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Taiwan-sponsored National ICT Center opens in Belize, August 27

Belmopan, Belize -- Taiwan is a global leader in information and communications technology (ICT) and enjoys an excellent reputation in the sector. In recent years, the TaiwanICDF has sought to exploit this example by focusing on the promotion of "information societies" within its partner countries.

One such case is the ICT Technical Cooperation Project in Belize, which entered planning and implementation in 2006 as part of a region-wide initiative across four Caribbean partner countries. With backing from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the project set out to exploit Taiwan's experience of developing systems of e-government, and assist the Belizean government to promote ICT -- particularly by drawing on the success of Taiwan's own hardware and software industries.

One of the primary project objectives was to establish a Belizean National ICT Center, which would operate as a platform from which to develop and support wider systems of e-government. The program aimed to establish facilities for ICT-related education and training, through which Belize could promote skills development, cultivate talent in the sector, and reduce the "digital divide."

From the outset, design concepts for the site focused on energy efficiency and environmentally friendly functionality, leading to the appointment of a national design team with a track record of implementing "green" projects. Construction began in May 2009, following a groundbreaking ceremony attended by both President Ma and Prime Minister Dean Barrow, and finished in July 2010.

The center's distinctively modern architectural style has been well received, drawing praise from all walks of Belizean society. However, the center aims to be more than simply a landmark in Belmopan, and both government employees and ordinary citizens have expressed their keen interest in exploiting its state-of-the-art facilities. The site looks set to become a multifunctional point of focus for those looking to gain skills and knowledge in a range of scientific and technological disciplines.

The construction of the center has been just one of a wider set of interrelated initiatives conducted by the TaiwanICDF in Belize as part of the ICT Technical Cooperation Project. Since 2006, the organization has overseen the creation of an internet portal for the central Belizean government and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project has also established two file-storage and database systems for the Bureau of Standards under the Ministry of Economic Development, Commerce and Industry, and Consumer Protection; and an Archives Information Database System for the Belize Archives Department. The creation of online systems and services will gradually reduce the need for existing, labor-intensive procedures. Ultimately, this process of "digitizing government" will reduce costs, improve the accessibility and accuracy of public records, and boost the utilization rate of such data.

The National ICT Center of Belize was officially opened on August 27, following the scheduled completion of these activities. Attending on behalf of the Republic of China (Taiwan) were TaiwanICDF Secretary General Amb. Tao Wen-lung and H.E. Ambassador Wu from the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Belize. The ceremony was co-chaired by Hon. John Saldivar, Minister of Public Service, Governance Improvement, Elections and Boundaries and Sports; and from the same ministry, Mr. Charles Gibson, Chief Executive Officer. Also in attendance were Hon. Wilfred Peter Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Hon. Rene Montero, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries; Hon. Simeon Lpez, Mayor of Belmopan; and the U.S. Ambassador to Belize, H.E. Vinai Thummalapally. A number of other dignitaries from Belizean ministries were also present, in addition to representatives from the Belizean ICT industry and academic community, and members of Taiwan's expatriate and diplomatic community. After the inauguration ceremony was completed, Ambassador Wu and Secretary General Tao were on hand to offer the assembled Belizean dignitaries and Ambassador Thummalapally an informal guided tour of the center.

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  • Date:2010/9/6