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ICT for economic development

This page provides details about the programme, along with a list of related programme projects.

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   Programme Details  

About :
The role played by ICTs in supporting economic development is vital. In addition to supporting productivity and innovation across sectors, ICTs are also critical enablers of trade development itself as they help correct, improve and make more relevant the very processes with which trade is conducted. Such technologies are a tool that extends beyond basic infrastructure elements and builds an additional layer on top of the physical infrastructure that provides end-to-end transactional services aimed at supporting economic development through simplifying, hosting and integrating activities at multi-sectoral levels, thus, electronically smoothing and coordinating global supply chains between a wide range of services and products on the one hand and a broad market on the other hand.

Objectives :
To harness ICT in order to enable economic growth and encourage trade within the region and between the region and other regions of the world.

Strategy :
Recognizing that trade is a significant component of economic development, this programme takes a gradual implementation approach to the establishment of a trade and transport logistics ICT-enabled regional facility, with a view to supporting and advancing GAFTA and ITSAM agreements and creating regional trade integration. Similarly, this programme provides a gateway for connecting the region to global markets and, at the same time, allows global markets to tap into the wealth of the region. Surveys, studies, regional meetings, knowledge networking and advisory services contribute to the implementation of this programme and identification of a number of projects for the region. Pilot projects will be launched in close collaboration with stakeholders and by capitalizing on public and private partnerships.

Challenges :
Huge trade deficits continue to pose major challenges to economic development in the region. Intra-regional trade between ESCWA member countries and extra-regional trade with outside markets remain among the lowest in the world. Moreover, total bilateral trade for ESCWA member countries declined steadily in the period between 1980 and 1990. A number of ESCWA member countries expressed their interest in creating national trade and transport facilitation committees in order to put in place a framework for consultation and cooperation between the public and private sector for the advancement of a trade facilitation agenda. The Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) constitutes the most recent and, to date, most significant step taken by the Arab countries to achieve a significant level of economic integration. Other regional initiatives are the Integrated Transport System in the Arab Mashreq (ITSAM) and the trade platform, which is in the process of franchizing its operations in the region. With the above in mind, the programme recognizes ICT as an enabler for facilitating all processes across the value chain of trade transactions and creating efficiency benefits.

Implementation Measurement :

Expected Accomplishments Indicators of Achievement
Development of a conducive environment for interregional trade of ESCWA member countries. Increased number of countries with free trade policies such as non-tariff barriers and abolition of quota restriction on imports;
  Reduced complexity of border formality procedures and development of logistics infrastructure;
  Increased awareness of international standards and purchasing requirements as well as technology transfers and competence building.
Increased exports of national and regional producers to regional and international markets. Increased awareness of Arab products, services and capabilities as well as direct connectivity with international markets;
  Increased number of sustainable cyber hub projects in the region;
  Reduced trade deficit.

Strategic Framework Areas :

  High Medium Low
   Key - Project Status  
   List of Projects