Commonwealth technology ministers will now meet biennially to share their experiences on how information technology can transform societies, improve governance, and accelerate development.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma met with Trinidad and Tobago’s Science and Technology Minister Rupert Griffith on 27 January to discuss the new ministerial meetings, which will be coordinated by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation.
Mr Sharma said: “Technology ministers together are best able to identify the ways in which to collaborate most effectively and to coordinate political action on priority concerns, from cybercrime to accessing technology in remote locations. In particular, they will be able to consider how to advance the Commonwealth Broadband Initiative agreed at the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, aimed at ensuring no member country is without a national broadband development policy.”
The Secretariat will also coordinate regular exchanges and collaboration between Commonwealth accredited organisations working on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for development activities. ICT-for-development is the concept that more and better information sharing and communication through technology can further the development of society.
The new initiatives follow the conclusion of work by a Steering Committee, which was formed in 2005 to coordinate ICT-for-development projects and to oversee over £1million of expenditure on information technology projects. Mr Griffith was the chair of the Steering Committee, which was formed from a group of Commonwealth member governments and representatives of Commonwealth agencies active on information technology.
Projects have included: a website to enable people to share information on technology; engaging civil society to use community radio to help women entrepreneurs in Cameroon; using information technology to support the civil society tsunami recovery efforts in India and Sri Lanka; refurbishing computers for Caribbean communities in collaboration with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago; establishing a virtual career guidance service for African young people; and facilitating rural connectivity in African countries by promoting the sharing of information technology wealth and knowledge across countries and breaking down regulatory and policy barriers.