UNCTAD is joining the Global ePolicy Resource Network (ePol-NET - www.epol-net.org) as a partner.
Under this partnership, UNCTAD will contribute its expertise on information and communication technologies (ICT) and economic development and on the adoption of ICT by the business sector (particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs) in developing countries. This expertise includes policy advice, research and analysis, and training in such areas as the design and implementation of national e-strategies, the adoption of ICT in selected sectors with export potential, ICT awareness-raising, digital opportunities for women, e-business development and SME competitiveness, and the application of ICT to enhancing trade and transport efficiency.
ePol-NET was launched during the World Summit on the Information Society in December 2003. The initiative is designed to mobilize international efforts in support of national e-strategies for development. It provides ICT policy makers in developing countries with focused ICT strategies and resources that can serve as enablers for social and economic development. These encompass such vital areas as telecommunications policy and regulation; e-commerce and Internet policies; e-government strategies; and the use of ICT in social areas, including health and education.
Africa is a main focus of ePol-NET´s activities. The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has set up an African regional ePol-NET node to coordinate the response to demand by national governments for expertise on ICT for development. With a contribution of C$10 million, the Canadian government has established the Canadian e-Policy Resource Centre (CePRC) as a focal point for consolidating the provision of Canadian expertise and resources to African countries. Other ePol-NET partners focusing on Africa include the Government of the United Kingdom, through its CATIA (Catalysing Access to ICT in Africa) programme; the Government of France, through its ADEN project of public community access points in French-, English- and Portuguese-speaking countries in sub-Saharan Africa; and the Government of Italy, through its "E-Government for Development" initiative, which provides assistance to Mozambique, Nigeria and Tunisia.
ePol-NET operates as a virtual network through a secretariat established by the Irish government. The network facilitates access to e-policy expertise and resources linking supply and demand for e-policy products and services. Current partners include the governments of Canada, France, Italy, Japan and the UK and such international organizations as ECA, the International Telecommunication Union, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), as well as Accenture, a global management consulting company.
UNCTAD joins ePol-NET as part of the multi-stakeholder partnership on Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICTfD) launched at UNCTAD XI. ePol-NET continues to seek new partners from government, the private sector, civil society and donor organizations to broaden its coverage to other regions of the world and expand its range of products and services and its portfolio of expertise.