education, energy, environment and sustainable development, finance, human resource development, regional science and technology cooperation, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), telecommunications and information industry, tourism, trade, transportation, and women’s affairs.

There are four high-level committees: the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI), the Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Steering Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation (SCE), the Economic Committee (EC), and the Budget and Management Committee (BMC). They are supported by subcommittees, experts’ groups, working groups, and task forces. Working groups carry out APEC’s work in specific sectors as directed by the APEC Economic Leaders, APEC Ministers, APEC Sectoral Ministers and Senior Officials. There are currently 11 working groups. Special Task Groups are formed by senior officials to identify issues and make recommendations about important areas for APEC’s consideration. Ad-hoc groups have also been established to provide topical and relevant information on critical issues or to fulfil important tasks not covered by other groups.

In addition, APEC has built partnerships with various stakeholders, namely, the business sector, industry, academia, policy and research institutions, and interest groups. It has also invited the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), and Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Secretariat to APEC Meetings to provide insights and expertise on specific issues.

Member economies make annual contributions to support centrally funded APEC activities. Since 1997, Japan has provided additional funds to support APEC’s trade and investment liberalization and facilitation projects. Other key resources shared include professional staff assigned to the APEC Secretariat. The APEC Secretariat, based in Singapore, provides coordination, technical, and advisory support.

APEC’S ICT INITIATIVES

Taking cognizance of the profound impact of ICT, notably the Internet, on the pace and process of economic development and globalization, APEC Leaders have articulated and pursued several ICT initiatives over the years. As early as 1990, APEC formed the APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group (APEC TEL) to focus on ICT concerns. The APEC TEL is committed to improving telecommunications and information infrastructure in the region. To implement and monitor its projects, APEC TEL created three steering groups — on liberalization, ICT development, and security.

Toward an Information Society

As it works toward the attainment of an information society that is ‘people-centered, inclusive and development-oriented’ (World Summit on the Information Society, Tunis 2006), APEC TEL focuses on the following priority areas: reducing the digital divide, next generation networks and technologies, e-government, mutual recognition arrangements, regulatory reform, capacity-building, protecting information and communications infrastructure and cyber security, and advancing the Asia Pacific Information Society. Specifically, APEC TEL:

1. assists developing economies in reforming their policy and regulatory structures and become World Trade Organization (WTO) compliant;

2. implements the Digital Divide Blueprint for Action and other initiatives that encourage greater access to basic communications and build-out of the Internet, so as to promote greater broadband accessibility, availability, and use;

3. develops a collaborative approach to cyber security (such as providing cybercrime legislation and enforcement, and capacity-building opportunities); and

4. works toward creating sustainable markets through both convergent and new technologies.

In June 1998, it was recognized that there was a need to update APEC-wide processes for the testing and approval of telecommunications equipment. APEC TEL facilitated what became known as the Mutual Recognition Agreement for Conformity Assessment of Telecommunications Equipment (MRA). The first such multilateral agreement, it streamlines testing and equipment certification procedures and provides for the mutual recognition, by an importing economy, of Conformity Assessment Bodies. To date, 16 out of 21 economies have committed to Phase 1 (Mutual Recognition of Test Reports) and five economies have committed to Phase 2 (Mutual Recognition of Equipment Certification). The MRA Task Force is also working on a new MRA of technical requirements. Issues being considered include potential costs and benefits to industry and regulators, and multilateral versus bilateral approaches.

Equal importance is being given to combating cyber threats. APEC TEL members have synchronized efforts under the APEC Cyber-Security Strategy, a set of measures adopted in 2002 to protect business and consumers from cybercrime and strengthen consumer trust in the use of e-commerce. A notable initiative is the development of key public infrastructure guidelines to facilitate cross-jurisdictional e-commerce. Economies are currently implementing and enacting cyber-security laws, consistent with the UN General Assembly Resolution 55/632 and the Convention on Cybercrime.3 The TEL Cybercrime Legislation Initiative and Enforcement Capacity-Building Project will provide support to institutions in implementing new laws.

APEC members are also working together to implement the Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) as an early warning defence system against cyber attacks. Guidelines for establishing and operating CERTs have been developed, and various training workshops provided to member economies to enhance capacity in understanding the technical, forensic, and legal issues related to cybercrime and critical infrastructure protection. The protection of SMEs is considered a priority under this strategy. Practical tools to protect small busiesses — as well as home users — from attacks and viruses have been developed, including advice on how to use the Internet securely, safety issues relating to wireless technologies, and safe email exchanges. Work on reducing the criminal misuse of information continues to be a priority for the APEC TEL, with emphasis on the importance of sharing information, developing procedures and mutual assistance laws, and measures to protect business and citizens.

APEC member economies are encouraged to implement e-government applications. Some of the activities in this regard are the APEC e-Government Strategy, APEC e-Government Work Program, Electronic Certification Services for e-Government, e-Government High Level Symposium, e-Government University Network in HRD for e-Government, e-Government Research Project, and Integrated e-Government for Local Government Project.

The private sector is actively involved in the activities of all three TEL steering groups. Many projects are both initiated and driven solely by the private sector or in cooperation with the public sector. The APEC TEL also works with international groups, such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Paperless Cross-Border Trading

Another APEC committee working on ICT initiatives is the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI) under which are the Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG) and Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures (SCCP). The CTI is the coordinating body for all of APEC’s work on trade and investment liberalization and business facilitation. Established in 1999, the ECSG coordinates activities pertaining to the development and use of e-commerce within APEC. The SCCP, which was established in 1994, is tasked with simplifying and harmonizing regional customs procedures to ensure that goods and services move safely and efficiently within the APEC region.

The CTI, ECSG, and SCCP are working together toward a paperless cross-border trading environment. At the 1999 APEC Leaders Meeting in Auckland, member economies agreed on a ‘voluntary basis to move toward paperless trading and eliminate the need for paper based documents in cross border trading by 2005 in developed countries and 2010 in developing economies’. It is projected that paperless trading would lower the cost of shipping goods, reduce communication charges, speed up the processing of payments, and lower paper handling costs. Paperless trading is also expected to encourage greater participation by developing economies and SMEs in cross-border trade.

The ECSG, through the APEC Blueprint for Action on Electronic Commerce, has facilitated the preparation of Paperless Trading Individual Action Plans of 17 member economies. It has also developed a Data Privacy Pathfinder Initiative,4 which was launched and formally adopted at the APEC Ministerial Meeting and APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in September 2007. The Pathfinder will enable stakeholders (officials, regulators, industry and consumers) to work together to better protect private information in the APEC region and build confidence and trust in e-commerce. Thirteen APEC members (Australia, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam) have agreed to participate and other members are actively considering joining the Initiative. The APEC Data Privacy Pathfinder will promote consumer trust and business confidence in cross-border data flows. It will support business needs, reduce compliance costs, provide consumers with effective remedies, allow regulators to operate efficiently, and minimize regulatory burdens.

In collaboration with the SCCP and the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business, the ECSG undertakes work to enhance trade facilitation through technical cooperation and information sharing, specifically in electronic standards for paperless trading. Moreover, the ECSG is collaborating with the International Chamber Commerce on the development of a Framework for ICT-enabled Growth.

In 2007, the CTI formulated APEC’s Second Trade Facilitation Plan, which provides the framework and schedule for implementing actions to meet APEC’s objective of reducing transaction costs to business. It focuses on customs procedures, standards and conformance, e-commerce and mobility of business people. The SCCP meanwhile has formulated the Single Window Strategic Plan and Single Window Development Plan to achieve paperless trading targets and enable seamless data sharing. To further enhance paperless trading, the APEC Ministers agreed during their 19th APEC Ministerial Meeting in Sydney (2007) to work toward interoperability of systems through the use of recognized international instruments and standards.

E-Commerce capacity-building and knowledge exchange activities (i.e. symposia, technical assistance, training workshops, and seminars) have been conducted to focus on issues like intellectual property rights, data privacy, and cyber security. In 2007 the following activities were held: APEC Symposium on Paperless Trading Capacity Building and Intellectual Property Protection, Seminar on International Implementation of the APEC Privacy Framework, APEC Women’s eBiz Training, APEC Training Program on e-Trade and Supply Chain Management, and the APEC Project on Paperless Trading Capacity Building and IPR Protection.

Capacity-Building in APEC Member Economies

In 1990, APEC established the Human Resources Development Working Group (HRDWG) to coordinate and implement programs in education, labour, and capacity-building. The HRDWG is focused on narrowing the skills gap and preparing individuals for the knowledge-based economy. It has identified eight medium-term priorities in the areas of basic education; labour market; training for executives and SMEs; lifelong learning, skills and development; mobility; labour force and workplace; human resource development for trade; and investment liberalization and facilitation.

The HRDWG undertakes various programs through its three networks: the Education Network (1992), Labour and Social Protection Network (2000), and Capacity Building Network. The APEC Education Network (EDNET), formerly called the APEC Education Forum, was formed to coordinate and strengthen the collaborative activities of member economies in the field of education. It has four priority areas: Mathematics and Science Instruction, Using IT to Support Teaching and Learning, Learning Each Other’s Language, and Governance and Systemic Reform. The Labour and Social Protection Network (LSPN), which first met in Brunei in May 2000, aims to foster strong and flexible labour markets and strengthen social protection, including safety nets through evidence-based interventions, collaboration, technical cooperation, and the provision of labour market social protection information and analysis to address sustainable human resource development across APEC member economies. The Capacity Building Network (CBN) promotes human capacity-building and the strengthening of markets through improved productive processes, enterprise productivity and adaptability, management and technical skill development, and corporate governance in the public, private, and voluntary sectors of APEC member economies.

Some of the major projects of the HRDWG that supports its objective of enhancing education, IT, and partnerships for development are the following:

• APEC Education Foundation, a non-profit foundation that provides grants focusing on utilizing ICT to advance education and human capacity-building cooperation in the Asia Pacific region. Among its projects are: ICT4D and disadvantaged populations in Vietnam’s northern mountainous area; developing capabilities to use ICT in the improvement of educational access and quality for young people in disadvantaged zones of Peru; the establishment of eSkwela centres for disadvantaged youth in urban areas in the Philippines; enhancing the ICT capacity of disadvantaged youth affected by social and economic factors such as low income, geographical isolation, and disability using the APEC network of certified small business counsellors in Korea; creation of digital educational resources and network access to knowledge for young people living in the Pacific Ocean zone of the Russian far east; and APEC cyber vocational education system on environmental technology in Korea.

• APEC Cyber Education Network (ACEN), a regional cooperative project that aims to narrow the digital divide among APEC member economies through the sharing of ICT knowledge and skills education.

• APEC Cyber Academy Project, an online learning environment designed for K-12 students that provides for collaborative learning across cultures and continents.

• Knowledge Bank of Policy and Practice, a Web-based repository of education policy and practical resources from the Asia Pacific region, including links to websites and documents on math and science education, language instruction, technology, and governance, for education policymakers, school administrators, and researchers.

• Seminar on best practices and innovations in the teaching and learning of science and mathematics at the secondary level where participants share pedagogic tools to increase the skills and knowledge of educators and enhance the quality of education in the APEC region.

• ICT Model School Network participated in by 16 member economies5 to provide opportunities and means to share best practices and exchange ideas on the use of ICT in classrooms among the 71 participating schools.

• APEC Future Education Forum, a yearly meeting since 2005 that is participated in by prominent scholars, experts, education administrators from 15 member economies, to deliberate theoretical and practical strategies to formulate the vision of APEC Future Education.

Bridging the Digital Divide

In 2000, APEC Leaders set out the Brunei Goals to lay down the framework for maximizing access to the Internet and pursuing an action agenda for the new economy. Recognizing the impact of ICT and the Internet on economic development in the region. A year later, in Shanghai, China, APEC Leaders agreed ‘to develop and implement a policy framework which will enable the people of urban, provincial and rural communities in every economy to have individual or community-based access to information and services offered via the internet by 2010’ (APEC 2001). As a first step toward this goal, the number of people within the region with individual and community-based access to the Internet would be tripled by 2005.

In support of the Brunei Goals, APEC Leaders meeting in Bangkok in 2003 instructed their Ministers to ‘step up efforts to build knowledge-based economies’ by partnering with the business sector, educational institutions, citizens groups, and government and semi-government agencies. The Brunei Goals were also affirmed with the adoption in 2001 of the long-term, forward-looking and more action-oriented eAPEC Strategy that sets a framework for bringing together an enabling environment for strengthening market structures and institutions, investment and infrastructure, and human capacity-building.6

In general, although APEC has yet to achieve its goal of tripling Internet access across the region, APEC economies have made significant improvements in infrastructure, as evidenced by improved teledensity and better telecommunications services. As of January 2005 six economies have more than tripled Internet access and nine economies have exceeded 50 percent Internet access. At the end of 2002, the average per capita penetration rate for fixed lines in the APEC region reached 31 percent, far above the world average of 17.9 percent. Mobile telephony increased to an unprecedented level: the mobile penetration rate exceeds 40 percent, making the APEC region the leader in mobile access. The quality of Internet access has improved with the installation of broadband infrastructure. Newer ICT infrastructure is emerging in the form of satellite connections, fibre to the home, wide area networks, and wireless networks. Public Internet access points (e.g. schools, libraries, communities/villages) have also been made available.

However, the overall development of ICT infrastructure in the APEC region has been slower than expected, and disparities between the rural and urban areas are still a major issue that needs to be addressed. Mobile telephony, which is the most pervasive, is not yet able to provide Internet access at affordable rates, and in most APEC economies, Internet access remains relatively low. The slow progress in ICT infrastructure development has been attributed to the lack of regulatory policies in many APEC member economies, as well as lack of financial and technical capabilities in developing countries. The affordability of ICT infrastructure remains an issue in some APEC economies.

On the other hand, developments in ICT infrastructure have been attributed to liberalization and sound regulation policies. An extensive survey conducted by the APEC TEL (2003) found that majority of the member economies have implemented the WTO regulatory principles of competitive safeguards, interconnection, public availability of licencing criteria, independent regulators, and allocation and use of scarce resources.

Complementing infrastructure development as a strategy for addressing the digital divide is developing digital and related skills for the knowledge economy and society. In 2001, the APEC High Level Meeting on Human Capacity Building adopted the Beijing Initiative, which called for a collaborative effort among member economies and stakeholders to share experiences and practices, explore better approaches, and identify strategic options in human capacity-building.

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

Effective governance requires the active involvement of all sectors. This is also true for APEC where the member economies’ commitment is as important as stakeholders’ participation in APEC activities. APEC’s working method also reflects its desire to be inclusive in its engagements inasmuch as APEC member economies have diverse socio, political, and economic conditions. It promotes collaborative initiatives and the sharing of practices among its members, stakeholders, and partners.

However, while staying true to its commitment to consensus-building and stakeholder participation, APEC needs to come up with clear-cut, effective, and enforceable agreements and decisions, and a strategy for implementing these in a timely fashion.

APEC is faced with many challenges and its usefulness in the region and its comparative advantage relative to other regional organizations are constantly tested. Internally, APEC needs to address structural issues concerning the APEC Secretariat and encourage member economies to increase their financial contributions. Since its creation almost two decades ago, APEC’s scope of work has continuously expanded while its support mechanisms have remained the same. The 3rd APIAN Policy Report (2002, p. 15) states that ‘APEC’s financial structure is woefully inadequate in comparison to APEC’s goals and objectives’ and its ‘management structures have grown both too complex and too weak to meet the growing demands of a growing organization and need a thorough overhaul’. However, as the 2007–2008 State of the Region Report (SOR) of the PECC notes, efforts to strengthen the Secretariat are routinely met with resistance.

The PECC report also observes that there is overlapping of activities, and there is no coordinating mechanism to eliminate the wasteful duplication of resources. This is especially true in human capacity-building as almost all of the APEC working groups undertake capacity-building activities. Furthermore, while ‘some capacity-building has taken place … there is no systematic institutional commitment to technical assistance across the range of issues on of Leaders’ agendas’ (PECC 2008).

‘Strategically, APEC stabilizes relations among its diverse membership by providing a unique forum for regular discussions among leaders, ministers, technical experts and corporate executives’ (APIAN 2002, p. 13). What is needed is for APEC to extend its philosophy of openness to include making the necessary internal changes that will make it an effective regional organization able to maintain its relevance in the region.

NOTES

1. The 21 member economies are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong China, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States, and Vietnam.

2. ‘Combating the criminal misuse of information’, which recognizes that one of the implications of technological advances is increased criminal activity in the virtual world (United Nations 2001).

3. An agreement forged in Budapest that aims to uphold the integrity of computer systems by considering as criminal acts any action that violates this integrity (Council of Europe 2001).

4. The Pathfinder Initiative is an approach adopted by APEC to enable groups of member economies to pilot the implementation of cooperative initiatives prior to their adoption by all APEC member economies. This approach allows APEC member economies who are ready and willing to commit to move faster in specific areas to do so and it is seen as a way to invigorate progress toward the free trade and investment goals.

5. Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Hong Kong China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, and Vietnam.

6. A detailed description is provided in the report of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council to APEC Ministers entitled ‘Implementing the eAPEC Strategy: Progress and recommendations for further action’ (APEC Secretariat 2004).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). (1998a). APEC blueprint for action on electronic commerce. 1998 Leaders’ Declaration. Retrieved 18 February 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/leaders_declarations/1998/apec_blueprint_for.html

———. (1998b). APEC Economic Leaders Declaration: Strengthening the foundations of growth. 1998 Leaders’ Declaration, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 18 November. Retrieved 18 February 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/leaders_declarations/1998.html

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). (1999). The Auckland Challenge: APEC Economic Leaders Declaration. Auckland, New Zealand, 13 September. Retrieved 18 February 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/leaders_declarations/1999.html

———. (2000). APEC Economic Leaders’ Declaration: Delivering to the community. 2000 Leaders’ Declaration. Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darrussalam, 16 November. Retrieved 18 February 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/leaders_declarations/2000.html

———. (2001). APEC Economic Leaders’ Declaration: Meeting new challenges in the new century. APEC Leader’s Declaration, Shanghai, China, 21 October. Retrieved 18 February 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/leaders_declarations/2001.html

———. (2007). The 19th APEC Ministerial Meeting Joint Statement. Sydney, Australia, 5–6 September. Retrieved 18 February 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/ministerial_statements/annual_ministerial/2007_19th_apec_ministerial.html

———. (2009a). APEC structural reform. Retrieved 15 April 2008 from http://www.apec.org/etc/medialib/apec_media_library/downloads/sec/pubs/2008.Par.0011.File.tmp/08_StructuralReform2007.pdf

———. (2009b). Capacity building network. Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/apec_groups/som_committee_on_economic/working_groups/human_resources_development/capacity_building_network.html

———. (2009c). Committee on Trade and Investment. Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/apec_groups/committee_on_trade.html

———. (2009d). Education Network. Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/apec_groups/som_committee_on_economic/working_groups/human_resources_development/education_network.html

———. (2009e). Electronic Commerce Steering Committee. Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/apec_groups/committee_on_trade/electronic_commerce.html

———. (2009f). Human Capacity Building (Beijing Initiative). Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/apec_groups/other_apec_groups/human_capacity_building.html

———. (2009g). Human Resources Development Working Group. Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/apec_groups/som_committee_on_economic/working_groups/human_resources_development.html

———. (2009h). Labor and Social Protection Network. Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/apec_groups/som_committee_on_economic/working_groups/human_resources_development/labour_social_protection_network.html

———. (2009i). Sub-Committee on Customs and Procedures. Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/apec_groups/committee_on_trade/sub-committee_on_customs.html

———. (2009j). Telecommunication and Information Working Group. Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/apec_groups/som_committee_on_economic/working_groups/telecommunications_and_information.html

APEC International Assessment Network (APIAN). (2002). Remaking APEC as an institution: The Third APIAN policy report. August 2002. Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/publications/all_publications/others.html

APEC Secretariat. (2004). Implementing the eAPEC Strategy. A report by PECC to the APEC Ministers. November 2004. Retrieved 15 April 2008 from http://www.pecc.org/community/e-apec/PDF%20Files/Overview_Report.pdf

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation. (2001). Paperless trading: Benefits to APEC. Retrieved 15 April 2008 from http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/APCITY/UNPAN007623.pdf.

Choi, Cheok-Young and T.T. Tran. (2006). APEC seminar 2005: Focus and challenges ahead. Trends in Southeast Asia Series 2(2006). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://www.iseas.edu.sg/tr22006.pdf

Council of Europe. (2001). Convention on cybercrime. Budapest. Retrieved 18 February 2008 from http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/EN/Treaties/Html/185.htm

Elliot, L., J. Ravenhill, H. Nesadurai, and N. Bisley. (2006). APEC and the search for relevance: 2007 and beyond. Canberra: National Library of Australia. Retrieved 22 February 2008 from http://rspas.anu.edu.au/ir/pubs/keynotes/documents/Keynotes-7.pdf

Feinberg, R. (Ed.). (2003). APEC as an institution. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Retrieved 22 February 2008 from http://www.apec.org/apec/documents_reports/electronic_commerce_steering_group/2002.html

Hirano, A. (1996). Legal aspects of the institutionalization of APEC. IDE-APEC Study Center. Working Paper Series 95/96-No.6. Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://www.ide.go.jp/English/Publish/Apec/pdf/95wp_06.pdf

Institute of APEC Cyber Education. (2003). APEC cyber education network. Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://www.acen.or.kr/gm/aa.htm

Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC). (2007). State of the region 2007–2008. Retrieved 22 April 2008 from http://www.pecc.org/sotr/papers/SOTR-2007.pdf

United Nations. (2001). Resolution adopted by the General Assembly 55/63. Combating the criminal misuse of information technologies. Retrieved 18 February 2008 from http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/cyb/cybersecurity/docs/UN_resolution_55_63.pdf

Yamazawa, I. (Ed.). (2000). APEC: Challenges and tasks for the twenty first century. London and New York: Routledge.

Yue, C.S. (Ed.). (1994). APEC: Challenges and opportunities. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

This page intentionally left blank

Association of Southeast Asian Nations

Lim Hock Chuan

INTRODUCTION

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established 40 years ago on 8 August 1967 with five founding members.1 Today ASEAN has 10 Member States: Brunei Darussalam, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Republic of Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Union of Myanmar, the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Singapore, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. It covers ‘a population of about 550 million, a total area of 4.5 million square kilometres, a combined gross domestic product of about USD 1 trillion and total trade of more than USD 1.4 trillion’ (ASEAN Doc. #19226 n.d.).

On the occasion of its 30th anniversary in 1997, the Association embarked on the serious task of building the ASEAN Community by 2020. This signals the gradual expansion of regionalism in ASEAN beyond the traditional boundaries of market integration to include the political, social, and cultural spheres.

This chapter takes a closer look at the regional aspirations expressed in the vision of an ASEAN Community and the role that information and communication technologies (ICTs) can play in its realization. It proposes a conceptual framework, consisting of interrelated concepts of a regional learning and innovation culture, sustainable knowledge systems, and communities of practice, for building the ASEAN Community. Regional development is a complex undertaking for which many concepts will have relevance. This chapter limits itself to outlining only a few of these concepts.

ENVISIONING AN ASEAN COMMUNITY

In 1997, ASEAN Leaders articulated a vision of ASEAN as ‘a concert of Southeast Asian nations, outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies’ (ASEAN Doc. #5228 n.d.). This is consistent with ASEAN’s desire to be a region that represents the ‘collective will of the nations of South-East Asia to bind themselves together in friendship and cooperation and, through joint efforts and sacrifices, secure for their peoples and for posterity the blessings of peace, freedom and prosperity’ (ASEAN Doc. #1212 n.d.).

ASEAN is further guided by a set of fundamental principles agreed upon by its members under the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia signed in 1976 and affirmed under the Bali Concord II signed in 2003. These principles, which together comprise the code of conduct governing relations between states, are stated in the ASEAN Charter as follows (ASEAN Doc. #1217 n.d.; ASEAN Doc. #21069 n.d.):

• respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all ASEAN Member States;

• shared commitment and collective responsibility in enhancing regional peace, security, and prosperity;

• renunciation of aggression and of the threat or use of force or other actions in any manner inconsistent with international law;

• reliance on peaceful settlement of disputes;

• non-interference in the internal affairs of ASEAN Member States;

• respect for the right of every Member State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion, and coercion; and

• enhanced consultations on matters seriously affecting the common interest of ASEAN.

In 2003, ASEAN Leaders also resolved that ‘an ASEAN Community shall be established comprising three pillars, namely, [the] ASEAN Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community’ (ASEAN Doc. #147 n.d.). The ASEAN Security Community (ASC) is ‘envisaged to bring ASEAN’s political and security cooperation to a higher plane where countries in the region live in harmony with one another and with the world-at-large’ (ASEAN Doc. #17359 n.d.). The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is envisaged to be ‘a single market and production base, characterized by the free flow of goods, services, investment and skilled labour, and freer flow of capital by year 2020’ (ASEAN Doc. #15065 n.d.). The ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) is envisaged as a ‘community in consonance with the goal set by ASEAN Vision 2020, in which we would be bonded together in partnership as a community of caring societies. Through the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, we could foster our cooperation in social and rural population, and at the same time, seek the active involvement of all sectors of society, including women, youth and community groups’ (ASEAN Doc. #15259 n.d.). These communities are to be ‘closely intertwined and mutually reinforcing for the purpose of ensuring durable peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region’ (ASEAN Doc. #15159 n.d.).

MOVING TOWARD THE ASEAN VISION

In 2007, ASEAN proudly celebrated 40 years of regional collaboration and cooperation with the signing of the ASEAN Charter at the 13th ASEAN Summit.2 The Charter introduces significant institutional changes within ASEAN, and gives ASEAN ‘for the first time after 40 years of existence … the legal personality of an Inter-Governmental Organization’ (ASEAN Doc. #21088 n.d.). The Charter also stipulates the following:

• ASEAN Foreign Ministers will form the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) to assist ASEAN Leaders in preparing for Summits, with the support of the Secretary-General (SG) of ASEAN and the ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC).

• There will be a Committee of Permanent Representatives (PRs) to ASEAN that shall take over the functions of the ASEAN Standing Committee. The PRs shall be appointed by each Member State.

• There will be a new ASEAN human rights body.

• The ASEAN Foundation will be accountable to the SG of ASEAN.

• Decision-making will continue to be based principally on consultation and consensus. Where consensus cannot be achieved, the ASEAN Summit may decide how a specific decision can be made.

• Flexible participation, such as the ASEAN Minus X formula, may be applied where there is a consensus to do so.

• The mandate and role of the SG of ASEAN shall be enhanced especially in interpreting the ASEAN Charter if and when requested, and in advancing the interest of ASEAN and its legal personality.

• Four Deputy Secretary-Generals (DSGs) shall be appointed. The three ASEAN Community Councils will be headed by one DSG each and the fourth DSG may concentrate on ASEC affairs and on narrowing the development gap among ASEAN Member States.

• There shall be no change to the equal sharing of contributions to the annual operating budget of the ASEAN Secretariat.

Another landmark ASEAN event in 2007 was the issuance of the Declaration on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint. This stipulates the creation of a single ASEAN market and production base and the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 (ASEAN Doc. #21082 n.d.). In essence, the single market and production base of the AEC comprises five core elements: free flow of goods, free flow of services, free flow of investment, freer flow of capital, and free flow of labour. The single market and production base shall also include the priority integration sectors and food, agriculture, and forestry.3

The ASEAN Charter and the AEC Blueprint are intended to improve institutional mechanisms to allow ASEAN to be better prepared for the 21st century. ICTs have an important role to play in their implementation. The key ICT-related areas and opportunities within the AEC Blueprint/Priority integration sectors are shown in Table 11.1.

