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Launch of the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Centre

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Opening of the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Centre.

(Left-right): ITU-EC Project Coordinator for the Pacific, Mrs Gisa Fuatai Purcell, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration and Regional Campuses), Dr Esther Williams, Director of PIRRC, Mr Muhammad Aslam Hayat, Permanent Secretary for Public Enterprises, Communications, Civil Aviation and Tourism, Ms Elizabeth Powell, and the Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra

The development of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector in the region was further strengthened after the opening of the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Centre (PIRRC) at The University of the South Pacific on 10 November, 2011. Located in the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre in Suva, PIRRC is funded by the World Bank and managed by LIRNEasia, a consultancy firm from Sri Lanka. The new Centre will collect key industry statistics and issue periodic reports on the state of telecommunications competitions in Pacific Island Countries (PICs). It will also develop information packages on priority regulatory topics including those where technical skills may be required in analysing industry trends, provide advisory services in response to country requests and identify additional sources of expertise and issue best practice statements on telecommunication policies and laws, and implement rules and regulatory instruments. The Centre was inaugurated by the Permanent Secretary for Public Enterprises, Communications, Civil Aviation and Tourism, Ms Elizabeth Powell, who said that the opening of PIRRC comes at an opportune time for the region to maximize its benefits from the ever-evolving ICT sector. Speaking at the launch, she highlighted that the resources made available through the PIRRC will help member states make sound policy decisions based on current international best practices.   The establishment of the Centre could also be seen as the recognition by the World Bank of the existing knowledge gap in the South Pacific, the Permanent Secretary further commented. “The PIRRC will play an important role in helping to build capacity in our regulatory institutions. The training programs that they will facilitate in the South Pacific, and the tools and know-how that they bring to the region, will prove invaluable to member island states and their local institutions,” she added. According to Ms Powell, PIRRC’s location at the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre in Fiji places it within easy reach of all regional island states. This will enable PIRRC to quickly respond to and assist member island states throughout the region. She affirmed Fiji’s commitment towards ensuring the continuous development of the resource centre and the ongoing improvements to policies and regulations. Ms Powell encouraged PICs to become members of the PIRRC in order to take advantage of the tools and services that the Centre will provide, and to enable mutual learning through shared experiences and discussions. “The journey has only started and we are looking forward to many exciting new ICT initiatives and ways of refining and improving our regulatory framework,” she stated. Highlighting the importance of regulatory frameworks for ICT in the Pacific, the Vice-Chancellor and President of USP, Professor Rajesh Chandra said that the regional Centre will work directly with the regulators to provide information, training, and best practices to ensure that the Pacific regulatory framework for ICT is one that will promote the maximum use of ICT.   Similar views were shared by the Director of PIRRC, Mr Muhammad Aslam Hayat, who emphasised the vital role played by the Centre towards the development of the ICT sector in the Pacific. In briefly sharing the history behind the establishment of the Centre, Mr Hayat said there were requests by the PICs for such a resource centre in order to provide capacity building for governments and ICT regulators. He explained that providing regulatory resources to 14 Pacific countries separately would have been extremely difficult and expensive. This led to the decision to establish a centre at a central location providing support to governments and regulators in the PICs.   The efforts to establish the Centre dates back to 1996. In March 2006, the Pacific ICT Ministerial Forum held in New Zealand, recognised the importance of pooling scarce resources in the regulation of telecommunications services, and directed officials to approach the World Bank and other development partners. After a study was commissioned by the World Bank in 2008, the recommendation to establish the PIRRC at the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre was endorsed at the Pacific Regional ICT Ministers Meeting on 18 June 2010, in Tonga. Present at the launch were representatives from the Fiji Government, regulators from Pacific Island Countries, members of the World Bank, Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association, International Telecommunications Union, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the Japan International Co-operation Agency, and USP staff and the media.


This news item was published on 16 Nov 2011 04:14:51 pm. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email communications@usp.ac.fj


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