The Programme for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States and Emergency Telecommunications is a highly focused initiative of ITU that is administered by the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT). Its primary objective is to bridge the digital divide between the rest of the world and the world's 49 poorest countries. In its effort to bridge the digital divide, the programme focuses on reforming the telecommunication sector of these countries so as to introduce new structures, which are more conducive to faster and sustained telecommunication development, with well-managed and modern networks. It also seeks to increase the penetration of telecommunication services so as to achieve universal access to those services. Below are some examples of ITU's projects in the Least Developed Countries.
||Rural connectivity no longer a dream in Samoa |
People in rural villages in Samoan islands of Upolu and Savaii, who had previously never seen a computer, are now using the internet to communicate with their family members working in Apia, the capital city, or living overseas. Women have created their own local committees to manage nine of the MCTs, and a youth group runs the tenth. The centres are being used to transmit information for a national programme to promote healthy living. A train-the trainers programme is being provided. A local expert conducts training in the Samoan language. Training materials have been translated into Samoan, and this has proved very used for the women. When the trainer is away, they can teach themselves using translated manuals.
Ten MCTs in Samoa are now functioning as telephone and internet access points not only for personal communications, but also educational, business and community applications. The role of ITU in bridging the digital divide and improving rural connectivity is now a reality in Samoa.
||Enhancing government services for Rwanda |
In partnership with the European Commission, ITU is also implementing Rwanda's e government project. The first phase has provided internet access, visa and passport control facilities at the Kigali airport, and secured e mail services to main government offices. Other planned applications include video-conferencing among public institutions, as well as online systems, available at post offices, for issuing such government documents as passports and work permits.
This project will give people, in both rural and urban areas, new access to administrative services. The project will help to ensure that the government is effective, accessible and accountable – and thus support Rwanda's goal of strengthening democratic institutions that were shattered by war.
||ICT training for returning Liberians |
On 19 April 2006, ITU and UNHCR launched an Information and Communication Technology Training Centre in Monrovia, Liberia, to help equip people with skills that make them more employable. The project targets those who have returned to Liberia after years in refugee camps abroad, and offers them training in core computer and entrepreneurial skills. It is expected that 20 per cent of Liberian refugees go back to urban centres, most of them to the capital city, Monrovia.
The training centre is equipped with 20 computers, peripherals, a backup power supply, a projector, a photocopying machine, a television and video/DVD unit, and a video camera. The centre has the capacity to train about 60 students every two months. It offers training free of charge to returnees, but charges a nominal fee for other community members wishing to receive training in ICT. The centre also provides related services, such as e mail, internet access, word processing, photocopying, and basic desktop publishing. Modest fees will be charged for these services, so as to make the venture financially viable and sustainable. This collaboration between ITU and the UN refugee agency is an important effort towards extending ICT access and training to returnees.
||ITU helps Bhutan gain access to ICT in schools |
Bhutan's goal is to add ICT to the curricula of all schools by 2010. As part of this effort and with the support of ITU, a project was carried out in 2005 to distribute computers to schools and religious colleges across the country. The Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion (KADO) provided 200 used computers for that purpose, and recipients were selected from among those institutions with a low (or zero) ratio of computers to students. ITU's support involved liaising between the partners in the project, transporting the computers to Bhutan, and providing equipment for internet connection. The Bhutan Information, Communication and Media Authority (BICMA) was responsible for arranging internet connections, with the assistance of Bhutan TELECOM, as well as for organizing power supplies, installation and maintenance for the computers and appropriate training. In total, 13 secondary schools received computers under the project, some of which had never had such equipment before. In addition, 18 religious institutions nationwide were given computers. Although a private body, the Rigsum Institute of Information Technology, in the capital Thimphu, was also included in the project. This public-private partnership resulted in the establishment of a small cybercafé to provide free internet access at weekends for students of the institute and other schools.
||ITU helps Afghanistan to restore its Telecommunication and Broadcasting infrastructures |
A joint ITU TELECOM Surplus Fund/UNDP project provided support to the Government of Afghanistan in restoring their Ministry of Communications when the war ended and establishing an operational structure capable of dealing with the telecommunication governance issues during the immediate term and beyond. In addition, ITU also assisted the country in developing critical elements of their sector policy, drafting a telecommunications bill, and working out a regulatory structure and streamlining its operations. In the same vein, ITU also elaborated a National Radio-Frequency Plan, National Radio Regulations, Guides for Spectrum Monitoring and Station Inspection, and implemented a computerized spectrum management system.
||VoIP for e-government convergence in Burkina Faso and Mauritania |
IP-based platforms are being implemented on the government optical fibre network in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and in Mauritania, to develop government services and applications by covering the national territory. As a result of these projects, participating countries will benefit from more secure, accessible, trans-parent and efficient government operations and ser-vices. All ministries and all major cities in Burkina Faso will be connected by 2007 using an optical fibre-based platform. In Mauritania, the target is to install 6 000 internet-connected PCs in government offices (ministries and other administrative offices) by 2006, as part of the implementation of the National ICT Strategies project developed with ITU's assistance.
||Connecting health care in Senegal |
With regards to telemedicine projects, an ITU TELECOM Surplus Fund pilot project was established to link the University Hospital of Dakar-Fann in Senegal with the Regional Hospital in Dioubel. Thanks to ITU, the Government of Senegal and SONATEL, the transmission of medical images, as well as patient data records and other medical information, is now available. This project makes possible distance-consultation and the exchange of medical information.
||Building Human Resources for the Information Society |
In 2004, the ITU Capacity-Building Programme, supported by the European Commission, established Internet Training Centres (ITCs) in Bhutan that provided two streams of internet and ICT training programmes to end-users and advanced users. The centres provided training courses in "How to design and set up an e secure web based service" and an "Introductory computer, software and digital technology".
||ITU Bridges the Digital "Postal" Divide in Bhutan |
ITU and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) initiated a project for the provision of e post facility in Bhutan. This project allows e mail messages that are sent to the post office to be delivered as local mail. The project benefited from a South-South transfer of expertise, know-how and technology from India.