“2023’e Doğru: Kalkınma için Bilgi ve İletişim Teknolojileri”

09.Eki.2013

Opening Remarks
by
Kamal Malhotra
United Nations Resident Coordinator, Turkey
UNDP Resident Representative, Turkey
International Information & Technology Conference 2013 on
“The Road to 2023: Information and Communication Technologies for Development”

Your excellencies, Minister Cevdet Yilmaz and Minister Binali Yildirim
Distinguished Chairman of TUBISAD Mr. Mustafa Cağan
Executives from the Private Sector and NGOs,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honor to be here today at the International Information and Technology Conference to talk about ICT for Development in the context of the 2023 Vision, established around the centennial foundation of the Turkish Republic.

Allow me to congratulate TUBISAD for organizing this conference and the sponsors Intel and Cisco, and other supporters, like Hurriyet, Turkish Airlines and Vodafone, for making this important event a reality.

Information and Communication Technologies hold the potential to accelerate progress towards the 2023 vision for Turkey. For the first time, thanks to ICT many of those who have traditionally been excluded are now actively participating in business, governance and conflict transformation processes.

The importance of ICT for Turkey has also been captured in the 10th Development Plan that stresses the need for investment in R&D, and promotes the use of Information Technologies which possess the skill of converting technological developments into social and economic benefit for all.

Furthermore, such reform and growth should be inclusive and human centered, so that it embraces all groups of society and ensures that development builds long term peace and prosperity.

Turkey has grown over the past decades from a largely agriculture based economy to an industrial economy, from periods of crises to fast economic growth and from a developing to an emerging market economy.

Now Turkey has set the bar even higher and aims in 10 years time to become one of the top 10 economies in the world and to more than double its current GDP. ICT is a valuable tool to achieve this aspiration.

30 million broadband subscribers
50% of the ICT sector covered by domestic products and services
8% of GDP coming from ICT
One of the top 10 countries in e-transformation
80% of population computer literate
Provision of ALL public services electronically by 2019
These are a few of the targets set for 2023 by Turkey!

Although very ambitious, they are achievable with the right policy mix and political will.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Turkey had established some of the pre-conditions for an e-transformation as early as 2006 with the 1st Information Society Strategy.

UNDP and the Government of Turkey have been jointly promoting ICT in different fields, such as e-consulate, e-local governance, e-justice, and on ICT literacy, to name just a few areas that have drawn the path towards improving competitiveness and development in the country. We have successfully enjoyed partnerships with private sector and civil society for the integration of over 1.3 million young men and women into digital life, which has had a positive impact on the quality of their lives.

UNDP has also been proudly partnering with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2001 in the field of e-consulate with great success, which is one of the first applications of an e-government system and has been showcased in many reports as a best practice.

However this journey has both remaining and emerging challenges  such as implementing a mission-orientated strategy, the aspiration to become the Eurasian base for medium-high and high-technology products; tackling issues such as patents, private sector R&D investment and enhancing skilled labour.

By addressing these challenges, Turkey will also contribute to the achievement of the MDGs in the county and in the region. ICT constitutes a powerful tool for development and poverty reduction. As early as in 2000, recognizing the potential of ICT, the UN included the diffusion of benefits from new technologies, especially ICT, as a target key of the 8th MDG Goal developing “a global partnership for development”.

According to the MDG report for 2013, by the end of the year, an estimated 2.7 billion people will be using the Internet, which corresponds to 39% of the world’s population. Turkey’s growing Internet penetration rate now stand at approximately 45%, compared to 77% for developed countries.

Broadband is also becoming more widely available and affordable, but is still out of reach for many people in the developing countries for which the penetration rate by the end of the year will stand at 6% for fixed subscriptions and 20% for mobile broadband, in comparison with the developed world with rates of 27% and 75% respectively.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We value the cooperation and knowledge sharing between UNDP and Turkey on the topic of innovation and growth in ICT given its potential to contribute to the achievement of the MDGs.

Turkey, with its wealth of development experience, has a lot to offer and share with other countries that are interested in learning from it. Facilitating such exchanges of experience and knowledge is becoming central to what UNDP does around the world, including Turkey.

The latest example of our strategic partnership is the “Baseline Study on ICT Supported Social Transformation Initiatives in Turkey” jointly produced by UNDP and the Ministry of Development, as an input to the process of planning the 2nd Information Society Strategy.

The study provides an avenue to directly address issues of connectivity for private sector growth and for development of regional and marginalized societies in this region.

It also examines the long term objective of the Industrial Strategy for Turkey 2011-14 for “increasing the competitiveness and efficiency of Turkish Industry and expediting the transformation to an industry structure which has more share in world exports, where mainly high-tech products with high added value are produced, which has qualified labor and which at the same time is sensitive to the environment and the society.”

The findings suggest that a user-centered approach rather than a technology-centered one is required in order to maximize human capital, especially at the base of the pyramid. Crucially, ICT development in Turkey should continue to implement programs such as the Techno-Entrepreneurship Grant Program, Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Program which comprises of the subcomponents of ICT Policy Support Program and the Intelligent Energy Program, and the Advanced Technology Industry Parks project.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me conclude by emphasizing that we will continue working with the Government of Turkey on these and many other initiatives. I also invite you all to visit UNDP’s website and read through the draft baseline study.

I hope this gathering will, with your critical contributions, generate new ideas that can help us move this agenda forward.

I thank you for your patience.

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