BMA-UNCRD Joint Training Course in IT
22 Apr 2002 - 4 May 2002

The UNCRD Africa Office, in collaboration with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), organized a training course in information technology (IT) from 22 April to 4 May 2002. Assumption University hosted the course which was organized to strengthen the national capacity of African and Asian countries in the field of IT as part of the UNCRD Africa Office's Asia-Africa Exchange Programme to promote South-South cooperation. The course was attended by twenty mid- and senior-level African and Asian planners and administrators from Botswana, Cambodia, People's Republic of China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lao PDR, Namibia, the Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, Viet Nam, and Zambia.

The training course, which was organized on a cost-sharing basis between UNCRD and the BMA, aimed at assisting African and Asian planners and administrators in acquiring the skills and competence required to design and implement effective IT development policies and strategies, with a focus on the case of Thailand. More specifically, the training course aimed to increase the awareness among African and Asian policymakers about the importance of developing national IT strategies and policies; and improve their skills and knowledge on how to operate and use computers, the Internet, and other computer-aided technologies. The course also provided opportunities for the participants to learn and draw lessons from Thailand's IT development strategies and programmes.

On the last day of the training course, the participants presented country case studies on IT development in their respective countries which focused on the development and status of IT and the challenges each country is facing in becoming part of the global information network. Some of the lessons which could be drawn from Thailand's IT development planning and management were highlighted, underscoring the importance of IT in economic development, in addition to the negative impact of unwisely-managed IT development.

However, the participants agreed that, in general, IT will increase productivity as well as efficiency. More specifically, it was agreed that: high level policy- and decision makers should be sensitized towards recognizing the importance of IT in socioeconomic development; developing African and Asian countries' governments should ensure the availability of essential infrastructure, without which IT development cannot be achieved; and a lack of skilled manpower is one of the main problems hindering IT development, and therefore developing Asian and African countries should invest more in human resource development (HRD). It was also felt that lack of finance is the other stumbling block towards successful IT development. To ameliorate this problem, partnership should be forged between the private and public sectors to develop effective IT projects and programmes. The participants are expected to share knowledge and experiences acquired during the training course with their colleagues upon their return to their respective workplaces.

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