Weekly Update: 4 May

I received the visit from a senior VP from Cisco who heads the company’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG, http://www.cisco.com/web/about/ac79/index.html). We first partnered with  IBSG back in 2003 when they came to visit UNDP with the VP heading the delegation. We spent over three hours discussing our approach to ICTD and e-governance and they immediately decided to partner with us. But that was then.  Nowadays Cisco seems to be in trouble according to the VP. They have recently laid off close to 20 thousand employees and top management is focusing on maximizing profits, more than ever apparently. The VP compared Cisco’s top management strategy and approach to Wall Street’s before the crisis. In such environment, having a group such as IBSG, who does not really sell any products nor it is close to the sales people of the company, cannot be possibly sustained as it is in effect an expensive investment that yield little profits (it thus becomes a cost that eats on the profits of the company).  As a result, IBSG will not survive in this environment and will most probably be transformed into a business development group. At any rate, the VP will be leaving the company soon and most of the staff will either be laid off our reassigned to other duties.

The big question for us is the work we are doing in South Africa on e-skills which heavily depends on advise from IBSG representatives. Cisco’s VP agreed to let me know what will happen to this. We also agreed to discuss ways to ensure that the programme continues to receive support  -maybe by transitioning from Cisco to UNDP for substantive advice and programme implementation.

The work on post-2015 continues to grow in every sense. I met with the head on UNMC who has been asked by BDP to be in charge of the mobilization campaign part of the process. I contacted the Executive Director of APC (http://www.apc.org) who agreed to be art of the process in both the overall steering of the process as well as on the technical platform. We agreed with UNMC that we (BDP/DGG) will be in charge of the technical platform and conforming a multi-stakeholder technical advisory group (TAG) while they will be managing the overall governance of the process including mobilization, participation and content.  The TAG will thus be a technical advisory committee to the larger steering group and will share and consult with it all critical issues that will need overall support from the steering group.

The WB is co-organizing an Innovation Week in Moldova the week of 14 May (which is the same week when WSIS has it annual party in Geneva!). They have asked UNDP to be involved and I have received an invitation to participate. UNDP Chisinau is also keen that I attend as it can help position UNDP within the nowadays contested e-government arena which is now under the overall direction of the e-government center (EGC), The interesting part of all this happened right after we agreed to participate. We got a request from the WB to pay for some of the logistical costs of the meeting…

A quick call with OGP’s Secretariat in D.C., helped clarify a few things. First of all, even thought the US is now longer  a co-chair of OGP it is still funding and supporting its secretariat which, according to the OGP rep, is independent from any government. The secretariat currently has three people and they will adding a new person soon. There s also talk that part of the secretariat might move to London (why not to Brazil, the other co-chair?) to better support the process. Secondly, although the secretariat has some concerns about the actual implementation of the various OGP national action plans. it is also clear that so far there is no clear strategy as to how to support this. At one point, the secretariat representative suggested we should perhaps create a special fund to support national OGP initiatives. In the end , we agreed to continue to be in touch and share with the secretariat our activities on OGP.

Cheers, Raúl



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