Infrastructure in 80 countries

E-business infrastructure being deployed in more than 80 countries under the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Electronic Commerce for Developing Countries (EC-DC) project.

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By  Peter Conmy Published  August 12, 2000

E-business infrastructure being deployed in more than 80 countries under the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Electronic Commerce for Developing Countries (EC-DC) project.

Less than a year after the ITU signed a partnership agreement with Geneva-based World Trade Centres and WISeKey, deployment of e-business infrastructure has started in more than 80 countries, funded by a US$2.5 million in-kind contribution made by WISeKey to a Trust Fund set up as part of the Electronic Commerce for Developing Countries (EC-DC) project of the ITU.

The project aims at enabling developing countries to use existing infrastructures and services to join the digital economy through non exclusive partnerships with the industry.

“We are very pleased with the level of response received both from beneficiary countries and from industry partners who contribute to making this ambitious project a reality”, said Yoshio Utsumi, ITU Secretary-General.

“The EC-DC project is an ITU initiative that demonstrates the value of e-commerce in providing entrepreneurship and empowerment to developing nations in a digital world”, he also said.

Developing Countries

The project is implementing secure e-business solutions and services in developing countries, providing an easy start-up solution to entrepreneurs.

In a digital economy, these solutions and services are required to enable the exchange of mission-critical business transactions to be conducted in real time and across multiple market sites with other buyers and suppliers for financial transactions, procurement, asset management and other trading resources.

Under the EC-DC project, participating countries can benefit from first-class security, trust and services for e-business transactions under affordable conditions by pooling and sharing available resources.

Using the World Trade Centre network’s global infrastructure of 328 centres in more than 100 countries and WISeKey certification services, countries lacking secure trusted infrastructures, digital certification and electronic payment facilities can leapfrog the obstacle by using those of other project participants.

For many developing countries, this represents the only cost-effective way to access e-commerce.

In addition to the potential economic benefits, the project is creating an environment to stimulate investments and development of the ICT infrastructure.

“By bringing together the relevant players from the public and private sectors to create the conditions for sustainable development and access to new technologies, EC-DC is an example of how the TU is playing a leading role in assisting developing countries to bridge the digital divide” said Hamadoun Touré, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau.

Multi-national IT Companies

The enormous scope of the project means that the time to implement is extended, however the level of interest that has been generated now requires it to be implemented on this basis.

To speed up implementation, the support of several leading multi-national IT companies is being enlisted. These include companies such as Oracle, Baltimore Technologies Ltd, Entegrity Solutions, Rainbow Technologies, Datamatics, NCP, ValiCert, MCI WorldCom, Vitress AG and Celo Communications.

In a partnership meeting held last month, these companies confirmed their commitment to provide their technologies, solutions and services.

A training workshop for 100 developing countries is scheduled for 2-3 October 2000 at the ITU with the financial participation of WISeKey whose contribution to the EC-DC project also includes software licenses, hardware, staffing, and other services.

According to WISeKey project management plans, it will take a further three months to have the infrastructure in place with the appropriate training and installation support, before revenues can commence to be generated and automatically credited the EC-DC Trust Fund.

This will require further expenditure of approximately US$1.5 million that will bring the total investment of WISeKey to approximately US$4 million.

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