The strategic directions outlined in Table 11.1 build on previous accomplishments in ICT-related aspects of the work of ASEAN. For example, the 6th ASEAN Telecommunications and IT Ministers (TELMIN) meeting was held in September 2006 with the theme of ‘Enhancing ICT Competitiveness: Capacity-Building’. The focus of the meeting was to address common issues relating to ‘creating a conducive, competitive

Table 11.1
ICT-related areas and opportunities within the AEC blueprint/priority integration sectors

 

 

Priority actions

 

 

Strategic approach

2008–2009

2010–2011

2012–2013

2014–2015

B. Toward a highly competitive region
B4. Infrastructure development

• Information infrastructure – Brunei action plan of ICT

• Implement the ASEAN Telecommunications Regulators Council (ATRC) Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) on conformity assessment for telecommunication equipment

• ASEAN-wide implementation of the ASEAN MRA on conformity assessment for telecommunication equipment

 

 

–ICT focus

• Promote and deepen policy and regulatory measures to deal with the opportunities and challenges in the area of Next Generation Networks (including the issue on broadband penetration and communications in rural areas, etc.)

• Implement regional measures to extend connectivity, capacity, and access in and between member countries via high-speed networks between national information infrastructures

 

 

 

 

• Enable the interoperability of products/services, information systems and networks, in a convergence environment

 

 

 

• Develop a general framework or guidelines for coordinated ASEAN e-government programs for efficient delivery of public services, and to facilitate regional trade, investment and other business activities

 

 

 

 

• Activate the ASEAN e-Government Forum, among others, to identify key public services for ICT applications, including capacity building activities

 

 

 

 

• Intensify capacity building and training for national computer emergency response teams (CERTs) and strengthen cooperation and coverage of an ASEAN regional cyber-security network

 

 

 

• Content industry

• Develop an action plan for MRA and/or Certification of ICT professionals in ASEAN

 

 

 

 

• Develop an action plan for developing ASEAN content, Web services and online application industries B6. e-Commerce

 

 

 

B6. e-Commerce

• Member countries to enact their e-Commerce laws

• Update and/or amend relevant legislation in line with regional best practices and regulations in e-Commerce activities

 

• A harmonized legal infrastructure for e-Commerce fully in place in ASEAN

 

• Advancing cross-border electronic transactions, through pilot implementation of mutual recognition of foreign digital signatures

• Adopt regional framework and strategy for the mutual recognition of digital signatures

 

 

 

• Continued capacity building and information sharing for Member Countries on e-Commerce legal infrastructure activities (e.g. PKI, institutional strengthening for CAs, etc.)

 

 

 

Note: For details of the strategic schedule for the AEC, see ASEAN Doc. #21161.

and sustainable ICT environment; developing digital content; ensuring network security as well as important initiatives for strengthening human and institutional capacities in the ASEAN ICT sector.’ The Brunei action plan, a focused formal agreement, was a significant outcome of this meeting (ASEAN Doc. #18849 n.d.; Sonny 2006).

The 7th ASEAN TELMIN meeting was held in August 2007 with the theme ‘ICT: Reaching out to the rural’. Ministers at this meeting adopted the Siem Reap Declaration on Enhancing Universal Access to ICT Services, which provides ‘policy direction toward developing affordable access to ICT services in rural communities and remote areas in each ASEAN member country’ (ASEAN Doc. #20878 n.d.; Brunei Times 2007). An important step taken at this meeting was the agreement to promote partnerships and shared responsibilities between the private and public sectors, and international organizations and agencies. ASEAN is moving toward the deployment of ICT for social and cultural development, as well as improving institutional mechanisms for the coordination, management, and implementation of ASEAN ICT cooperation work projects and programs.

The 8th ASEAN TELMIN meeting was held in August 2008 with the theme ‘High Speed Connection to Bridge ASEAN Digital Divide’. Ministers adopted concrete measures for enabling ICTs for ASEAN Economic communities, promoting high speed connections to bridge the digital divide, and improving ASEAN ICT integration activities. A key focus of the meeting was ‘incorporating high speed connection for most affordable telecommunication/ICT access and services’ (ASEAN Doc. #21916 n.d.).

Improvements in institutional mechanisms and the design of supporting programs, especially in the designated areas of science and technology, trade, social and cultural domains, and ICT-related fields will influence and shape the engineering of the ASEAN Community. ASEAN Leaders have agreed to begin with the building of the AEC and related supporting programs. These are important starting steps in the formative phase. However, as 2010 draws near, ASEAN also needs to give due consideration to the equally important pillars of social and cultural development in the ASEAN Community and harness informal networks and communities. This is discussed further in this chapter.

BUILDING THE ASEAN COMMUNITY

The idea of an ASEAN Community is not just a change in direction and form. More importantly, it is a change of mindsets — that is, a paradigm shift from ‘a loose grouping of member states’ to an integrated and cohesive community. This shift will take place through planned, incremental changes in varying stages, rather than through a sudden, revolutionary change. It is also a shift or transformation that would require not only institutional mechanisms and policies but also the broad participation of various stakeholders in knowledge creation and innovation. ICTs can be used to enable this broad participation.

Leveraging ICTs

The potential of ICT to foster development is well documented by leading agencies. For instance, the Global Information Technology Report of 2006–2007 indicates that ‘there is growing evidence that ICT is driving innovation’ (Dutta and Mia 2007). A recent OECD report states:

… new ICT applications have significant potential and may well have strong economic and social impacts in the near future; ICTs also play a fundamental role in the interlinking and convergence of different technologies. Among these emerging technologies are ubiquitous networks, which make it possible to follow persons and objects and provide real-time tracking, storing and processing of information. Applications of enabling network technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID) and other sensor technologies are increasingly affordable, investment is rising and applications are moving into commercial use. (OECD 2006, pp. 19–20)

Many would agree that ICT is a key enabler and driver of productivity and growth. But just as important is the potential of ICTs to help build communities. ICTs enable new ways of accomplishing work, delivering services, and enabling social participation. Indeed, the perspective on ICT in the region has shifted from ‘what we have’ to ‘what we are doing with it’ to ‘what it means to us’ — essentially the ‘softer’ socio-cultural aspects of technology. This shift from a technology-centric to a socio-culture-centric view reinforces the significant role of technologies in fostering learning and innovation for social change.

Fostering an ASEAN Regional Learning and Innovation Culture (RLIC)

Learning and innovation have recently become the focus of development research. ‘Innovation and learning are closely linked’ (Cooke et al. 1997, p. 484). They are essential for resourceful thinking and creative problem solving at the individual level and for collective enhancement of social capital at the group level. With regard to the ASEAN Community, it is useful to focus on learning, innovation, and social capital at the group level.

Adler and Kwon (2002, p. 17) describe social capital ‘as the goodwill that is engendered by the fabric of social relations and that can be mobilized to facilitate action’. Fukuyama (1999) defines social capital as ‘an instantiated informal norm that promotes cooperation between two or more individuals’. These definitions are relevant to ASEAN community building: they imply that ‘… involvement and participation in groups can have positive consequences for the individual and the community’ (Portes 1998).

Equally important for building the ASEAN Community is an understanding of the sources of social capital. Portes (1998) and Adler and Kwon (2002) identify the following sources of social capital: the structure of relationships, authorities, informal norms, and culture. For ASEAN, it is the strength of the social capital embedded in social networks that will further integration and social cohesion of the ASEAN Community. Informal norms and culture are especially important. As Fukuyama (1999) notes, ‘The fact of the matter is that coordination based on informal norms remains an important part of modern economies, and arguably becomes more important as the nature of economic activity becomes more complex and technologically sophisticated.’ In the ASEAN region, close family ties and formal and informal connections contribute to the enhancement of social capital.

Another important source of social capital in ASEAN is education. Indeed, the value for education is common to ASEAN cultures. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many families give priority to education and training over other needs, such as taking a major family vacation or purchasing luxury goods. The importance of education and training is recognized at the regional level and ASEAN Leaders in 2005 institutionalized the ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting (ASED) as a regular ASEAN meeting to address key education issues.

The premium placed on social networks and education in ASEAN communities bodes well for the formation of a regional culture of learning and innovation that in turn could be the foundation of the ASEAN Community.

Nurturing Sustainable Knowledge Systems (SKS)

An ASEAN RLIC would lead to the creation and regional embedding of knowledge and knowledge systems. SKS in particular should form part of the foundation of the ASEAN Community.

In regional studies, it is not uncommon to find regional innovation systems (RIS), clusters, and learning regions mapped to real-world regions. However, the analyses tend to have a more technical bias, particularly when the knowledge that is produced or learned is deemed to be coming from firms or industrialized regions geared toward greater competitiveness. For ASEAN, the useful knowledge gained within the ASEAN Community is not just technical or commercial knowledge. An ASEAN RLIC would and should generate social and cultural knowledge as well. The collective and generic term ‘knowledge systems’ takes into account the diversity of knowledge generated. The term ‘system’ is slightly modified from Lundvall (1992) and in the ASEAN context it is taken to mean a collection of distinct entities with defined relationships and interactions. Knowledge systems in the ASEAN context therefore refer to the knowledge content derived from defined relationships and social interactions. These knowledge systems become sustainable when resources are properly managed; stakeholders from public, private and civil society organizations, and communities have well-defined roles and relationships; and relevant stakeholders take appropriate ownership.

The RLIC and the SKS complement each other and underpin the building of the ASEAN Community. The RLIC creates and produces useful knowledge while the SKS maintains and ensures sustainability. These also correspond to two orders of change in systems theory (Watzlawick et al. 1974). First order change involves a change of system artefacts, while second order change is aimed at the systemic level. Applied to the ASEAN context, ICT for development in first order change improves the quality of created knowledge, and in second order change improves the knowledge creation process. ICT-enabled informal communities of practice play important roles as suppliers of knowledge and domain information and, together with other key ASEAN stakeholders they can implement the necessary first and second order change. The challenge for ASEAN is how to nurture the right communities and SKS and engage in the appropriate level of change.

Building Communities of Practice (CoPs)

To further operationalize the concepts of ICT-enabled RLIC and SKS in the ASEAN Community, let us turn to the relatively new field of Community Informatics. Community Informatics is interested in how to effectively use ICT in evolving communities — that is, communities of practice (CoPs) and interest, as well as geographically-based communities (de Moor and De Cindio 2007).

CoPs are not a new phenomenon (Wenger and Snyder 2000). CoPs are groups ‘of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis’ (Wenger et al. 2002, p. 4). CoPs create and manage knowledge and drive innovation (Lesser and Storck 2001; Swan et al. 2002).

How can ASEAN build CoPs that will develop a regional culture of learning and innovation and build sustainable knowledge systems?

Now that it has completed a number of key ICT infrastructural projects, developed digital content, trained professionals, compiled databases, and adopted best practices, ASEAN is ready to build CoPs. ASEAN websites and Web portals in particular could support the building of CoPs.

ASEAN Websites for CoPs

In ASEAN, as elsewhere, the Internet is an important and effective tool for managing information, stimulating participation, and embedding and sharing knowledge. Websites and Web portals are frequently used as a common interface and tool in the management process of many ASEAN meetings. Moreover, many ASEAN sectors have a website. These include: ASEAN Secretariat (www.aseansec.org), ASEANconnect (www.aseanconnect.gov.my), ASEAN Science and Technology Network (www.astnet.org), ASEAN Supporting Industry Database (www.asidnet.org), ASEAN Centre for Energy (www.aseanenergy.org), ASEAN Culture and Information (www.asean-infoculture.org), ASEAN Tourism (www.asean-tourism.com), ASEAN Tourism Association (www.aseanta.org), ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organization (www.aipo.org), ASEAN University Network (www.aun-sec.org), ASEAN Production Houses and Broadcasters (www.aseanmediadirectory.com), ASEAN Foundation (www.aseanfoundation.org), Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre (www.seafdec.net), Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO, www.seameo.org), and SME Networks (www.aseansec.org/12877.htm).

In order for such websites to serve as spaces for building CoPs, they need to meet the criteria of ‘participatory coverage’ and ‘content generation’. Participatory coverage takes into account membership and thematic focus, while content generation refers to a website’s potential for learning, innovation, knowledge sources, and sharing. Using these criteria to assess the ASEANconnect and the ASEAN Science and Technology (AST) Network websites yields the following observations (see Table 11.2).

Both websites are intended for related groups of people in the ASEAN Member States. ASEANconnect (www.aseanconnect.gov.my) is an ICT portal for members of TELMIN, TELSOM, ARTC, and invited groups while the newly revamped ASEAN Science and Technology Network (www.astnet.org) is intended for the S&T community. Both websites feature databases in selected fields. They form an important foundational layer of networks and servers that could be upgraded to allow for Internet content integration, user interaction, and user management. Indeed, as announced at the Thirteenth ASEAN Summit in 2007, ‘USD 240,500 was given to the ASEAN Secretariat to upgrade its Information Technology, archival and depository systems’ (ASEAN Doc. #21093 n.d.). While this amount may not be sufficient to also build CoPs, it is an opportunity for ASEAN to take advantage of the work window and incorporate the required technology infrastructure that would allow integration and develop CoPs where needed. Combined with a consultative and participatory approach at an appropriate level and with suitable stakeholders, it would enable ASEAN to reap the benefits of additional knowledge creation.

However, some conditions that are useful for building CoPs could also limit them. When knowledge is seen as a ‘public good

Table 11.2
Potentials of two ASEAN websites to foster CoPs

Criteria

ASEAN connect (2005)

AST network (2005)

Participatory coverage: Membership

Participation or membership is by invitation. The coverage is the whole of ASEAN and invited groups.

There is restricted access to the members’ only areas (TELMIN, TELSOM, ARTC, ASEC, and invited groups). New or other interested stakeholders cannot sign up to join from the Internet.

Membership and participation is restrictive even with the Community Forum feature. Non-members cannot post to the forum. The coverage is the S&T of ASEAN plus invited groups.

Participatory coverage: Thematic focus Content generation: Learning

Single theme, ICT.
The information presented is situated within the ICT theme and focus. Learning potential exists.

Single theme, S&T.
The community forum is a good venue for limited interaction and sharing. Higher learning can be expected.

Content generation: Innovation

Fostering of innovation is limited to email exchanges.

Fostering of innovation is limited to email and forum exchanges.

Content generation: Knowledge sources

Digital divide database, news and discussion papers.

S&T Indicators’ database, forum, reports, news.

Content generation: Knowledge sharing

Average, not fully interactive.

Average, not fully interactive.

belonging to the whole organization, knowledge flows easily’. But individuals tend to shy away from contributing knowledge for a variety of reasons (Ardichvili et al. 2003). The challenge is how to encourage knowledge sharing particularly in formal and hierarchical contexts. Malpractice can also curb knowledge sharing (Pemberton et al. 2007). In short, CoPs need to be carefully managed. Once the appropriate CoPs are in place, ASEAN can look forward to greater participation in the creation and exchange of useful knowledge.

CONCLUSION

This chapter has focused on ASEAN’s vision of an integrated and cohesive ASEAN Community and how ICT can be used to turn this vision into reality. Given ASEAN’s 40-year history in building regional institutions and adopting regional policies, the vision of an ASEAN Community must necessarily go beyond what ASEAN has achieved in the political and economic spheres to the social and cultural levels. In this age of rapid change, ASEAN needs to build a stronger regional learning and innovation culture and sustainable knowledge systems that will serve the needs of the people of ASEAN and enable them to participate in the building of an ASEAN Community as members of local and global communities of practice.

NOTES

1. ASEAN was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original Member Countries, namely, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined ASEAN on 8 January 1984, Vietnam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999 (ASEAN Doc. #147 n.d.).

2. The 13th ASEAN Summit was held on 18–22 November 2007 in Singapore. The ASEAN Charter was signed on 20 November 2007.

3. For full details, readers can refer to the entire Blueprint ASEAN Doc. (n.d.q), ASEAN economic community blueprint.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Adler, P.S. and S.-W. Kwon. (2002). Social capital: Prospects for a new concept. Academy of Management Review, 27, 17–40.

Ardichvili, A., V. Page, and T. Wentling. (2003). Motivation and barriers to participation in virtual knowledge-sharing communities of practice. Journal of Knowledge Management, 7 (1), 64–77.

ASEAN Doc. #147. (n.d.). Overview of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/147.htm

ASEAN Doc. #1212. (n.d.). The ASEAN declaration (Bangkok Declaration), Bangkok, 8 August 1967. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/1212.htm

ASEAN Doc. #1217. (n.d.). Treaty amity and cooperation in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, 24 February 1976. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/1217.htm

ASEAN Doc. #5228. (n.d.). ASEAN vision 2020. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/5228.htm

ASEAN Doc. #15065. (n.d.). Joint Media Statement, the thirty-fifth ASEAN economic ministers meeting. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/15065.htm

ASEAN Doc. #15159. (n.d.). Declaration of the ASEAN Concord II (Bali CONCORD II). Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/15159.htm

ASEAN Doc. #15259. (n.d.). Press statement by the chairperson of the 9th ASEAN Summit and the 7th ASEAN + 3 Summit, Bali, Indonesia, 7 October 2003. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/15259.htm

ASEAN Doc. #17359. (n.d.). Building an ASEAN community: Role of provincial governments. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/17359.htm

ASEAN Doc. #18849. (n.d.). Brunei Action Plan. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/18849.htm

ASEAN Doc. #19226. (n.d.). Basic ASEAN indicators. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/19226.htm

ASEAN Doc. #20878. (n.d.). Siem Reap declaration on enhancing universal access of ICT services in ASEAN. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/20878.htm

ASEAN Doc. #21069. (n.d.). Charter of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/21069.pdf

ASEAN Doc. #21082. (n.d.). Declaration on the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/21082.htm

ASEAN Doc. #21083. (n.d.). ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/21083.pdf

ASEAN Doc. #21088. (n.d.). Media release: Interesting changes to the ASEAN institutional framework. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/21088.htm

ASEAN Doc. #21093. (n.d.). Chairman’s statement of the 13th ASEAN Summit, ‘One ASEAN at the heart of dynamic Asia’, Singapore, 20 November 2007. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/21093.htm

ASEAN Doc. #21161. (n.d.). Strategic schedule for ASEAN economic community. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.aseansec.org/21161.pdf

ASEAN Doc. #21916. (n.d.). Joint media statement of the 8th ASEAN Telecommunications and IT Ministers Meeting. Retrieved 15 October 2008 from www.aseansec.org/21916.htm

ASEAN Doc. #21920. (n.d.). Bali declaration in forging partnership to advance high speed connection to bridge digital divide in ASEAN. Retrieved 15 October 2008 from www.aseansec.org/21920.htm

Brunei Times. (2007). ASEAN Wraps up 7th Telecommunications Meeting, Brunei Times, 27 August. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.brudirect.com/DailyInfo/News/Archive/Aug07/270807/nite35.htm

Cooke, P., M.G. Uranga, and G. Etxebarria. (1997). Regional innovation systems: Institutional and organizational dimensions. Research Policy, 26 (4–5), 475–91.

de Moor, A. and F. De Cindio. (2007). Beyond users to communities — Designing systems as though communities matter — An introduction to the special Issue. The Journal of Community Informatics, Special Issue: Community Informatics and System Design, 3 (1).

Dutta, S. and I. Mia. (2007). Executive summary, the global information technology report, 2006–2007, World Economic Forum. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.weforum.org/pdf/gitr/summary2007.pdf

Fukuyama, F. (1999). Social capital and civil society. IMF Conference on Second Generation Reforms. International Monetary Fund.

Lesser, E.L. and J. Storck. (2001). Communities of practice and organizational performance. IBM Systems Journal, 40 (4): 831–41.

Lundvall, B.-Å. (1992). National systems of innovation — Towards a theory of innovation and interactive learning. London: Pinter Publishers.

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (2006). OECD information technology outlook 2006. Paris: OECD

Pemberton, J., S. Mavin, and B. Stalker. (2007). Scratching beneath the surface of communities of (mal)practice. The Learning Organization: The International Journal of Knowledge and Organizational Learning Management, 14 (1), 62–73.

Portes, A. (1998). Social capital: Its origins and applications in modern sociology. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 1–24.

Sonny, K. (2006). Brunei Action Plan for ICT-savvy ASEAN. Retrieved 13 February 2008 from www.e-government.gov.bn/archives/2006/sept/Brunei%20Action%20Plan%20for%20ICT-savvy%20Asean.htm

Swan, J., H. Scarbrough, and M. Robertson. (2002). The construction of ‘communities of practice’ in the management of innovation. Management Learning, 33 (4), 477–96.

Watzlawick, P., J. Weakland, and R. Fisch. (1974). Change: Principles of problem formation and problem resolution. New York: Norton.

Wenger, E.C., R. McDermott, and W.M. Synder. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Wenger, E.C. and W.M. Snyder. (2000). Communities of practice: The organizational frontier. Harvard Business Review, 78 (January– February).

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation

Kishor Pradhan and Harsha Liyanage

INTRODUCTION

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was formed by the governments of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka in 1985 to catalyze regional cooperation in economic and social development in the member countries. In 2007, Afghanistan joined SAARC.

The core areas of cooperation among the SAARC countries are agriculture and rural development; health and population activities; women, youth, and children; environment and forestry; science, technology, and meteorology; human resource development (HRD); and transport. SAARC activities in these areas are implemented through the Integrated Programme of Action (IPA) and coordinated by the SAARC Secretariat based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Besides the IPAs, high-level working groups consisting of ministers are formed to facilitate cooperation, including in information and communication technologies (ICTs).

However, although there has been considerable growth in connectivity, content, and capacity of the ICT sectors of South Asian countries in the last decade, SAARC’s role in this advance is difficult to trace. It was only at the 9th SAARC Summit held in Malé, Maldives, in 1997 that SAARC member governments noted the lack of communication facilities as a major hindrance to economic cooperation. The Malé Summit stressed the importance of developing infrastructure and adequate communications networks in member countries to facilitate economic cooperation. The need to simplify complex documentation procedures and use transactional software to facilitate economic interaction was likewise discussed.

The First Conference of the SAARC Communications Ministers, held in Colombo in May 1998, dealt with regional cooperation for telecommunication sector development in the region. A Plan of Action on Telecommunications (PAT) was adopted during this conference. It took another six years for the Second Conference of the SAARC Communications Ministers to take place. This Second Conference, held in Islamabad in June 2004, adopted the revised PAT 2004 with the following aims:

• To promote cooperation in the enhancement of telecommunication links and utilization of information technologies within the SAARC region;

• To minimize disparities within and among member countries in the telecommunications field;

• To harness telecommunication technology for the social and economic upliftment of the region through infrastructure development by optimal sharing of available resources and enhanced cooperation in technology transfer, standardization, and HRD; and

• To evolve a coordinated approach on issues of common concern in international telecommunications fora.

The Second Conference stressed the need to address the digital divide, knowledge sharing on ICT development among member countries, and HRD in the ICT sector. A year later, SAARC made its presence felt in the global ICT scene when it presented a common position paper on issues in the region’s telecommunications sector at the November 2005 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis.

The sections that follow present SAARC’s key initiatives in ICT and ICT for development (ICTD) in recent years. In general, SAARC’s role in fostering regional collaboration in ICTD has been lacklustre. The concluding section outlines some steps that SAARC can take to improve the situation.

KEY ICTD INSTITUTIONS IN SAARC

As an inter-governmental agency, SAARC works mostly through inter-governmental ministries and line agencies such as the Ministries of Information and Communications. It also forms specialized working groups in the form of technical committees, and works through several regional centres that deal with specific issues in South Asia. Currently, there are nine such regional centres located in various member countries:

1. SAARC Agricultural Information Centre (SAIC) in Dhaka, Bangladesh

2. SAARC Meterological Research Centre (SMRC) in Dhaka, Bangladesh

3. SAARC Tuberculosis Centre (STC) in Kathmandu, Nepal

4. SAARC Documentation Centre (SDC) in New Delhi, India

5. SAARC Human Resource Development Centre (SHRDC) in Islamabad, Pakistan

6. SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre (SCZMC) in Malé, Maldives

7. SAARC Information Centre (SIC) in Kathmandu, Nepal

8. SAARC Energy Centre (SEC) in Pakistan

9. SAARC Disaster Management Centre (SDMC) in New Delhi, India.

Some regional centres generate and share information and they have organized meetings on some of the ICT sectors, such as radio and television. The SDC has also conducted short-term and attachment training programs on information technology applications for library, documentation, and information professionals in the member states.

While there is no SAARC centre that specifically deals with the development of the ICT and ICTD sector in the region, some ICT and ICTD-related issues in HRD, online services, knowledge sharing, and others can be integrated within the current structure of the SAARC regional centres in a more organized way. For example, the SHRDC could have a regular program on ICT HRD. Similarly, the SIC in Kathmandu could carry out ICT-related research and development (R&D) activities. It can also collect data and build a database on ICTs and ICTD in South Asia.

The SDMC was set up in October 2006 to provide policy advice on and capacity-building for strategic learning, research, training, system development, and exchange of information for effective disaster risk reduction and management in South Asia. One of its more notable ICT-related research initiatives is the preparation of a digitized vulnerability atlas of South Asia integrating spatial data on physical, demographic, and socioeconomic features of different regions in the member countries. The vulnerability atlas shall be prepared on a GIS platform using the latest remote sensing data showing geophysical and climatic hazard zone classification on a specific scale and integrating available census data on demography, socioeconomic conditions, housing types, and the like. In addition, the SDMC’s networking strategy specifically mentions ‘use [of] information and communication technologies to develop a virtual resource centre for disaster management in South Asia’. However, no information is currently available on the status of these ICT-supported activities for disaster management in the region.

ENABLING POLICIES AND PROGRAMS

Several policies and plans for the development of the ICT sector and ICTD in the member countries have been adopted at the SAARC Summits. The extent to which these have been implemented remains unclear. Nevertheless, some of their more significant provisions are worth mentioning.

Plan of Action on Telecommunication 2004

The revised PAT 2004 adopted by the SAARC communications ministers recommends the reduction of telecom tariffs within the SAARC region to the lowest extent feasible within the framework of cost orientation based on international benchmarks. It also recommends the use of direct links or of a hubbing/transit facility for intra-regional traffic. Special rates are to be offered by the member states for transiting regional traffic and utilization of the facilities by the other member states for overflow traffic. For this purpose, licenced international long distance operators are to be encouraged to frequently negotiate agreements for offering the lowest possible tariffs.

To facilitate intra-regional communications for travellers and entrepreneurs, the revised plan recommends the promotion of country direct services, calling cards, cellular roaming, and liberalized leased lines within the regulatory frameworks of the member states. For this purpose the member states are to encourage: (i) complete digitalization of inter-country links as soon as possible; (ii) settlement of inter-operator revenues within the timeframe set under international telecommunication regulations; (iii) calling card services by facilitating centralized or decentralized credit verification systems; (iv) a cellular roaming facility within the region; and (v) determining the feasibility of establishing an intra-regional high bandwidth hub for leased lines.

Since 2004, most of the SAARC member countries have reduced telecom tariffs and they have set up hubbing facilities that allow among others mobile roaming in several South Asian countries. Beginning 1 June 2008, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) reduced Mobile Termination Rates (MTR) by about 30 percent. In September 2008, Nepal Telecom revised tariffs on Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) mobile, Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) phones, and the Internet.

