Dominican Republic

This was my first time back in Santo Domingo since 1999. I must admit the city has changed quite a bit. The first thing one notices is the development of physical infrastructure, buildings and roads specially. The long and beautiful ride from the airport to Santo Domingo has now been transformed into a 6 lane highway. They have however managed to preserve those great palm trees and related vegetation along the coastline which hosts the forever-magical Caribbean Sea.

The city itself has brand new and modern buildings and ‘urbanizaciones’, plenty of shopping malls and restaurants, and by far many more car dealerships per square kilometre than Westchester. All this modernisation, as some call it, occurring in the upper/upper middle class neighbourhoods. As I told some of the locals, it reminds

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Bridge-IT Global Support Team meeting in DC

Nokia, IYF, Pearson and UNDP held its quarterly meeting on 4 April.

The meeting concentrated on 3 central isssues: International launching for Philippines pilot in May; discussion on the guidelines for visual representation of the partnership including use of logos; set up of conditions for pilot scalability and replicability at the country level.

The launch of the pilot will take place on 16 May. UNDP RR in Manila will be representing us and will make a short presentation at the launching. The preeidnet of the Philippines will also be attending as well as the Minister of Education. Most of the discussion on the subject were logistical but some of it dealt with the specifics of the agenda proposed by the local partners.

Nokia has hired a private PR firm to develop a logo for the partnership

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Meetings with WB/DGF in DC

Yesterday afternoon I visited he offices of the DG at the WB. I met with Sid Kane to introduce me to gateway stuff. I also met Carlos Braga and Robert Valentin.

The meeting with Carlos centred on OS. The WB is agnostic about OS but will advice governments on the advantages/disadvantages of OS if requested to do so. Carlos also indicated that governments should not be passing legislation to prevent non-OS usage but rather should be creating the conditions for avoiding discrimination against OS for government platforms.

In terms of the Gateway itself, Carlos indicated that existing country gateway teams have OS expertise and could help the regional OS centres. Other less skilled teams could in turn benefit from training thru the centres. His vision is to create a network of experts across

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Visit to Microsoft

Bruce Jenks, Stephen Browne, Sarah McCue and I travelled to Seattle to discuss with MS potential partnership on e-learning and related initiatives. The meeting took place on Friday 21 March 2003. Here are my notes.

MS key ideas and issues

– MS has rallied three parts of the company to work along the lines of the CTCs which is essentially a concept emerging from the community affairs division. It seems that the other divisions are helping to develop the concept by bringing content and training expertise to the table

– MS has apparently done quite a bit on research in trying to identify real needs at the community level and learning. Their initial target is the “disadvantaged youth and adults”. They have a great deal of concern in exactly knowing “who” there groups are at the local level

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2nd Open Source Conference in DC

Atsushi and I attended the conference which wnet from 17th to 19 March. The focus of this one was on OSS efforts in the US, Europe and Japan. We made several contracts including:

– UNESCO: possible collaboration on OS, have keen interest. A regional OS workshop in Per� is being planned by their regional office. We agreed on working together on this and be present at the July conference. UNESCO will be hosting the next OSS conference in Paris in late November 2003.

– IDRC/BellaNet: interest in OSS in Latin America and Africa specially. They will probably finance workshops and interested in working with UNDP. The Institute for the Connectivity of the Americas (ICA) is struggling a bit a apparently fully committed for the year. The African connection is managed by Steve Song and has 20 million

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Bangladesh Mission

Great trip to Bangladesh. We have an SDNP project with great potential and lots of resrouces. The Staff is top notch too and support from the host institution is rock solid. The report spells out the recommendations I am making which in a nutshell call for a refocusing on more development oriented (less techie) pilots and proposes connections to both the National ICT Strategy and the MDGs.

I spent a lot of time in a car going from meeting to meeting. Traffic is a bit crazy. With over 300k rickshaws on the road, circulation is not easy. As the SDNP coordinator told me: “In some countries they drive on the right, in some others on the left; in Dhaka we drive on both!”.

I was amazed to see the Grameen Sky Rise. Pretty good stuff for a non-profit NGO!. One subsidiary, Grammen CyberNEt which is

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Ecuador

Lack of both time and connectivity prevented me from using the Net more effectively in Quito. The recent volcano eruption was also to blame, at least partially. I could neither connect from the hotel room as the UNDP SITA config had changed and I was not aware of it. At any rate, the hotel was charging 35 cents per minute for local calls and 2 dollars per min for international. Is this really the 21st century?

I arrived on Monday almost at midnight and the car driver gave me a great overview of the new president elect who was elected the night before. The new guy is also a former military man who is on the center/left and has widespread popular support.

The mission went pretty well. We saw many key organizations and stakeholders. There is indeed a niche to steer the existing National Connectivity

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Mozambique VI

The trip back was even longer than the one going there. I have done this before but somehow keep forgetting about it…

The public meeting for the presentation of the UNDESA/Italy e-gov mission, held at the luxurious Polana Hotel, was well attended. I would guess about 40 to 50 people were there. The session was formally open by the Minister of Higher Education, Lydia Brito who gave a big picutre intro by linking all efforts to the existing ICTD strategy and the upcoming policy on Science and Technology (I need to get hold of this doc). UNDP RR also had a slot here and make an excellent presentation on producing results and managing expectations at the country level.

As expected, the mission findings brought not surprises. Some of the presentations (on e-land registry for example) were a

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Mozambique V

Today we had UNDP day.

Early in the morning we had a debriefing with the DRR before the UNDESA/Italian mission arrived. The big idea here is to make UNDP the coordinator or facilitator of all e-governance activities by integrating the two areas within the office and use this externally to advice others such as DESA.

After the official session with the mission, we saw the RR who raised similar issues vis-a-vis UNDP’s role. The question on exact levels of funding for project implementation was also specifically raised by the RR on a semiprivate meeting with the head of the mission.

After the mission left the office, we met with the RR to discuss GDOI and a reply to the recent message from Markle re their contribution to the ICTD programme in the country.

We arrived at the Policy Commision

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Mozambique IV

On Wednesday morning, the mission heads went to see the MZ PM. The PM thanked UNDP for helping field this mission. No substantive issues came up nor any funding details, luckily…

The rest of the mission started the 2nd work session on Govnet. When we arrived at the the ministry’s conference room, we found out that the room had been locked and no one could find the key. After almost half an hour we decided to use the old credit card trick to open it to start the meeting. Talking about rea capacity building…

The session on ICT use in GoM had a presentation on the above (there are actually 4 reports on the subject since 2000) and the discussion centered mostly on technical issues and real and relevant examples on the bottlenecks faced by the variious ministries in the country, One poposal

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