Pacific can overcome challenges of digital transformation


Delegates of the Together for a “Digital Pacific 2018” conference in Apia

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – THURSDAY 07 JUNE 2018: Digital transformation is the key to the implementation of the Samoa Pathway and achieving the sustainable development goals to overcome the challenges facing small island states.

This is according to the Minister of Communications, Information and Technology (MCIT) Afamasaga Rico Tupai when he opened the Together for a Digital Pacific 2018 conference at the Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi (TATTE) conference complex this morning.

The two day regional conference brings together influential development thinkers, practitioners, and public, private, civil society organizations and youth representatives to learn about international experience in digital transformation and see how the region and its small island developing states may benefit.

He said through internet connectivity, the Pacific can bring international markets to their shores and connect Pacific sellers to the world, and reduce the high operating costs for Government and businesses.

The meeting is timely as the Pacific regional meeting to review the Samoa Pathway in Tonga next week will discuss some of the initiatives relating to technology.

The Samoa Pathway was endorsed at the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) meeting in Apia in 2014, recognized the importance of information and technology in ensuring the economic stability of small island states.

He also confirmed the international community reaffirming its commitment to support SIDS to gain access and connectivity through the use of ICT to improve infrastructure, training and national legislation as well as having the public and private sector involved.

He made reference to the Tui Samoa Cable and how it will change Samoa’s future.

UNDP Staff attending as co host of the meeting

As co-host of the meeting, the United Nation’s Assistant Secretary General Haoliang Xu commended the move by the Pacific especially Samoa in hosting the meeting.

He noted the importance of technology in the development of nations, but he also cautioned countries to monitor the kind of information that could be exposed to children.

He pointed out that society face many challenges, and one of the key aspects for success is education and there is a need to look at educating people and children.

He said whilst access to information is vital, how the information is processed and what kind of information is given is also important.

The meetings focus in on three core objectives:

  1. Prepare the ground for greater collaboration on digital technologies in the Pacific, in view of leveraging the increase in connectivity and potential for creating a regional digital economy which enjoys greater integration and prosperity;
  2. Share lessons learnt with its own decision-makers, generate a shared vision on digitalization and identify priority areas on which the Government can focus its implementation efforts, thereby launching a process of organisational, cultural and technological change that will ready the nation for the digital age;
  3. Identify key partners and financing mechanisms for the e-Governance reform in Samoa and in the region to expedite progress in digitalizing public and commercial services through relevant legislation, institutional design and capacity development.