UNDP PROJECT TO STRENGTHEN CAPACITY TO CREATE NATIONAL ICT POLICY

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A recently approved project, allocating US$95,000 from the ICT Trust Fund, opts to strengthen the capacity to prepare a National ICT Policy in Lesotho. According to those setting up the project:"it is a major step towards developing the ICT for development assistance in Lesotho, a country eager to address the growing digital divide".

Lesotho has one of Africa’s lowest internet connectivity with merely three internet service providers and approximately twenty one thousand internet users out of a population of 2.2 million. The importance of urgently addressing the digital divide and the need to accelerate connectivity, has however been recognized by the Government of Lesotho and the current project will target to establish an enabling environment.

The overall objective of the project is to strengthen Lesotho’s national capacity to prepare a national policy and support the accelerated strategic use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to promote human development in Lesotho. The Government of Lesotho has thus identified a number of key areas- a central national infrastructure, increase Government connectivity and promote community and school connectivity- all necessary to successfully tackle the growing digital divide.

The current UNDP sponsored project consists of a number of core activities which are believed to further facilitate the process of including ICT4 Development as a development agent in Lesotho:
a) reviewing the legislative frameworks, contents, policies and institutional arrangements governing national e-readiness
b) Ensuring the development of a national ICT policy is within the context of the on-going PRSP process effectively linking ICT to national priorities for poverty reduction.
c) Supporting the establishment and capacity strengthening of the ICT Unit within the Ministry of Communications. The unit which will serve as the key body for monitoring implementation of the national ICT policy.

The project will also use the consultative process of the development of the national ICT policy as an important tool in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. HIV/AIDS is a key development challenge in the Lesotho context, and exploring ICT as a tool for effective information and knowledge management, and information dissemination will be a priority.

mandisa.msahologu@undp.org