National e-Strategies for Development: Global Status and Perspectives 2010 was unveiled at the WSIS 2010 Forum in Geneva, five years after the WSIS Tunis Phase and the adoption of the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society in 2005. Its findings confirm global recognition of the critical importance of ICTs to ongoing economic and social development.
“It is very encouraging to see that so many countries recognize the key importance of having a national e-strategy, and I am convinced that ICTs will in the future form an integral part of every government’s plans for economic and social development,” said Mr Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT).
Prepared in collaboration with the five UN Regional Commissions, the report reveals that a substantial proportion of the UN’s 192 Member States have already succeeded in incorporating many WSIS recommendations into their own national policies. National e-strategies are now being viewed by countries as instruments to stimulate and revitalize economic sectors still suffering from the effects of the 2008/2009 global financial crisis, with many governments integrating ICT strategies into their economic stimulus packages. In particular, e-business is viewed as having great potential, particularly for economies with a large informal sector (as is the case for many developing countries), or for economies with a significant number of small and medium enterprises, where the adoption of ICTs by the business sector can have a positive economic impact.
Nine years ago, the UN General Assembly endorsed the World Summit on the Information Society, which was held in two phases, in Geneva 2003 and in Tunis 2005. In particular, as part of the implementation of the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, it encouraged governments by 2010 to establish “comprehensive, forward-looking and sustainable national e-strategies, including ICT strategies and sectoral e-strategies, as an integral part of national development plans and poverty reduction strategies”, in order to unleash the full potential of ICT for development.
A unique feature of the WSIS process has been its multi-stakeholder approach. The new report reveals that most governments have mirrored this successful approach at the national level, involving civil society, NGOs, the private sector, academia, and regional and international organizations in their ICT strategies.
But while commending the excellent achievements so far in the development of national e-strategies, the report also identified areas where there is still room for improvement. Some countries, it says, need to revisit their plans relating to the vision, strategic orientation and ethical dimension of the Information Society, to ensure they remain relevant in a fast-changing technology environment. Many countries would also benefit from the formulation of more comprehensive sectoral e-strategies, based on the lessons learned from the implementation of existing projects.
ITU will continue tracking the development of national e-strategies worldwide, and remains committed to supporting its Member States in their efforts to elaborate and improve their national e-strategies, so as to enable the achievement of a fully inclusive Knowledge Society.