Regional: Strengthening Regulatory Capacity for Information and Communication Technology Development in the Pacific

Sovereign Project | 44383-012

Summary

The regional capacity development technical assistant project will deliver information and communication technology (ICT) regulatory advisory services through the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Center (PIRRC), thus contributing to (i) frequent sharing of experiences and international best practices; (ii) strengthening the capacity of ICT regulatory bodies and policy makers; (iii) providing demand driven advisory services; and (iv) raising broad-based awareness to demand for better ICT regulations. The TA will provide two consultants (an ICT Regulation Technical Advisor and a Media Relations and Communications Officer) and several short-term technical experts, and awareness-raising events. This will augment the existing PIRRC resources to increase the relevance and effectiveness of its advisory services.

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Project Name Strengthening Regulatory Capacity for Information and Communication Technology Development in the Pacific
Project Number 44383-012
Country Regional
Project Status Closed
Project Type / Modality of Assistance Technical Assistance
Source of Funding / Amount
TA 7901-REG: Strengthening Regulatory Capacity for Information and Communication Technology Development in the Pacific
Technical Assistance Special Fund US$ 750,000.00
Strategic Agendas Inclusive economic growth
Regional integration
Drivers of Change Governance and capacity development
Partnerships
Private sector development
Sector / Subsector Information and communication technology - ICT industries and ICT-enabled services
Gender Equity and Mainstreaming No gender elements
Description The regional capacity development technical assistant project will deliver information and communication technology (ICT) regulatory advisory services through the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Center (PIRRC), thus contributing to (i) frequent sharing of experiences and international best practices; (ii) strengthening the capacity of ICT regulatory bodies and policy makers; (iii) providing demand driven advisory services; and (iv) raising broad-based awareness to demand for better ICT regulations. The TA will provide two consultants (an ICT Regulation Technical Advisor and a Media Relations and Communications Officer) and several short-term technical experts, and awareness-raising events. This will augment the existing PIRRC resources to increase the relevance and effectiveness of its advisory services.
Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy

ICT supports economic growth and social development. Recent quantitative studies indicate that increase in ICT penetration has a positive impact on economic growth, and the impact is larger in low and middle income countries than developed countries. Impact of ICT in improving education and health service delivery, disaster risk reduction, administrative services, etc. is well documented around the world. Pacific developing member countries (DMCs) should harness ICT to overcome remoteness and dispersed population which results in diseconomies of scale.

Market liberalization and consequent competition in the telecommunication sector (or broadly the ICT sector) has expanded service coverage, improved the quality, and lowered the prices of ICT services in some Pacific DMCs. Many countries with monopoly operators experience slow improvement in the sector. Even for a liberalized market, successful competition in the ICT sector requires government involvement to (i) level the playing field; (ii) ensure appropriate investment signals through clear policy directions and measures; and (iii) protect consumers. These are the areas where ICT regulations can improve sector performance.

Regulatory systems in the Pacific are relatively new or immature. Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu have liberalized telecommunications market, and with the exception of Tonga, have established independent regulators. Most of them have a legal framework for market liberalization, but do not have elaborated policy and regulatory rules to implement. Before liberalization, regulatory functions were imbedded in government ministries and were concerned primarily with technical aspects such as spectrum management and standardization of user apparatus. Competition policy, dispute mediation and resolution, public consultation, and consumer protection are new areas to Pacific regulators. In countries without an independent regulator, a ministry responsible for the sector policy often also develops regulations and monitors compliance. Monopoly operators, often owned by the government, were allowed to have quasi-regulatory powers, such as control of spectrum and national numbering plan. In these countries, both the legal framework for more independent regulatory functions and the regulatory body's institutional capacity need improvement. The ICT sector is changing rapidly due to innovations in technology and business practice, which aggravate the challenges faced by Pacific DMC regulators with limited human and financial resources.

In summary, regulators in the Pacific face challenges in (i) market liberalization (non-exclusive carrier licenses, spectrum management, interconnection arrangement, and cost-based pricing), (ii) universal service schemes, and (iii) institutional development for independent operation. The regulatory capacity becomes more important in countries with monopoly operators, as their regulators have to improve market performance through policy and regulatory instruments in the absence of competition.

The establishment of PIRRC is to support the Pacific DMCs in addressing the challenges. PIRRC aims to become a regional telecommunications and ICT regulatory support facility with a range of functions including (i) supporting information sharing and industry data collection; (ii) improving awareness of sector performance across the region; (iii) providing direct assistance to regulators and policy makers; and (iv) assisting the member countries to build their regulatory capacity and to adopt best practice principles and supporting legislation consistent with international experience.

The Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility (PRIF), through the World Bank, has provided $1.3 million to support the preparation for the establishment of PIRRC and its operations at a basic level of service for first three years. PIRRC will collect annual membership fees of nominal amount from each member country. It expects 7 to 10 countries to become paying members over 3 to 5 years, and the membership income will largely cover PIRRC's non-staff operational costs. However, a funding gap will remain in both staff and non-staff costs (training, travel, short term consultants, etc.) for the first three years of operation. Without additional funding, PIRRC will be unable to effectively respond to the surging demand from Pacific DMCs. PIRRC's credibility depends on its ability to provide timely, demand driven, technically sound, and customized support until desired regulatory framework and practices are established. Therefore, it is desirable for PIRRC to have more resources to provide technical advisory and capacity development services to meet the high demand of existing regulators and emerging regulators in the Pacific DMCs. Readily accessible advisory services are relatively more important for smaller islands countries with weak regulatory capacity than countries with independent regulators.

