Turning disadvantages of old into
MP Michael Frendo, Head of the Maltese delegation attending
the recent World Summit on Information Society in Geneva, addresses
the Summit and outlines Maltas Information and Communication Technology
strategy. Following are extracts from his speech
Malta subscribes to the views being developed in the World
Summit and shares the aspiration of the creation of a worldwide Information
Society wherein all members of the worldwide community can enjoy a tangible
improvement in their quality of life.
Over the past years, we have endeavoured to ensure that IT is pervasive
in every sector and sphere of economic and social activity in our country.
The aim has never been to give technologies an intrinsic significance
but to ensure that use of technology meets the objective of the improvement
of the economic and social wellbeing of all Maltese citizens, and of
sharpening our economic competitiveness on the world scene.
The Government of Malta has led a concerted effort engaging all sectors
of the economy, civil society and the administration to develop a broadly
agreed national ICT strategy. The strategy is built on the two cardinal
Firstly: To enhance our information society and economy, such that our
experience may become a useful model for other countries. Malta may
be a small island unequipped with natural resources and unconnected
by physical highways with the rest of the world economy. This may have
proved a handicap in the past. Technology, however now, makes all these
parameters irrelevant: information highways are roads that can be built
through water and the coal and steel of the new economy is not in mines
deep underground but in schools and universities.
Secondly: To further strengthen the ICT infrastructure in Government.
Up to last year, we outdid our own, and indeed, European targets in
achieving this. Improving the standards of service and interaction between
Government and its clients, and to secure real efficiency gains, remain
an important objective. There is however, a higher objective: Technologies
are the means to enhance democracy and accountability in ways previously
impossible to secure.
Our national ICT strategy has been developed in such a way that all
targets set out by the Plan of Action we are discussing here today are
adopted as our targets. We have also taken up the objectives mapped
out in the eEurope 2005 plan. All of these we have moulded into the
shapes that meet the growing aspirations of the Maltese who rightly
expect their future to be fuller, more enriching, and their quality
of lives to keep on improving.
Those aspirations can only be met if Malta is established as an attractive
hub for inward and outward economic activity. We aim to attract foreign
direct investment to our country, investment which is sustainable and
therefore respectful of the fragile environment of our small country.
This investment must also generate substantial added value and maximise
the use of a highly educated, English-speaking workforce that has a
proven willingness to learn new skills and to rapidly adapt to constant
fast-developing radical changes. This is why we believe that the technological
niche is ideal for our country and particularly for small island states
globally. Our disadvantages of old, can and, indeed, should be turned
into our competitive platforms.
Maltas strategy is to attract the interest of ICT multinationals
and independent software providers to secure synergies that would be
beneficial to them as well as to our people. The presence of the established
expertise, matched with our human resources and a refined information
and communications infrastructure is being harnessed to transform our
country into a regional technology centre of excellence for systems
development, and for application service provision, in the Euro-Mediterranean
I have used in my intervention, a number of times, the word "competitiveness".
Competitiveness, however, does not exclude, indeed it must be complemented
by, co-operation with other players in the market.
Malta, a prospective European Union member with a long tradition of
friendship, co-operation and commercial exchange with all countries
particularly in the Mediterranean region wishes to contribute to the
growth of wealth of knowledge and activity in this area in our neighbourhood.
We look forward to learn from others and share what we have learnt and
hope to be able to participate in new or advanced programmes of implementation
North and South of us. We are committed to help decrease social and
economic inequalities. All must enjoy the benefits of ICT and its potential
for the improvement of quality of life.
This World Summit is an opportunity to redefine the old ways of understanding
the generation of wealth. Sharing our skills, our stories of success
and failure, our experience, our knowledge, indeed our resources and
technology is a major reason why we are all here. We are here to learn
from the lessons, the achievements and the errors of others, and sincerely
hope that our own experience may prove useful to others hoping that
we will also get the opportunity to share it for the benefit of all.