The Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) has a series of Sectoral Working Groups. These Working Groups are responsible for collaboratively working on various regional projects and policy initiatives. The primary objective of having Working Groups is to enhance sectoral coordination and development initiatives to strengthen integration, encourage synergy, and collaboration for the purposes of advancing sustainable development. One such working group is Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
The ICT Working Group chaired by USP has contributed to the development of a regional policy on ICT development in the region - the ‘Framework of Action for ICT development in the Pacific’.
The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders adopted five key initiatives at their last Summit in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea in September 2015. One of them was ICT, which they recognised as a game-changing, transformative enabler of development and regional co-operation and integration. The CROP ICT Working Group has overall mandate and responsibility for ensuring that the vision of the Leaders is effectively advocated, co-ordinated, and facilitated.
The call by Forum Leaders for the Forum Secretariat and USP to consider the merit of a Regional ICT Advisory Council (RIAC), which should not overlap with existing mechanisms and must deliver real deliverables, provides the opportunity for the ICT Working Group to contribute to this analysis and help set a firm foundation for the region to realise the benefits of ICT technology in development.
The review of the CROP Working Group Mechanisms in 2015 concluded that the ICT Working Group continues to play a very important role in contributing to the region’s policy agenda in ICT development and it should be retained in particular to enable CROP to contribute effectively to the development of ICT solutions in the region.
Taking into account the Leaders’ decision to declare ICT as a transformative, game-changing initiative that will deliver significant and rapid development of ICTs in all its form to promote the sustainable development of member countries and the region, the CROP ICT Working Group will provide a common platform through which CROP agencies and other relevant stakeholders can address key emerging and on-going regional priorities in the ICT sector in a collective, collaborative and coordinated manner.