Italy promotes e-government for developing countries

Italy is drawing up an international plan on e-government for developing countries that will be presented at a United Nations-sponsored conference in Palermo, Italy, April 10 and 11, Italian Innovation and Technology Minister Lucio Stanca said Tuesday. The conference, which will be attended by delegations from at least 57 developing countries, will also discuss specific e-government projects to be financed by the Italian government for the benefit of five Mediterranean and African countries, Stanca said.

“The European Union summit in Barcelona agreed that e-government is an absolute priority for Europe, and that is even more the case in developing countries,” Stanca said, presenting the conference to reporters at Rome’s Foreign Press Club. “It’s important that the public administration of developing countries should be reliable, transparent, modern and secure. That way they will have a greater chance of attracting international aid and private investment,” he said. Italy’s decision to focus part of its international aid on e-government for developing countries was taken by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after discussions at the troubled G8 summit meeting of the world’s leading industrialized nations in Genoa last summer, the minister said.

The projects include the development of public accounting systems for Jordan and Mozambique, a computerized population register for Albania and Nigeria, an electronic property register for Nigeria and Mozambique, and the development of e-procurement systems for Tunisia and Jordan, Stanca said. Italy will pay up to US$30 million to finance an initial study phase, with government funds released through the U.N. and the World Bank’s new Gateway Foundation, an organization created to promote the use of information and communication technology in the developing world. Italy is prepared to invest a further $100 million on the implementation phase of the projects, Stanca said.

A group of Italian and international companies, which includes IBM Corp., Cisco Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc., Nokia Corp., Telecom Italia SpA, Fiat SpA, and Finsiel SpA, is participating with the government in a working group for the projects, the minister said. “For the moment they are working with us free of charge,” he said.

The implementation phase of the projects will be financed by the Italian government, with contracts awarded through international public tenders, Stanca said. Local IT companies in each country will also be involved, he said.

The participating countries were chosen on the basis of their geographical and political vicinity to Italy, Stanca said. “Other countries have expressed interest in the projects, but we want to get them under way first,” he said. “We need to keep the number limited in the early phase. We want our concrete approach to provide other potential donor countries with an example of best practice to follow.”

More information on the conference is available at