3.2 Strategic Compacts

The emerging evidence from the various ICT for development strategies presented in Section 2 strongly suggests that, in order to reap the benefits of ICT for development, it is necessary to involve the full range of actors in the public and private sector in a process that is inclusive, open and participatory. In the case of an ICT as enabler strategy with a development focus, the relative success of Estonia and South Africa, for example, is positively correlated to the integration of multiple stakeholders and sector partnerships into the design process.

The key element here is the involvement of all sectors and stakeholders—not only in the design of strategies, but also, and perhaps more importantly, in their implementation—in such a way that each has specific roles and responsibilities. Strategic partnerships are required to aggregate the capabilities and resources to address the pervasive market failures in developing countries and to create win-win situations for the various sectors and stakeholders involved. Neither the government nor the private sector alone can achieve this objective—each is dependent on the cooperation of others to accomplish its goals.

A new form of collaboration and coordinated action between public, private, civil society and international organizations is needed—a strategic compact. There is an urgent need to build upon, and go beyond, existing partnerships to redefine roles and responsibilities at the global, national, and local level.

The required characteristics of these new strategic compacts are:

Vision and Leadership. This includes grasping the potential for ICT to link national economies to the new global network to accelerate the achievement of broad development goals, as well as the leadership to promote broad partnerships at the global, national and local levels to support bottom-up initiatives. Heads of government should provide the necessary leadership to confront existing barriers and promote innovative solutions. National and international private industry should work closely together to adopt, adapt and develop technologies to meet the unique needs and challenges of the less fortunate. Civil society should be a critical player and help assure that ICT is used in a way that targets and addresses specific development goals and priorities. As is highlighted by Estonia’s experience, a strong vision which can be used to build consensus on national priorities and secure the commitment of all players involved is vital to the success of national ICT initiatives.

Strategic Alignment. A strategic compact can provide the space and pressure to address resistance, create ownership and devise incentives for change. A multi-stakeholder taskforce can thus work to align the goals, incentives, roles and responsibilities of diverse stakeholders and provide win-win opportunities. Without this sort of alignment, partnerships will not be sustainable and results will fall short of expectations for all involved.

Coordinated Action. Close coordination serves not only to prevent duplication of efforts, but also to achieve positive synergies. Cross-fertilization of ideas, multiple uses of ICT infrastructure and facilities, and a redirection of available resources to crucial and under-funded areas are examples of the gains to be realized from forming a strategic compact.

New Collaborative Partnerships. The successful design and implementation of a strategy focused on ICT as an enabler of development requires the formation of national compacts involving all stakeholders. South Africa’s ICT taskforces and councils—and Tanzania’s innovative eSecretariat which supports the work of the national eThink Tank—demonstrate the effectiveness of addressing ICT for development in a participatory and inclusive fashion. At the international level, both the G8 Digital Opportunity Task Force (Dot Force) and the UN ICT Task Force have made substantial contributions to furthering the understanding of ICT's role in the development process. Through sharing best practices, promoting dialogue, highlighting success stories, and building consensus on the new agenda, national and international strategic compacts are crucial ingredients to help countries harness the benefits of ICT as a development enabler.


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