The IPDC promotes free and pluralistic media in developing countries and in the countries in transition from Communism. Through media development, IPDC helps strengthen participation in democratic governance. Since its inception in 1980, the IPDC has channelled more than US$90 million to more than 1,000 media development projects in 135 countries. Priority is given to the projects promoting press freedom and media pluralism, development of community media, enhancing professional capacity and building partnerships for media improvements. UNESCO created the International Program for the Development of Communication (IPDC) in 1980.
Ivar Tallo of the Estonian E-Governance Academy gave a case study about his country's e-government successes. The e-Governance Academy was created three years ago to promote Estonia's e-government successes around the world, particularly in the former Soviet Union.
"We are a very small country," Tallo said. "Our population is 1.4 million people. But we have our own language, our own culture, and we have to sustain it." When the Soviet Union collapsed 15 years ago, Estonia faced an incredible opportunity: to build a government from scratch. "A big part of the story from 1991 to 2004 was building e-government and an information society."
"Five years ago, Estonia introduced what was called the e-cabinet," he said. "It wasn't really difficult to put flat-screen computers in the ministers' meeting room; it was a bit harder to get the ministers to use them." But the program has made decision-making at the ministerial level much more transparent. "Our ministers now tend to participate in cabinet meetings even when they're not physically there.... Other countries at the time said we couldn't do it, but we were a new country, so we didn't know, so we just went ahead and did it."
Today, around 52% of the population has Internet access and 91% have mobile phones even though the country's GDP is generally much lower than western European countries. All schools are connected to the Internet, and there are more than 700 public access points around the country. There's also an enormous proliferation of free wi-fi, including access at all Estonian gas stations. (As an aside, he said to the audience, "Look guys, the UAE can learn a good lesson about providing free wi-fi rather than charging 20 euros a day at a hotel like we have to pay here. Free wi-fi is good business.") Additionally, e-banking rates are also among the highest in the world. "I don't even remember the last time I went to a bank; we all do it over the Internet."
Tallo said that many people assume Estonia's success is simply because of the location and population size; however, he pointed out that Estonia's neighbors, Latvia and Lithuania, have almost half the Internet penetration rate as Estonia's. Estonia invests significantly in ICT development - approximately one percent of the national budget each year for the last decade.
Current negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) have led to intensified competition in both export and domestic markets. These, requires Malaysian companies to enhanced their competitiveness and comply with the necessary standards. The outsourcing trend to gain competitive advantage and operational efficiencies by the multinational corporations (MNCs) and large companies, have created new business opportunities. Malaysian SMEs could benefit from these opportunities, provided that they are able to meet the requirements set by MNCs and large companies.
AVANTI helps bridging the digital divide While e-government enables public authorities to serve many of their citizens more effectively it can exclude certain groups such as elderly people and technophobes. Working to bridge this digital divide, IST project AVANTI consulted potential user groups.
The project brought together four different municipal authorities to find a potential solution; Edinburgh and the London Borough of Lewisham (UK), Kista (Sweden) and Ventspils (Latvia). Each city established a local user group to work with local citizens and other interested groups, then investigated what the relevant council departments wanted to do with such a service.
On 12 May 2005 the European Commission presented the results of a consultation on public-private partnerships (PPPs), which shows that related EU public procurement rules need to be clarified.
A majority of stakeholders asked for clarification of EU public procurement rules that apply to the selection of private partners for PPPs. In this respect, opinion was divided on the form and the precise content of the EU initiatives required, with many different arguments being expressed by respondents both for and against EU initiatives.
Many respondents asked how EU rules should apply to the choice of private partners in ‘institutionalised PPPs’, i.e. public service undertakings held jointly by both a public and a private partner. In particular, respondents asked about the difference between ‘in-house’ and third-party entities. EU law on public contracts and concessions applies when a contracting body entrusts a task to a third party, unless the relation between the two is so close that the latter is equivalent to an ‘in-house’ entity. In general, public-sector respondents argued for widening the definition of ‘in-house’, while the private sector wished to maintain its limited scope as confirmed by the European Court of Justice in 2003.