The revised plan also recommends the following:

• Promotion of R&D activities and exchange of expertise in telecommunications disciplines;

• Enhancement of HRD in the telecoms sector through greater cooperation and better utilization of the existing training facilities in the region (including the provision of fellowships by the member states);

• While liberalizing telecommunication services, ensuring: (i) universal access; (ii) development of rural services with affordable tariffs; and (iii) viable incentives to service providers to achieve these goals;

• Consultations at multiple levels among communications ministries and regulatory authorities to evolve common positions on telecommunication issues of regional concern at international fora;

• Cooperation among regulatory authorities and administrations to develop policies to increase teledensity and access to ICT at affordable rates; and

• Exchange of information and expertise in the development and utilization of ICT in e-commerce, healthcare, education, and other areas.

SAARC Common Position on the Information Society

The SAARC position paper on the Information Society presented at the WSIS in Tunis in 2005 basically supported the implementation and follow-up of the Geneva Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action by stakeholders at national, regional, and international levels, with particular attention to challenges facing the least developed countries. It also expressed support for the Tehran Declaration on Building the Information Society and Regional Action Plan toward the Information Society in Asia and the Pacific adopted at the High-Level Asia Pacific Conference for the World Summit on the Information Society in Tehran. Stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, civil society, and regional and international organizations, were called upon to strengthen their partnerships to implement the Regional Action Plan toward the Information Society at all levels.

The SAARC common position also expressed support in principle for a funding mechanism to support the development of ICT in low-income countries, and the conduct of internet governance in a more democratic way. It affirmed the role of governments in internet governance and sought to review the report of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) in this context.

The development of action plans giving special attention to issues common in the region, and of ICT networks in rural areas to reinforce the process of economic cooperation was also affirmed by the SAARC common position. Recognizing ICT as an effective tool to promote e-governance and improve services to citizens, the position paper called for harnessing ICT for social and economic development, preservation of linguistic and cultural diversity, increasing literacy rates, and access to information for all. Specific mechanisms that were mentioned were building and expanding community-based multi-purpose ICT centres and providing support for public service broadcasting.

The role of media in building the Information Society was affirmed, and specific recommendations were given to:

• develop regional networks and associations among media organizations;

• encourage media projection of development activities and other achievements in different fields;

• continue to pursue freedom of expression and plurality of media, including promotion of private electronic channels, with the objective of discouraging negative projections of member countries;

• continue to promote, through media, peace and fundamental values of freedom, equality, solidarity, and tolerance and shared responsibilities;

• invest in technological and institutional solutions to promote universal access to media; and

• accelerate steps to strengthen cooperation in institution building and training of media personnel.

There was also a commitment to improve the free flow of information in the member countries by building adequate communication networks and creating appropriate legal and institutional systems, including devising an appropriate and legally enforceable instrument to combat cybercrime.

SASEC ICT Development Master Plan

Distinct from SAARC but still within the ambit of regional cooperation is the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) that includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India (i.e. the eastern states of India), and Nepal. SASEC provides a forum for participating countries to discuss, identify, prioritize, and implement sub-regional cooperation projects in six priority sectors, including ICT. The ICT Working Group (ICTWG) composed of secretaries and/or joint secretaries from finance ministries of the SASEC countries, secretaries and/or joint secretaries from the ICT ministries of the SASEC countries, and representatives of development partners, is responsible for the identification and implementation of country and regional projects in the ICT sector. Such projects are in line with an ICT master plan formulated by the ICTWG (see ‘The SASEC Information Highway Project’).

DIGITAL CONTENT AND ONLINE SERVICES

The SAARC Audio-Visual Exchange (SAVE) program is one of the earliest digital content initiatives in the region. Launched in November 1987 during the 3rd SAARC Summit in Kathmandu, the SAVE program includes exchange of audio-visual materials as well as joint audio-visual productions on thematic issues concerning the environment, disabled persons, youth, literacy, participatory governance, safe and clean water, mountains and hills, and the like.

SAIC is mandated to build a regional network of information centres in the Member States and foster the exchange of regionally generated technical information to strengthen agricultural research, development, and innovation. To this end, SAIC produces audiovisual materials and videos in Beta-cam, DV-cam, and Hi-band formats on various subjects. The SAIC Video Library consists of more than 110 videos in a Video Home System (VHS) format produced by the member states. Audiovisual collected by SAIC are reproduced in a video compact disc (VCD) format and print materials photocopied for distribution to institutions and to people whenever requests for information are received.

SAIC also maintains Compact Disc-Read Only Memory (CD-ROM) databases of the Agricultural Bibliographic Information Service (ABIS). The internationally procured CD-ROM databases are updated regularly. They include: CAB ABSTRACTS (1990–2005); Crop science database (1973– 2003); AGRICOLA (1970–2005); FSTA (1990–2005); PG and breeding database (1973–2005); BEAST CD (1973–1999); Veterinary science database (1973–2003); soil science database (1973–2003); forest science database (1972–2004); horticultural science database (1973–2003); parasitology database (1972–2005); AGRIS (2004); and biological abstracts (1995–1997).

The SAICNet program provides access to agricultural information through a Web-based information network. This networking service enhances the existing agricultural knowledge and information systems of the SAARC Member States and provides a platform for the exchange of ideas, information, and knowledge.

The SASEC Information Highway Project

The SASEC ICT Development Master Plan was formulated in 2001 with the support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). A key project under the master plan is the SASEC Information Highway. The project, which has three components, is the first multi-country investment project in South Asia supported by the ADB. Its first component is the establishment of the SASEC regional network to integrate member countries and reduce Internet costs, particularly for the landlocked countries of Bhutan and Nepal. The second component is building the SASEC village network to expand broadband wireless connectivity to rural communities and enable them to better access services such as telemedicine, distance learning, and e-government services. The third component is establishing the SASEC regional research and training network of communities, businesses, and research institutes, to facilitate the flow and integration of information, knowledge, and services among member countries. These networks will be established and operated through a public-private partnership with a strong focus on entrepreneurship.

Also in line with its ICT Master Plan, the ICTWG has implemented the Community e-Centres (CeCs) project, which aims to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban communities by establishing telecentres in rural villages in SASEC participating countries. The project has received support from the ADB and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP).

(Source: Asian Development Bank 2007)

Also worth mentioning is the work of the SDC to enable exchange of information in the biological, physical, chemical, engineering, and life sciences, as well as in developmental matters. The documentation system consists of a central facility (i.e. SDC) and national focal points in all the member states, which act as repositories.

At the first meeting of the information ministers in Dhaka held in April 1998, the SAARC strategy for sub-regional cooperation in media and information was adopted with the following objectives:

• To actively encourage greater flow of information in the SAARC region on all issues of common concern to member countries for the promotion of peace and harmony in South Asia as well as sustained development of the region;

• To generate, disseminate, and exchange information materials in support of SAARC and all SAARC initiatives in important areas, with special emphasis on trade and investment, social and cultural development, functional cooperation, environmental protection, and HRD;

• To promote the optimal utilization of available resources and facilities in the SAARC region to strengthen cooperation in the field of media and information and upgrade the professionalism of media persons through HRD programs and regional exchanges;

• To initiate collective regional actions to enable member countries to fully benefit from the use of new technologies to ensure greater flow of information within the region and between South Asia and the outside world; and

• To consistently work to project and promote a positive image of SAARC abroad as well as provide regular information on specific SAARC initiatives.

To achieve these objectives, the Information Ministers agreed to implement the 18-point SAARC Plan of Action on Information and Media (PAIM), which promotes cooperation to:

• ensure the free flow of information, newspapers, periodicals, books, and other publications;

• reduce postal and telecommunication rates for media transmission and information materials;

• increase cooperation among news agencies of SAARC countries;

• facilitate easier travel for media persons within the region;

• work toward the evolution of a SAARC-recognized regional media forum;

• hold an annual conference of editors and working journalists from SAARC countries;

• create a Web page for exchange of news among news agencies of SAARC countries;

• enhance exchange of data through email and the Internet;

• arrange regular exchange of TV and radio programs;

• organize regular exchange and joint production of documentaries and films as well as periodic SAARC film festivals;

• arrange training for media persons of SAARC countries;

• include SAARC orientation modules in the syllabi of national media training institutes;

• improve programs under SAVE by making them more attractive and popular and increasing their frequency;

• hold annual meetings of heads of national TV and radio organizations to review the SAVE programs;

• evolve model guidelines on transnational satellite broadcasting in the region;

• examine the financial and technical feasibility of establishing a SAARC satellite;

• explore the feasibility of setting up a SAARC Information Centre with media production, research and training units, as well as a SAARC Media Development Fund; and

• discourage negative projection of member countries by media in SAARC countries.

In general, SAARC has been slow to implement the PAIM. However, it set up the SIC in Kathmandu in May 2005. The SIC serves as a regional information hub, acting as a nodal agency for the collection of information about SAARC and its member states. It coordinates radio and television (TV) productions; facilitates research and conducts training and skill transfer activities; acts as an information bank for SAARC and its members; forges stronger intra-regional links for cooperation and collaboration among the media of the SAARC countries; and interacts with the SAVE, the SAARC regional centres, the SAARC apex, and recognized bodies and other programs within SAARC. In addition, the SIC maintains a database covering economic, social, and other information on the region and a library of various programs on core areas of cooperation, and makes the information available to the member countries through the Internet.

ICT CAPACITY-BUILDING AND RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES

As discussed, although some of the SAARC regional centres have been conducting HRD activities, in general SAARC’s capacity-building with respect to infrastructure and HRD in the ICT and ICTD sectors has not been significant. There are plans in this regard, such as the PAT 2004, but these have not been implemented in a systematic and sustained manner.

The same may be said of SAARC’s performance in R&D in ICT and ICTD. Unlike the SASEC, which has developed a master plan on ICT, neither the SAARC nor its regional centres have been observed to have done the same. At the most recent SAARC Summit held in 2007 in Delhi, one of the declarations adopted had to do with the development of a telemedicine network in South Asia. How this will develop in the years to come is eagerly anticipated.

However, there are regional R&D efforts involving South Asian countries outside of the ambit of SAARC itself. One of the most significant is the PAN Localization Project supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada (see ‘PAN Localization: Building Local Language Computing Capacity in Asia Project’).

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

Given that one-third of the world’s population and almost half of the world’s poor inhabit South Asian countries, and given the internationally recognized strengths of the ICT sector of some countries in the region, notably India and Sri Lanka, the challenge for SAARC is how to harness ICT to help reduce poverty in South Asia. How can SAARC facilitate cooperation among the member countries for the development of the ICT and ICTD sectors to accelerate regional economic and social development?

Finding precise answers to these questions is not easy. But this review of what SAARC has done so far suggests some action points, starting with following up and monitoring the implementation of policies and plans adopted at the SAARC Summits. SAARC should also follow through on its position paper at the WSIS Summit, particularly its statement about developing a regional policy on ICTD in South Asia.

SAARC might also consider forming a functional and effective technical committee and/or a regional centre for ICT and ICTD sector development in South Asia. This should work in tandem with other SAARC Regional Centres on infrastructure and HRD, as well as research in ICT and ICTD in South Asian countries.

PAN Localization: Building Local Language Computing Capacity in Asia Project

In collaboration with the Centre for Research in Urdu Language Processing (CRULP) in Lahore, Pakistan, the Pan Asia Networking (PAN) Programme of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada is helping to generate tools to translate Internet content into local languages, build capacity for local language computing, and advance policy for local language content creation and access across Asia. This includes the development of character sets, fonts, spelling and grammar checkers, speech recognition systems, machine translation, and other related local language applications.

The project involves six South Asian countries, namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Its main goal is to develop a process framework for local language computing development. In this connection, the project:

• Conducts research into linguistics, computing, and language processing for selected local languages;

• Develops training material and provides training in local language computing;

• Develops computer standards and software that enable local language computing;

• Experiments with marketing strategies to promote the use of local language tools for content development;

• Nurtures a regional network of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers for collaborative learning in local language computing;

• Consolidates a regional platform and voice on local language computing issues; and

• Contributes to the state-of-practice in local language computing through a rigorous research publication program.

Many countries participating in this project have been able to develop and standardize local fonts, for example in Nepali (Nepal), Bangla (Bangladesh), and Urdu (Pakistan). The challenge for this project is how to build the capacity of the local communities to benefit from these localized fonts.

(Source: International Development Research Centre 2007)

Separately or in tandem with the SASEC, SAARC could develop an ICTD Master Plan or a SAARC ICT and ICTD Strategy.

Finally, SAARC could explore setting up a fund for ICT and ICTD sector development in South Asia, along the lines of the funding mechanism created by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after its 7th ASEAN TELMIN. The ASEAN ICT Fund comes from a USD 100,000 annual contribution by each member country over a period of five years ending in 2010. For 2007–2008, USD 45,000 was allocated to each of the 11 approved projects of the various ASEAN Working Groups. Similarly, SAARC should be able to work with international donors and agencies to put in place a funding mechanism for ICT and ICTD sector development in South Asia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Asian Development Bank. (2007). Proposed Asian Development Fund Grant, Loan, and Technical Assistance Grant People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Kingdom of Bhutan, India, and Nepal: South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Information Highway Project. Retrieved 15 April 2008 from http://www.adb.org/Documents/RRPs/REG/40054-REG-RRP.pdf

International Development Research Centre (IDRC). (2007). PAN Localization Phase II: Building local language computing capacity in Asia project description. Retrieved 15 April 2008 from http://www.idrc.ca/en/ev-107488-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html

Librero, F. (Ed.). (2007). Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2007–2008. New Delhi: IDRC, ORBICOM, and Sage Publications.

Pakistan Daily. (2008). Pakistan joins world’s lowest telecom tariff club, Pakistan Daily, 8 June 2008. Retrieved 15 April 2008 from http://www.daily.pk/business/businessnews/4358.html?task=view

Wikipedia. (2009). South Asia. Retrieved on 15 April 2007 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Asia#Definitions_and_usage

Websites

International Telecommunication Union Website. Available at www.itu.int Nepal Telecom Website. Available at http://www.ntc.net.np/tariff/tariff.php

SAARC Documentation Centre Website. Available at http://www.sdc.gov.in

SAARC Regional Human Resources Development Website. Available at http://www.shrdc-isb.org.pk

SAARC Regional Information Centre Website. Available at www.saarcsic.org

SAARC Secretariat Website. Available at www.saarc-sec.org

SASEC and ICTWG Website. Available at http://www.adb.org/Media/Articles/2007/12208-southasians-communications-connectivity-/default.asp

This page intentionally left blank

Part D Review of individual economies

.af

Afghanistan

.au

Australia

.bd

Bangladesh

.bt

Bhutan

.bn

Brunei Darussalam

.kh

Cambodia

.cn

China

.hk

Hong Kong

.in

India

.id

Indonesia

.ir

Iran

.jp

Japan

.kp

Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of

.kr

Korea, Republic of

.la

Lao People’s Democratic Republic

.mo

Macau

.my

Malaysia

.mv

Maldives

.mn

Mongolia

.mm

Myanmar

.np

Nepal

.nz

New Zealand

.pk

Pakistan

.ph

Philippines

.sg

Singapore

.lk

Sri Lanka

.tw

Taiwan

.th

Thailand

.tl

Timor-Leste

.vn

Vietnam

This page intentionally left blank

.af Afghanistan

Muhammad Aimal Marjan

Total population

28,513,677 as of July 2005 est.

GDP per capita

USD 383

Key economic sectors

Telecom, agriculture, dry fruit, carpet, minerals

Computers per 100 inhabitants

3

Fixed-line telephones per
100 inhabitants

2

Mobile phone subscribers per
100 inhabitants

28

Internet users per 100 inhabitants

2

Domain names registered
under .af

1,570

Broadband subscribers per
100 inhabitants

0.5 (or 1 per 200 inhabitants)

Internet international bandwidth

150 Mb as of December 2007

(Sources: Central Statistics Organization 2008; MCIT 2008c)

INTRODUCTION

Information and communication technology (ICT) is an important part of the infrastructure of any country and it plays a vital role in the growth of any economy. Recognizing its importance, the Government of Afghanistan has placed ICT development under pillar three — Economic and Social Development: Infrastructure and Natural Resources — of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) (2008). ICT will enable the Afghan government to successfully execute its broad reconstruction effort. A modern telecommunications sector and e-government initiatives will enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and transparency of the public sector and the provisioning of social services.

Today when the telecommunication revolution has reduced the world to a global village and its development is important for Afghanistan as well. All Afghan communities face the ‘tyranny of distance’ and the alienation associated with remote geographic conditions. Afghan women in particular face restriction of movement due to security concerns and conservative traditions. To restore cultural and social normalcy throughout the country, it is essential that all 34 provinces, 365 districts, and over 6,000 villages and rural areas be integrated with each other, Kabul, and the rest of the world. ICT could be the basic enabler of the informal social and economic discourse necessary for the strengthening of civil society and the promotion of economic activity (e.g. access to markets and pricing).

ICT is necessary for the resumption of productive capacity and stimulating activity in all sectors of the Afghan economy. It plays a critical role in re-establishing basic economic linkages by relieving communication bottlenecks in financial, governmental, and cultural information flows. In addition, ICT use, particularly in Government-to-Government (G2G), Government-to-Business (G2B), and Government-to-Citizen (G2C) services, can facilitate the administrative reforms that are considered to be one of the major challenges for the government of Afghanistan.

In short, the ICT sector has a crucial role to play in economic growth, poverty reduction, and the overall development of the Afghan nation.

TECHNOLOGICAL INFRASTRUCTURE

Over the last half decade there has been significant progress in putting in place the ICT and telecom infrastructure of Afghanistan. Both the private and public sectors have contributed to the build-up of this infrastructure.

A 3,600 kilometre national fibre optic backbone following the national ring-road infrastructure is being installed, connecting 16 of 34 provinces to the Trans Asia Europe (TAE) and South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe (SEA–ME–WE) submarine cable system through Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The network will have a capacity of 36 STM4. The construction started in 2007 and is expected to be completed by March 2009. At present domestic and international voice and data communication is based on satellite, which is very expensive and low in quality. With the completion of the network, both domestic and international connectivity will be shifted from satellite to the fibre optic ring. The project has regional importance as the Central Asian countries do not have a direct connection with the SEA–ME–WE, and their call route to the rest of Asia is currently via Europe. The fibre ring will serve as a bridge, which will lower the cost of international calls for Central Asian as well as European countries.

At present the provincial capitals and government ministries are connected through C-Band very small aperture terminal (VSAT), microwave and fibre optic (for Kabul only) for data, voice, and video conferencing services through the government communication network completed in 2007. A 3.6 MHz Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX)-based network has been established to connect the offices of the provincial governor, other government offices, and hospitals in the provinces. Thirty-four governor’s offices will be connected by mid-2009. Sixty-nine percent (or 252 out of 365) of district capitals are connected through KU-Band VSAT terminals for voice, Internet access, and fax services.

In 2007, GSM coverage was also extended to most of these districts by various operators. The networks have played a major role in connecting Afghans scattered in different parts of the country and the world, improving their social ties and economic and security conditions. The four GSM and one fixed line operator provide services to seven million subscribers, which is equivalent to a penetration rate of 32 percent of the population. Close to 2,576 telecom base stations are now installed, making telecom services possible in more than 250 cities, towns, and populated areas, and bringing 75 percent of the population under telecom coverage. Local call prices dropped from USD 0.30 in 2002 to USD 0.02 in December 2007. International call prices went down from USD 1.80 in 2002 to USD 0.20 in December 2007. SIM prices too dropped from USD 300 in 2002 to USD 1 in December 2007.

As the existing telecom services provided by operators are focused in the urban areas, the Village Communication Network (VCN) is now being pursued to bridge the divide between urban and rural areas. VCN will connect 6,000 villages through public-private partnerships (PPP) with a capital investment of USD 2,000.00 per VCN by the local owner. Each VCN node will have a KU band VSAT powered by solar energy.

The private sector is also active in building Afghanistan’s telecom infrastructure. The Afghan Wireless Communication Company (AWCC) has established a 2,500 kilometre nationwide microwave ring covering 31 provinces and more than 250 towns, cities, and highways with a minimum capacity of STM1 connectivity expandable to 155 Mbps. The AWCC offers roaming services in 124 countries and 353 networks worldwide.

The Afghanistan National Data Centre (ANDC), which will be ready by June 2009 with an initial capacity of 40 Terabytes, will host e-Afghanistan, consisting of e-government applications. By end 2009, the National Internet Exchange of Afghanistan will be established as a PPP involving local Internet service providers (ISPs) and data network owners (see ‘Internet Penetration in Afghanistan’).

Internet Penetration in Afghanistan

About 500,000 people were subscribed to the Internet as of October 2007, which is equivalent to a penetration rate of 2 percent (up from 1 percent in 2006). Seventy-eight percent of subscribers are from the foreign missions and the NGO community in Afghanistan. Individuals comprise 10 percent, Internet cafés 7 percent, and government 5 percent of Internet subscribers.

Non-government organizations (NGOs) are utilizing the Internet for financial, project tracking, and MIS applications. The number of public Internet cafés is increasing. However, there is an imbalance in the number of Internet cafés in urban and rural areas of the country, with more than 60 cafés in Kabul and only one in Farah, a province in the South, for example.

GPRS services were launched by the GSM operators in January 2007, enabling Afghans to access the Internet over their mobile phones.

The Internet penetration in Afghanistan is low because of the limited availability of electricity in the country (households in Kabul have five hours of electricity per day), the lack of local content, and the high cost of bandwidth. In addition, there is a lack of local access networks. The government and the private sector are investing in the installation of local access networks and last mile connectivity. It is expected that the fibre and copper cable installation initiatives will improve conditions toward the end of 2009.

(Source: Altai Consulting 2007)

KEY INSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS DEALING WITH ICT

In February 2007, the Afghan Cabinet approved the renaming of the Ministry of Communications to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) as an acknowledgement of the central role that ICT will play in accelerating Afghanistan’s full participation in the global information society. The MCIT will provide strategic leadership in the development of the ICT sector, and it will act as the focal point for all of the stakeholders to help shape future policies and promote large-scale projects.

In May 2007, the ICT Council was established by Presidential Decree as the primary forum for all of stakeholders. It is expected to play a major role in the promotion of ICT and e-governance in Afghanistan. The ICT Council includes representatives of government ministries, business (service providers), civil society (relevant associations), and academia. It is chaired by the first vice president. In 2008 the Council held three meetings where the main issues in current and future ICT development in Afghanistan were discussed. The Council has agreed to support the MCIT and Ministry of Interior in introducing the smart card/electronic ID card in Afghanistan in the next three years. The Council has also discussed the introduction of other e-services, in particular land titling.

The Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA, http://www.atra.gov.af) was established in December 2006 as an independent regulator responsible for telecom sector regulation in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Computer Science Association (ACSA, http://www.acsa.org.af), a non-profit and non-political computer world trust founded in 1999, aims to introduce computer science and ICT to the Afghan nation. The Association has completed the localization of MS Windows XP and MS Office 2003, which has helped ordinary Afghans to use computers in their daily activities. Open source products, such as the Sea Monkey suite, are also being localized. The Association is also actively involved in raising ICT awareness, promoting Internet policy, regulatory reform, and capacity-building.

The National ICT Alliance of Afghanistan (NICTAA) is an umbrella organization and a strong voice for ICT in Afghanistan. Founded in 2007 by 11 leading ICT associations and companies known as the Founding Members of the Alliance,1 it represents the four major pillars of the ICT sector, namely, private companies, professionals, academia, and consumers.

The National ISP Association of Afghanistan (NISPAA) was established in 2006 by ACSA and Internews Europe. The organization has nine ISPs as members.

Established in 1999, the Afghan Media International (AMN) has a range of programs, such as national and international media support, research, training, journalists’ information, freedom of speech, and human rights.

Afghanistan will have an operational Electronic Certification Authority by the end of 2009, which will enable the implementation of e-commerce and e-banking.

ICT AND ICT-RELATED INDUSTRIES

The ICT sector in Afghanistan is only six years old, but it has developed dramatically compared to the ICT sectors of neighbouring countries. Active ICT industries and related markets in the country include services (software/database development, website and Web hosting, IT consulting, and IT support); infrastructure and hardware (hardware sales, public and private infrastructure); telecom (telecom operators, mobile repair services, and telecom dealers); and Internet services (ISPs and Internet cafés). The total telecom market value at present is USD 1.3 billion, with foreign direct investment (FDI) amounting to USD 1 billion.

The share of local companies in the market is very small, as they are quite new. However, there is increasing evidence of local entrepreneurship, particularly in software/database and website development, Internet cafés, hardware sales, mobile repair services, and IT support. The government is establishing an ICT Park by mid-2010 and it is hoped that this facility will support local entrepreneurship.

KEY ICT POLICIES AND STRATEGIES

As described in the chapters on Afghanistan in previous editions of the Digital Review of Asia Pacific, a number of policies and regulations have been put in place for the promotion and development of the ICT sector. These policies have encouraged the private sector to invest in the telecom sector, with FDI reaching USD 1 billion by end of 2007. The focus of policies and investments has been on physical infrastructure and basic telecom services, and ICT applications have not received attention.

As the country is getting ready for the second round of presidential and parliamentary elections in mid-2009, the government is drafting new development policies and strategies to be handed over to the next government under ANDS. The government endorsed the Strategy at the Paris conference held on 12 June 2008.

The government is working on attracting business process outsourcing, help desk, and call centre businesses to the country to give Afghan women opportunities to work from home and be economically productive without offending cultural sensitivities. This activity will also help in the drive against narcotics and terrorism in Afghanistan since low employment is one of the factors giving rise to terrorism and the trade in narcotics.

The adoption of the e-Afghanistan program in the context of ANDS is envisioned to help the country overcome corruption, improve government efficiency, and strengthen the rule of law. As part of the program, all government ministries and governor’s offices will have an online presence by end 2009.

The ICT sector strategy also encompasses regional cooperation through the fibre ring, national data centre, local content development, regional data repositories, regional cybercrime, regional data interconnection, and other similar projects and activities positioning Afghanistan as a central point in the region.

Several policies have contributed to ICT sector development in Afghanistan. One of these is the ICT Policy adopted in November 2003 with three objectives: (i) use ICT to improve government services and promote e-government; (ii) rehabilitate existing infrastructure and build new infrastructure; and (iii) develop the National ICT Council of Afghanistan.

The Telecom Policy was also adopted in November 2003 with the objective of creating an enabling regulatory environment and promoting fair competition, encouraging private investment and market liberalization, and encouraging widespread adoption of ICT.

LEGAL AND REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT FOR ICT DEVELOPMENT

The Telecommunications Services Regulation Act was adopted in December 2005, paving the way for the establishment of ATRA as an independent regulatory body. The Telecom Law empowers ATRA to implement regulations and normative acts. Generally, these regulations fall into the following three categories, pursuant to ATRA’s own Code of Procedure, which was adopted in October 2006:

1. Administrative rules (hiring, firing, documentation)

2. Procedural rules (public consultations, rule-making, appeal)

3. Substantive rules (licencing obligations, consumer protection).

To reach underserved areas, the Telecom Development Fund (TDF) was established under the Telecom Law. It will be used to help telecom operators rollout telecom services to the rural areas.

The MCIT has also just started drafting the ICT Law, which will address issues such as legal recognition of electronic/digital signatures and formulation of electronic contracts, content regulation, competition regulation, electronic evidence, data privacy protection, consumer protection and rights, domain name registration and regulation, intellectual property rights, encryption and security, financial and banking sector law and regulation relating to electronic transfers and settlements, taxation of transfers, customs, jurisdiction, dispute resolution and civil and criminal offences, limitations of liability of ISPs, cyber piracy and digital rights management, facilitation of e-government and cross border interoperability of e-commerce frameworks affecting trade. The target is to complete the draft and get the law approved by the Parliament by end 2009.

