17 December 2003

Search all issues

powered by FreeFind

Send Your Feedback!

Turning disadvantages of old into competitive platforms

MP Michael Frendo, Head of the Maltese delegation attending the recent World Summit on Information Society in Geneva, addresses the Summit and outlines Malta’s 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 thrusts:
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.
Malta’s 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 region.
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.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | E-mail