The TA will augment other development partners' assistance through PIRRC, enhancing PIRRC's services to Pacific DMCs by mobilizing an advisor and technical experts. The TA will also support PIRRC in building awareness of the general public and policy makers (especially parliamentarians) through its website, mass media, i.e., other websites, newspaper, radio, and TV, and in-country events about the benefits of improved ICT regulations. This will ensure that the demand for better ICT regulation can be created by the general public, civil society, governments, and parliaments.

The TA is consistent with ADB's Pacific Approach 2010-2014, which identifies transport and ICT as an operational priority. The TA will strengthen technical advisory service of PIRRC so that it can be established as a sustainable regional knowledge hub, contributing to regional cooperation and facilitating coordination in regulatory standards in cross border issues in the ICT sector. Improvement in ICT policy and regulations will also improve private sector environment. Responding to the Pacific DMCs' demand for improved connectivity through ICT, ADB has been increasing investment in ICT infrastructure and applications in the region. The performance of ADB's investment projects can be further enhanced by improved regulatory environment.

Impact Pacific islands population has access to ICT services at affordable price.
Project Outcome
Description of Outcome PIRRC provides demand-driven ICT regulatory advisory services based on international best practices.
Progress Toward Outcome During the duration of the TA, PIRRC responded to requests from its member countries on both regulatory but also technical issues. The ADB-funded technical adviser visited a number of countries in response to specific requests and provided relevant advice based on international experiences. The second phase of PIRRC has begun with financing from the World Bank under the auspice of the University of the South Pacific. Recruitment of a new director is near completion and the objective is for PIRRC to continue to provide demand-drive ICT regulatory advisory services to member countries.
Implementation Progress
Description of Project Outputs

(i) PIRRC has established itself as sustainable service center for ICT policy and regulatory issues.

(ii) Knowledge products on international and regional best practices in ICT regulation are developed and disseminated.

(iii) PIRRC establishes and facilitates a community of practice among ICT regulators and experts.

(iv) Awareness of the benefits of improved ICT regulations increased among general public, civil society organizations, media, government officials, and parliamentarians.

(v) Regional cooperation and coordination in cross border ICT issues is strengthened.

Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)

Consultants were recruited to address components of the project: (i) Media Relations & Communications Officer: Recruited in July 2013, prepared PIRRC's communications strategy and work plan. Contract was closed in December 2013.

(ii) ICT Regulation Technical Advisor: Recruited in January 2013 to provide technical assistance to regulators and policy makers of member countries on all matters related to ICT. The technical advisor by default assumed responsibility as interim director of PIRRC when the original director resigned and while a replacement was being recruited. Contract was closed in August 2014; (ii) Surveyor: Conducted a regional survey to assess service quality and availability, price of service, the level of competition and ICT readiness in the national markets and region and the collection of data from member countries from April to July 2013. The draft final report was presented to the PIRRC steering committee in August 2013 and was finalized in November 2013. Contract was closed in November 2013. Activities: Awareness-raising events: The TA has supported 4 awareness-raising events (trainings, workshops, meetings) in Apia, Suva, Honolulu and Port Vila participated by PIRRC members, regulators and partners. The TA is physically complete but is still awaiting return of funds from PIRRC.

Geographical Location
Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects
Environmental Aspects
Involuntary Resettlement
Indigenous Peoples
Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
During Project Design The Pacific Regional Digital Strategy calls for regional cooperation in the use of scarce regulatory resources and harmonization of legislation and the regulatory environment. The Pacific Regional Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministerial Meeting in Nuku'alofa in June 2010 endorsed the establishment of the Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Centre (PIRRC) and the establishment of the Centre Working Group (CWG) to advise the Pacific Islands Forum's island member countries on the governance framework of PIRRC. In April 2011, the ICT Ministers from the Forum island member countries endorsed the establishment of PIRRC as an operating unit under the University of South Pacific (USP), its governance and membership arrangements. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) consulted with representatives from CWG, the World Bank, USP, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on the proposed technical assistance (TA) scope and implementation arrangement. All appreciated and supported the scope and implementation arrangement.
During Project Implementation The TA was implemented in close consultation and involvement of the PIRRC Steering Committee and Management Committee consisting of representatives from Pacific developing member countries and the University of South Pacific, ensuring relevance and effectiveness of the TA supported activities.
Business Opportunities
Consulting Services The TA will provide 25 person-months of international consultants with expertise ICT policy, regulation, and industry practices, and experiences in advisory services to the member countries. It will also provide 15 person-months of national consultants with skills and experience in public and media relations and communications. The TA will also provide 11 person-months of international or national consultants specialized in specific areas of ICT regulations. Individual consultants will be engaged by ADB in accordance with ADB's Guidelines on the Use of Consultants (2010, as amended from time to time).
Responsible ADB Officer Maria Melei
Responsible ADB Department Pacific Department
Responsible ADB Division Urban, Social Development & Public Management Division, PARD
Executing Agencies
Asian Development Bank6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong
Metro Manila, Philippines
P.O. Box 789, 1099 Manila,
Philippines
Timetable
Concept Clearance 28 Apr 2011
Fact Finding -
MRM -
Approval 31 Oct 2011
Last Review Mission -
Last PDS Update 13 Mar 2015

TA 7901-REG

Milestones
Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
31 Oct 2011 - 31 Oct 2011 31 May 2014 30 Jun 2015 -
Financing Plan/TA Utilization Cumulative Disbursements
ADB Cofinancing Counterpart Total Date Amount
Gov Beneficiaries Project Sponsor Others
750,000.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 750,000.00 31 Oct 2011 501,908.16

Safeguard Documents

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Evaluation Documents

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