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‘Leaving nobody behind’: Government developing Digital Transformation Strategy

Wednesday 1 March 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Local, National, Technology

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‘Leaving nobody behind’: Government developing Digital Transformation Strategy
Stakeholders attend a workshop on developing a Digital Transformation Strategy held in February. Photo: Supplied/23022809

The Cook Islands Government is in the throes of developing a Digital Transformation Strategy, with the intention of “leaving nobody behind” when it comes to the online world.

More than 30 people attended the first day of the National Digital Transformation Strategy workshop at The Edgewater Resort on Tuesday.

Keynote speaker Calum Handforth, UNDP advisor for technology, innovation and sustainable development, told the audience that the online landscape was shifting, and people needed to get onboard.

“We’re seeing huge increase in the digital world, which will lead to major changes to how we live and work,” Handforth said.

“It’s akin to the fourth or fifth industrial revolution,” he said, noting that it will lead to new jobs in some areas and job losses in others.

“So it’s about how do we leverage the opportunities in the digital world, as well as mitigate the negative effects.”

Handforth said the approach centered around five core pillars: infrastructure, government, regulation, business and people.

“It’s not just about technology, but about the outcomes it can achieve,” he said.

“The pandemic highlighted a lot of aspects. Although people might have been working from home, and had access to the internet, they might not have had a safe space or time to commit themselves.”

Cook Islands national coordinator-consultant for Information Communication Technology, Maureen Hilyard told Cook Islands News it was about getting everyone’s digital needs integrated into a “package”, particularly when it comes to e-commerce.

“The goal of the strategy is that everyone gets connected and no one gets left behind,” Hilyard said.

“I’m particularly interested in what’s happening in the Pa Enua, there’s a major rollout occurring over there right now, and it would be interesting to get the people of the Pa Enua’s views on what they want to see from their internet.”

Hilyard said reliable connectivity was crucial to unlocking a lot of the potential doors for the Cook Islands, particularly when it came to e-commerce.

She said Vodafone did a “reasonable” job of providing services in the Cook Islands.

“There’s a need to transform the way we operate in the Cook Islands,” Hilyard said. 

During the workshop, attendees were asked to fill out a survey about their experiences with the internet and digital landscape in the Cook Islands. The preliminary results will be presented today, while the workshop will run until tomorrow.

Handforth said there would be further stakeholder engagement, particularly with the Pa Enua, and a report on the findings produced by the end of March.