ITU TELECOM SURPLUS PROGRAMME
In line with ITUís mandate to foster expansion of modern communications services around the world, surplus
income generated by the Unionís highly successful Telecom events is transformed into working capital for the Telecom Surplus Programme, where it is used to fund a wide range of national and regional development projects.
Funding proposals are evaluated by the Telecom
Surplus Fund Programme Steering Committee, which meets four times a year. In general, successful proposals must meet the following strict criteria:
Potential to attract additional funding and participation of new partners
Potential long-term sustainable impact
Facilitation of cross-national cooperation
Synergy with other ITU projects
Potential for self-sufficiency in the short- to medium-term
Projects funded through the Programme during the year 2000 can be broadly grouped into four key areas: Human Resource Development, Infrastructure Development, Assistance to Countries in Special Need, and Application of New Technologies.
Human Resource Development
The Telecom Surplus Programme continues to represent an important source of funding for the four telecommunication Centres of Excellence established in 1998. Designed to train public officials in policy and regulatory issues, these Centres link existing educational and research institutes in Africa, the Americas and Asia Pacific, to create highly effective virtual training networks. The Centres have already attracted the support of a number of prominent partners, including AFRALTI, ESMT, Nortel Networks, IDRC/ACACIA, and AGRA.
The success of these four initial Centres has prompted development of a fifth Centre in the Arab States region, with the goal of developing regional expertise and creating a network of training providers. A preparatory meeting to launch this project was held in Egypt in October, with the inaugural co-ordination meeting held in Tunis towards the end of the year.
Other important human resources-related activities funded by the Telecom Surplus Programme include the Global Telecommunication University and Global Telecommunication Training Institute.
During the year 2000, the Programme used USD 596 000 for the AFRITEL and INDAFTEL projects, which aim to modernize Africaís existing Panaftel network and enhance local and regional manufacturing capability.
AFRITEL will upgrade and establish new inter-country communications links throughout Africa, enabling as much as USD 500 million in annual traffic revenues to remain within the African continent.
INDAFTEL, meanwhile, aims to improve telecom industrialization in Africa through the fostering of accelerated growth of the local telecoms industry.
Assistance to Countries in Special Need
In accordance with resolutions adopted in 1994 in Kyoto and 1998 in Minneapolis, ITU continues to offer assistance to Bosnia and Herzegovina through a specially-developed Plan of Action. Within the framework of this Plan, and in partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Telecommunication Law of BiH has been developed, and the Telecommunication Regulatory Agency (TRA) established.
During the year 2000, ITU provided USD 460 000 of assistance to the TRA through the Telecom Surplus Programme. One important result of this aid was the purchase of a Mobile Frequency Monitoring Unit to aid effective spectrum management.
Application of New Technologies
The Telecom Surplus Programme provides a vital source of seed funding for projects which are helping bring the benefits of advances in communications technology to those most in need.
Tele-education projects are currently under way in India and Morocco, while a further ten telemedicine projects are helping extend vital medical services to remote and underprivileged areas in Bhutan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kenya, Malta, Mozambique, Myanmar, Senegal and Venezuela.
In addition, the Telecom Surplus Programme is also helping fund Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MCTs) in Benin, Honduras, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Viet Nam, in
collaboration with national and international partners. These MCTs are not only bringing phone, fax and Internet access to rural areas, but are helping provide training in information technology and fostering access to information resources
of special relevance to local communities.
Electronic Commerce for Developing Countries (EC-DC)
Since its launch in March 1998, this important initiative has earned wide support from public and private sector companies, the media and the governments of several ITU Member States.
November saw ITU hold a fully-sponsored EC-DC conference at its Geneva headquarters for more than 50 developing countries. The project continues to attract the participation of a growing number of industry partners, including MCI WorldCom, Baltimore Technologies, Network Communication Products, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Datamatics, Entegrity, Celo Communications, ValiCert, Rainbow Technologies and Vitress, who are contributing their technologies and services to the project for the benefit of developing countries worldwide.