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My introduction to ICT Policy and Strategy Planning

I have been aware of Rwanda being a success story in Africa when it comes to ICT policy implementation, but reading about it in the Introduction part of the first chapter of the ICT Policy and Strategy Planning course has re-ignited my interest in the country’s success story. What I now know is that Rwanda, with the assistance of the UN, put in place a plan to use ICT as a development tool.
I am a board member of the Namibia Information Communication Technology Association (NICTA) (www.nicta.org.na), a section 21 company (registration 21/2010/0468), has been established to afford Namibian ICT companies, organisations, and ICT professionals a voice in the development of the ICT sector as one of the key economic pillars of the Namibian economy. As part of NICTA, I need to have a thorough understanding of the formulation and development of policies as at times I am called to participate in the (Namibia) Ministry of ICT’s Stakeholder’s meetings, and advice the ministry on various topics, most of which are policy related. This course is what I need.
Peer participation

When I was busy with my post-graduate studies at the University of Cape Town, I was introduced to the concept of professionals engaging in class discussions instead of the lecturer feeding us information. I enjoyed that type of learning as it allowed opinions and experiences to be shared on different subjects, leading to classmates learning from each other and of course debating or disagreeing on certain things. So when I first logged into the Class end-of-chapter Chat Sessions, I immediately started to enjoy the chat. I felt a bit out of place at first as my fellow participants are very well skilled and clued up in the ICT Policy arena, and I’m not so much. We have participants from different parts of the world and different sectors of ICT and related industries, which makes it a great group to learn from.

The chat that I particularly enjoyed was the one that discussed the different stakeholders in ICT policy development and implementation (government/public sector, academia, and private sector) where we discussed our roles as advocators, overseers or implementers. I was part of the private sector group.

Topics of interest
The topics we have discussed so far are:
• Introduction to ICT strategy
• National ICT policies
• Policy formulation and development Contextualising ICT policy in a general policy framework
The chapter that spoke to me most was the one on Policy Formulation and Development, as it is related to my main aim in participating in this programme. It also introduced the Policy Planning Process and Cycle, and we discussed the Linear Model of Policy of the Policy Process (Meier, 1991) which is based on Lasswel (1951) showing the five (5) stages of Policy development.

At this stage in the course, I have a few questions that I’d like to share with you:
• What can we, as developing countries, specifically in Africa, do to emulate what Rwanda did?
• Should the development and implementation of ICT Policies be run/headed by governments? Do we as stakeholders in the ICT industry need to be involved?
• Should there be assessments made pre- or post-policy implementation?

Till next time…

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