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 gateways and others to support OS (the DG platform is partly OS with an Oracle backend).
On Gateway related work itself, he made reference to the ongoing process in Chile where UNDP is involved with ECLAC and other local partners. He also mentioned that there is a potential telecentre initiative for Brazil that should be coming up for discussion in the fall. He expressed interest in UNDP being involved in this if it materializes. We also discussed the possibility of doing a series of short case studies where UNDP and the Gateway have successfully worked together for dissemination within UNDP.
Carlos will be visiting NY in 14 April. A meeting with BDP senior management could be arrange for the occasion.
The meeting with Robert, who I have not seen for many years, concentrated on UNDP’s role and contribution to the Gateway. He indicated that with the arrival of the DGF CEO things are in transition. The issue of funding new country gateways is still on the table but it seems that infoDev will not fund this anymore and it is not clear at this point if the foundation will be supporting this on an extensive fashion. Country gateways themselves are going through an “SDPN”” experience as they are supposed to become independent and self-sustaining entities within 2-3 years. There is no magic formula to accomplish this goal, as we well know in UNDP.
In terms of concrete work, Robert expressed interest in working in both the Arab States and Africa. For the former, I suggested to contact the regional ICTD programme in Egypt for potential collaboration. A meeting with RBAS will be arranged through Sid. UNDP has been a good supported of Gateway activities in Palestine and this could be a good entry point. The situation in Africa is a bit more complex as existing regional initiatives (NEPAD, UNECA work) do not focus on this. It remains to be seen if the upcoming RBA ICT regional programme could play a role here.
I also met with Oleg Petrov who is the content manager for the ICTD part of the Gateway portal. We agreed to work together on: a) a UNDP feature; b)the upcoming OS special and c) the Observatory and knowledge sharing with them and others.