ICT for Development in Arab Region
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Introduction
Objectives

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Introduction

AjialCom is a regional youth empowerment project initiated by UNDP/ICTDAR in 2004. It aims at empowering Youth in the Arab world, enabling them to reach their potential by harnessing information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve their access to knowledge, to network, and to have a meeting space where they can collaborate, exchange information, and address subjects that impact their present and future.

At its core, AjialCom provides underprivileged Arab youth with an alternative to hopelessness that leads to extremism, crime, and wasted potential. Its ultimate goal however is to create a new outlook on citizenship by educating Arab youth on their duties towards their societies as well as on their rights. As today’s youth will be the leaders of tomorrow, they have to be prepared to understand and face challenges and address them courageously and in an informed manner. This will lead to a shift in mindset, creating new types of leaders who will play an active role in their local communities and in the developmental process at large.

The main vehicle for this are full-service Community Access Centers (CACs), created and operated through multiple partnerships. They allow young people access to computers and to the Internet, and provide them with basic ICT and business skills training. In areas where CACs already exist, the initiative aims at using them as a base to introduce additional developmental components. In addition, where necessary and feasible, special hardware, software, and content are made available to allow access to the visually impaired.

The CACs are created and operated based on a business model that has been developed by ICTDAR, which aims at turning them into self-sustaining micro-enterprises. By becoming bases for outreach to rural and underserved communities and by providing much needed training and advice on sustainable economic activities in these communities, CACs are proving that they themselves can also become economically sustainable.

 
 
Relevance to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Reducing poverty and illiteracy are part of the MDGs set for the 166 UN member states to achieve by 2015. AjialCom, by empowering youth including women and unemployed graduates, contributes therefore towards the achievement of these goals. By using technology as a tool to provide underprivileged youth with skills that are pre-requisites to better jobs, AjialCom offers new opportunity to segments of society that have long been deprived of it.

 
 
Objectives

The objectives of this initiative are focused on providing disadvantaged Arab youth, particularly those living in underserved areas, with access to information technology through the establishment of CACs, to achieve the following:

  • Reduce illiteracy, through training on basic ICT skills.
  • Develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills.
  • Reduce poverty through creating an environment that improves the chances of employment by providing standardized IT and business skills training.
  • Raise awareness of social, health, and gender issue
 
 
Implementation strategy

To successfully reach these objectives, the initiative performs the following:

  • Based on need and enabling environment, choose locations of new CACs or of existing ones to be included in the initiative, after extensive consultations with local UNDP offices as well as governmental, civil society, private sector and non-governmental agencies.
  • Create and equip CACs where they don’t exist, including preparing the physical locations, providing technical infrastructure, and installing computers and peripherals.
  • Install hardware and software for the visually-impaired where applicable.
  • Provide standardized technical and relevant business skills training curricula.
  • Provide digital educational material (digital libraries).
  • Select trainees and provide ToT on the curricula.
  • Customize the business model to the CACs. Provide management training on running the CACs.
  • Launch and operate the CACs.
  • Monitor and assess impact.
 
Management Arrangements

ICTDAR retains overall management responsibility throughout the lifetime of the project. However, a steering committee is formed with representatives from all partners to provide general guidance, oversight, and facilitation.

 
 
Partners

ICTDAR partners with ministries and local government agencies, the private sector, and NGOs among others to execute its initiatives.

In the case of AjialCom, government agencies have typically been responsible for providing the locations of the CACs, their preparation (furniture, accessories, and connectivity), as well as for the management and operational costs. In some instances, they have also provided some of the hardware.

The private sector partners typically provide software, training curricula, ToT, and contributions to the hardware.

ICTDAR typically provides overall management and technical expertise, the business and management models, training curricula, toolkits, ToT, monitoring and impact assessment, and fund-raising activities. ICTDAR also researches and selects local implementation partners.

Partners who have collaborated with ICTDAR on AjialCom include:

Ministry of Communication & Information Technology (MCIT) - Egypt
Secretary of State in Charge of Youth - Morocco
Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology- Yemen
The Social Fund for Development- Yemen
SIWA Association for Community Development (SACD)- Egypt
General Youth Union – Yemen
Microsoft Corporation
Several national private companies

 
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MYTecC Initiative

MYTecC sows the seeds of a socially responsible future business leadership. It imparts a solid knowledge base built on a social empowerment curriculum, a technology program, an English language track and a dynamic virtual environment. The objective is to create a cross cultural community based on tolerance and mutual understanding – the basis for any fruitful long term business and economic development. Youth, aged 15-18, sit through a two year program where they learn ICT Essentials and, upon successful completion of the program receive industry recognized certification (A+, CCNA). Simultaneously, based on the principle of social inclusion, they work on their self awareness, awareness of community, volunteerism and tolerance. While this is happening in the classroom, a virtual environment is being developed to accommodate the need for youth to openly communicate through fun activities and therefore increasingly familiarize themselves with others in a collaborative environment.

MYTecC is a bridge building initiative. It is geared to encompass bridging the digital divide, engender access to information and create a spirit of tolerance and understanding. Youth sit through a two year after school program where they learn ICT Essentials and, upon successful completion of the program receive the A+ industry recognized certification. Simultaneously, based on the principle of social inclusion, they work on their self awareness, awareness of community, and volunteerism and tolerance. They also learn about democracy, leadership and social responsibility.

While this is happening in the classroom, a virtual environment is being developed to accommodate the need for youth to openly communicate through an engaging array of online activities and therefore increasingly familiarize themselves with others in a collaborative environment.

MYTecC is now on the verge of its first year of classroom teaching. MYTecC instructors, in Morocco, Portugal, Egypt, Cyprus, Yemen, Turkey, the Palestinian Authority and Israel, are in the process of selecting youth who will participate in the first training cycle beginning in January 2008. Subsequent two year cycles will begin in September of each year. Additional instructors will be recruited to accommodate the growing numbers of participating youth and their classes.

MYTecC is propagated through local and international NGOs. The UNDP’s Information and Communication Technology for Development in the Arab Region (ICTDAR) owns the initiative in that region. ICTDAR will capitalize on its existing network of NGO’s in the Arab Region to provide support for MYTecC. Other NGOs from the other participating countries will also come on board.

MYTecC will not be limited to the eight countries currently participating: Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Portugal, Turkey, and Yemen. Other countries from Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Arab World will be brought into the mix in the near future.

 
 
Country Impementation

AjialCom has already been successfully implemented in Morocco and Egypt, and in several cases the project exceeded its stated objectives. Agreements have also been signed to replicate the project in Yemen and Algeria, while in Morocco agreements have been completed to implement Phase 2, involving the creation of 100 new CACs.

 
   
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