" ITREALMS: Commonwealth connects the divide

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Commonwealth connects the divide

Remmy Nweke

Commonwealth Secretariat (CS) has began connecting the digitally divided members of the group with ‘Commonwealth Connects’.

Unveiling the initiative in London, Secretary General of Commonwealth, Mr. Don Mickinnon, said it is a programme aimed at harnessing Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for the benefit of member nations, specifically those in need.

According to communications officer at CS, Mr. Julius Mucunguzi, in a press statement available to our correspondent, Mr. McKinnon said the initiative would provide “concrete assistance for the development of ICTs in the least developed countries of the Commonwealth.

McKinnon noted that the initiative was in recognition of ICTs at the 2005 Heads of government meeting of Commonwealth in Malta, as a catalyst for development.

“ICTs offer opportunities to overcome the constraints of remoteness, small size, and other factors which have acted as obstacles to development. It was a very important landmark,” he said.

According to McKinnon, the launch was a “birth of a global web site for sharing best practice and best policy in ICT programmes and initiatives from right across the Commonwealth.”

The initial project tagged “Rebuilding After the Tsunami: Using ICTs for Change” was officially launched at the ceremony.

Special guest of honour at the event, the Maltese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman, Commonwealth Connects’ Steering Committee, Dr Michael Frendo, said the programme would enable countries to enter the information age fully equipped to compete effectively in the global marketplace.

“We have a historic opportunity to provide solutions to the digital divide and genuinely give contribution to sustainable development, generating new growth, jobs and productivity, and to push up the standard of living of people in the Commonwealth,” he said.

Pointing out that the programme would help in improving engagement and participation from across all sectors of communities, societies and governments.

Commonwealth Connects programme, the minister said would help in building a centre of expertise, share resources across the Commonwealth and facilitate the implementation of sustainable, replicable products and projects.

India, Malta, Mozambique and Trinidad and Tobago, which are members of the Steering Committee, plan to fund Commonwealth Connects to a little under £1 million over the next three years.

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