The SAMOA Pathway is a wide-ranging agreement reached among SIDS in September 2014. Among its many suggestions is the idea that SIDS must increase their technological capacities as well as begin using information and communications technology (ICT) for better interaction between national governments and their populations, between various agencies, and between regional counterparts. This can help SIDS improve public services, disaster risk reduction, and government efficiency while connecting remote areas of the Pacific.
E-Government can also aid in pursuing sustainable development agendas. SIDS are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural disasters, and an improved ICT infrastructure in the region can provide reliable, actionable data to help allocate resources aimed at mitigating the effects of both. The use of E-Government, which connects government agencies and allows them to easily exchange data, has also been shown to increase citizens’ participation in public affairs, particularly those in rural areas, through e-participation. It levels the playing field for stakeholders and provides real-time services and more effective integration into the global economy.
Despite its many upsides, challenges to E-Government implementation remain. For many small island economies, the cost of providing ICT-related services and infrastructure is extremely expensive. As Mr. Aisi and Ms. Bethel noted, then, a public/private partnership is needed to provide the finance for the infrastructural development necessary for the transition to regional E-Government . Cyber security also presents a huge challenge for governments transitioning to institutional use of ICT. A legal framework for preventing such activity is needed. Ms. Bethel pointed out that a further challenge was the absence in some countries of long-term national non-partisan policies to transition to E-Governments. Such commitments cannot simply have the lifespan of a single administration. Countries must have across-the-board support for initiatives to transform government.
Meeting: Panel Discussion on “ICT and E-Government in SIDS: Responding to the SAMOA Pathway Call for Action.”
Date: 14 November 2014
Location: Conference Room 2, UN HQ, New York
Speakers: H.E. Sebastiano Cardi, Chair of the Second Committee; Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary General for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development; Mr. Antonio Navarra, President of Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change; H.E. Tuisugaletaua Sofara Aveau, Minister of Communication and Information Technology of Samoa; H.E. Robert Guba Aisi, Permanent Representative of Papua New Guinea to the United Nations; Ms. Rowena Bethel, Director and CEO of the National Insurance Board, Bahamas; Mr. Young Bum Lee, Professor, Department of Public Administration, College of Political Sciences, Konkuk University, Republic of Korea.
Written By WIT Representative: Philip Bracey