Last Thursday, members of the Samoa Information Technology Association’s (SITA’s) Executive Team met for the first time in Apia to discuss several projects and opportunities following SITA’s inauguration last month.
More than 170 locals have registered their interest in becoming a member of SITA in the last four weeks, the majority of whom are professionals working in the ICT industry, which SITA has been set up to act on behalf of and assist with strengthening and developing the use of technology in Samoa.
Registering all of Samoa’s ICT professionals is our first step towards bringing together all major stakeholders (local government, private sector, civil society, and the community) to discuss the challenges arising from digitization across the public and private sectors. By understanding the challenges of major Internet and technology actors we can then form possible alternatives to mitigate them, as well as discuss ways to collaborate on new projects.
We value the importance of this multistakeholder approach. We’ve followed this closely through APNIC and the Internet Society, both of which have assisted in our journey thus far.
Rewind 12 months
The idea to establish such an association was first raised during a breakfast meeting with APNIC’s Director General, Paul Wilson, at APNIC 46 in New Caledonia. I was one of a cohort of Samoan colleagues who received an APNIC fellowship to attend the meeting, where we discussed the importance of having an ICT association to facilitate discussions between the public and private sectors.
We came back from the meeting with the idea and started talking to other Samoan IT colleagues about it. Amazingly everyone had the same mindset and passion to establish such a neutral member-based association, including the Government of Samoa, which provided valuable assistance during the early development and consultation phase.
Through the consultation process we realized the importance of promoting proper conduct and as such the need for ethical standards. We have to perform our role with honesty and integrity because it is important to have a sense of trust and comfort from our community. We’re grateful for the guidance provided by the Pacific Island Chapter of Internet Society (PICISOC) in this process — particularly the code of conduct that we’ve implemented, which all our members will be expected to follow.
Members to benefit from capacity development and networking opportunities
The benefits of joining SITA extend from merely being a part of a formally registered association.
We plan to organize regular training opportunities, conferences and a lecture series to enable our members to stay up-to-date with best current practices in the industry. We will also organize and help facilitate collaborative and networking opportunities between local businesses, as well as regional technical and funding organizations to develop and implement ICT projects and solutions that will benefit Samoa.
SITA will also have a role in developing awareness of ICT and will advise and support the Government of Samoa in its activities to educate people about using technology to improve their working and living standards, as well as to protect themselves from cyberthreats.
The challenge ahead
At last week’s meeting, the Executive Team recognized the road ahead for SITA is long but felt the process and strategies that have already been put in place have put us in a sustainable position for the near future.
As with all new initiatives, especially voluntary ones, time and money will be key challenges. We discussed the need to balance and prioritize our time spent working on SITA with our other work commitments — the last 12 months leading to the present required a lot of time, effort and commitment — often after-hours — to plan and complete assigned tasks.
That said, we all remain passionate and positive towards the cause and are looking forward to shaping the development of ICT in Samoa for many years to come.
Fainuulelei James Ah Wai is President of SITA.
The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.