The Intellectual Property Law, which is expected to be passed by mid-2009, aims to help encourage FDI in the ICT, print, and electronic media sectors.

The e-Government Interoperability Framework of Afghanistan will be ready by the end of 2009. It will put in place a framework and standards, including context, technical content, process documentation and implementation, and compliance regimes, for e-government in Afghanistan.

DIGITAL CONTENT

ACSA, in collaboration with the MCIT and Microsoft, completed the Pashto version of Microsoft Windows XP and Office 2003 in December 2007. ACSA is now localizing Microsoft Windows Vista and Office 2007. Work on font, lexicon, and spell check development is ongoing. The ACSA team has likewise prepared the initial feasibility report and produced the localized version of International Domain Names in the Pashto language. All of these are expected to boost the capacity of the Afghan people to develop digital content.

Today there are about 70 independent radio stations, 15 television channels, and 500 printed publications whereas six years ago there was only one radio station and it was operated by the Taliban. And while in the last four years most of the broadcast content was of Indian, Iranian or Pakistani origin, beginning in 2007 local TV channels have started presenting Afghan-produced TV dramas and short films, which is an indication of the local capacity to develop local content.

Over the past three years, the availability of local online news has improved considerably. Some online news services are www.benawa.com, www.pajhwok.com, www.tolafghan.com, www.larawbar.com, www.bakhtarnews.com.af, and www.wakht.com.

A number of cultural websites are also available, such as www.worbal.com, www.dastanona.com, www.sabawoon.com, www.realafghan.com, www.afghanan.net, www.afghanpost.com, www.hewad.com, www.mastana.net.

There are more than 1,570 domain names registered under the .af domain, and this number is increasing.

ONLINE SERVICES

In June 2007, the first telemedicine project was launched at the French Medical Institute for Children (in FMIC), one of the local hospitals. Using broadband technology, wireless video consultation, and digital image transfer, the telemedicine project will provide hospitals in Afghanistan with real-time access to specialist diagnosis, treatment, and training expertise from abroad.

One year later, in June 2008, the Afghan government initiated a project to implement the smart card concept in Afghanistan, starting with the electronic national ID to serve as the platform for electronic driving licences, electronic academic records, and electronic health records. The first phase of the project will be completed in 2011.

Over the last three years the banking sector has enjoyed tremendous growth, with 15 private banks licenced to operate. The assets of these banks grew from USD 262 million in 2004 to USD 1.8 billion in 2008. ATM services and internationally accepted credit and debit cards are available for Afghans through these banks. With the expected approval of the ICT Law the local banks will soon be able to open merchant accounts, making it relatively easy to set up an e-commerce business in Afghanistan.

In February 2008 Roshan, one of the local GSM operators, started the first mobile money transfer system in the country. Branded M-Paisa, the service is a mobile technology platform that provides financial services for those without access to banking. Its aim is to foster economic activity in the region.

The Afghanistan financial management information system, electronic human resource system for government offices, verified payroll payment, and other such electronic applications have been deployed over the last two years.

Two other online services are www.tohfa.af, where one can place an order to send gifts anywhere in Afghanistan, and www.jobs.com.af, which is contributing a lot to the job market in the country.

ICT-RELATED EDUCATION AND CAPACITY-BUILDING PROGRAMS

Three decades of conflict and political unrest have destroyed the Afghan education system. In 2001, after the fall of the Taliban, the net enrolment ratio was estimated at 43 percent for boys and 3 percent for girls. There were approximately 21,000 (largely under-educated) teachers for a school age population estimated at six million. Females were forbidden to either attend school or to teach in the five years of Taliban rule. But the situation is gradually improving.

Several new institutions have been established by the government and the private sector to strengthen the education sector. Among these are the University of Afghanistan (www.universityofafghanistan.com), Afghan American University (www.auaf.edu.af), Kardan University (www.kardan.edu.af), Bakhtar University (www.bakhtar.edu.af), Aryana University (www.aryanauniversity.com), Afghan Pooshesh Training Institute (www.apti-af.com), and ICT Institute (ICTI) Kabul.

The new curriculum being developed will have computer education as a subject from class (grade) 4 to class 12 in schools. In addition, the MCIT and Ministry of Education signed a memorandum of understanding with the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) organization in May 2008, which provides for the deployment of 10,000 XO machines in Afghan schools in 2009. The MCIT and the Ministry of Education (MoE) are developing an e-learning strategy that covers the utilization of ICT in education delivery, ICT curricula, and the establishment of e-learning centres.

Also worth mentioning is the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), a women-led NGO that uses a creative approach to meet the health and education needs of Afghan women, children and communities, and provides ICT training at its IT centres. The training lasts from two to 10 weeks and covers basic computer skills such as word processing and use of spreadsheets.

OPEN SOURCE INITIATIVES

The open source sector in Afghanistan is very weak. There are a few private organizations working on open source platforms, including Paiwastoon Networking Service Ltd (www.paiwastoon.com.af) and Xala Technologies (www.xala.af). In April 2008, Linux Afghanistan (www.linux.af), a group of open source activists, was formed.

ICT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

The MCIT is planning to establish an e-government resource centre in 2010. It will serve as the government’s ICT research and development (R&D) wing.

The Afghanistan Management Information Services (AIMS, www.aims.org.af) is also heavily involved in R&D in the area of software quality assurance and database standards, among others.

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

Over the past five years, Afghanistan has made major strides in the rollout of the telecom infrastructure and in building an environment conducive to the growth of the private sector. The government’s decision to adopt new technologies for the delivery of public services is also a step in the right direction. The absence of legacy systems in most of the departments and the ongoing business process reengineering in the Civil Service Commission contribute to a favourable environment for the implementation of e-government.

Developing an ICT industry is something to be aimed for, given the country’s human resources that can be trained to operate call centres, business process outsourcing companies, off-shore data entry, and the like. However, certain challenges will have to be addressed, namely, the security problems, lack of a stable political system, limited supply of electricity, and lack of skilled personnel in general and ICT professionals in particular.

Even as the country is struggling to address these challenges, progress is slowly being made in different areas, such as in the banking, health and telecom sectors, road construction, and secondary education. The Government of Afghanistan and the international community renewed their commitment to the country’s development during the Paris Conference held on 12 July 2008. The Afghanistan National Development Strategy presented and approved during the Conference provides a well-defined and concrete road map toward a prosperous and stable Afghanistan.

NOTE

1. The NICTAA Founding Members are Afghan Computer Science Association (ACSA), Afghan Media International (AMN), South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) Afghanistan, National ISP Association of Afghanistan (NISPAA), Afghan Telecom, Afghan Wireless Communication Company, Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) Afghanistan, American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), Kardan University, MTN Afghanistan and Telecom Development Company of Afghanistan (TDCA)/Roshan.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Altai Consulting. (2007). Afghanistan ICT Sector Report on the Capacity Building Program of the USAID. Kabul.

Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). (2008). ICT Sector Strategy. Retrieved 20 September 2008 from http://www.ands.gov.af

Central Statistics Organization. (2008). Afghanistan facts and figures. June 2008.

e-Government Afghanistan, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (2008). e-Government Interoperability Framework. Retrieved 10 October 2008 from http://www.egov.af

Ministry of Communications and IT (MCIT). (2008a). News Archive. Government of Islamic Republ ic of Afghanistan. Retrieved 15 September 2008 from http://www.mcit.gov.af/archive.asp?CatID=1

———. (2008b). Running Projects. Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Retrieved 15 August 2008 from http://www.mcit.gov.af/Projects/runningprojects.asp

———. (2008c). Statistics. Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Retrieved 23 October 2008 from http://www.mcit. gov.af

———. (2008d). Summary of Achievements 2007–08. Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Retrieved 3 September 2008 from http://www.mcit.gov.af

National ICT Council. (2008). Proceedings of 6 May 2008 Third Council Meeting.

Websites

Afghan Computer Science Association website. Retrieved 20 September 2008 from http://www.acsa.org.af

Afghan Institute of Learning website. Retrieved 10 June 2008 from http://www.afghaninstituteoflearning.org/

Afghan Telecom Regulatory Authority Homepage. Retrieved 20 February 2008 from http://www.atra.gov.af

Afghan Wireless Communications Company Homepage. Retrieved 15 September 2008 from http://www.awcc.af

Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) Homepage. Retrieved 20 August 2008 at http://www.ands.gov.af

Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) website. Retrieved 15 March 2008 from http://www.centralbank.gov.af/

Roshan Homepage. Retrieved 15 September 2008 from http://www.roshan.af

.au Australia

Lelia Green and Axel Bruns

Total population

21,097,100 (September 2008 est.)a

GDP

USD 766.8 billion (2007 est., PPP)b

Key economic sectors by

Services: 70.7%, industry: 25.6%,

contribution to GDP

agriculture: 3.7% (2007 est.)b

Computers per 100 inhabitants

79 (2006 est.)c

Fixed-line telephones per
100 inhabitants

55 (2007)d

Mobile phone subscribers per
100 inhabitants

107 (2007)d

Internet users per
100 inhabitants

80 (2007)e

Domain names registered
under .au

914,771 (2007; excluding .gov.au)d

Broadband subscribers per
100 inhabitants

25 (December 2007)f

Internet domestic bandwidth

up to 24 Mbps (depending upon exchange and telco)

Internet international bandwidth

365 Gbps (actual)/1,560 Gbps (potential) (2006)g

(Sources: aABS 2008a; bCIA 2008; cComputer Industry Almanac 2007; dACMA 2008; eNielsen Online 2008; fABS 2008b; gTIAC 2006)

INTRODUCTION

At a time when many liberal democracies are facing currencies in relative decline, reducing interest rates and gearing up for recession, Australia continues to hope to survive the downturn with what has been termed the ‘two-track’ economy. This economy features high growth in the mining and raw materials industries and marginal growth in other sectors. Queensland and Western Australia in particular are the beneficiaries of this dynamic. Unemployment in general is low, and there is a shortage of skilled people, including tradespeople, nursing and medical staff and teachers. Less skilled and unemployed Australians are most disadvantaged by the boom since they face rising rents, food and fuel prices particularly in the boom states.

Australia’s wealth is based on its exports particularly to growing markets in Southeast Asia and India, but it also has a thriving knowledge economy that is highly dependent on ICT. The growing value of the Australian currency is making knowledge and information services, such as education and consultancy, more expensive to customers overseas. Aware that other markets are emerging in the information sectors, that the resources boom is staggering and might collapse, and that global fears about climate change might bring that day forward, Australians are searching for ways to build sustainable industries of benefit to the nation and to the region.

While the economic fortunes of Australia have been comparatively stable due to its mineral deposits, the political landscape changed significantly at the end of 2007. At that point the Howard government, a coalition of conservative parties, ended 11 years of rule, handing over to Kevin Rudd’s Labor government. The first act of the Rudd government on 3 December 2007 was to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, 10 years after it had been agreed internationally. This was a symbolic statement of change because the Howard government, although a signatory, had refused to ratify and implement the Kyoto Protocol. There was a further break with the past on the first sitting day of the new Parliament. On 13 February 2008, Prime Minister Rudd delivered a National Apology to the Stolen Generations of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander peoples. The phrase ‘Stolen Generations’ refers to government policies across a century or more (until the 1970s in some places) of removing indigenous children from their parents and bringing them up in missions and institutions. The children were frequently trained for work in the wider society as domestic and household servants. Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander people had requested the apology, but the Howard government had refused to make it.

In addition to their commitment to environmental responsibility and social justice, the Labor government has promised major initiatives in high-speed broadband and an ‘education revolution’ (including a laptop for all school children between 9 and 12 years of age), and it called for a 2020 summit to bring together Australians with different perspectives and from different backgrounds to reflect upon the kind of nation they would like to have in a decade’s time, and how to get there.

Australia is the world’s largest island, and the only island continent. On 21 April 2008 the United Nations responded to a 2004 claim and recognized Australia’s extended boundaries in line with its continental shelf. This made a huge impact in terms of overall area: some 2.5 million additional square kilometres of the sea bed immediately became Australian territory. Given its size, Australia has a comparatively small population. This is partly because so much of the land cannot be used for agriculture or settlement. Additionally, the country is still suffering from the worst drought on record and most population centres continue to restrict the use of water, especially for gardens and recreational purposes.

Australia is highly urbanized with the vast majority of the population living in cities. Only 3 percent of the population is defined as settled in remote areas. Also, 80 percent of Australians live within 50 kilometres of the sea (Dale 2006). One of the implications of this unbalanced spread of the population is that it is particularly difficult and expensive to connect the few people living in remote areas to good quality digital services, and thus there is a significant digital divide although Australia is a comparatively wealthy country. The Howard government set up an AUD 2 billion (USD 1.35 billion) Communications Fund to support improved telecommunications in the bush, and they paid for this through the sale of Telstra, the national telecommunications carrier. This fund has now been earmarked for general improvements to deliver high-speed broadband to approximately 98 percent of the population, leaving aside the very people for whom the fund was created.

TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE

Although Australians think they have good technological infrastructure, it stops well short of the fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network that would be required for a full range of fibre-based digital interactivity at world class speeds. The Labor Party, then in opposition (2007), argued that at AUD 4.7 billion their fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) plan was the ‘most expensive election pledge’ ever. The implication is that it is too expensive to connect all Australian homes by fibre. Nevertheless, some consumers are hoping for greater speed and service and they suggest that FTTN may be a first step toward FTTH, even if this further advance is only feasible in Australia’s towns and cities.

Critics have suggested that the promised speeds are disappointing and that the plan’s integrity has been compromised by the use of statistics and scenarios generated by Telstra. Previously the publicly-owned monopoly telecommunications provider, Telstra is now fully privatized although a government-regulated entity, known as the Future Fund, set up to support the cost of pensions for Australia’s aging population, still holds a 17 percent share. The proposed plan is a revisitation of older partnership plans whereby private companies would provide the infrastructure to the populous areas and the government funding would make feasible the rollout of services to most regional, remote, and rural communities. The intention is to cover 98 percent of Australian businesses and homes with broadband speeds of at least 12 Mbps, and use the Future Fund to finance over half of the AUD 4.7 billion in government funding. Two entities are fighting for the rights to partner the government in this endeavour. Telstra was first to propose a partnership arrangement but it withdrew its initial offer arguing that the competition regime under which they would be required to offer their competitors access to the network put them at a market disadvantage. The opposition is an Optus-led consortium, Telstra’s major competitors that have banded together to develop a nationally competitive proposal to match Telstra as the giant in the market. Ultimately, the Telstra bid was eliminated on a technicality and the rollout has been delayed indefinitely (see ‘ICT and the November 2007 Federal Election’).1

KEY INSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS DEALING WITH ICT

In December 2007, a fortnight after the defeat of the conservative Howard coalition government, the national Department of Communication, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) was subsumed within the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (http://www.dbcde.gov.au/). This move signalled two major messages: first, that broadband is of primary importance to the government; and second, that the digital economy would have a major new focus. (At the same time, the Arts portfolio was transferred to the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage, and the Arts.) DBCDE (the new shorthand for the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) is responsible for government services (information, regulation, policy, statistics, research, reviews, security, contacts, etc.), communications and technology, and media and broadcasting. Representing Australia in international policy and decision-making forums concerning the national interest in terms of broadband and the digital economy, DBCDE collaborates with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) when it comes to exports and access to foreign markets.

The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO, http://www.agimo.gov.au/), which is part of the Department of Finance and Deregulation, is charged with ensuring that Australia uses ICT to improve government administration. Its website includes a ‘Better Practice Centre’ that showcases particularly effective initiatives, and celebrates case studies of finalists in the ‘Excellence in e-Government Awards’. The range of publications available for free download includes Responsive government: A new service agenda (AGIMO 2006), which looks forward to 2010 and has four key focus areas: meeting users’ needs; establishing connected service delivery; achieving value for money; and enhancing public service capability. There has also been ongoing discussion and publications about environment-friendly ICT since 2004.

ICT and the November 2007 Federal Election

Where previous federal election campaigns had been conducted primarily through the traditional media of print and broadcast, in 2007 the Internet played a significant role in the election media mix. Parties, candidates, and media organizations used the Internet to engage citizens in interactive exchanges. Voters also took the opportunity to make their voices heard more loudly, particularly with the help of a progressive new voice in Australian politics, GetUp (http://www.getup.org.au/), an independent, grassroots community advocating Australian citizen involvement in and holding politicians accountable on important issues. YouTube reached a new prominence as a site for the conservative Liberal party to release short ‘address to the nation’-style video clips featuring then Prime Minister John Howard (see Bruns et al. 2007). With both party leaders packing their punches on YouTube, the wags commented that it would be good when all Australia had the broadband speeds necessary to watch them.

Australian mainstream media became obsessed with electoral polling data. In response, a number of high-profile psephology blogs and websites emerged (operated by scientists specializing in the analysis of electoral opinion data). These bloggers’ consistent critiquing of mainstream news media coverage in general, and of the political analysis in leading national newspaper The Australian in particular, ultimately resulted in a thundering (and ill-advised) editorial denouncing the citizen psephologists as ‘out of touch with ordinary views’ and culminating in the remarkable claim that unlike them, ‘we understand Newspoll because we own it’ (The Australian 2007).

Youdecide2007.org (YD07) was a project that harnessed and encouraged citizen involvement in media and election debates. It was funded by the Australian Research Council and involved public service broadcaster SBS, Cisco Systems and the National Forum (which publishes the political commentary site On Line Opinion). YD07 developed a hyper-local citizen journalism2 coverage of the election by encouraging users to report political activities in their own electorate. It managed to provide coverage ranging across electorates as diverse as the inner-Brisbane seat of Griffith, won by incoming Prime Minister Rudd, and the remote Western Australian seat of Kalgoorlie, stretching across much of the state and (by size, not by residents) the largest single electorate in the world.

User-led political news sites such as YD07 overcome what is often highlighted as a shortcoming of citizen journalism: they explicitly encourage their contributors to become active as journalists rather than simply as commentators. Indeed, one story emerging from a YD07 interview with the Liberal member for Herbert — who had claimed that many ‘young people today are financially illiterate’ — became the basis for a question in Parliament by then-opposition leader Rudd during the last sitting weeks before the election, and helped spark a national debate about the personal credit crisis in Australia (Wilson 2007). While there were some unresolved issues, YD07 points to a role for citizen-driven, bottom-up media forms in the emerging overall media mix of Australia as a networked society.

(Sources: Bruns et al. 2007; The Australian 2007; Wilson 2007)

Although there has been a major change in terms of the names and composition of government ministries, most of the regulatory authorities are legislated to be at arm’s length from government itself. The regulatory authorities tend not to change with the government. Set up by statute, the regulators are appointed for a fixed term and are considered for renewal or replacement at the end of that term. The major government regulator in the ICT field is the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA, http://www.acma.gov.au/). The ACMA website offers a portal to information and regulation concerning broadcasting, the Internet, the radio frequency spectrum and telecommunications. There are links to popular government initiatives to crack down on spam and to register private telephone numbers as ‘do not call’ lines, which prevents telemarketers from calling those numbers. ACMA also regulates radio, television and Internet content, and deals with complaints.

The Classification Board which classifies films, videos, games and some literature is separate from ACMA, and has only recently taken over from the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) set up in 1988. The Classification Board (http://www.classification.gov.au/) is also an independent statutory body. The Classification Board is supported by the Classification Operations Branch in the Attorney-General’s Department so it is not independent in the sense that it is entirely constituted as a stand-alone entity. Appeals against a Classification Board ruling are referred to the Classification Review Board, also supported by the Attorney-General’s Department.

ICT AND ICT-RELATED INDUSTRIES

Although Australia is an importer of many high-tech goods, including ICT, it has a vibrant industry in high-end, value added and service-driven products. The ICT industry in Australia is worth AUD 90 billion (AIIA 2008), 4.6 percent of Australia’s GDP (AIIA 2008; ACS n.d.) and 13.8 percent of total investment in Australia (ACS n.d.). The ICT sector employed 274,132 people in mid-2005 (ABS 2006). Foreign-owned companies account for 43 percent of employment and 60 percent of income (ACS n.d.). AIIA is one of the major industry organizations and its members are aligned with over 500 companies and account for AUD 40 billion in ICT revenues. AIIA International affiliates include the Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry Organisation, the World IT and Services Alliance, and the Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (with links through their regional award programs).

The other industry association for this market sector used to be the Australian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (AEEMA), but at the start of 2008 AEEMA merged with the Australian Industry Group (AIG). Together, the AIG plus AEEMA market focus comprises: ‘communications, connected homes, data capture, defence, digital broadcasting, electrical capture equipment, electronics (including components and micro-electronics), hazardous area equipment, home appliances and accessories, IT security, lighting, photonics, smart cards and transport telematics’ (AIG 2008).

Not all ICT-related industries are legitimate. A priority for the new Minister for Trade is to follow the lead of Japan, the EU, Switzerland, and the US in the negotiation of an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. This commitment arises out of a 2007 discussion paper and will address issues around pirated intellectual property, particularly in digital products such as games, music, films, and software. Estimating that the global value in physically traded pirated and counterfeit goods could have amounted to USD 200 billion in 2005, the government discussion paper adds that ‘if domestic production and trade in infringing goods and digital piracy via the Internet were also to be included, the OECD report estimates the total value would be increased by several hundred billion US dollars’ (DFAT 2007).

The Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA) has published a recent report on ‘Interactive Australia 2007: Facts About the Australian Computer and Video Game Industry’ (IEAA 2007). Among other findings from over 1,600 randomly sampled telephone interviews and an online survey run by AC Nielsen Surveys Australia, results showed that 41 percent of Australian gamers are female, 8 percent are seniors, and 79 percent of Australian households have a specialist device for video and computer gaming (IEAA 2007, p. 1), with many parents attributing a number of positive outcomes to their children’s interactive game-playing, including learning about technology and maths and developing their capacity to plan ahead.

KEY ICT POLICIES, THRUSTS, AND PROGRAMS

In addition to the ICT promises made by the government in the Education Revolution policy (discussed in ‘ICT-related Education and Capacity-building Programs’, the Department for Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations (DEEWR, previously the Department for Education, Science and Training) maintains a searchable database of national and state-level ICT policies for education and training (DEST 2007). An outcome of the Strategic Framework for the Information Economy (DBCDE 2004), the database provides easy access to all current and recent (in the last 10 years or so) ICT initiatives related to education and the workforce.

The dual commitments by the new government to tackle FTTN infrastructure on the one hand and computer access for high school students on the other (see ‘ICT-related Education and Capacity-building Programs’), constitute a policy pincer movement aiming for an increase in the speed and capacity of data transfer for almost all Australians and extensive exposure to ICT skills and education for the next generation of workers.

LEGAL AND REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT FOR ICT DEVELOPMENT

Funded by the federal DEEWR and its pre-election predecessors, the Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law Project (http://www.oaklaw.qut.edu.au/) hosted at Queensland University of Technology is a national leader in the field of Open Access policy development. It ‘aims to ensure that every day citizens through to top-end researchers can legally and efficiently share knowledge across domains and across the world’ (OAK Law Project 2008). It has already developed legal protocols to achieve that aim. In February 2008, it launched the OAKList (http://www.oaklist.qut.edu.au/), a ‘[W]eb-enabled database containing information about publishing agreements and publishers’ open access policies’ (OAKList 2008).

Creative Commons Australia (http://www.creativecommons.org.au/) is a related project to translate international Creative Commons (CC) licence agreements into the Australian legal framework. At present, CC licence version 2.5 is already available in Australian variants and a draft of CCau v3.0 underwent public consultation in 2008. Additionally, Creative Commons Australia is increasingly involved in information and outreach projects in the wider Asia Pacific region.

Child protection is a major theme in Australian Internet regulation although opinion is divided between teaching children how and why to behave safely on the Internet — and how to respond to any troubling material that they may encounter — and filtering out all content that might be deemed unsuitable. Both strategies are in use. Additionally, there are Cyberpredator laws in some jurisdictions, such as in Western Australia, where specialist police officers pose as underage Internet users to catch people using the Internet to stalk or exploit Australian youngsters. Cyberpredators can be prosecuted if they are operating from within Australia. ACMA’s online resources for adults monitoring children and their Internet use can be found at http://www.cybersmartkids.com.au/for-grown-ups.htm.

DIGITAL CONTENT

Because English is Australia’s official language, there are few problems with digital resources for the majority of the population. However, there are few digital resources available in indigenous languages and the languages spoken by migrant groups.

Some websites are available in indigenous languages. One website, http://ninti.ngapartji.org/, includes a pay-to-learn program where mother tongue Ngapartji speakers work with professionals to provide resources for others to learn this indigenous Australian language. The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS, http://www.aiatsis.gov.au/) is a government body under the DEEWR tasked with providing accessible resources on indigenous culture and society, including resources relating to lost and endangered languages.3

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website (http://www.dimia.gov.au/living-in-australia/help-with-english/index.htm) includes a ‘Living in Australia’ section with booklets (also available on the Web) in 24 community languages, and it provides details about interpreting and translating services available to refugees and new migrants. SBS Radio (http://www.radio.sbs.com.au/) broadcasts in 68 languages — more than any other broadcaster anywhere in the world. Special Broadcasting Services (SBS) also broadcasts a range of linguistically and culturally diverse television programming, and has a strong online presence.

ONLINE SERVICES

Online services in Australia are generally well developed. All major banks and businesses, and many minor businesses, offer online services of some form, including Internet banking, browsing and ordering facilities; feedback and support mechanisms; and many other service options. Trust in such services is generally high with over half of Australian Internet users subscribing to online banking since as far back as 2005 (DCITA 2005). Indeed, many major banks have reduced their network of physical bank branches in favour of online banking and other financial services. This strategy gives rise to equity issues for Australians who are unwilling or unable to switch to online service offerings.

Australian governments at all levels (local, state, and federal) have also made moves toward online services ranging from static or dynamic information sites to e-service and e-business options. Policymakers and service providers are exploring the potential for direct engagement with citizens that incorporates elements of Web 2.0 and social networking sites. For example, Future Melbourne was a project that utilized wiki technology to develop a vision for the city in the year 2020 in consultation with citizens (Future Melbourne 2008). Just-in-time delivery of information to phones and other mobile devices (e.g. weather information, traffic conditions) is also being adopted, as well as citizen reporting via short message service (SMS) or multimedia message system (MMS) to local authorities concerning potholes, graffiti, traffic accidents, and other incidents.

At their most basic, e-government sites act simply as a repository for government information, policy documents, press releases, and other content to be communicated to the public. Beyond this, government websites and Internet services offer opportunities to search for or request specific information; pay fees and fines; and provide feedback to department staff. Shortly before the November 2007 federal election, AGIMO released a discussion paper on the potential for creating an Australian federal government consultation blog that lists consultations and allows people to post responses, comments, and feedback. Although not a ‘blog’ as conventionally understood, such a consultation site could facilitate continuous conversation between citizens and government. The AGIMO paper also outlines some of the key challenges (of moderation, privacy, and security) associated with such a project.4 A DBCDE trial Digital Economy blog took place in late 2008.

In this context it is also interesting to note that one of the key recommendations from the April 2008 ‘2020 Summit’ of Australian thinkers, entrepreneurs, artists, and policymakers was the creation of a ‘one-stop shop’ portal to government services (at the federal level), provisionally titled www.your.gov.au. Although the Summit’s recommendations are not necessarily representative of wider public interest or binding for the federal government,5 a central government services portal is likely to be viewed as a desirable initiative by a large proportion of the population.

