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    The Southern African Development Community (SADC) recognises the need for a coherent regional policy and strategy on Information and Communications Technology that promotes sustainable economic development, technology and bridges the digital divide within the region and the rest of the world. In response to this need, SADC Member States signed the Declaration on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in August 2001, confirming the following areas for ICT development in the SADC region:

    • Regulatory Environment for ICT;
    • Infrastructure for ICT Development;
    • Community Participation and Governance in ICT Development;
    • ICT in Business Development; and
    • Human Resource Capacity for ICT Development.

    Underlying all of the above are special considerations concerning rural and remote areas, under-privileged urban areas, education, health, gender and media groupings.

    ICT is increasing considered as a key part of SADC’s infrastructureand SADC’s work to ensure that every Member State citizen has full access to this vital resource.

    The Protocol

    The SADC Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology commits Member States to focus on the deployment of reliable infrastructure for communications to speed up development and facilitate trade amongst Member States. The milestones identified in the Protocol build on the priority areas identified in the Declaration on Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

    e-SADC Strategic Framework

    In May 2010, SADC created an ICT development strategy called the e-SADC Strategic Framework to facilitate the use of ICT for socio-economic development and regional integration. The e-SADC Strategic Framework was set up as part of the implementation of the African Information Society Initiative. The e-SADC Strategic Framework focuses on the harmonisation of ICT infrastructure, services and indicators and promotes ICT usage for regional economic integration, enhancement of connectivity and access to ICT services among and within the Member States.

    The e-SADC Strategic Framework stipulates as one of its objectives the deployment of e-commerce to empower SADC Member States to be part of the global marketplace. Based on an e-commerce readiness assessment in the SADC region, a regional e-commerce strategic action plan will be developed.

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