I finally managed to speak to the EU/Danish consultant who had originally planned the e-governance workshop in St. Kitts. Apparently, the situation was much more complicated than what I originally thought. The workshop was going to be partly financed by a EU project that is implemented by the Ministry of Finance and Sustainable Development (MFSD), with substantive support from the Ministry of Information and Technology (MIT) and the EU consultant. Some sort of antagonism had developed in the past between MFSD and the EU consultant, antagonism that had it climax with the last minute cancellation of the workshop, in spite of pleads made by the MIT. The latter is now trying to pick up the pieces and reschedule the workshop for later but it does not have the funding to do so. On the other hand, the EU consultant will end assignment at the end of June and leave the country.
Also has a long conference call with Brazil on the future of the International Public Software regional programme (IPSRP). The programme is expected to end this year and no new resources will be allocated by UNDP or Brazil, the main partner of the programme. The Argentinian government however is demonstrating keen interest in the programme to the point that is organizing a meeting in Buenos Aires next week to gather all current international partners involved in the programme. Argentina is also paying for the travel of all international participants through an national e-gov programme that is executed by UNDP Argentina.
On my view, the core issue with IPSRP is the approach that it took since its inception. In spite of many discussions, the project leaned towards a more “software” approach than anything else thus losing to a point the connection to broader and ongoing national e-governance initiatives in the region. There is then need to repackage the programme to “sell” to other partners who might be willing to pick up the pieces and run away with them. Nevertheless, the increased interest of Argentina might be an opening as it might be possible to get them to replace Brazil as the main partner and ask them to consider supporting IPS beyond 2011. This should be decided at the meeting in Buenos Aires next week.