ICT-RELATED EDUCATION AND CAPACITY-BUILDING PROGRAMS

Building ICT capacity is a high priority for the Australian government, and one of the key election promises in the new government’s ‘Education Revolution’ policy was to provide a dedicated school computer for every child enrolled at an Australian secondary school (years 9–12, ages 14–17). This initiative is to be funded by a ‘National Secondary School Computer Fund’. The policy also promises broadband or equivalent connections for all Australian schools. The policy document explicitly states that ‘Australia must accept the fact that computer technology is no longer just a key subject to learn, it is now the key to learning in almost every subject’ (ALP 2007).

Not all projects target the young. Several recent projects have focused especially on regional and remote areas, or on specific socio-economic, ethnic or age groups. edgeX.org.au focuses on the regional Queensland city of Ipswich, near Brisbane; it aims to build ICT, Web 2.0 and social networking capacities among resident groups, from school-age children to seniors (Bruns and Humphreys 2007). Such projects have the dual aim of helping participants develop functional digital literacies and building their capacities for active, productive, and socially embedded participation in the knowledge economy.

Due to its recent strong economic performance, Australia is currently experiencing a period of prolonged skills shortages across a number of areas but especially in the trades (e.g. there is a shortage of electricians and plumbers). There has also been a marked reduction in enrolments in information technology (IT) disciplines and a downsizing of IT departments at many universities and technical and further education (TAFE) colleges. Some people argue that this apparent decline in enrolments is a disguised fragmentation of the IT market, with students enrolling instead in such courses as 3D design, online gaming and culture, and interactive multimedia, rather than in traditional (IT) degrees. Multidisciplinary and hybrid offerings reflect other changes in the Australian economy and a gradual evolution of economic policy favouring the service, knowledge, and creative industries. These developments support combining IT skills with disciplinary knowledge in design, business, law, and the creative industries. Australia’s continuing transition to a knowledge economy and network society is also reflected at other levels of the Australian education system. However, the industry is concerned about a future skills shortage (see ‘Australia’s Unhappy ICT Workforce’).

OPEN SOURCE AND OPEN CONTENT

Open and reliable access to information is an increasingly important issue in Australian policy debates. State and national libraries and archives have been exploring questions surrounding open access to government information and documentary resources of national significance for several years. These have been complemented recently by projects examining and developing the relevant legal frameworks to ensure citizen access to important information (see ‘Legal and Regulatory Environment’ in this chapter).

It is not yet clear how far Australian governments will go with respect to a possibly broader uptake of open access and creative commons principles in their everyday operation and policy, and of open source software as an underlying technology for government services. The new government highlighted the need for citizen access to information and knowledge during its time in opposition, but such ideas have yet to be translated into concrete government policy.

Access to data and code and transparent and accountable handling of information are also seen to be linked directly with the use of open source software for processing, storing, and accessing information. This is increasingly highlighted in the area of health-related information and electronic health records (EHR). For example, Australian researchers and developers are involved in the Open Health Tools community, ‘an ecosystem that brings together members from the health and IT professions to create a common health interoperability framework, exemplary tools and reference applications to support health information interoperability’ and which involves the federal government organization Health Services Australia (Open Health Tools 2008). Another project is the open EHR project (http://www.openehr.org/) operated by University College London and Ocean Informatics Ltd. Australia, which aims to ‘enabl[e] ICT to effectively support healthcare, medical research and related areas’ (open EHR 2007). However, these projects are at a relatively early stage of conceptual and technological development, and significant take-up in everyday practical application remains to be seen.

Australia’s Unhappy ICT Workforce

At the start of 2008, Ms Sheryle Moon, CEO of the Australian Information Industry Association, warned that the biggest threat to the sustainability of Australia’s ICT sector is not so much the 1.52 percent of Australian carbon emissions attributable to the industry, but a pressing and increasing shortage of relevant skills: ‘falling ICT student enrolments, an increasingly competitive labour market, and the imminent retirement of the baby boomer generation’ (Moon 2008). Attributing part of the problem to a brain-drain, Moon argued that sustainable organizations ‘must move beyond environmental and efficiency concerns to embrace the challenge of changing workforce demographics’. With ICT workers reportedly suffering from job stress and poor management, which cause absenteeism and staff turnover (what Australians call ‘churn’), Moon suggested that employers need to ‘transform the nature of industry workplaces to address these problems’. Moon called upon Australia’s ICT industry to develop new ideas that would align industry values with the values of the workforce and change workplaces for the better to reduce separations, encourage training and recruitment, and persuade older workers to continue in their jobs.

This is not the first time that problems with the ICT industry as a place to work have been identified. Citing Australian Bureau of Statistics data from 2005, the Australian Computer Society notes that 95 percent of businesses are small, employing fewer than 20 people, with a predominantly male workforce. Overall, 68 percent of the workforce and 79 percent of professional and technical staff is male (ACS n.d.). In the wider ICT-related industry there were 371,150 employees recorded in mid-2006, with the proportion of male workers rising to 84.5 percent (Government of Western Australia 2007, p. xvii) and those under 30 years old accounting for 27.7 percent (ACS n.d.). In addition to the gender imbalance, a recent report found that parents have a ‘reticent or suspicious attitude toward the industry due to the perceived vulnerability of the sector following the “dot com” crash’. They also saw an IT career as being for ‘“geeks”, and as being a boring and high risk career with limited financial reward’ (Government of Western Australia 2007, p. xxiii).

Given the long and generally unsuccessful attempt to recruit more female students to ICT courses in Australian universities, it will be a particularly critical issue if the industry also loses its attraction for its disproportionately young, male workforce.

(Sources: ACS n.d.; Government of Western Australia 2007; Moon 2008)

ICT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Australian-based researchers continue to work closely with colleagues and government and non-government organizations in other Asia Pacific nations to explore the ICT for Development field. Ethnographic action research methodologies (Tacchi et al. 2003) pioneered by Australian-based researchers have been especially important in engaging with local communities in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and elsewhere, in collaboration with community multimedia centres that provide local people with ICT skills and enable them to communicate their own views and ideas.

In contrast, research within (and mainly directed at) the Australian context focuses more on the future development of advanced information and communication technology and services, and their contribution to the economy and society. The establishment of the Smart Services CRC in early 2008 builds on this agenda. The Cooperative Research Centre, an AUD 120 million project supported by the Australian Research Council and several Australian universities and industry partners, demonstrates the continuing shift in research and policy emphasis from technology to services. In particular, the Cooperative Research Centre will investigate the impact of the increase in user-led content creation, social media, and Web 2.0 practices on government, business, and other forms of service delivery.

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

The shift to services points to a continuing need to build advanced ICT literacies and capacities in the general Australian population, to avoid a widening of digital divides in the community and to enable all Australian citizens to participate effectively and successfully in future socially networked digital environments. Over time, these developments are also likely to be exported to other parts of the region.

It is likely that Australia’s researchers and practitioners will continue to engage most closely with their nearest and most populous neighbour, Indonesia. There have been recent improvements in what has at times been a difficult relationship. On the other hand, China looms large as a major partner in trade and intellectual exchange, especially following the Beijing Olympics and given that Australia’s prime minister is a fluent speaker of Mandarin.

Beyond trade itself, a key aspect of any regional exchange has to do with Australia’s role as an important exporter of tertiary education to the region. A significant percentage of students at Australian universities are international students from the Asia Pacific. Gradually the emphasis of international education is shifting from undergraduate to postgraduate qualifications. But the trade in international student education is threatened by the strong performance of the Australian dollar and the otherwise gloomy outlook for the overall world economy, which might combine to limit the ability of prospective international students to finance study at an Australian university. But this may be addressed through the increased development by Australian universities of campuses in the students’ countries of origin.

Finally, the increasingly strongly felt limitations of the domestic Australian ICT infrastructure, especially the relatively poor value-for-cost ratio of the Australian consumer broadband network, may hinder further development of ICT research and practice in the country. While the new federal government made improvements to consumer broadband one of its central campaign promises, the present intractable situation in the domestic ISP market with the hostility between Telstra and its rival Optus-led consortium may cause significant delays in the realization of such promises.

NOTES

1. ZDNet.com.au carries up to date news on Australian technology issues.

2. Hyper-local journalism projects aim for news coverage at a community level, at and below the level of entire cities and towns. Such projects aim to fill a gap in coverage that is common in mainstream news media, which usually do not have the resources or inclination to cover events below international and national levels.

3. All but 20 or so of the over 200 indigenous languages are judged to be endangered.

4. Related projects, such as the UK government’s e-petition site (http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/), appear to have had mixed fortunes so far (Virkar 2007).

5. The summit is an unelected body without formal influence on policy decisions.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

ABS. (2006). 8126.0 Information and communication technology, Australia, 2004–5, reissued 2006. Retrieved 4 February 2008 from http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/197D7C1F38FC3F81CA2569A4007C29A0?Open

ABS. (2008a). 3101.0 — Australian Demographic Statistics, September 2007. Retrieved 24 April 2008 from http://abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3101.0

———. (2008b). 8153.0 — Internet Activity, Australia, December 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2008 from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@. nsf/mf/8153.0/

ACS. (n.d.). About the industry: ICT sector and ICT landscape. Retrieved 19 February 2008 from http://www.acs.org.au/index.cfm?action=sho w&conID=aboutindustry

Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). (2008). ACMA communications report 2006–07. Retrieved 29 April 2008 from http://www.acma.gov.au/webwr/_assets/main/lib310631/0607commreport_complete.pdf

Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO). (2006). Responsive government: A new service agenda. 2006 e-Government Strategy. Retrieved 9 February 2008 from http://www.agimo.gov.au/_data/assets/pdf_file/0010/51499/e-gov_strategy.pdf

———. (2007). Australian government consultation blog discussion paper. September. Retrieved 4 February 2008 from http://www.agimo.gov.au/_data/assets/pdf_file/0014/61601/Consultation_Blog_Discussion_Paper.pdf

Australian Industry Group (AIG). (2008). Australian Industry Group: committed to Australia’s ICT, electronics and electrical manufacturing industries. Retrieved 4 February 2008 from http://www.aeema.asn.au/

Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA). (2008). Australian Information Industry Association: Leading the ICT business community. Retrieved 19 February 2008 from http://www.aiia.com.au/i-cms.isp?page=13

Australian Labor Party (ALP). (2007). Federal labor’s education revolution — A school computer for every student in years 9–12. Retrieved 4 February 2008 from http://www.alp.org.au/media/1107/msloo140.php

Barr, T., A. Burns, and D. Sharp. (2005). Smart Internet 2010. Eveleigh, NSW: Smart Internet CRC. Retrieved 4 February 2008 from http://smartinternet.com.au/ArticleDocuments/123/Smart-Internet-2010. pdf.aspx

Bruns, A., J. Wilson, and B. Saunders. (2007). Election flops on YouTube. ABC Online. Retrieved 4 February 2008 from http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/11/16/2093120.htm

Bruns, A. and S. Humphreys. (2007). Playing on the edge: Facilitating the emergence of a local digital grassroots. Paper presented at the Association of Internet Researchers conference. Vancouver, 17–20 October 2007.

CIA. (2008). World factbook: Australia. Retrieved 24 April 2008 from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/as.html

Computer Industry Almanac. (2007). PCs in-use reached nearly 1B in 2006: USA accounts for over 24% of PCs in-use. Retrieved 29 April 2008 from http://www.c-i-a.com/pr0907.htm

Dale, D. (2006). Who we are: A miscellany of the new Australia. Sydney, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE). (2004). Australia’s strategic framework for the digital economy 2004–2006: Opportunities and challenges for the information age. Retrieved 11 February 2008 from http://www.dbcde.gov.au/_data/assets/pdf_file/0018/20457/New_SFIE_July_2004_final.pdf

Department of Communication, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA). (2005). Trust and growth in the online environment. Retrieved 4 February 2008 from http://www.dbcde.gov.au/_data/assets/pdf_file/34142/Trust_and_Growth_Report.pdf

Department of Education, Science, and Training (DEST). (2007). Department of Education, Science and Training, ICT policies for education and training, searchable database. Retrieved 4 February 2008 from http://www.ictpolicy.edna.edu.au/sibling/search

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). (2007). Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Discussion Paper: The anti-counterfeiting trade agreement. Retrieved11 February 2008 from http://www.dfat. gov.au/trade/acta/discussion-paper.html

Government of Western Australia. (2007). The State Government’s role in developing and promoting information communications technology (ICT) in Western Australia. Economics and Industry Standing Committee, Government of Western Australia, Report # 6, 37th Parliament. Retrieved 19 February 2008 from http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/parliament%5Ccommit.nsf/(Report+Lookup+by+Com+ID)/9EFDCF6E8F5EA84FC82572FA001DA011/$file/Report+No.+6+27.6.07+-+6799-1.pdf

Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (IEAA). (2007). Interactive Australia 2007: Facts about the Australian computer and video game industry. Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia (with Bond University). Retrieved 4 February 2008 from http://www.ieaa.com.au/5.research/Interactive%20Australia% 202007.pdf

Moon, S. (2008). 2008 must be the year of the sustainable workplace. AIIA Newsroom, Media Releases, 11 January. Retrieved 11 February 2008 from http://www.aiia.com.au/i-cms.isp?page=2622

Nielsen Online. (2008). Aussie Internet Usage Overtakes TV Viewing for the First Time. Retrieved 24 April 2008 from http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/pr/pr_080318_AU.pdf

open EHR. (2007). Welcome to openEHR. Retrieved 24 April 2008 from http://www.openehr.org/home.html

Tacchi, J., D. Slater, and G. Hearn. (2003). Ethnographic action research. UNESCO. Retrieved 4 February 2008 from http://eprints.qut.edu.au/archive/00004399/

The Australian. (2007). History a better guide than bias. Editorial. 12 July. Retrieved 10 August 2007 from http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,22058640-7583,00.html

TIAC. (2006). Big pipes: Connecting western Australia to the global knowledge economy, western Australian information and communication technology industry development forum April 2006. Retrieved 6 November 2006 from http://www.tiac.wa.gov.au/ictforum/bigpipes/bigpipesreport-06.htm

Virkar, S. (2007). Top trumps or trivial pursuit? Political engagement in age of Web 2.0. Paper presented at the Association of Internet Researchers Conference, in Vancouver, Canada, 17–20 October.

Wilson, J. (2007). Youdecide2007 influences national debate! Retrieved 4 February 2008 from http://www.youdecide2007.org/content/view/168/101/

Websites

Finding a Voice. (2008). Retrieved 4 February 2008 from http://www.findingavoice.org/

Future Melbourne. (2008). Retrieved 15 August 2008 from http://www.futuremelbourne.com.au/

OAK Law Project. (2008). Retrieved 4 February 2008 from http://www.oaklaw.qut.edu.au/

OAKList. (2008). Retrieved 11 February 2008 from http://www.oaklist.qut.edu.au/about/

Open Health Tools. (2008). Retrieved 24 April 2008 from http://www.openhealthtools.org/

.bd Bangladesh

Ananya Raihan

Total population

140.6 million (2001 Census, updated in 2007)

Literacy rate

47.9% (male = 54%; female = 41.4%)

GNP per capita

USD 599 (FY 2008)

Computers per
100 inhabitants

1.2 (2006)

Fixed-line telephones per
100 inhabitants

2.63 (2007)

Mobile phone subscribers per
100 inhabitants

22.91 (2007)

Internet users per
100 inhabitants

0.29 (2007)

Domain names registered
under .bd

5,987 (December 2007)

Broadband subscribers per
100 inhabitants

No data available

Internet domestic bandwidth

No data available

Internet international bandwidth

24.78 Gbps (December 2007)

(Sources: Bangladesh Economic Survey 2008; BTRC 2008; ITU 2007)

INTRODUCTION

Bangladesh is classified among the world’s least developed countries (LDCs). It also has the highest population density in the world: around 150 million people live in a tiny territory of 147,570 square kilometres. But in 2001–2005, Bangladesh experienced a dramatic reduction of poverty, with poverty headcount rates declining significantly in both rural and urban areas.1 The poverty gap (depth of poverty) and squared poverty gap (severity of poverty) also declined in 2005 (BBS 2006). In short, poverty reduction is occurring at a relatively faster pace than in the past.

Nevertheless, poverty remains a problem and poverty reduction continues to be the focus of national development. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are considered an important tool in development efforts. The poverty reduction strategy paper for 2005–2007 identifies several measures for mainstreaming ICTs in economic development. Progress has been achieved in some areas, such as in mobile telephony, but it has been slow in others.

TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE

Robust growth characterized the telecommunications sector of Bangladesh in 2007. While mobile teledensity had been predicted to reach 10 percent by 2010 (Raihan 2007a), actual teledensity by end of 2007 stood at 22.91 percent, more than twice the target (BTRC 2008). There were 34 million mobile phone subscribers by the end of 2007. Competition policy and deregulation account for this phenomenal growth in the mobile sector.

In contrast, the fixed/PSTN market has seen modest growth — 1.19 million Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) subscribers at the end of 2007 from 1.01 million in June 2006 (17.82 percent) — because the major market, Dhaka city, was closed to competition until July 2007. In March 2007, the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) invited bids from private operators for four licences to operate fixed-line connections in Dhaka. The new operators started setting up connections in September 2007. With the deregulation of the coveted Dhaka city market, a 100 percent growth in the PSTN market is expected by the end of 2008. BTRC divided the country into five zones and granted 35 licences to 15 private sector PSTN operators under the open licencing system in the north-east, south-east, north-west, and south-west zones.

The fierce competition among the mobile telecom operators led to a nosedive in call rates within the domestic market. Some operators offer calls for only 0.4 cents per minute, the floor rate fixed by the regulator. Among South Asian countries, Bangladesh offers the lowest mobile phone call rates (Samarajiva and Zainudeen 2008).

As of April 2008, 85 percent of the country had mobile coverage. The government announced the penetration of the mobile phone network in the remaining three hill-districts (initially only in municipal areas) in May 2008. The licence to operate in these districts had been pending due to the insurgency problem.

In contrast to mobile service uptake, Internet adoption has been slow, mainly due to the high price of Internet connectivity. The expectation was that after Bangladesh got connected to the information super highway via the South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe–4 (SEA–ME–WE–4) submarine cable, the quality of Internet connectivity would improve and cost would be reduced. Indeed, data transfer capacity went up to 14.78 Gbps, 64 times higher than total capacity at the time of installation in May 2006. By June 2007 the utilization was up to 3.28 gigabytes. But the state-owned Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL) fixed an exorbitantly high price for bandwidth. Thus, the Internet service providers (ISPs) have not been able to reduce the price of bandwidth for subscribers. Moreover, many ISPs have had to maintain redundancy by using very small aperture satellite-based (VSAT) connectivity due to the unreliable fibre optic connection.

In response to lobbying by various stakeholders, BTCL reduced Internet tariff charges by 20–40 percent in February 2008. Charges for monthly office use came down to about USD 10 from about USD 14.3, and the annual cost of leased Internet access up to 2 Mbps came down to about USD 20,571 from about USD 27,428. It is expected that the reduced rates would result in a net gain of USD 12.5 million as the user base would increase threefold due to the price reduction.2

But industry stakeholders consider the revised rate to be still high compared to rates in neighbouring countries. For example, the reduced rate is 10 times higher than the price for the same bandwidth in India. The USD 35.1 million investment cost of the existing submarine cable has already been recovered, which is a strong argument for further reducing Internet access rates to make them at par with the rates in other countries in the region.

BTCL was allowed to own the only submarine cable network in spite of a provision in the telecom law that states:

If an operator provides more than one service, but there exists competition in the market in providing one of such services and no competition in case of another service provided by him, then subsidy from the earnings of the service which is subject to competition shall not be allowed for the other service which is not subject to competition. (Bangladesh Telecommunications Act 2001, Section 49, Sub-section C)

Exclusive ownership of the submarine cable’s landing station has extended BTCL’s monopoly to data connectivity and the Internet market. This monopoly is the primary reason for sluggish growth in the use of the available bandwidth. In May 2008, the government decided to allow the private sector to install and operate a submarine cable, which is expected to reduce the price of Internet connectivity.

Responding to public demand, BTCL revised the rates for Internet services anew in the first half of 2008. For organizational users, the price is now BDT 27,000 per Mb. There is a special 75 percent discount for research organizations and primary schools will get 64 Kbps Internet connections free of charge. This can be a good opportunity for rural ICT initiatives.

On the other hand, the security of the submarine cable remains an issue. Since the installation of the cable in May 2006, connectivity has been disrupted 24 times. The Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) has identified the cause as sabotage. The uneven competition among various players in the Internet connectivity market is probably one of the reasons for such ‘sabotage’.

The demand for telecom and Internet services is expected to shoot up in the next three years with the implementation of the government’s International Long Distance Telecommunication Services (ILDTS) Policy in the second half of 2008. The policy legalizes Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. Total bandwidth demand is expected to reach at least 15 Gbps in 2011, saturating the current capacity of the submarine cable. To prepare for this eventuality, BTCL has signed a deal with the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh for backup fibre-optic connectivity. There are also offers to establish redundant fibre optic lines from various private sector companies or consortiums, including Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), VSNL, Bharti, BSNL, Reliance Communications, VSNL International, Asia America Gateway Cable, SEA–ME–WE–3, SEA–ME– WE–5, and the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC).

The inadequate power supply in the country also impacts negatively on the growth of the ICT sector. Many domestic and international agencies are working to find solutions, with some focusing on alternative and cheaper power sources and others focusing on low-power ICT equipment.

KEY INSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS DEALING WITH ICT

The ICT Task Force was formed under the Prime Minister’s Office in 1997 to foster the integration of ICTs in mainstream economic and governance activities. But the Task Force has met only three times since it was established. Mainstreaming ICT activities through the Prime Minister’s Office did not work and in fact disempowered the Ministry of Science and ICT. The caretaker government recently took the initiative of revitalizing the ICT Task Force. However, the government has become preoccupied with election-related matters (with elections due to be held in December 2008) and the initiative to accelerate ICT integration is now shelved.

On the other hand, the BTRC became more visible after its current chairman started introducing discipline in the telecom market. The role of the BTRC is to create a level playing field in the telecom market through various market-based provisions, including licencing for different kinds of connectivity and value-added services. However, its authority is limited because the various components of the telecom industry are under different ministries. For example, broadcasting is regulated by the Ministry of Information, and ICT is under a separate ministry. BTCL enjoys a monopoly over VoIP and submarine cable-based Internet connectivity, which contradicts the Telecom Act 2001. Although the BTRC is trying to impose some discipline in this area, the Ministry of Post and Telecom is creating a barrier for fear of losing revenues.

The Bangladesh Telecentre Network is a coalition of organizations that emerged in 2007 to promote the telecentre movement in Bangladesh. It has launched Mission 2011 (www.mission2011.net.bd), a movement to build a sustainable information and knowledge system for the poor and the marginalized by 2011, the 40th anniversary of Bangladesh. Bangladesh Telecentre Network’s action plan articulates two objectives:

1. Building awareness among stakeholders, including the government, about the importance of building an information and knowledge system for the poor through the establishment of a network of ICT-based telecentres.

2. Supporting grassroots telecentres, and ensuring their sustainability and scalability, by strengthening their capacity to offer services.

As of October 2008, 2,012 telecentres have been established in Bangladesh. Mission 2011 has attracted the support of the government and the international community.

ICT AND ICT-RELATED INDUSTRIES

The export volume of the country’s software sector declined in 2007 due to uncertainty in foreign investment and the shifting of some business to Nepal, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Software export earnings in 2007–2008 increased to USD 30 million in 2007–2008, after a slight fall in 2006–2007 (USD 26.08 million compared to USD 27.01 million in 2005–2006).

Until 2007, the sector had enjoyed steady exponential growth.3 But the full potential of the ICT export sector has yet to be realized due to inadequate supply of skilled human resources, inadequate project management skills, inappropriate and inadequate financing, and inadequate attention given to marketing. Another reason could be the government’s lack of confidence in the sector’s potential, as evidenced by the fact that the plan to build a technology park has remained unrealized for almost a decade. Moreover, not enough attention is being given to improving the quality of primary and secondary education.

KEY ICT POLICIES, THRUSTS, AND PROGRAMS

A Pentium 4 computer with 128 MB of Random Access Memory (RAM) and a full set of accessories can be purchased in Dhaka and other cities for approximately BDT 28,000 (USD 400) if it is a clone, or about BDT 55,000–70,000 (USD 750–1,000) if it is branded. This has been made possible by the zero tax policy implemented since 1998. The policy has made Bangladesh the fastest growing personal computer (PC) market in South Asia.

A more recent policy is the ILDTS Policy 2007 that came on the heels of the government drive against illegal VoIP services. Among others, the policy bars foreign telephone companies and ISPs and those owned by non-residents from obtaining licences to operate any kind of system through which overseas calls can be channelled, including the International Gateway (IG), Interconnection Exchange (ICX), and Internet Exchanges (IX). The policy also requires ILDTS operators to provide call detail records and to install monitoring facilities for voice and data calls that shall be accessible to the BTRC. The new policy makes it mandatory for all telecom operators to give law enforcement agencies access to records in the name of lawful interception, in accordance with the Bangladesh Telecommunication Act of 2001.

The hard-line stance was taken because all of the phone companies, including foreign investors and ISPs, were found to have been involved in illegal VoIP activities that were depriving the government of millions of dollars in revenue from overseas calls. The initial assessment of lost government revenue due to illegal VoIP was around USD 295 million per year, but the latest assessment puts the figure at around USD 2.2 billion a year.

In December 2007, the BTRC organized an open auction for setting up three IGs to handle IP-based phone calls using landline and cellphone systems, the submarine cable, and the overseas phone exchanges. Setting up the IGs and associated system would effectively eliminate illegal VoIP activities.

The new policy apparently favours domestic companies. But time will tell whether these companies will be able to make the large investment (about USD 135 million) required for ILDTS. The policy might have the unintended effect of encouraging the entry of more middlemen. Moreover, when the new system adds new operators, they would charge the phone companies extra for each call, a charge that would ultimately be passed on to subscribers. Technology transfer would also be an issue as foreign companies are likely not to be interested in investing in local telecoms infrastructure development without a share of the revenue. It is likely that business consortiums will be formed to bid for the new licences.

The BTRC also intends to stop the use of VSATs by the ISPs to pave the way for a single gateway for international data exchange. This decision would reduce the scope for redundancy of the private operators vis-à-vis the BTCL. VSATs are now providing an important backup for the on-land fibre optic line linked with the submarine cable that connects Bangladesh to the information highway. When the fibre optic line between the submarine cable in Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong’s phone network is cut off, the VSATs provide a slower but workable backup.

The BTRC has also initiated the licensing of call centre businesses. Call centre entrepreneurs will enjoy a tax holiday for three years in Dhaka and Chittagong and five years in other parts of the country. The cost of obtaining the licence is BDT 5,000 (USD 72) for five years, with no renewal fee.

LEGAL AND REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT FOR ICT DEVELOPMENT

Witch-hunt for Copyright Violators

In January 2008, the Patent and Copyright Office in Dhaka issued a public notice in the daily newspapers stating the penalty for copyright violations (i.e. up to five years in jail plus fines). The move was supported by Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), the national software association. However, unless awareness of copyright issues among all stakeholders, including law enforcers, is raised, it is doubtful whether this drive against copyright infringement would benefit the new economy.

