As a follow-up to the ASEM Summit in 2004 in Vietnam and the Meeting on the Importance of the Role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Society held in Finland in 2006, the Department of Communication and Information of the Republic of Indonesia held the “ASEM Workshop on Empowering Local Community in the Use of ICT“, 7-8 October 2009 in Yogyakarta. The workshop consisted of 4 sessions with topics related to the development, utilization, and impact of ICT best practices in local communities. The Retreat resulted in The Summary Report of The ASEM Workshop on Empowering Local Community in the Use of ICT.

As accentuated at the First ASEM Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Ministerial Meeting in Vietnam in 2006, ASEM governments recognise the increasingly important role and far-reaching impacts of ICTs, as well as the need to enhance cooperation to fulfill their potential economic and societal contribution.

The 33 Ministers attending the Meeting further reiterated the principles of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) on an information society for all, including:

“the desire to build ICT networks that are affordable and accessible to all, available anywhere and anytime, to anyone and on anydevice, leading to an ubiquitous network”,

and further:

“a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life”.

With respect to the development of the ICT industry in recent years, the Ministers encouraged the ICT community to accelerate the expansion and provision of ICT services in remote and isolated areas, ensuring the sustainable development and bridging the digital divide between rural and urban areas. This would eventually facilitate the applications of ICT in human resource development in all ASEM countries. In this context, the Ministers agreed on the importance of working together to support initiatives to empower users so as to effectively pull new information tools and services in response to outstanding needs. These may include:

  • Devising public-private partnerships for the application of new business models so as to create locally adapted and commercially driven approaches to shape low cost mobile communication solutions in underserved areas;
  • Activating schools and local communities in formulating and implementing approaches to make use of ICT in primary education, and in turning learning centres into knowledge centres, while bearing in mind cultural and multi-linguistic societies, for raising literacy and other basic skills;
  • Decreasing the information gap and bridging the digital divide of farmer communities by introducing e-agricultural information exchanging networks;
  • Working with relevant stakeholders, such as diaspora, local communities, operators and banks, to articulate the demand for the development and diffusion of simple information tools, such as SMS-driven applications to fulfill the development contribution of remittances, micro finance and mobile banking;
  • Strengthening cooperation between Asia and Europe to secure authentication, traceability and verifiability in digital transactions, and achieving trust and integrity for the individual user;
  • Considering how local communities can be put in the driver’s seat to pull the usage of ICT for better provision of healthcare services, through the establishment of multifunctional local health centers for senior citizens and their relatives, using distant learning and strengthening links to central hospitals with specialist facilities.