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Thursday, December 01, 2005

CTO urges foreign ministers’ roles on MDGs

Chairman of the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation (CTO), Mr. Anthony de Bono, and the chief executive CTO, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah in the drive to stimulate government participation in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), have urged Commonwealth’s Foreign Ministers to work more closely with the organisation to facilitate their countries’ catch up with the implementation processes.

CTO is an international development partnership between Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth governments, businesses and civil society organisations focused on information and communication technologies (ICT) and development.

The organisation also supports the international community’s efforts to bridge the digital divide and promote social and economic development, by delivering to developing countries unique knowledge-sharing programmes in the use of ICTs in the specific areas of telecommunications, Information Technology (IT), broadcasting and the Internet.

The two CTO officials made this call at a luncheon with Commonwealth Foreign Ministers attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta, at the weekend.

CTO delegation’s initiative, according to media contact, Mr. Marcel Belingue, was part of an effort to widen cooperation with member countries, not only through ministries of communications and telecommunications, but also through such departments and agencies that could also use ICTs to improve their efficiency and output.

The luncheon attended by over100 distinguished political and business leaders of Malta, he said, included two former Presidents, Messrs Guido de Marco and Joseph Bonnacci, as well as the Commonwealth Secretary General, Mr. Don McKinnon, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and some 30 Foreign Ministers and 20 High Commissioners to the United Kingdom (UK) from member countries, and corporate heads such as the Chairman of Malaysia Telecom, Tan Sri Radzi Mansour.

Speaking, Mr. de Bono said the major transformations that the CTO had undergone, especially in the last two years, was made possible because of the strong support the organisation enjoy from its member governments and ICT entities.

He pointed out that the role CTO has played in developing a Commonwealth Action Programme for the Digital Divide (CAPDD), was on the foresight that its implementation would take into account the peculiarities of each sovereign nation.

Considering the unique multi-stakeholder partnership organisation, owned simultaneously by governments, regulatory agencies and ICT operating companies, the CTO officials said it was necessary to engage Foreign Ministers, who in most countries are responsible for the development and management of the country’s entire relationship with external partners and entities.

In a video of the CTO screened for the guests, showed how it had adapted itself over the years to the specific needs of its member countries.

It was also reported in the clips that today, CTO is focussing among other things on national ICT planning and implementation, rural communications, an alternate dispute resolution centre, and continuation, expansion, and diversification of its 20-year-old flagship capacity building facility, the Programme for Development and Training (PDT).

In most member countries, governments’ ministries in charge of telecommunications and ICTs manage the relationship with the CTO, which the organisation said, is due mostly to the nature of the projects delivered by it.

The CTO officials also said that it had organised the meeting with the Foreign Ministers to broaden and re-enforce the formal links the body has with each member nation so as to strengthen relationships.

CTO chairman also advocated closer collaboration with specialised Commonwealth agencies, but more importantly, in the light of the multi-sectoral mainstreaming of ICTs in national development strategies and the role of external partners in the process.

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