WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$4.5 million grant to The University of the South Pacific from the International Development Association (IDA) for a Pacific Regional Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Regulatory Development Project to strengthen the capacity of Pacific ICT regulatory institutions, and improve regional collaboration and knowledge-sharing on regulatory issues.
The project will focus on strengthening ICT regulatory institutions in participating countries, thus helping to ensure that consumers, businesses, and other users of ICT services, will be better served.
“Improved connectivity in the Pacific region has led to a ‘telecommunications revolution’, with improved access and falling prices already leading to a dramatic increase in the number of people using mobile phones and accessing the internet. Better regulation will ensure that markets remain competitive and consumers are getting the best service possible. Regional cooperation is key as markets mature,” said Franz Drees-Gross, World Bank Country Director for the Pacific Islands.
Since ICT markets across the Pacific are at varying stages of development, with some just beginning the liberalization process and others that already have fully functioning ICT regulators, multiple operators and competitive markets, the project is designed to provide a range of support where it is needed most.
The project will focus on strengthening the regional ICT regulators technical and management skills by facilitating knowledge-sharing and problem-solving among the region’s emerging regulators, providing training and institutional strengthening activities, and improving access to industry statistics and data. It will also provide specialized advisory services for regulators on issues with regional or multi-country benefits.
The project is funded by an IDA regional grant of US$4.5 million to The University of the South Pacific (USP), the region’s premier academic institution, established in 1968. The USP was selected as the host institution because it has a region-wide knowledge mandate including in ICT development, a newly-established ICT Centre and a regional communications network that is used to facilitate regional distance learning.
“The World Bank Group is pleased to be working with The University of the South Pacific as the regional body that is taking a leading role in ICT development in the Pacific,” Drees-Gross said.