Monday, October 31, 2005

"Financial mechanisms for meeting the challenges of ICT for development"

Below are the recommendations to be presented to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) on the financing of ICT for development. Note that agreement has been reached in the preparatory meetings for WSIS on all these recommendations. (Read the full report online.)

"34. Recognizing that the central responsibility for coordination of public financing programmes and public ICT development initiatives rest with governments, we recommend that further cross-sectoral and cross-institutional coordination should be undertaken, both on the part of donors and recipients within the national framework. (Agreed)

"35. Multilateral development banks and institutions should consider adapting their existing mechanisms, and where appropriate designing new ones, to provide for national and regional demands on ICT development. (Agreed)

"36. We acknowledge the following prerequisites for equitable and universal accessibility to and better utilization of financial mechanisms:

a. Creating policy and regulatory incentives aimed at universal access and the attraction of private sector investment;
b. Identification and acknowledgement of the key role of ICTs in national development strategies, and their elaboration, when appropriate, in conjunction with e-strategies;
c. Developing institutional and implementation capacity to support the use of national universal service/access funds, and further study of these mechanisms and those aiming to mobilize domestic resources;
d. Encouraging the development of locally relevant information, applications and services that will benefit developing countries and countries with economies in transition;
e. Supporting the “scaling-up” of successful ICT-based pilot programmes;
f. Supporting the use of ICTs in government as a priority and a crucial target area for ICT-based development interventions;
g. Building human resource and institutional capacity (knowledge) at every level for achieving Information Society objectives, especially in the public sector;
h. Encouraging business sector entities to help jump-start wider demand for ICT services by supporting creative industries, local producers of cultural content and applications as well as small businesses;
i. Strengthening capacities to enhance the potential of securitised funds and utilising them effectively.
(Full Para Agreed).

"37. We recommend improvements and innovations in existing financing mechanisms, including:
a. Improving financial mechanisms to make financial resources become adequate, more predictable, preferably untied, and sustainable;
b. Enhancing regional cooperation and creating multi-stakeholder partnerships, especially by creating incentives for building regional backbone infrastructure;
c. Providing affordable access to ICTs, by the following measures:
i. Reducing international Internet costs charged by backbone providers, supporting, inter alia, the creation and development of regional ICT backbones and Internet Exchange Points to reduce interconnection cost and broaden network access;
ii. Encouraging ITU to continue the study of the question of the International Internet Connectivity (IIC) as an urgent matter to develop appropriate Recommendations;

d. Coordinating programmes among governments and major financial players to mitigate investment risks and transaction costs for operators entering less attractive rural and low income market segments;
e. Helping to accelerate the development of domestic financial instruments including by supporting local microfinance instruments, ICT business incubators, public credit instruments, reverse auction mechanisms, networking initiatives based on local communities, digital solidarity and other innovations;
f. Improving the ability to access financing facilities with a view to accelerating the pace of financing of ICT infrastructure and services, including the promotion of North-South flows as well as North-South and South-South cooperation;
g. Multilateral, regional and bilateral development organizations should consider the utility of creating a virtual forum for the sharing of information by all stakeholders on potential projects, on sources of financing and on institutional financial mechanisms.
h. Enabling developing countries to be increasingly able to generate funds for ICTs and to develop financial instruments, including trust funds and seed capital adapted to their economies;
i. Urging all countries to make concrete efforts to fulfil their commitments under the Monterrey Consensus;
j. Multilateral, regional and bilateral development organizations should consider cooperating to enhance their capacity to provide rapid response with a view to supporting developing countries that request assistance with respect to ICT policies;
k. Encouraging increased voluntary contributions;
l. [Deleted];
m. Making, as appropriate, effective use of debt relief mechanisms as outlined in the Geneva Plan of Action, including inter alia debt cancellation and debt swapping, that may be used for financing ICT for development projects, including those within the framework of poverty reduction strategies.
(Full Para Agreed)

"38. We welcome the Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF) established in Geneva as an innovative financial mechanism of a voluntary nature open to interested stakeholders with the objective of transforming the digital divide into digital opportunities for the developing world by focusing mainly on specific and urgent needs at the local level and seeking new voluntary sources of “solidarity” finance. The DSF will complement existing mechanisms for funding the Information Society, which should continue to be fully utilized to fund the growth of new ICT infrastructure and services. (Agreed)"

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