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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Kalam leads delegates to C’wealth ICT summit

Indian President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is to lead delegates to this year’s Commonwealth Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) summit scheduled to take place in New Delhi in March.

According to Sunayna Sethi of Commonwealth Secretariat (CS) office in London, Dr. Kalam is expected to formally declare open the event with taunted the Commonwealth Connects International e-Partnership Summit.

The two-day global ICT meeting, Sethi informed is aimed at fostering partnerships between the public and private sectors in addition to civil society is planned to enhance the capacity of the Commonwealth nations in the use ICTs as tools for development.

It was further gathered that the summit would be graced by ICT ministers from across the Commonwealth and key players from organisations such as the World Bank, Intel, Cisco and Vodafone.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon and Malta’s Minister for External Affairs Michael Frendo, who also chairs the Commonwealth Connects steering committee, are slated to address the event.

Sethi equally said that the meetings, jointly organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Business Council and the Government of India, intended to bridge the deepening digital divide across the 53 countries of the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Connects Programme was formally launched last year, just as India, Malta, Mozambique, and Trinidad and Tobago, which are members of its Steering Committee, have begun funding the programme to the tune of about £1 million (1,957,038.19) spread over three years.

The first project launched under the programme in August 2006, ‘Rebuilding After the Tsunami: Using ICTs for Change,’ offers web development, e-communication services and training to organisations working on tsunami rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Sri Lanka and India.

The programme is coordinated by the Commonwealth Connects secretariat within the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Governance and Institutional Development Division.

The Commonwealth Connects Programme is helping to bridge the deepening Digital Divide across the 53 countries of the Commonwealth.

In an attempt to mitigate this increasing digital fragmentation, a collaborative effort of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth partner agencies and member countries has formed the Commonwealth Connects Programme.

It is a multi-stakeholder partnership whose aim is to facilitate strategic action by governments, the private sector and civil society organisations to fast track positive change. It is a unique initiative that enables the transfer of technology and expertise across the whole Commonwealth.
In 2005, the 53 Heads of Government met under the theme “Networking the Commonwealth for Development”.

At a previous CHOGM, Heads of Government had endorsed what was previously the 'Commonwealth Action Programme for the Digital Divide', now known as the 'Commonwealth Connects Programme', which identified broad programme areas where the Commonwealth had a comparative advantage, in the context of international collaboration, due to a shared legacy of institutional and regulatory development.

The Programme further tends to building on policy and regulatory capacity, modernising education and skills development entrepreneurship for poverty reduction, promoting local access and connectivity, regional networking, local content and knowledge, focussing on these well-defined areas, the commonwealth connects programme will enhance and support the global effort of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The summit aims to foster effective global partnerships between the public and private sectors to help develop and deliver the objectives of the Commonwealth Connects programme.

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