In fact, the reason for the crackdown on copyright violators is unclear. The WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights stipulates that LDCs are exempted from copyright obligations until 2013. In a country like Bangladesh, there should be a longer transition period to full enforcement of an intellectual property regime. A strict enforcement would be tantamount to blocking access to ICTs for the majority of the population and small- and medium-enterprises as the income level of these groups do not allow them to purchase proprietary software. In addition, alternatives to copyright systems, such as use of open source and open content, should be given more attention.

The Right to Information

The government enacted the Right to Information Act 2008 through an ordinance in October 2008. It was a longstanding demand of the civil society of Bangladesh, which worked closely with the government to draft the Act. Sixty-five countries have enacted Right to Information laws. In the Indian sub-continent, India passed the Right to Information Act in May 2005 and Pakistan promulgated an ordinance ensuring people’s access to information in June 2002. The UN General Assembly recognizes freedom of information as a fundamental right and the touchstone of all freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated. The right to information enables citizens to seek information from government and it requires government to proactively disseminate important information even when no demand or request for it has been made. The promulgation of a Right to Information law in Bangladesh is expected to give communities greater access to and enhance their participation in information-related activities.

The Right to Privacy

In October 2007 the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and BTRC ordered ISPs to provide them with a complete list of Internet subscribers and their confidential data in order to profile the country’s Internet users. Names, addresses, connection and usage details, and server passwords were among the information requested. All 72 ISPs in Dhaka, Chittagong, and Sylhet were also required to install RAB ‘traffic scanners’ on gateway routers and give each subscriber’s Multi Router Traffic Grapher URL user id and password to allow monitoring of Internet usage (Mendoza 2007). In addition, RAB and BTRC members began searching homes with high-speed Internet connections.

All these were supposedly part of the government’s crackdown on VoIP operators that began in December 2006. But it is dificult to understand why ‘regular home users’ were included in the VoIP crackdown. Section 43 of the Bangladesh Constitution recognizes a person’s right to privacy of correspondence and other means of communication. By taking extreme measures against illegal use of VoIP, BTRC has ended up violating this basic right.

Operationalizing the ICT Act

ICT entrepreneurs are expecting the ICT Act of 2006 to pave the way for the growth of e-business in Bangladesh. The ICT Act provides a framework for electronic authentication of transactions and payments, including the creation of a digital signature certification authority. The Act also includes a provision for curbing cybercrime. However, due to lack of understanding and confidence among the relevant authorities, particularly Bangladesh Bank, the country’s central bank, the Act has not been operationalized.

DIGITAL CONTENT

The launching of the Bangladesh Government (BG) Press (www.bgpress.gov.bd) in February 2008 was an important event in the history of facilitating access to government information. BG Press is the single point of publication of all gazettes and documents related to the functioning of the government and the state. Initially, the website will publish gazettes released in 2008 and 2007. An earlier digital content initiative made government forms more accessible to citizens via the Web service www.forms.gov.bd. Many people access and download the forms through telecentres for a minimal fee.

Local digital livelihood content generation by NGOs gained further momentum in 2007. A new portal, www.ruralinfobd.com, emerged in late 2007 following the path of www.jeeon.com.bd, the largest portal in the Bangla language. It was developed for telecentre operators by a private sector entity named WinBD, with financial support from a donor consortium.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has also sponsored the development of animated content in three areas: livelihood, indigenous knowledge, and conversion of content for visually impaired citizens.

The Bangladesh Telecentre Network and KATALYST, a donor consortium project for small and medium enterprise development, are working with government content generating institutions, while the Development Research Network (D.Net) has trained a group of volunteers in the rural areas for in creating local content.

The Bangladesh Open Source Network (BdOSN) has been systematically promoting the Bangla Wiki (http://bn.wikipedia.org) with a network of volunteers. The Bangladeshi media industry has also made significant progress in generating and promoting Bangla content in text and audio-visual formats. All newspapers and electronic media houses in Bangladesh have a presence on the Web.

ONLINE SERVICES

As part of efforts to ensure free and fair national elections, the caretaker government developed a new voter list that also included photographs and finger prints. This was a response to the Election Commission’s finding that there were 12.2 million fake voters in the old voter list. The new voter list of some 80 million voters was prepared over 18 months by the Bangladesh Army with the support of the UNDP, using 8,000 laptop PCs. The government has also issued an all-purpose national identity (ID) card that citizens need to access many citizen services. This was the largest ICT project in the country implemented using local expertise.

In November 2006 GrameenPhone Ltd, in cooperation with Telemedicine Reference Centre Limited (TRCL), launched a health information service known as HealthLine. This is a 24-hour medical call centre through which GrameenPhone subscribers can consult with licenced physicians. Given the average of one registered physician for every 4,000 people in Bangladesh, this service could have a significant impact on primary healthcare provision in the country. Some of the services initially available under this program are:

• Information on doctor and medical facilities

• Information on drugs or pharmaceutical products and services

• Information on laboratory test reports (interpretation)

• Medical advice/consultation with a doctor (for registered subscribers)

• Help and advice during a medical emergency.

A call to the HealthLine number costs BDT 15 (USD 0.20) for the first three minutes and USD 0.065 per minute thereafter. There is also a one-time registration fee for some of the services. In addition, a subscriber can send a request by SMS to designated diagnostic centres for pathology/radiology test reports to be delivered to the subscriber’s address. A short message service (SMS) request is charged BDT 10.

To start with, a database of registered doctors (8,000+), clinics, hospitals, medical facilities (850+), diagnostic centres (250+), and drugs has been created. More services, facilities, deliverables, and information will be added to the database. GrameenPhone is also aiming to offer this telemedicine service via its Community Information Centres.

The HealthLine service is based on a successful experiment by D.Net in 2004 that showed that majority of call centre queries are health-related.

Another promising mobile phone-based service is CellBazaar (see ‘CellBazaar’).

ICT-RELATED EDUCATION AND CAPACITY-BUILDING PROGRAMS

ICT education in Bangladesh is generally concentrated at the tertiary level. Although there is an optional course on computers

CellBazaar

GrameenPhone Ltd and USA-based CellBazaar have introduced a service connecting buyers and sellers through mobile phones. The service enables sellers to list details of their products or services in a database that buyers can access through SMS. For example, a customer looking for an IBM laptop within the price range of BDT 25,000–30,000 can send the following SMS to the CellBazaar number:

buy ibm

laptop

25,000–30,000

The customer will get a reply listing available IBM laptops within that price range. The customer can then select from the list and send an SMS with the item number to 3838 to get the contact number of the person selling the laptop.

The system does not handle transactions; it simply puts buyers and sellers in contact with each other via mobile phone. But it saves buyers a lot of time and transport costs. The system also has the effect of making price information more transparent and widely available.

Bangladesh has around 34.37 million mobile phone subscribers, with five mobile service operators. Currently the CellBazaar platform can be accessed by 16.48 million mobile phone users through GrameenPhone. The system, which is a brain child of Kamal Quadir, CEO of CellBazaar, was developed at the MIT Media Lab of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

(Source: Rajputro 2006)

in the secondary schools, the course curriculum is outdated and there is little opportunity for hands-on practice. Only 10 percent of schools have computer facilities and few teachers are trained and/or willing to teach computer literacy classes.

There are a number of private initiatives to extend ICT education in secondary schools. The most noteworthy is the Computer Learning Programme sponsored by the Volunteers’ Association for Bangladesh New Jersey Chapter (www.vabonlilne/vabnj), a group of US-based Bangladeshis. The initiative, which is being implemented in collaboration with D.Net, aims to establish 1,000 school-based learning centres by 2010. To date, 100 centres have been set up. Another private sector initiative is the School Online Program of Relief International, which has set up 27 Internet learning centres. British American Tobacco’s ‘Disharee’, which provides ICT skills training and job counselling services to the children of tobacco farmers, is also noteworthy.

The lack of local content is also a barrier to increased use of ICT in schools. To address this gap, the Institute of Education and Development at BRAC University, in collaboration with the Foundation of Education Research and Education (FERI) and D.Net, is developing interactive digital content in science and mathematics for Grades 6–10 students. BRAC University has also developed a CD-ROM for English language learning based on the national curriculum. D.Net has developed ‘Computer Teaches Everyday English’, an English language learning Compact Disc-Read Only Memory (CD-ROM) for secondary school students. These materials are currently being tested.

ICT in non-formal education (NFE) in Bangladesh is more vibrant. A study commissioned by UNESCO, Bangladesh (Raihan 2007b) identified 23 organizations that are involved in developing various kinds of ICT-based learning materials for the NFE sector. The study found 195 such materials developed since 2004. Over 60 percent of the materials are video, animation, or a combination of the two. Video compact disc (VCD) is the most common format used since there is a higher degree of penetration of VCD technology in the rural areas. Over 60 percent of the materials are intended for children, students, and youth groups and 18 percent are for the disabled. There are no materials for the aged and for indigenous people.

The developer institutions identified the following constraints to educational content development: lack of a ready market, inadequate and irregular funding, lack of proper facilities for developing high-quality ICT-based materials, lack of skilled professionals, inadequate experience of educationists in ICT-based materials development, low penetration of ICT, and power supply interruptions.

NGOs generally develop materials for their own outlets. Some also supply other NGOs either for free or for a nominal charge. A few NGOs sell their products through retail chains. The Bangladesh Centre for Communication Programs (BCCP) outsources marketing and sale of their ‘Nijeke Jano’ (Know Yourself) package to a commercial outfit.

D.Net and BCCP are piloting revenue models for ICT-based materials. Studies show that there is a demand for quality ICT-based materials and organizations are ready to pay for them. Although the current market size is relatively small and the number of developers is limited, there is a big opportunity in this segment of the market with approximately 150,000 groups and organizations running NFE programs. Moreover, the plan to establish 40,000 telecentres by 2011 implies a significant expansion of the potential market for ICT-based literacy and skill training materials.

OPEN SOURCE/OPEN CONTENT INITIATIVES

The open source and open content movement is gaining momentum in Bangladesh through the efforts of the Bangladesh Open Source Network (BdOSN). One of the organization’s major programs is the Open Source Camp, which provides users with hands-on experience with GNU’s Not Unix Linux (GNU Linux), Open Office, Mozilla, Linux, Apache, Mysql and Php/Link Access Procedure for Modems/Windows, Apache, Mysql and Php (LAMP/WAMP), and Wikipedia. BdOSN also established the Open Source Support Centre in Dhaka in 2007. The centre, which is run by volunteers and which is the first of its kind in Bangladesh, distributes compact discs (CDs), books, and other materials on open source and open content, and provides hands-on support to users.

In addition, the Bangladesh Telecentre Network and BdOSN are working together to provide software and training to grassroots telecentre operators. BdOSN is also providing training on open source technology to 740 government officials.

Bangla Wikipedia is growing rapidly with many contributions from all over the world. The total number of entries is now more than 10,000. Bangla Wiki, a wing of BdOSN, is expanding, modifying, and improving the wiki articles. They have also taken the initiative to increase the number of articles about Bangladesh in the English Wikipedia.

ICT FOR DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

In 2003 D.Net started the Pallitathya action research to determine the role, if any, of access to information and knowledge in poverty alleviation. The Pallitathya model promotes an information and knowledge system for the poor and marginalized with five components: content, multiple channels of information and knowledge exchange, an Infomediary, ownership, and mobilization. Content has been developed in nine areas: agriculture, health, education, non-farm income generating activities, awareness, employment, disaster management, directory information, and appropriate technology. This is now packaged as the Jeeon Information and Knowledge Base on an open source Web-based content management system (www.jeeon.com.bd) that is available to all telecentre-based and individual users across the country. Video and voice content is also being developed as the second generation content. ‘Moni — the mobile lady’ is an example of animated content on the system. Moni is a character who promotes livelihood information services door to door. D.Net has established common access points called Pallitathya Kendra in 39 remote villages of Bangladesh after the model was successfully tested in four villages.

D.Net has experimented with other modes of making information services available to rural users. One of these is ‘mobile ladies’, women sitting at help desks who use mobile phones to put rural users in touch with experts on various livelihood issues. Among the experts who respond to queries from villagers are lawyers, agriculture specialists, veterinary doctors, and education specialists. The mobile lady concept has been integrated with the Pallitathya Model, making possible a ‘no refusal’ and ‘no exclusion’ policy for accessing information and knowledge.

As part of a research and development (R&D) program, D.Net has developed the concept of Benefit on Investment which measures in monetary terms the benefits that a community receives from a telecentre. Some benefits cannot be monetized. But benefit on investment is a broader concept than return on investment (ROI) and is a better basis for determining sustainability, as it highlights the role of the community and of the government as providers of common goods (Raihan 2007a).

CONCLUSION

In general, the ICT sector of Bangladesh showed a vibrant performance in 2007–2008. There were some well considered policy moves in a number of areas that gave stakeholders hope. Mobile telephony continued its robust growth, while some signs of growth were also observed in the Internet market. Further streamlining of policies and regulation to encourage healthy competition and adequate provision of public goods, where required, is expected. Most of all, a public-private partnership in building a telecentre network across the country will make possible a dramatic improvement in public access to ICTs and ensure that e-governance services will reach marginalized communities nationwide.

NOTES

1. According to the household income and expenditure survey (HIES) of 2005, the headcount rate or incidence of poverty based on the upper poverty line was 40 percent (43.8 percent rural and 28.4 percent urban). The headcount rate based on the upper poverty line in 2000 was 48.9 percent (52.3 percent rural and 35.2 percent urban). Headcount rates based on the lower poverty line stood at 25.1 percent in 2005 (28.6 percent rural, 14.6 percent urban), and 34.3 percent in 2000 (37.9 percent rural and 19.9 percent urban).

2. There would be a 45 percent loss due to the reduction of tariffs worth about USD 4.6 million, but the price reduction is expected to lead to a threefold growth in the user base and additional income worth about USD 17.1 million.

3. Bangladesh earned USD 4.20 million from the export of software in 2002–2003, USD 7.19 million in 2003–2004, and USD 12.68 million in 2004–2005.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BSS). (2006). Household income and expenditure survey 2005. Dhaka: BBS.

Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC). (2008). Mobile phone and PSTN phone subscribers in Bangladesh. Retrieved 12 May 2008 from www.btrc.gov.bd

Internatonal Telecommunication Union (ITU). (2007). World information society report 2007. Geneva: ITU.

Mendoza, J. (2007). BANGLADESH: RAB and BTRC compile list of Internet subscribers: Bloggers concerned government will use list to monitor Internet activity and censor users. AsiaMedia, Wednesday, 24 October.

Ministry of Finance. (2008). Bangladesh Economic Survey 2008. Dhaka.

Raihan, A. (Ed.). (2007a). Pallitathya — An information and knowledge system for the poor and marginalized: Experience from grassroots in Bangladesh [abridged version]. Dhaka, Bangladesh: D.Net.

———. (2007b). Use of ICT materials in literacy/skills training programmes: Bangladesh’s experience in NFE. Dhaka, Bangladesh: UNESCO.

Raihan, A. and S.M.A. Habib. (2007). bd. Bangladesh. Digital review of Asia Pacific 2007–2008. New Delhi: IDRC, Orbicom, and Sage Publications.

Samarajiva, R. and A. Zainudeen (Eds). (2008). ICT infrastructure in emerging Asia: Policy and regulatory roadblocks. New Delhi: Sage Publications and IDRC. Retrieved 12 May 2008 from http://lirne. net/2008/03/mobile-benchmark-studies-in-south-asia-and-latin-america-compared/

.bt Bhutan

Kuenga Jurmi and Sangay Wangchuk

Total population

646,851

GDP per capita

USD 1,414.01

Life expectancy at birth

66.25

Key economic sectors

hydropower, tourism, minerals, forest products

Fixed-lines per 100 inhabitants

4.40

Mobile phone subscribers per
100 inhabitants

38.96

Computers per 100 inhabitants

1.86

Internet domestic bandwidth

200 Mbps+ (2004)

Internet international bandwidth

78 Mbps+ (January 2008)

Internet subscribers (lease lined)

95

Dial-up Internet subscribers

12,000

Internet users per 100 inhabitants

5.9

Domain names registered under .bt

247

(Sources: Internet World Stats 2008; National Statistics Bureau 2007)

INTRODUCTION

Information Technology (IT) is a relatively new and embryonic industry in Bhutan, and its development is being informed by the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Master Plan, which lays out three broad policy objectives: (i) the use of IT as an integral tool to enhance good governance; (ii) the development of IT and IT-enabled industries in the private sector to generate income and employment; and (iii) the use of IT applications to improve the livelihood of all Bhutanese.

Guiding ICT development is the Bhutan ICT Policy and Strategy (BIPS) launched in July 2004 which calls for balanced and sustainable development based on five pillars: policy, infrastructure, human capacity, content and applications, and enterprise. In June 2006, the Bhutan Information, Communication and Media Act (ICMA) was approved. One purpose of the ICMA is to encourage local and foreign investment in the ICT and media industries by providing a modern regulatory framework that fosters a convergence of information, computing, media, and communications technologies, and facilitates privatization and competition. Provisions for the protection of digital data and information privacy exist under the ICMA, including the consequences of infringement. Documentation is being drafted by the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) to highlight the ICMA’s relevant privacy provisions, along with those in the draft contract law, to provide a degree of confidence that data protection concerns are adequately addressed under existing and proposed legislation.

TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE

Over the last few decades, significant progress has been made in the ICT infrastructure development and provision of related services across the country. The first telephone network in Bhutan was established in 1963. Thirty-five years later, in 1998, a fully digital national telecommunication network interconnecting all 20 dzongkhags (districts) and major towns was established. The main transmission backbone network consists of 155 Mbps digital microwave routes connected to the digital switching system. Lesser traffic spur routes consist of 34 Mbps and 8 Mbps microwave radios. A Digital Multiple Access Subscriber System (DRMASS) is deployed in areas with smaller requirements. Rural services have been extended using Wireless Local Loop (WLL) and very small aperture terminal (VSAT) technology. The major urban centres like Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Paro, Wangduephodrang, and Punakha are connected using optical power ground wire (OPGW). The national backbone transmission network thus comprises OPGW, digital microwave radios, VSATs, and the Thimphu Satellite Earth Station.

Bhutan Telecom Limited (BT), the incumbent operator, provides fixed-line and mobile telephony, Internet, and other value added ICT services in all 20 dzongkhag headquarters, some sections of the national highway, and many other parts of the country. BT’s B-Mobile launched its mobile service on 11 November 2003. As of August 2008, BT’s B-mobile customer base has reached to 200,000, whereas the number of BT’s fixed-line customers decreased marginally to 28,520 from 29,857 (December 2007). Fixed-line and mobile teledensities are 4.40 percent and 38.96 percent (B-mobile and TashiCell), respectively. In 2008, BT commissioned the laying of an international optical fibre link extending from Phuentsholing to London via Mumbai. BT also became a member of LINX (London Internet Exchange). With the expansion of international bandwidth, BT launched DSL-based broadband services on the 1st of March 2008 and, as of August 2008, it covers 15 dzongkhags.

In keeping with the market liberalization policy of the Royal Government, two Internet service providers (ISPs), DrukCom Private Enterprise and Samden Tech Pvt Ltd, were licenced in 2004 to provide VSAT-based Internet and value added services (VAS). These new ISPs have done away with the monopoly enjoyed by DrukNet of Bhutan Telecom and created a market of choice. Due to their presence in the market, the cost of Internet services such as leased lines and Web hosting has been reduced, connectivity has been enhanced, and new services such as broadband introduced.

A second mobile operator, Tashi InfoComm Ltd (TICL), was awarded a licence in 2006 through an open bidding licencing process. TICL launched its services commercially in April 2008. At present, TICL’s mobile services are available only in six dzongkhags, covering 60 percent of the total population. The remaining dzongkhags shall be covered in the next three years as mandated by the cellular licence issued by the Royal Government of Bhutan. As of August 2008, TICL had a subscriber base of 52,000. This substantial growth from 25,000 users (end of May 2008) was achieved due to the provision of two months of free calls and SMS within the TashiCell network. TICL expects the number of subscribers to grow as the company extends its reach to other dzongkhags and as it continues to improve its service offerings.

The immediate impact of the entrance of a second cellular service provider is choice of cellular service and the availability of different services such as General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), Enhanced Data Rate for GSM Evolution (EDGE), third generation mobile phone standards and technology (3G), and various value added services, as well as cheaper call rates even to other countries.

Indeed, things are moving rapidly in mobile technology, with the subscriber base reaching almost 252,000, or 38.96 percent of the population, since its introduction in 2003. But the rate of Internet and computer usage in the country is low, with only between 10,000 and 12,000 computers in the country. Most of these computers are owned by the government and corporations in the urban areas. Internet use is not increasing at a rapid enough pace because of the cost factor, as well the lack of local content.

The Bhutan Broadcasting Service, the only television station in the country, is also implementing infrastructure projects, such as the construction of the National TV Centre in Thimphu, the installation of a 100 kW shortwave transmitter, and the acquisition of a control and monitoring system for its TV network.

KEY INSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS DEALING WITH ICT

The Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) was established in July 2003 as the lead government agency for the formulation and implementation of policies and the drafting of ICT legislation in the country. The MoIC is also mandated to: (i) develop an efficient and reliable information and communication systems to help transform Bhutan into an information society; (ii) promote ICT in the country as an enabler of national development; and (iii) develop a safe and progressive national transport system.

In order for the MoIC to carry out its mandate, the Department of Information Technology (DIT) was established as the lead department for the development, promotion, and coordination of all ICT-related activities in the country. The department has three divisions. The application division researches and recommends appropriate software applications and operating systems for adoption and use, and drafts guidelines for the development of software applications and quality control. The division also encourages, facilitates, and coordinates the creation of e-services. The infrastructure division assists the department mainly in planning infrastructure development, carrying out research on networking and hardware components, and preparing technical specifications for hardware. The infrastructure division also provides assistance to the Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) in the analysis of technical matters, including interconnections, radio frequencies, and use of technical standards. The policy and planning division undertakes systematic research on laws; organizes information sessions on policy and regulatory matters relating to ICT; promotes and develops ICT services for the promotion and preservation of culture, tradition, and social cohesion; and conducts studies on the ICT sector to identify opportunities, constraints, and difficulties and to propose government intervention where needed.

Another major institution dealing with ICTs is BICMA, which was established in 2005 as the Bhutan Communications Authority (BCA). With the enactment of the Bhutan Information Communications and Media Act in 2006, BICMA was formally de-linked from its parent ministry, the MoIC. The now independent Authority’s functions include regulation of telecommunications services, media services like cable television, broadcasting, and printing presses; assignment of radio communication frequencies; and management of the radiofrequency spectrum. It also licences all ICT and media facility providers and service providers, prepares various guidelines, sets technical standards, and frames terms and conditions for the provision of such services.

Besides the above-mentioned key ICT institutions, the ICT divisions and units at the different ministries, corporations, NGOs, and tertiary and private ICT training institutes assist in the overall promotion, implementation, and development of ICT policies. They also collaborate with the MoIC in the coordination of ICT activities across the country.

ICT AND ICT-RELATED INDUSTRIES

There are about 45 ICT firms in Bhutan. With the government policy of outsourcing most of its ICT developmental activities, the lifting of import duties for ICT products, and the introduction of tax holidays, these ICT businesses have grown in size, expanding their services and providing both software development and network solutions.

A medical transcript centre and a call centre were licenced in October 2006, and both have been operational since the end of 2007. The medical transcript centre has 75 agents while the call centre has 175 agents engaged in non-voice services. The latter’s intended business (voice) has not taken off, largely because of the substantial investment required and the unpredictable market. Neither of the two centres is generating significant revenues, and both are in fact still struggling to meet their operational cost. However, both are absorbing many job seekers and it is anticipated that once they are fully functional, they will be able to absorb more. The two companies are being carefully watched and their success is expected to encourage the entry of new players into the market, generating revenues and more jobs for graduates as well as school dropouts.

To boost ICT development, the establishment of the Bhutan IT Park has been proposed under the Private Sector Development Project with funding support from the World Bank. The project aims to provide employment opportunities through the promotion of enterprise development in the IT and IT-enabled services (ITES) sector, enhance IT skills, and improve access to finance. The project involves a five-year investment of USD 8 million (from 2008 to 2013) for the development of infrastructure, lease-in space for an incubation facility, a shared technology centre and a data centre, an IT skills development program, and IT-related hardware and software investment in the financial sector complemented by a small amount of technical assistance advisory services.

KEY ICT POLICIES, THRUSTS, AND PROGRAMS

The Bhutan ICT Policies and Strategies (BIPS) launched in July 2004 is the main document guiding national ICT developments. The development of BIPS involved stakeholders from the government, non-government, and private sectors. Five committees were formed along the lines of the Digital Opportunity Initiative, covering policy, infrastructure, human capacity, content and applications, and enterprise. With inputs from open consultative workshops and previous ICT studies, the committees formulated strategies and activities designed to promote ICT development in Bhutan.

The three overall policy objectives underpinning BIPS initiatives are: (i) use ICT for good governance; (ii) create a Bhutanese info-culture; and (iii) create a ‘high-tech habitat’. Under each objective are five strategies as follows:

Policy activities are focused on making governance more efficient, transparent and inclusive; introducing and strengthening a modern legal and regulatory framework; and investigating ways to fund ICT and reduce the costs of ICT services.

Infrastructure activities are focused on implementing a liberalized and competitive market infrastructure and ensuring affordable, fast, secure, sustainable, and appropriate ICT infrastructure throughout Bhutan.

Human capacity activities include developing appropriate ICT awareness and skills, from basic computer literacy to high-level technical skills, to boost the ICT industry. The aim is to improve the quality and coverage of training institutions, develop a centre of excellence, and accredit ICT training institutes in Bhutan.

Content and applications targets include establishing the framework for e-business, using ICT to preserve Bhutan’s cultural heritage (see ‘Digital Content’), enhancing the quality and accessibility of health and education, broadening national media and Web presence, and supporting good governance.

Enterprise activities aim to boost the competence of the local ICT (private) sector, and provide business opportunities by outsourcing government ICT work. Access to finance will be addressed, as well as a strategy to target export of ICT services and boost the application of ICT in non-ICT businesses.

The following are some of the programs being implemented under the five strategies:

1. Use of ICT to make governance more efficient, transparent, and inclusive, in particular through information sharing between agencies, policies on ICT security and ICT units in each dzongkhag, use of free and open source software, introducing the ‘e-Gazette’ as an official government publication of record, and using ICT to deliver 75 percent of all public services.

2. Establishment of an ICT ‘centre for excellence’ to build linkages with international institutions, carry out ICT research and development, and create a standardized curriculum to develop skills required in the job market.

3. Establishment of a liberalized and competitive ICT infrastructure market by providing a licence for new operators and service providers, establishing incentives for new ICT players to set up ICT businesses, and promoting foreign direct investment in the ICT infrastructure development.

4. Ensuring that all students who have completed a basic level of education have acquired basic IT and computer skills by building the necessary infrastructure in all middle and high schools, recruiting ICT-literate teachers, training teachers in ICT use, and developing a standardized basic ICT literacy curriculum in schools and training centres.

5. Harnessing ICTs to enhance the quality and accessibility of health services by establishing links with neighbouring countries and international agencies to track emerging health threats, provide real-time telemedicine from basic health units (BHUs) to districts to referral hospitals, and set up an integrated health management system.

6. Outsourcing appropriate government ICT work by conducting a baseline survey of current ICT outsourcing practice, and developing awareness and capacity to outsource through business fairs and workshops on ICT outsourcing for industry and the Royal Government of Bhutan.

