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IDB announces “Network for Social Access to Information and Communication Technologies and E-Services” initiative

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced the initiative “Network for Social Access to Information and Communication Technologies and E-Services” and the support to the project “Condornet:  Technology and Social Access Solution for Cundinamarca, Colombia”.

The objective of the initiative is to promote the economic, social and cultural development of local populations through the support to the design and implementation of wireless connectivity networks (WiFi and WiMax), Internet access and information and communication technologies (ICT), and the development of public digital services (e-services).  As part of the Program, the Bank is also having discussions with Microsoft Corporation and Intel Corporation on bringing the expertise of the two corporations on hardware, software and content.

The Project is consistent with the Bank’s new “Framework Program in Information and Communication Technology for Development”, which is setting the stage for the conformation of public-private-partnerships in ICT, through technology and knowledge transfers from the private sector, and the provision of financial and technical resources to development initiatives which make effective use of ICT as means towards the attainment of social and economic development and governance objectives.

The Bank has committed to the project a total of US$1.2 million from the Italian Trust Fund for Information and Communication Technology for Development, which will leverage the local counterpart funding already committed by the municipalities of Cundinamarca.

Within the framework of the Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) in ICT for development signed between the Bank and Microsoft Corporation in June 2006 and the Bank and Intel Corporation in September 2006, the Bank is exploring collaboration with both companies to develop a framework for their involvement in among others, the design and implementation of pilot modules in connectivity, on-line public services, training, and elaboration of content of local interest.  As part of social e-services, the project will consider, among others, Microsoft Corporation “Partners in Learning” and the deployment of Intel-powered “Classmate PCs” and Intel Teach Program, as pilot modules.  Also, Microsoft Corporation together with other business partners is designing a pilot component in “identification for the Majority” through the deployment of smart cards, in addition to systems interoperability applications.

Also, consistent with the initiative “Connecting the Majority:  Empowerment through Digital Dividends”, which forms part of the strategic framework “Building Opportunities for the Majority” launched by the Bank in June 2006, the Project will leverage the efforts of local governments towards the establishment of sustainable connectivity infrastructure, the attainment of massive citizens’ access to the Internet, and the provision of ICT-based public social services, as means for the improvement in local governance, a more effective provision of technology-supported social services in education and health, and the generation of employment opportunities and community-based economic development for the Majority.

For this purpose and, as explained above, the central pillar of the Project lies in complementing the efforts on the municipalities with respect to connectivity infrastructure development under cost-effective conditions, with the support to the implementation of e-services and digital content with high impact for the Majority, and incorporating institutional models based on the active participation of local governments, civil society and private sector.

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