Friday 2 March 2012, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji –
Adoption of ICT as a national priority in Pacific Island nations is critical to improving livelihoods of Pacific communities. To achieve this goal, strong support is needed from parliamentarians to champion national efforts.
SPC’s recent mission to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), which focused on providing assistance in this key area, was well received by the RMI Nitijela (Parliament).
‘This ICT session for Marshall Islands Parliament and some follow-up meetings will definitely help raise the awareness and understanding of parliamentarians about the benefits of ICT and how ICT can help development in Marshall Islands,’ said the Speaker, Hon. Donald F. Capelle, in his opening remarks at the Parliament ICT briefing.
The Speaker emphasised to members of parliament and senior government officials that RMI needs to fully utilise the opportunities provided by ICT to achieve national development goals.
Apart from the briefing session, SPC staff also conducted an ICT training workshop for parliament staff to strengthen their capacity in the use of ICT. The main purpose of the training was to impart key ICT knowledge and skills to address ICT skill gaps among staff. These gaps were identified through the ICT training needs assessment conducted by SPC prior to the training.
‘Parliamentarians are busy people and they often require the assistance of staff to help them with their ICT needs,’ said Mr Tanielu Aiafi, SPC ICT Outreach Officer, who conducted the training. ‘It is therefore important for us to ensure that parliament staff are trained in the application of ICT in their work as this contributes to more effective and efficient parliaments in the Pacific.’
Another key task for the mission was to follow up on a number of regional priorities, such as the development of the RMI National ICT Plan, capacity building in ICT, and the cybercrime bill to criminalise the use of ICT for criminal purposes. According to Mr Phil Phillipo, Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation and Communication, RMI is making progress in these initiatives with support from various stakeholders, including Nitijela and the National Telecommunications Authority.
The SPC team noted that the use of ICT in key sectors such as health and education, was also increasing. For example, implementing the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, the Ministry of Education had purchased 1,100 low cost ‘XO laptops’ to assist school students. ‘We are now looking at various options for deploying these laptops to ensure they add value to the learning process and are sustainable,’ stated Mr Gary Ueno, Secretary of the Ministry of Education.
The SPC mission to RMI, which took place from 14–18 February 2012, is a part of the European Union-funded project: ICT Access for the Poor: Improving access to ICT by informing and engaging Pacific ACP legislators. The project is implemented by the SPC Economic Development Division’s Pacific ICT Outreach Programme (PICTO).
For more information, please contact: Siaosi Sovaleni, PICTO Manager, EDD, SPC, Suva, Fiji (email:
(Photo caption: The RMI Speaker, Hon. Donald F. Capelle, delivering his opening remarks at the Parliament ICT Briefing)