LEGAL AND REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT FOR ICT DEVELOPMENT

The Technical Guidelines on ICT in the 10th Five Year Plan sets out the necessary framework for mainstreaming ICT as a tool in sectoral development programs (at the central and local levels), addressing the needs of the poor, and fostering pro-poor innovation and growth through the effective and innovative use of ICT. This framework was developed as a means to achieve core development objectives embodied in the UN Millennium Development Goals and Bhutan’s development concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH).

The Bhutan Information, Communications, and Media Act provides the legal basis for the regulation of the ICT and media sector. The Act is a modern technology-neutral and service sector-neutral regulatory mechanism based on the principle of convergence of information, computing, media, communications technologies, and facilities for the provision of a whole range of new ICT and media services. It provides the rationale for the creation of a new regulatory authority, BICMA (see ‘Key ICT Organizations’), and its functions. It also has provisions related to ICT facilities and ICT services, the licencing mechanism for such services, and the management of the radio frequency spectrum, as well as provisions for the licensing and regulation of media content. Provisions related to cyber issues are included, such as those on electronic governance, electronic commerce,

Bhutan’s Digital Signature Project 2006

Although Bhutan is making considerable progress in implementing numerous ICT activities, the country is not able to deploy secure online applications due to the lack of a digital signature authentication framework. Thus, the Department of Information Technology (DIT), with technical and funding support from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), initiated the Digital Signature Project in 2006. It aims to enable the government, citizens, and businesses to communicate securely and exchange sensitive business information safely.

The project is currently in the pilot phase of deployment after the setting up of the Certification Authority (CA) and Registration Authority (RA) servers and the physical security system. The Certificate Policy (CP) and Certification Practice Statement (CPS), which are required to make a digital signature legally binding, have also been formulated with the assistance of the ITU. eTokens (smart card) containing a user’s certificates and private key are distributed to users at the DIT. Basically a digital signature is used for document and mail signing and encrypting.

The next step is to deploy the technology at the ministry level and then to other agencies of the government. The deployment of completed digital signatures will happen during the 10th Five Year Plan (i.e. from July 2008 until June 2013).

(Source: DIT 2006)

and digital signatures; consumer protection in e-commerce; online privacy; domain names; operations and liabilities of ISPs; and cyber offences.

A code of content is being drawn up by BICMA to apply to all content made available by the ICT and media industry within the Kingdom of Bhutan. The code seeks to foster a sense of responsibility among content providers and to ensure that online content is safe, secure, informative, educational, and entertaining. The objective is to create a self-regulatory environment for industry to provide online content in a practical and commercially feasible manner and promote the growth and development of online service industries.

The Bhutan ICT Human Resources Development Master Plan and Strategies (BIHMPS), which is still at the draft stage, is underpinned by a vision of Bhutan becoming a knowledge-based society and is closely aligned with key strategy documents such as the BIPS and the Good Governance Report. Intended to be relevant for a period of five years, the Master Plan has been developed in consultation with various stakeholders.

Details about the laws and regulations described in this section are available at www.moic.gov.bt. The Royal Government of Bhutan is preparing other guidelines and regulations for electronic signatures, e-business, security policies, and information management.

DIGITAL CONTENT

BIPS lists under the ‘content and applications’ initiatives the development of ‘a digital archive of significant Bhutanese re-ligious texts and cultural contents in sound and picture format’. Thus, in 1997, the DIT, with technical support from the University of Virginia and funding support from the Royal Government of Bhutan, started the National Digital Library Project. The project aims to consolidate efforts by Bhutanese individuals and communities to represent their traditions and perspectives, collect existing cultural materials, and document aspects of Bhutanese life and traditions for people to access from anywhere in Bhutan and the world. In other words, the project seeks to put together an invaluable record of Bhutanese culture for Bhutanese researchers, tourists, and anyone interested in learning more about Bhutanese culture.

During the first phase of the project (completed in July 2007), a basic portal for the digital library was built to collect the work of various agencies, with the help of consultants from the University of Virginia who had earlier worked on the Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library (THDL). The portal includes audio files, videos, images, and texts. The project utilized Dzongkha–Dzongkha (national language), English–Dzongkha, and Dzongkha–English dictionaries from the Dzongkha Development Commission (DDC). Thus, the content can be accessed both in Dzongkha and English (bilingual).

For the digital library to be easily accessible in other parts of the world, the project has set up a mirror server at the University of Virginia.

The next step is to put in place a public awareness component as many Bhutanese do not yet know about the project to digitize Bhutanese cultural and religious content, as well as to seek funding from donor agencies to develop the digital library further.

ONLINE SERVICES

BIPS specifies the need to introduce online services covering clearances, approvals and financial transactions, and to deploy ICT to improve the reach and quality of essential services such as education, health, and agriculture. All of the concerned agencies have put in considerable effort to provide online services since BIPS was launched. Setting an example, the DIT itself has developed and is hosting the Bhutan portal www.bhutan.gov.bt.

The portal received a boost with the completion of the Thimphu WAN connecting 42 of 72 listed organizations. The Thimphu WAN allows these organizations to access each other’s websites and other online resources at very high speed. Thus, the Thimphu WAN makes it possible to exploit the opportunities for interconnection and integration of government services. However, the Thimphu WAN is at present available only in the capital. There are plans for the laying of fibre optic connections in all dzongkhag and geog (blocks or sub-districts).

Bhutan Post is implementing an electronic mail service called e-Post at selected post offices to bridge the gap between the electronic haves and have-nots. The service was launched in 2005 and has two models — the ‘post office to post office’ model and the ‘anywhere to post office’ model. The first model, which is based the originator-pays-fee model, suits those who use the post office to send their mail and who do not have access to or are not even familiar with the Internet. Such customers go to any of the selected post offices with e-Post facilities with handwritten mail, photos, floppy discs, or just a message in their mind for translation into a meaningful message to the recipient. The postmaster helps each customer send this e-Post to another post office in Bhutan. The receiving postmaster prints the e-Post, puts it in an envelope, and delivers it to the addressee. The second model, which is based on a receiver-pays-fee model, suits customers with Internet facilities. In this instance the customer sends to a post office an email containing his/her message for his/her intended recipient. The receiving postmaster prints the mail, puts it in an envelope, and delivers it to the recipient for an e-Post fee. In the correct delivery address is not available, a telephone number may be provided and the postmaster will call the number and request the recipient to pick up his/her e-Post.

Bhutan Post is also in the process of implementing an Easy pay and online tracking system for both postal and non-postal deliveries. The easy pay facility will enable citizens to pay for different services at one stop. The online tracking system will enable individuals to track their mail by entering a unique barcode number.

LabourNet is an online system through which an individual, firm, company, or enterprise can forward job applications from foreign workers (expatriates, volunteers, labourers, etc.) to the Labour Recruitment Committee (LRC) for processing and approval. The decision of the LRC is uploaded to the system, and the information is forwarded to concerned applicants via email or through phone or fax. The main objective is to maintain a complete and accurate database of foreign workers in Bhutan.

Drukair, the national airline, has introduced a Web-based reservation system called Air Kiosk to enable customers to make reservations online and thus reduce reservation costs. The main goal is to do away with paper tickets and replace these with electronic tickets.

Other useful applications have been identified and are being implemented, such as the online issuance of security clearance, the agriculture marketing system to provide market rates and information, and online forest clearance and land transactions. In addition, 90 percent of all government forms can now be downloaded from the Bhutan portal.

ICT-RELATED EDUCATION AND CAPACITY-BUILDING PROGRAMS

Strengthening educational institutions and curricula to provide ICT skills at all levels — from technical, professional, and entre-preneurial skills for industry and government, to basic ICT literacy for all — is one of the vision statements of BIPS.

At present, around 50–80 percent of qualified ICT personnel added to the system annually are graduates of Sherubtse College, the only institute providing degree level ICT courses, and the Royal Institute of Management (RIM), which offers diploma (DIMS) level courses. Most of these graduates are employed by the public sector with a few opting to work for private enterprises.

The BIPS report (July 2004) acknowledges Bhutan’s limited capacity in building a critical mass of ICT professionals and its reliance on outside technical assistance. It also notes that there are less than 400 ICT professionals in the whole country. This lack of Bhutanese ICT personnel is somewhat offset by Bhutan’s access to a large number of ICT professionals from the region.

The availability of ICT professionals is directly linked to the output of the tertiary ICT educational institutions. There are few local training institutes and the certification they provide is recognized only within the country. As noted earlier, the two government institutes offering full-time ICT training are Sherubtse College (degree courses) and the Royal Institute of Management (diploma and Cisco programs). The Paro College of Education offers a three-year elective IT course for students taking up a bachelor’s degree in Education. Some students pursue tertiary education abroad and return to Bhutan to work.

The Ministry of Education in collaboration with EduPlanner Pte Ltd, a consultancy firm from Singapore, has reviewed and revised the IT curriculum for classes 9 to 12 based on a preliminary study carried out in January 2003. The new IT curriculum, which covers learning computing productivity tools (i.e. computer applications) and programming skills, aims to enable Bhutan’s young people to function effectively in the new and fast changing environment. The new IT curriculum for classes 9 to 10 was rolled out in March 2003 and by the end of 2003 eight schools had successfully implemented it as elective subjects. By 2005, 22 more schools had been introduced to the curriculum. The IT curriculum for classes 11 and 12 was rolled out in March 2005 but could not be successfully implemented due to the lack of computers in schools and the lack of qualified teachers.

OPEN SOURCE/OPEN CONTENT INITIATIVES

Dzongkha Linux, an operating system for Dzongkha Desktop using an open source platform, was developed in June 2006 to be adopted as standard operating software for government offices. However, Dzongkha Linux was not very user-friendly and there were incompatibility issues. This led to the development of an updated version called the Dzongkha Debian Linux. Launched in August 2007, the new version supports computing in Dzongkha with standard applications like word processing, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, Web browsing, and chatting. The number of users remains small however, as government employees are accustomed to Microsoft packages.

To promote the use of the Dzongkha Desktop, the DIT started an awareness program and user training. The DIT also distributed customized keyboards, which means that people no longer have to type two or more letters for a single Dzongkha alphabet as they would have to when using the international standard keyboard. The Dzongkha Desktop is a good alternative for users who cannot read and write in English because it has an interface in Dzongkha as well as in English. It can also be downloaded for free.

ICT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Dzongkha Linux, which was funded under the PAN Localization Project, was a success story in the research and development (R&D) front. Through this project, many technical terms that did not exist in Dzongkha were translated. In order to have a complete Dzongkha computing environment, more than 90,000 terms were translated.

The second phase of the project, which started in June 2007 and is expected to be completed by 2010, aims to carry out research and develop internationalized domain names in Dzongkha, Dzongkha part of speech, Dzongkha corpus, and text-to-speech system and optical character recognition.

The last release of Dzongkha Linux came with Gnome 2.14 and OpenOffice.org.2.

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

The past two to three years have been spent on building the ICT infrastructure and developing policies toward further development of the ICT sector in Bhutan. Within the next five years, the aim is to establish IT parks as well as community information centres in all 202 geog, set up e-governance applications, form ICT units with Bhutanese ICT personnel in all of the ministries, train more teachers, and implement a national broadband network. Internet rates are also to be reduced within the next year or so.

But for all of these to happen, a lot of resources, political will, and commitment and support from all agencies are needed. In particular, financing ICT development is a challenge. The total budget to develop ICT during the 9th Five Year Plan (fiscal year July 2007–June 2008) was BTN 80 million (USD 2 million), which is equivalent to the cost of building one higher secondary school with boarding facilities. For the 10th Five Year Plan (fiscal year July 2008–June 2009), the budget has been increased to BTN 2 billion (USD 50 million), which indicates government recognition of the importance of and opportunities available from ICT development. However, overall financing for ICT remains a major challenge for the country.

Another key challenge is coordinating ICT initiatives in Bhutan. At present, various projects seeking to contribute to the overall development of Bhutan are being carried out. However, the lack of coordination results in inefficient use of budgetary, human, and technical resources. Furthermore, most of the ICT projects are resource-driven rather than needs-driven. More importance is given to hardware than to software, training and communications. These issues should be addressed by the national policy on ICT (BIPS) and by legislation such as the Bhutan Information, Communications and Media Act. In addition, the DIT’s role as a coordinator and promoter of ICT implementation is being strengthened.

To reduce the digital divide, the dzongkhag administration must be given priority in ICT training and deployment of ICT resources. National and agency-wide ICT master plans with achievable milestones should be drawn up. The lack of trained personnel is a big problem, leaving many organizations, including government ministries, without a long-term plan for e-services. Thus, the schools need to implement computer education and training programs. Moreover, in-country ICT firms should be utilized as much as possible so that the government and private sector can work together as a combined national resource.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Department of Information Technology (DIT). (2001). Information Technology Master Plan. Thimpu: DIT.

———. (2006). Bhutan’s Digital Signature Project 2006 Final Report. MoIC. Retrieved 29 April 2008 from www.dit.gov.bt

———. (2007). Bhutan ICT HRD Master Plan and Strategies 2007 (BIHMPS). Volume 2. Thimpu: DIT.

Internet World Stats. (2008). Asia Marketing Research, Internet Usage, Population Statistics and Information. Retrieved 20 November 2008 from http://www.internetworldstats.com/asia.htm

Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MoIC). (2003a). Bhutan e-readiness report. Thimpu: DIT.

———. (2003b). ICT White Paper. Retrieved 29 April 2008 from http://www.moic.gov.bt/ictpapers.php

———. (2004). Bhutan ICT Policy and Strategies (BIPS). Retrieved 29 April 2008 from http://www.moic.gov.bt/bips.php

———. (2006a). Technical Guidelines on Information and Communications Technology for the Preparation of the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2008–2013). Retrieved 29 April 2008 from http://www.moic.gov.bt/pdf/tg.pdf

———. (2006b). Policy Guideline on Information Sharing. Retrieved 29 April 2008 from http://www.moic.gov.bt/pdf/infoshare.pdf

———. (2007). Information, Communications and Transport Special Report.

National Statistics Bureau. (2007). Statistical Yearbook of Bhutan 2007. Thimpu: DIT.

Royal Government of Bhutan. (1999). Bhutan Telecommunications Act. Retrieved 29 April 2008 from http://www.moic.gov.bt/pdf/telecomact.pdf

Royal Government of Bhutan. (2006). Bhutan Information, Communications and Media Act. Retrieved 29 April 2008 from http://www.dit.gov.bt/legislations/bicmact.pdf

Wangchuk, S. and G. Pradhan. (2007). ‘.bt’ Bhutan. Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2007–2008. New Delhi: IDRC, Orbicom, and Sage Publications.

.bn Brunei Darussalam

Yong Chee Tuan

Population

390,000

GDP

USD 12,945 million (USD 1 = BND 1.53)

Key economic sectors

Oil and gas

Computers per 100 inhabitants

20

Fixed-line telephones per
100 inhabitants

20.4

Mobile phone subscribers per
100 inhabitants

114

Internet users per 100 inhabitants

51.16

Domain names registered
under .bn

No data

Broadband subscribers per
100 inhabitants

3.18

Internet domestic bandwidth

512 Kbps

Internet international bandwidth

633 Mbps

(Sources: Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam 2008; Department of Economic Planning and Development 2008a)

OVERVIEW

A population of less than half-a-million living in an area of 5,765 square kilometres makes Brunei Darussalam one of the least densely populated nations in the Asia Pacific region. The 2006 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita was BND 47,987 (USD 33,094: USD1 = BND 1.45). More than 54.3 percent of the population is between 20 and 54 years old, which contributes to a high workforce participation rate of 71 percent. However, despite the high standard of living (high GDP per capita, low inflation and poverty rate) enjoyed by the people of Brunei Darussalam, the current unemployment rate stands at 4 percent and it is growing faster than the population growth rate of 3.5 percent which in turn is growing faster than the GDP.

Its stable socio-economic situation and geo-political position have allowed the country to effectively play a prominent role in the Southeast Asian, Asia Pacific, and other regional communities. Since becoming fully independent in 1984,1 Brunei Darussalam has maintained a strong relationship with the United Kingdom and it is one of the pivotal links between the European Union (EU) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and among the Commonwealth states. An active member country of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), it is expanding its networking relationships with all of the Islamic countries, particularly in the Middle East. The historical trade relationship with China, which dates back to 1417 with the arrival of Admiral Cheng Ho, also remains strong.

Diversifying the oil- and gas-dependent economy and ensuring a sustainable high standard of living are the main foci of the nation’s long-term development plan defined as Wawasan Brunei 2035. The aims are to transform Brunei Darussalam by 2035 into a nation widely recognized for the accomplishments of its educated and highly skilled people as measured by the highest international standards, a standard of living that would put the counry among the top 10 nations in the world, and a dynamic and a sustainable economy with a per capita income ranking among the top 10 countries in the world.

The government will focus on integrating e-government programs to enable the provision of high quality online customer services, enhancing local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through e-business, and building human and institutional capacity in ICT applications. This amounts to an allocation of BND 1,145.7 million (USD 790 million), or 12.1 percent of the total budget, for ICT development under the National Development Plan (NDP) 2007–2012.

Prior to this injection of funding for ICT, the 8th National Development Plan 2001–2006 pushed for the introduction of an e-government program with a budget of BND 850 million (USD 586 million). This first wave of e-government development was basically more about enhancing information technology and information services (IT/IS) in government agencies than enabling online transactions. During this first wave the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) successfully rolled out a unified email system based on Lotus Notes with a suite of collaboration features to all its agencies and departments. However, due to the decentralization of e-government planning and implementation, other ministries and government agencies have adopted their preferred common office environment platforms, email systems, and information systems. The Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Education adopted Microsoft Exchange while the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) continued to upgrade its Sun Mail, leaving other ministries to decide whether they would ride on the PMO’s system. Similarly, different ministries use portal and content management systems that have different architecture and operating platforms. Besides a number of technical uncertainties, the lack of harmonization of policies and standards is one of the growing concerns about the future integration of applications and services in the country.

Despite the strong emphasis on building ICT capacity in government agencies, a detailed blueprint or roadmap for ICT development is not yet being defined. ICT players are making headway in marketing their new solutions, setting up local offices, and recruiting foreign IT professionals to begin providing specialist courses. Many of the local vendors are securing partnerships, distributorships, and/or arrangements with overseas counterparts before marketing these products/services to government agencies, academic institutions, and several private sector organizations.

Government spending on ICT devices and accessories is increasing. This is indicated by the frequency and magnitude of government invitations to tender quotations for ICT-related items. Major items are normally bundled into e-government projects. Many of these second phase e-government projects will be issued for tender only by the end of 2009.

ICT usage in multinational companies (MNCs) and SMEs is not very encouraging. Many MNCs tend to adopt international products and services instead of acquiring the services of local vendors. The adoption of ICT in SMEs, on the other hand, is mainly limited to email systems and productivity applications. In contrast, household and individual spending on ICT devices, including notebooks and mobile telephones, is expanding rapidly as illustrated by the growing number of personal computer (PC) consumer fairs and exhibitions held annually. Household spending on cars, mobile phones, consumer electronic goods, and ICT devices (in order of preference) does not appear to be affected by the marginal increase in food prices. Note that the petrol price remains constant as it is being heavily subsidized by the government. In addition, there are other benefits enjoyed by citizens and residents, such as no personal income tax and zero import tax on computers.

TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE

Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) zones called wave@Brunei were recently installed in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital. But they have received a lukewarm reception from the growing number of Internet users in the country. These WiFi zones which provide prepaid broadband Internet services are available mostly in shopping centres, student hostels, and commercial and residential areas. But the cost of BND 5 (USD 3.5) per 83 minutes seems like a high premium to pay for broadband Internet access, which many restaurants are providing their patrons free of charge. The rate appears to be more suitable for hotel guests rather than students. Connecting to the Internet at many traditional and modern restaurants while enjoying the restaurant fare, is a growing trend among young people.

The consumer sale of notebooks has exceeded the consumer sale of desktops by at least 5:1 as reported by Concept, one of the largest PC vendors in the country. The popular screen sizes of notebooks are between 12 and 14 inches while the slow-moving items are the larger screen sizes, which could be an indication of the relative mobility of the notebook-using population.

Domestic Internet subscriptions are mostly for the ADSL system called e-Speed offered by TelBru. The subscription rate of BND 68 (USD 47) per month for a 512 Kbps Internet connection is one of the most expensive ADSL subscriptions in the region. Large organizations such as the Brunei Shell Petroleum Sdn Bhd, Royal Brunei Airlines, and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) have joint leased lines from the two Internet service providers (ISPs), namely, TelBru and DST Sdn Bhd. These are state-owned corporations, which means that free market competition is unlikely to happen between the two. There is little incentive for them to engage in a price war and no pressure to lower prices from the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry (AiTi), the regulator.

In April 2008, b-Mobile (a joint venture between TelBru and QAF Sdn Bhd) launched a 3.5G Internet service branded as ZOOM! This broadband connection using W-CDMA technology has download speeds that can reach up to 3.6 Mbps. The promotion rate is USD 55 for unlimited local usage. Similarly, in May 2008, DST Sdn Bhd launched its 3.5G Internet service called Go! Broadband carrying a maximum speed of 7.2 Mbps.

In 2006, work commenced on establishing the EG-Bandwidth, a private network linking all government agencies to their respective data centres and to the central data centre called the EG Centre. However, despite the availability of funding and pressure from government agencies, the network has remained unfinished. One convenient reason for the delay was the change in the consolidation of ministerial data centres that were deemed ‘overdesigned’. However, strictly speaking, the underlying reasons for the delay in the implementation of e-government-related projects are insufficient institutional capacity, lack of skilled project coordinators, and variations in the appreciation and understanding of e-government project requirements and outcomes.

Decision-making on changes in business processes or work-flow is weakened by failure to empower project managers who are often considered to be responsible merely for technical installation of the information systems. Delay begins even at the planning stage where there are difficulties in capturing user requirements and translating them into tender documents. During implementation, confirmation of requirements, adjustment of technical variations, and getting users to sign off on deliverables are unusually time-consuming and not at par with international best practice.

In contrast, the telecommunication industry is more active and updated. In 2006, the number of mobile subscribers was 74 percent of the population. This was a remarkable increase from the 34 percent penetration rate at the end of 2001. As of March 2007, according to the AiTi, the mobile telephone penetration rate had reached 114 percent. The two operators are the same as the ISPs, with DST providing GSM services to more than 80 percent of the market and TelBru offering third generation (3G) mobile network services.

KEY INSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS DEALING WITH ICT

The recent restructuring of the e-government initiative has shifted the secretariat role from the Department of IT and State Store (ITSSD) of the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to a newly formed unit called the e-Government Agency under the PMO. The AiTi plays the role of e-Government Technical Advisory Body (EGTAB). The traditionally heavy involvement of the ITSSD in the centralized procurement of IT-related products and e-government development has begun to change to reflect the strategic directions of the MoF. The ITSSD’s role is now reduced to that of State Store and meeting the MoF’s IT needs.

In addition to the role of the government chief information officer (CIO), the permanent secretary of the PMO acts as the joint secretary of the e-Government Leadership Forum (EGTL) chaired by the PMO Deputy Minister. This structural adjustment helps to facilitate the government’s business process reengineering — that is, the establishment and endorsement of e-government related policies can now be streamlined and managed at a higher level. The downside is the awkward relationship between the PMO and the AiTi, which reports directly to the Minister of Communications except in the coordination of the EGTAB.

Increasingly, the EGTAB is being tasked to look into a number of new and existing e-government issues, including institutional capacity-building, IT human resource development, and approaches to project implementation. The body has brought in expertise from the private sector and overseas agencies to cope with its rapidly growing functions and roles.

The AiTi is also tasked with the promotion of the country’s ICT industry. It is currently engaged in a number of research and consultancy projects with the aim of improving ICT development among local SMEs.

Meanwhile, the chair of the Brunei IT Council remains the Minister of Communications who oversees the national development of IT. In 2007, the Ministry of Communications formulated a new strategic vision: ‘towards a sophisticated society and excellence in communications’. The vision emphasizes the importance of information technologies and the capacity to effectively utilize and develop IT in the new economy. The Ministry has also pledged to introduce measures for the development of the ICT industry and the enhancement of local SMEs. The Ministry manages the National ICT Award competitions, and provides funds to winners to participate in the Asia Pacific ICT Award (APICTA) competitions held annually in rotation in Asia Pacific participating countries.

The Infocom Federation of Brunei was officially formed in 2007 to act as the platform for IT vendors to collaborate and interact, and to provide a single voice on relevant ICT issues. Another new organization in the ICT industry is the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB), which is the de facto focal point for attracting foreign direct investment and championing economic diversification projects such as the Methanol Plans and Pulau Muara Project. The BEDB currently manages the IT incubation centre called i-Centre, the first of its kind in the country. To date, the BEDB has attracted more than a dozen local ‘incubatees’ to rent office space at the i-Centre.

Last but not least, the Ministry of Education (MoE) plays an important role in the development of the ICT industry. It has the largest consumption of IT among all of the government ministries. In late 2007, the MoE launched a new 21st century education system to reflect changes in modern education, including integration of ICT in the curriculum. The e-education initiative that was started in 2002 under the 8th National Development Plan will be expanded to provide more ICT resources, digital content, and training for teachers to ensure greater adoption of ICT.

ICT AND ICT-RELATED INDUSTRIES

Since the deployment of the e-government initiative in 2001, the ICT industry has been expanded vertically and horizontally. There are two major groups of ICT vendors in the country: one group focuses on the sale of hardware, accessories, and software packages to the general public and private sector organizations, and the other group focuses on e-government projects. The second group consists of companies who see themselves as being more like system integrators, bundling solutions from overseas partners and consolidating them to suit local use. Many of these local integrators are involved in front-runner project management services and ‘project funding’.

Generally, the ICT sector contribution to GDP is less than 2 percent. The current statistics system combines ‘transport’ and ‘communication’ under one category and the major items under the category are transport-related activities. The private sector’s contribution to the ICT industry is mainly in finance/banking and engineering. The country’s banks are actively updating their infrastructure and services to compete with HSBC, the head of the pack, for the provision of online services. The construction industry, which contributes around 7 percent of GDP, also plays an important role in the use of ICT, as most architects, consultants, designers, and contractors are using modern ICT applications to assist their operations.

KEY ICT POLICIES, THRUSTS, AND PROGRAMS

In 2007, the Public Works Department of the Ministry of Development successfully implemented an Integrated Document Production System (IDPS) in all of its design offices to provide architects, engineers, and quantity surveyors with a common platform called the REVIT (a suite of AutoCad products). The system enables all digital drawings and documents to be shared, managed, and stored in a central server. These design drawings and tender document are then released through an online tender collection and submission module, and the contractors can collect and submit the tender documents online. In effect, this e-government project does not only transform internal operations but also pushes the private sector (consultant and contractor communities) to actively use modern ICT applications.

In another key initiative, all schools are being connected with at least a 512 Kbps leased line Internet connectivity. The connectivity will become fully operational by September 2009. In addition, every primary school is equipped with a computer lab that can house more than 25 desktop computers. The main aim of building a strong ICT infrastructure in schools is to meet the needs of the new National Education System for the 21st century (SPN21), which seeks to develop in students the skills and mindsets relevant to the knowledge economy. Communications and digital literacy skills are considered as the main components of the new skills. Parallel to the establishment of ICT infrastructure, the MoE has also rolled out a digital library system providing a single portal to access a number of electronic educational resources. The digitization of local content, such as reports, exam papers, theses, manuscripts, cultural content, and books, is carried out continuously as the information becomes available. Digital content can now be easily accessed, archived, and managed using modern technologies. Slowly but surely the teaching and learning communities will adopt and make advances in the new digital approaches to learning.

