11 December 2003


GENEVA, 11 December (UN Information Service) -– The United Nations Information and Communications Technologies (UN ICT) Task Force, the Governments of Canada and Ireland, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) together launched the Global e-Policy Resource Network (ePol-NET).  This innovative initiative is designed to mobilize international efforts in support of national e-strategies for development.  ePol-NET will focus on the provision of e-strategies and related information in such vital areas as telecommunications policy and regulation; e-commerce and Internet policies; e-government strategies; and the use of ICTs in social areas including health and education.

ePol-NET is a key initiative of the Digital Opportunity Task (DOT) Force (http://www.dotforce.org) report card that was presented to G8 Leaders at the 2002 Summit in Kananaskis (Canada).  The overall goal of this initiative, identified as a priority by the UN ICT Task Force (http://www.unicttaskforce.org), is to provide policy-makers in developing countries with useful and focused ICT strategies and resources that can be put to work as development enablers for social and economic progress.  ePol-NET operates as a virtual network, through a Secretariat established by the Government of Ireland.  The Secretariat coordinates exchanges among the various national, regional and institutional partners of

ePol-NET around the world, to ensure that all resources are accessible to all. 

The Canadian and Irish governments in partnership with their Italian, French, Japanese and British counterparts are each contributing nodes of expertise to ePol-NET.  The ECA, in cooperation with the UN ICT Task Force, is also providing policy input.  With the support of Canada, the ECA will also match demand from African countries with appropriate e-policy expertise from Africa or from ePol-NET partners.  The Network is supported by a range of established international organizations such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

“ICTs can create powerful social and economic networks that, in turn, provide the basis for major advances for development”, said the Chairman of the UN ICT Task Force, Jose Maria Figueres Olsen.  “We are at a unique moment in history when resources, political will and a clear, workable vision such as ePol-NET can combine to generate positive change, not just for developing nations, but for the entire world.”

“Canada is strongly committed to the success of ePol-NET”, said the Canadian Minister for International Cooperation, Susan Whelan.  “The Canadian e-Policy Resource Centre (CePRC), which we are supporting through the Canada Fund for Africa, is our contribution to ePol-NET, as a means to consolidate Canadian expertise and resources to support African countries' efforts to harness ICTs to accelerate economic growth, enhance education, and improve services to poor communities across the continent.”

“For the African continent, basing the Africa regional node of ePol-Net in the ECA is most opportune and timely”, said the Executive Secretary for the ECA, Mr. K.Y. Amoako.  “The Commission has been assisting countries formulate their national e-strategies and plans under the African Information Society Initiative (AISI) framework.  Consequently, ePol-Net services will go a long way in strengthening implementation plans as well as support demands from African institutions and individuals, seeking e-strategy expertise, guidance and advice.”

“In recent times, Ireland has experienced, at first hand, the pivotal economic and social developmental role played by ICTs”, said Dermot Ahern, Irish Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.  “In an effort to exchange e-strategy related knowledge, expertise and international best practice, Ireland’s public, private, academic and civil society sectors look forward to collaborating with our ePol-NET partners in developing and strengthening this unique and innovative initiative.  We welcome and embrace the opportunity to become a founding member of ePol-NET.”

ePol-NET continues to seek new partners from government, private sector, civil society and donor organizations. The continuing enrichment of the Network is critical to broadening global coverage, the range of products and services, and the portfolio of expertise.

For further information, please contact:

Stephen Nolan                             Raymond Lepage

ePol-NET Secretariat                      Government of Canada

Government of Ireland                     Tel:  +613-990-4421

Tel:  +353-1-678-2037                     Fax:  +613-941-1164

Fax:  +353-1-678-2079                     e-mail:  lepage.raymond@ic.gc.ca

e-mail:  Stephen.Nolan@dcmnr.ie          

Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane

Economic Commission for Africa

Tel:  + 251-1-51-14-08

Fax:  + 251-1-51-05-12

e-mail:  kbounemra@uneca.org

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