Official Development Assistance (ODA)

(5) Introduction of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and High Technology

The dissemination of Information and Communications Technology (ICT)* contributes to the achievement of sustainable economic growth by upgrading industries and improving productivity. It also contributes to addressing issues related to medical care, education, energy, environment, disaster risk reduction, and other social issues in developing countries. Utilization of ICT improves their democratic foundation through encouraging information disclosure by governments and developing broadcasting media. In this way, ICT is extremely important for strengthening civil society through increased convenience and improved services as well as for quality growth.

<Japan's Efforts>

In 2017, Japan formulated the Playbook for Investment in “Quality ICT Infrastructure” for ICT policymakers and procurement managers of the respective countries and regions in order to promote investment in quality infrastructure in the field of ICT, with the aims of eliminating the ICT disparities that exist between countries and regions, and to help improve the quality of life of all people.

Japan also actively offers assistance mainly for the development of communications and broadcasting equipment and facilities in developing countries, the introduction of the technology and systems they require, and relevant human resources development. More specifically, Japan makes proactive efforts to provide comprehensive support for the overseas promotion of Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T)* in the areas of maintenance, personnel and systems; ISDB-T is also an effective means for contributing to Japan's economic growth. As of December 2017, ISDB-T has been introduced in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, and has been adopted in a total of 18 countries.(Note 5) A JICA training program is conducted every year for countries adopting ISDB-T and those considering adopting it to promote the overseas spread and introduction of ISDB-T. To increase the adoption of ISDB-T in other countries, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) extends assistance that offers ICT solutions resolving social issues by way of dialogues and joint projects with partner governments.

Furthermore, MIC contributes in the field of overseas deployment of ICT for disaster risk reduction. Japan's ICT for disaster risk reduction makes it possible to collect, analyze and distribute disaster information in an integrated manner, allowing detailed information to be communicated swiftly and infallibly at the community level, including to the public. MIC continues to cooperate in the field of overseas deployment of ICT for disaster risk reduction and thereby contribute to increasing the disaster risk reduction capabilities of developing countries. (see here for more information on disaster risk reduction.)

Emi Kobayashi, a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer (JOCV), teaching students how to use computers at a senior high school in Zambia (Photo: Taeko Okada)

Emi Kobayashi, a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer (JOCV), teaching students how to use computers at a senior high school in Zambia (Photo: Taeko Okada)

Japan also actively collaborates with international organizations to carry out these efforts. Japan works with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU),* a specialized UN agency that is responsible for telecommunications, to provide a variety of development assistance in the field of telecommunications to developing countries. Notably, in the fields of cybersecurity and disaster risk reduction, Japan organized workshops covering these areas in cooperation with ITU Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D) Study Groups, aimed at capacity building (human resources development) in developing countries. It also hosted the ITU Cybersecurity Workshop (2015, 2016, 2017) based on the themes “Sharing Best Practices and Challenges Facing Developing Countries” (first workshop), “National Cyberdrills and Cybersecurity Strategies” (second workshop), and “Cybersecurity and Risk Assessments in Practice” (third workshop). Experts in each field, from both the public and private sectors, were invited to attend these workshops, where they engaged in lively exchanges of opinions. Each workshop was attended by about 100 participants, and all the workshops were highly appreciated.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT),* an international organization in the information and communications field, contributes to the balanced development of the telecommunications and information infrastructure in this region. In September 2014 the APT Ministerial Meeting was held in Brunei Darussalam and adopted a joint statement for the 38 member states and APT to cooperate on efforts to build a “Smart Digital Economy through ICT” in this region.

To promote the capacity building programs, which have been positioned as one of the priority areas under the joint statement, Japan assists in the large number of training programs conducted by APT every year. In 2016, APT launched a skills training program for young administrative officials to help them play an active role in international conferences; the second series of this program was held in 2017, and attended by 30 participants. As ICT is a field that is not restricted to one country, it is important to coordinate views with various stakeholders overseas. Hence, by improving their discussion, presentation, and negotiation skills at international conferences through this training program, young administrative officials from APT member countries are expected to build interpersonal networks while further advancing international cooperation and collaboration.

In the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), ICT was identified as a key driver in ASEAN's economic and social transformation under the blueprints adopted at the ASEAN Summit in November 2015 that provide new indicators leading up to 2025. In light of the importance of ICT's role, the ASEAN ICT Masterplan 2020 (AIM2020) that serves as ASEAN's ICT strategy towards 2020 was formulated at the ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers (TELMIN) Meeting held in the same month. With regard to the issues of cyber-attacks that have become key concerns of countries in recent years, Japan and ASEAN have agreed to further deepen their cooperation in the information security field.

Given this context, the basic policies of support established by the related ministries and agencies to strategically and efficiently provide all-Japan support for capacity building for developing countries in the cyber security field were reported to the cyber security strategy headquarters in 2016. Going forward, Japan will actively provide support, mainly to the ASEAN countries for the time being, in line with these policies.

*Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
ICT is technology that integrates computers and other information technology with digital communication technology, as characterized by the Internet and mobile phones.
*Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting – Terrestrial (ISDB-T)
ISDB-T is a terrestrial digital broadcasting system that was developed in Japan. Its functions, such as emergency alert broadcast, TV reception on mobile terminals, and data broadcasting, give the system advantages in disaster response and the realization of diverse services.
*International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
ITU is a UN specialized agency, which is responsible for the fields of telecommunications and broadcasting (HQ: Geneva, Switzerland; 193 member countries). To ensure that people around the world are able to make use of telecommunications technologies, ITU implements: (i) the international allocation of radio frequencies used in mobile phones, satellite broadcasting, and other technologies; (ii) the international standardization of telecommunications technologies; and (iii) support for development in the field of telecommunications in developing countries.
*Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT)
APT is an international telecommunication organization established in the Asia-Pacific region in 1979, made up of 38 member countries. Aiming for a balanced development of telecommunication services and information infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, it develops human resources through training courses and seminars, and coordinates regional policies on standardization, wireless communications, and other telecommunication issues.

  1. Note 5: The 18 countries are Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Paraguay, the Philippines, Bolivia, Uruguay, Botswana, Guatemala, Honduras, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua, and El Salvador (as of December 2017).