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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

PIWA, IDRC team up on ICT liberalisation


REMMY NWEKE,
just back from Senegal

The Panos Institute for West Africa (PIWA) under its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Programme of CIPACO in scientific collaboration with the Senegalese-based Consortium pour la Recherche Economique et Sociale (CRES), has launched a 24-month project on the international liberalization of trade in ICT services in West African sub-region.

The project tagged LICOM is funded by International Development Research Center (IDRC), with the mandate to examine the challenges of the private sector and implications for the implementation of public policies in four members of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS).

Project coordinator at PIWA, Mr. Ken Lohento told Champion Infotel at the inaugural workshop of the participating institutions drawn from the four countries, namely Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Benin, that the partnering institutions in the LICOM project include Benin-based Centre d’Etudies, de Formation et de Recherche en Development (CEFRED); Senegalese CRES, Ghanaian Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI/CSIR); as well as Nigeria’s University of Lagos (UNILAG).

He said that the inaugural workshop which just ended in Toubab Dialaw, Senegal, was to enable participating countries, institutions and key stakeholders to better understand the project methodology.

Mr. Lohento accompanied by the IDRC Programme Specialist for the region, Mr. Alioune Camara, said explored the “Uses and Policies of Digital Technology” under PIWA ICT programme to better proffer understanding of the challenges and implementation conditions of trade liberalization in ICT services, in the region and chart new strategies for public action.

“National and regional issues conditioning efficient liberalization for the benefit of regional private sector and of the whole society were studied as well as the adoption and implementation of international agreements, particularly the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS),” he said.

The impact of the aforementioned on the economy of the targeted countries on the private sector, will also be investigated as part of the project.

Explaining further, Lohento said that the meeting exchanged ideas across the participating countries so as to find a harmonizing ground for the project’s stakeholders understanding about its objectives and expected results.

In addition, finalizing notes were made on the research methodology to be carried out, exchanging on the project’s practical details regarding coordination encompassing administrative and logistic issues.

The workshop attended by over 20 stakeholders included the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) represented through the Information Technology Industry Association of Nigeria (ITAN) and chief executive of Programos Software, Mr. Emmanuel Amos, alongside project national research teams, experts from key nations and regional organizations.

PIWA, a regional Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), with headquarters in Senegal, has been focusing on building a democratic space for communication and social change in the sub-region.


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