LEGAL AND REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT FOR ICT DEVELOPMENT

Brunei Darussalam has a stable, fair, and just legal system that is conducive to ICT development. The legal system is based on English common law with an independent judiciary, a body of written common law judgements and statutes, and legislation enacted by the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam. The Attorney-General’s Chamber has assigned a team of dedicated lawyers to assist in developing and vetting e-government contracts. They have adopted several best practices in IT implementation and are replacing clauses that are not favourable to both sides with win-win arrangements. The Attorney-General’s Chamber now allows greater flexibility in the waiver of liquidated damages and extension of time due to unforeseen delay or inaction/indecision on the part of clients. The new contracts also reflect the differences in ‘foreground’ and ‘background’ intellectual properties to signify the client’s rights to own the foreground intellectual properties but not the background IP as sold by the vendor. Another important change is the removal of the retention money levied at 10–20 percent of every milestone payment made to the vendor and released upon the end of the maintenance period (normally 3–4 years).

Brunei Darussalam recognizes IP rights and strictly enforces the Trade Marks Act 2000 together with the Orders on Patents, Copyright, Industrial Designs, and Layout Designs of Integrated Circuits. In December 2000, the Electronic Transactions Order 2000 came into effect. Its main purpose is to promote public confidence in the integrity and reliability of electronic records and electronic commerce, and to foster the development of electronic commerce through the use of electronic signatures to lend authenticity and integrity to correspondence in any electronic medium.

Other relevant cyber laws in Brunei Darussalam are:

1. The Broadcasting (Class Licence) Act 2001, which deals with the licencing of ISPs and content providers, and the liabilities of these providers.

2. The Internet Code of Practice Notification 2001, which recognizes the roles and responsibilities of users and providers.

3. The Computer Misuse Order 2000, which seeks to control abuses, intrusions, hacking, and attacks in connection with electronic devices and information.

DIGITAL CONTENT

The rapid proliferation of local blogs is a welcome indicator of a growing community with a greater awareness and appreciation of the digital world. The blogs often display high quality graphics, digital photographs, creative work and information about local and regional events. Almost all of the sites are written in English, with a few Malay phrases inserted here and there.

The news sites, such as Brudirect (www.brudirect.com), Brunei Times (www.bruneitimes.com), and Radio Television Brunei (www.rtb.gov.bn), are among the three most frequently visited sites. They provide up to date daily news and events in English. The Malay daily news is broadcast in both the government published weekly newspaper called the Pelita Brunei (www.brunet.bn/news/pelita) and Media Permata (www.bruneionline.com/mp). The first widely known local Chinese website established in 2006 is managed and owned by Adison Marketing Services (www.e-huawang.com).

Among the academic institutions the MoE is promoting e-learning and use of digital content. In 2006 the Curriculum Department under the MoE issued tenders for the digitization of curriculum content for maths, English, science, Malay, and computer subjects at the primary and secondary levels. The digitized curriculum would be introduced to all of the state schools in October 2008. More digitization projects are expected to be ‘issued for tender’ in early 2009.

ONLINE SERVICES

Many of the existing e-government projects are not yet aiming to provide immediate public online transactions. Instead they are designed to provide for mostly government-to-government (G2G) online transactions. The focus of these projects is laying out information systems and information technologies in government agencies. TAFIS, one of the most successful e-government projects, provides for online transactions across all treasury/financial offices in government agencies only. It has not yet reached out to government contractors or the public.

Some have criticized the narrow definition of the concept of e-government that is currently being implemented. However, these premature assessments of ‘failure’ could derail the implementation of e-government initiatives as agencies attempt to shift their main focus, sequence, and approach of implementation. A mad rush to provide online services may not work to the advantage of the public or consumers at large. The budget to cover the cost of providing these services may be better used for reducing bureaucratic operating procedures, shortening approval times, and lowering fees. These three factors are more important measures of government modernization, which is sometimes incorrectly construed as the ability to engage in online transactions.

ICT-RELATED EDUCATION AND CAPACITY-BUILDING PROGRAMS

In 2003 the MoE introduced the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) program to all ICT teachers, staff, and IT project coordinators. Teachers and education personnel were strongly encouraged to acquire some demonstrable qualifications/skills in ICT while the project coordinators were all sponsored by the Ministry. There are more than seven business organizations accredited as ICDL Testing Centres. The Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC3) training is also gaining popularity among government agencies. The initial training program was a pilot project to assess the level of ICT competence among IT coordinators and selected teachers.

The new vision of the MoE is providing quality education toward a developed, peaceful, and prosperous nation. The mission is to provide holistic education for everyone to achieve their full potential. To achieve this vision and mission, the Ministry has defined teaching and learning excellence in terms of modern methodology, ICT tools, appropriate infrastructure, facilities, and benchmark processes. The quality of school education has also been defined in a broad sense to include student attainment of higher numeracy and literacy skills (including ICT skills), reduction in dropout rates, continuation into higher education, and greater monitoring and allocation of resources (including a decrease in the ratio of number of students per computer).

All the three higher education institutions, namely, the Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali, and Institute Technology Brunei, are reviewing and repackaging their degree programs to make them more relevant in the new economy. It is expected that many of the new programs will include ICT components. Meanwhile, the new injection of funding for science and technology from the National Development Plan to researchers and academics is reinforcing the importance of ICT. Several competency centres and ICT-related training funds are being considered by various government agencies to enhance the capacity to establish, implement, and maintain ICT projects.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Public Service continues to organize and conduct short courses on IT-related subjects such as security, programming, database, project management, and audit. Regrettably, the lack of monitoring and incentive mechanisms belittles the participants’ interest and commitment. The short training courses are generally not designed for any proficiency or certification examinations. Participants who have completed the IT-related courses are not monitored to see whether the courses are appropriate to their current work. In addition, there are no financial incentives for civil servants to gain additional professional IT certificates.

In 2008, the MoE awarded a project on the deployment of e-learning systems in all of the higher education institutions ranging from GCE A-level schools to technical colleges and Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD). The project aims to create a blended learning environment and encourage the creative utilization of Web technologies to support teaching and learning. Each institution has a customized learning management system (LMS) that enables teachers/instructors to upload and share their content, and students to download the content using the Internet and participate in online forums. The LMS is based on Wizlearn 8.0, which has been successfully implemented at the National University of Singapore. A specially developed authoring tool called Ultranote is available for all lecturers to create simple content that is compliant with Sharable, Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) standards. In addition, an instructional design lab at the SEAMEO VOCTECH Centre serves as a specialist lab for teachers who wish to explore and develop more advanced digital learning content. Apart from numerous training sessions on using the LMS and instructional design, an instructional design portal is being launched to support this mass digital content development initiative.

However, not every e-education project in the country is turning out as planned. A case in point is the supply of interactive whiteboards to schools and higher education institutions. The main objectives of the project were to introduce interactive whiteboards and encourage teachers to make use of the new device to enhance classroom teaching. About one to three sets of whiteboards with multimedia projectors were delivered to every school in the country. In hindsight the project should have included desktops/notebooks and more training during the implementation and maintenance stages. Because it was the first time for many teachers to use interactive whiteboards in class, the adoption varied greatly among teachers and schools. Most of the teachers who attended the training did not train other teachers. Many opted not to use the interactive whiteboards ostensibly because: (i) the computers that were pulled from the lab are not properly set up; (ii) it is difficult to book the few whiteboards available in the school; (iii) there is a limited number of software packages to support the effective use of the interactive whiteboard; and (iv) it is easier to use only the multimedia projector, without the interactive whiteboard. Thus, the full impact or success of the project cannot be properly ascertained. Some education analysts suggest that the MoE should quickly activate Phase 2 of the interactive whiteboards project to salvage the first phase and get the teachers to adopt the new technology in support of the envisioned learning environment.

OPEN SOURCE/OPEN CONTENT INITIATIVES

In early 2008, the AiTi launched the Google™ Android Development Project to encourage local developers to develop Android-based programs. A number of workshops have been organized by some academics from UBD to promote greater usage of open source applications. Open source initiatives are generally welcomed and encouraged by the government. However, there is no concerted effort to promote these initiatives, which are largely driven by a few researchers in the academic institutions.

ICT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

The establishment of the IT innovation/incubation centre (i-Centre) has continued to draw attention from international incubators interested in parking their technology in the country and from young local techno-entrepreneurs. Aside from the office rentals being among the cheapest in town, i-Centre occupants receive a lot of support from the management. There are no hard rules on the types of technology that can be developed so long as they are locally registered start-up companies. Research and development (R&D) projects at the i-Centre at present include RFID, mobile phone applications, portal content management system, e-learning content development, prepaid cards, and a health information system.

However, the absence of any commitment from government agencies to adopt the incubated products is clouding the future of technology incubation in the country. In general, the level of ICT-related R&D activities in Brunei Darussalam is at the infancy stage, and it requires more support from government agencies and the ICT industry.

One of the many successful e-education projects launched by the MoE is the Knowledge Management System project. It was awarded in mid-2006 to a local ICT vendor, Sprintville Technologies, in strategic partnership with Singapore-based Avant Werx Pte Ltd and Fujitsu Asia Pte Ltd. The knowledge management system is designed to cover four tracks, namely, ‘examinations tips’, ‘event management’, ‘crisis management’, and ‘ICT in education’. The first track is targeted toward a virtual tuition centre that will allow students to use the MoE portal to access tips given by communities of teachers for GCE O level examinations. The track coordinator, who is appointed by the ministry, has the authority to nominate team leaders for each community of practice (teachers) to lead the creation of content for this track. The event management track works with a group of administrative staff who have been organizing events, to capture their knowledge of event management. The crisis management track serves as the authority for disseminating and sharing knowledge about health-related crises in schools, such as the hand, foot, and mouth disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and food poisoning. The ICT in education track provides a platform for teachers to share their experience in using ICT in classes across different disciplines.

One of the interesting outcomes of the knowledge management system project is the strong cooperation and willingness of majority of the nominated staff and teachers to contribute their knowledge through the workflow process defined in the project. The concept of knowledge generation from communities of practice is realized with the right coaching and an incentive-driven environment. The project also allows for the future expansion of knowledge tracks.

CONCLUSION

The challenges of developing a significant ICT industry in an economy that is heavily dependent on oil and gas can be daunting even if budgets are not much of an issue. Oil price fluctuations have more impact on the GDP than the growth of any new industry in the country. It is therefore difficult to convince policymakers and other stakeholders about the success of new nonoil-related initiatives. Moreover, before the final outcome of any new initiative becomes apparent, there are many premature assessments by different communities that oblige policymakers to change course. As mentioned, this has been the case with the first wave of e-government initiatives that has been prematurely and unfairly assessed as failures by certain communities. Several major structural and procedural changes have been implemented in response to the negative comments.

The second challenge for the second wave of e-government projects in Brunei Darussalam is the harmonization of technical standards and policies to allow data sharing, resource optimization, and consistency in business processes. Many government CIOs like to think of information systems as being unique to their agencies and constituents. There is no incentive for them to collaborate and share expertise, strategically deploy resources across ministries, and enable data sharing.

The third challenge is to address the shortage of skilled human resources in government agencies to implement and operationalize the new systems. Institutional capacity in project management, change management, and realignment of stakeholder requirements needs to be developed quickly before the new and old projects settle into the system.

Finally, local SMEs and ICT vendors need to be promoted to make them commercially viable, innovative, and capable of creating high value added products, intellectual property, and services.

NOTE

1. Brunei Darussalam used to be a British Protectorate State.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam. (2008). Brunei Darussalam ICT indicators 2008. Bandar Seri Begawan: Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam.

Department of Economic Planning and Development. (2007a). Brunei

Darussalam key indicators 2006. Bandar Seri Begawan: Department of Economic Planning and Development.

———. (2007b). Brunei Darussalam statistical yearbook 2006/2007. Bandar Seri Begawan: Department of Economic Planning and Development.

———. (2008a). Brunei Darussalam key indicators 2008. Bandar Seri Begawan: Department of Economic Planning and Development.

———. (2008b). Long term development plan, Wawasan 2035 and outlines of policies and strategic directions. Bandar Seri Begawan: Department of Economic Planning and Development.

Ministry of Development. (2001). 8th national development plan: 2001–2005, Brunei Darussalam. Bandar Seri Begawan: Ministry of Development.

.kh Cambodia

Pan Sorasak and Chriv Kosona

Total population

13.4 milliona

Literacy rate (age 15 and over)

Male: 82.1%; female: 67.4%a

GDP per capita (PPP)

USD 2,727b

Fixed-line telephones per 100 inhabitants

0.72c

Mobile telephones per 100 inhabitants

16.42c

Number of computers nationwide

80,000

Internet subscribers nationwide

15,950c

Domain names registered under .kh

1,382 (2008)d

Internet domestic bandwidth

NA

Internet international bandwidth

250 Mbpsc

(Sources: aNational Institute of Statistics 2007; bUNDP 2007; cCentral Intelligence Agency 2008; eWebHosting.info 2008)

OVERVIEW

Between 2004 and 2007, Cambodia’s Gross National Product (GNP) growth was in excess of 10 percent. Much of this growth comes from the garment industry, which employs more than 350,000 people and contributes more than 70 percent of Cambodia’s exports. The tourism industry continues to grow rapidly, with foreign arrivals reaching two million in 2007. The discovery in 2005 of oil and natural gas reserves off the coast in the Gulf of Thailand will give a major boost to the economy when production commences. Mining, particularly in the northeastern parts of the country, is also attracting significant investor interest. The government has said that opportunities exist for mining bauxite, gold, iron, and gems.

The Cambodian government is working with bilateral and multilateral donors, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to address the country’s many pressing needs. In 2006, a US–Cambodia bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) was signed and the first two rounds of discussions took place in 2007. The Cambodian government has committed itself to a policy supporting high labour standards and major initiatives in improving working conditions, and terms of employment are being introduced by the government with the support of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the Mekong Private Sector Development Facility (MPDF). The major economic challenge for Cambodia over the next decade will be fashioning an economic environment in which the private sector can create enough jobs to handle Cambodia’s predominantly young population (more than 50 percent of the population is less than 21 years old).

Over the last 10 years, the government has been proactive in the development of ICT and has encouraged both training and development. In 2005, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport (MoEYS) started to implement the Policy and Strategies on Information and Communication Technology in Education in Cambodia. This policy has developed the capacity of higher education institutes to generate graduates in the ICT field, with the number of graduates increasingly significantly.

A Khmer Unicode system has been developed, and the localization of operating systems and software applications is ongoing. Open source software has been developed to bring ICT training to local communities in the Khmer language, and an MoEYS program has seen the installation of a computer classroom in every high school in the country. A Web-based trade information gateway implemented in 2008 will greatly increase the availability and quality of commercial and legal information. There are also major initiatives underway in e-commerce and trade.

The most recently available comparative statistics indicate that although Cambodia still ranks low in terms of GDP per capita (184 out of 229 countries), its GDP (real growth rate) shows that the country is the 16th fastest growing economy in the world. With political stability, increasing foreign investment, and a real commitment by the government to facilitate trade growth, markets, and living conditions, Cambodia can look forward to substantial progress in its economic improvement and poverty reduction strategies.

TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE

Telecom Cambodia, a company owned by the government, is currently working to establish a national backbone around the Tonle Sap (‘Great Lake’) and from the Lao border to the Kompong Som sea port. The Internet connection uses gateways from Thailand and Vietnam. A submarine cable connecting Cambodia directly to the international backbone via Singapore is currently under construction.

Currently, there are 13 Internet service providers (ISPs), with three more scheduled to commence operations before 2010. Connections are typically fixed-line DSL/ADSL, dial-up, Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX), and satellite. Fixed-line connections are limited to a number of provincial capitals. Dial-up is more generally available but also limited to areas served by the telephone network. WiMAX is mostly restricted to Phnom Penh. Internet by satellite is being extended nationwide, although this can be affected by extreme weather conditions during the monsoon season. In addition, fibre optic connections are becoming available with the installation of a fibre optic cable network in Phnom Penh due for completion in late 2008.

Figures from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications indicate that there are approximately 100,000 fixed landlines (0.72 per 100 inhabitants) and 2.3 million mobile phones (16.42 per 100 inhabitants) in the country. The number of mobile phones is expected to reach 6.5 million (40 per 100 inhabitants) by 2011. There are currently four major mobile providers operating and more operators are expected to enter the market. A full range of mobile services is available, including third generation mobile phone standards and technology (3G), General Packet Radio (GPRS), and Internet connectivity.

However, according to an ASEAN e-Readiness Assessment conducted in 2001, Cambodia ranked 8th out of the 10 ASEAN countries in terms of e-infrastructure, e-society, e-commerce, and e-government. It was classified as being at the ‘emerging’ stage of e-readiness, characterized by the need to build basic ICT infrastructure and an ICT literate workforce. Indeed, public access to computers and the Internet is limited. Although there are now about 400 Internet cafés in urban centres and tourist destinations and computer courses are popular in the major towns, with more than 80 percent of the population living in rural areas, the majority has little or no access to computers or the Internet. The major factors influencing access to the Internet are availability of electricity, cost of equipment, and cost of connection. The rural people rely heavily on radio and television for information.

KEY INSTITUTIONS DEALING WITH ICT

The National Information and Communication Technology Development Agency (NiDA) was established in 2000 to promote ICT in the country. It is tasked to formulate ICT policy for short-, medium-, and long-term development. It is under the Office of the Council of Ministers and is chaired by the prime minister. There are five divisions under NiDA — one each for infrastructure, policy, human resource, development, and enterprise and content and applications.

The Ministry of Commerce (MoC, moc.gov.kh) continues to play a leading and innovative role in the development of Cambodia’s ICT infrastructure. It oversees the development of the Web-based Trade Information Gateway (TIG), which will greatly enhance opportunities for investment by providing timely and accurate information on a wide range of topics. In addition, the MoC is currently involved in the drafting of e-commerce, intellectual property rights, and trade legislation and regulation.

The MoEYS is ensuring that ICT is integrated into the secondary school curriculum through the establishment of purpose-built computer classrooms and the use of Khmer language open source software.

The Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, and Ministry of Women’s Affairs are currently developing ICT-based systems that are highly specific in nature and intended to monitor, control, and eventually eradicate human trafficking in commercial sex and forced labour. This development work is being done in partnership with human rights organizations, Interpol, and other concerned bodies.

Virtually all government ministries have developed information systems in their respective fields using modern software applications and techniques, producing up-to-date statistical reports and facilitating effective service delivery. Due to the social upheaval faced by the country in the recent past, much of the ICT development work being done at government level is new to Cambodia, although most other countries in the region have had such systems for many years. However, this also means that among ASEAN countries, Cambodia is in a position to effectively ‘stand back’ and review what other ASEAN partners are doing in the field of ICT and to learn from their experiences.

Since the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1991, the UN through many of its ‘family members’ has continued to play a lead role in the development of the ICT sector in Cambodia. In particular, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia, World Health Organization (WHO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), World Trade Organization (WTO), and International Trade Center (ITC) have made significant contributions in their respective fields by providing support to government ministries and non-government organizations either in the form of direct financial aid or technical support. The UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) effectively created the first uses for ICT in the country with voter registration and village information data systems in 1992–1993. Updated versions of these systems are still in use.

Likewise, the World Bank, IMF, European Union (EU), and to Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), through various projects implemented in partnership with the Government of Cambodia, have contributed essential technical expertise, guidance, and funding for the development of ICT infrastructure.

Among the non-government and international organizations and private consultancies playing a key role in the development of the information and communications sector are:

• The Asia Foundation, which established the Community Information Centre project with US Agency for International Development (USAID) funding and which continues to advocate ICT as a crucial factor in its support of many projects in poverty reduction, human trafficking, and human rights;

• Deutche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zussammenardeit — German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), which provides technical support in GIS/GPS systems to the Ministry of Land Mapping and Urban Planning Unit;

• Open Forum, whose recent work with the MoEYS has enabled all high schools to include IT subjects in their curricula; and

• Aruna Technology Ltd, which leads in the use of satellite imagery, such as SPOT and IKONOS, and hardware (Garmin GPS), and integrates these into custom turnkey solutions for clients. Aruna has focused mostly on natural resources development and management and infrastructure applications. It has developed its own Web-based mapping software (MangoMap), which was launched as a commercial software application at Map Asia in Kuala Lumpur in August 2007. It has also produced the highly successful online ‘Cambodia Atlas’ (www.cambodiaatlas.com/map), which receives almost 200,000 hits a month from more than 2,200 unique users.

Private consultancies such as Smart International Consulting (www.smartconsulting.com.kh) working in partnership with the MoC and Microsoft Corporation have been instrumental in the development of websites and the localization of operating systems (OS) like MS Windows Vista, Khmer Unicode, and software applications, as well as systems development in human resource management and Web-based applications.

Telecom providers like Camintel, Mobitel, Camshin, and Samart have all contributed to the provision of infrastructure and services. A crucial aspect of this has been the substantial reduction in telephone and Internet fees making communication affordable to many more people than before. Mobile phone coverage has been extended to the whole country, and Internet access is constantly being improved through the upgrading of existing equipment and the installation of new equipment.

ICT AND ICT-RELATED INDUSTRIES

Cambodia has yet to become involved in ICT and ICT-related industries in any significant way. While there are many retail outlets for equipment and services, they serve only the local market and they deal mainly with stock imported from China, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. A growing retail service is the provision of secondhand or refurbished computers and peripherals the total annual sales of which exceed sales of new equipment. The supply of refurbished computers outstrips the demand and it is possible to buy a complete system (such as PIII, 800 MHz, 256 Mb RAM and 20 Gb HDD) for as little as USD 75.

A number of small operations provide outsourcing services. Digital Divide Data (DDD) deals mainly with document digitization from US schools and universities and emphasizes the employment of persons with physical disabilities. Others deal more specifically with a very small local demand. The level of skill in programming, systems development, and the English language is low compared to the skill levels in other developing countries like China, Pakistan, and Vietnam where such outsourcing has become an economic contributor. Thus, the range of outsourcing services that can be offered is limited.

Twenty higher education institutes produced approximately 8,000 graduates in IT-related degree programs between 1998 and 2006. It is likely that there will be more than 10,000 ICT graduates in 2008. However, the labour market is such that the number of graduates who find employment in the ICT field each year is relatively small and most find employment in positions where their qualifications may be useful, but not strictly necessary.

LEGAL AND REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT FOR ICT DEVELOPMENT

A major constraint to international companies establishing manufacturing facilities for computers/computer peripherals, mobile phones, and the like has been the lack of clear and unambiguous trade legislation and protection. This is currently being addressed by the legislature and the appropriate ministries, and it is envisaged that the situation will improve over the next two years, enabling this potential market to be developed. In particular, the MoC is drafting an e-commerce law designed to achieve the following objectives: to facilitate domestic and international electronic commerce by eliminating legal barriers and establishing legal certainty; to encourage the use of reliable forms of electronic commerce; to facilitate the electronic filing of documents within the government; and to promote the efficient delivery of government services by means of reliable forms of electronic communications. It also aims to promote public confidence in the authenticity, integrity, and reliability of electronic communications, and prevent harmful conduct against computer data and information systems.

KEY ICT THRUSTS AND PROGRAMS

The Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia has clearly outlined its commitment to the development of ICT and related resources over the next five years. The government’s objectives are: liberalization of the telecom market and privatization of Telecom Cambodia, development of the national ICT infrastructure, promotion of Khmer language content development, and creation of laws and regulations on e-commerce and cybercrime.

The e-Ministry Project

In 2005, with support from UNDP the MoC launched a new MoC–UNDP TRADE Project (a follow-up to an earlier program) to strengthen its capacity to manage trade reform and Cambodia’s trade integration in the world economy. The program is built around five major modules, including one focusing on updating the Diagnostic Trade Integration Study to set out a strategy for strengthening and diversifying Cambodia’s export basket, and another on developing a Human Impact Development Assessment of Trade (HDIA) that is intended to sharpen Cambodia’s ability to turn trade development into an instrument of poverty-reduction and sustainable human development.

In accordance with the project objectives, the MoC has initiated the implementation of its e-Ministry project, which aims to set up a model of good governance and improve the ministry’s internal operations through the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), an Intranet, and a central database. The development of Khmer Unicode and the ongoing localization of operating systems and applications software have had a tremendous impact on the capacity of ministry staff to absorb training and develop their skills.

A major component of the e-Ministry is the Trade Information Website (TIW, www.moc.gov.kh), an online service providing information on regulations, procedures, fee schedules, penalties, and required forms. This facility will effectively provide a ‘one-stop shop’ where potential investors can obtain all of the information and assistance they need to establish businesses in Cambodia. It will enable local producers to ascertain market prices and conditions, and provide ‘real-time’ information on the weather, soil conditions, transportation, and many other issues of importance in business and agriculture. The e-Ministry project is scheduled to achieve its targets by 2010.

In response to the Private Sector Promotion Program, the MoC is developing a website for a Trade Sector Wide Approach or Trade SWAp (www.TradeSWAp.gov.kh). This Web-based project management and monitoring system is intended as a tool for the MoC and its development and Cambodian partners to optimize project activities and make them more transparent. The system is expected to serve as an example for other ministries as well.

In conjunction with the development of the TIW, the MoC has submitted a draft e-commerce law to the legislature where it is currently being debated.

National Committee for the Standardization of Khmer Script in Computers (NCSKSC)

The NCSKSC has been instrumental in meeting the need for localization in Cambodia. Working in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Cambodia and the PAN Localization Project, it has developed open source software in Khmer, including applications, operating systems, dictionaries, sorting and grouping utilities, spell checkers, and mobile interfaces. These have been distributed free of charge to the general public, schools, and educational institutes, all government branches, and the private sector. (The work of the NCSKSC is discussed further in ‘ICT Research and Development’.)

ICTs in Rural and Remote Areas

Progress in developing ICT infrastructure and local content has been made mainly by NGOs. Notable examples include 22 Community Information Centres (CICs) providing low-cost Internet access in rural and urban areas. This project was established by the Asia Foundation in partnership with a number of local organizations with funding from the USAID. It has since been used as a model for other developing countries in ASEAN and South Asia.

Open Forum of Cambodia is working with the Asia Foundation in pioneering the development of Web portal content in Khmer, a module of the CIC project and the largest website in Khmer language in the country providing users with news and information on a range of subjects, including human rights, history, and the environment.

In 2008, the Informatics for Rural Empowerment and Community Health (i-REACH) project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada and run by the MoC began offering ICT-enabled services to local communities in two pilot areas, Kep and Kamchai Mear. The ICT-enabled services included access to the Internet, low-cost telephony through VoIP, computer training, and community radio and video. The project beneficiaries include local authorities, civil servants, community folk, students, and monks.

ICT-RELATED EDUCATION AND CAPACITY-BUILDING PROGRAMS

The MoEYS is introducing various technology integration initiatives to improve education at all levels and to produce a national workforce equipped with technological literacy, critical thinking, and productive skills. These initiatives include non-formal education, distance education, training of professionals, upper-secondary education, and post-secondary education.

Since 2003, all students in teacher colleges have been required to attend two hours per week of ICT courses. All colleges now have a computer room. In 2003, the average student-computer ratio in Regional Teacher Training Centres (RTTCs) and Provincial Teacher Training Colleges (PTTCs) was 65:1. The ratio was reduced to 32:1 in 2004. This has enabled colleges to offer ICT courses.

The Open School Program was launched in January 2008 to develop Open Source Khmer Language software for all teacher training colleges and high schools in Cambodia. In addition, a new Khmer language ICT textbook will be us