Forwarded by the International Development Network
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Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 18:00:51 -0400
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Subject: infoDev Offers Year 2000 Grants to Poorest Countries
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infoDev Offers Year 2000 Grants to Poorest Countries
The World Bank's Information for Development program (infoDev)
is inviting governments from around the world to apply for some $14
million in grants to help them grapple with the Year 2000 (Y2K)
This effort is the latest in the program's Y2K Initiative, which gained
serious momentum last month when British Prime Minister Tony
Blair announced an infusion of $16.7 million by the UK Department
for International Development.
The new grant program aims to tackle the so-called ?millennium
bug,? which is expected to affect many computer-based systems all
over the world at the turn of the century. While not technically
challenging--problems revolve mostly around the use of double
digits for dates--fixing the bug may be complex, time consuming,
and expensive. Left unfixed, the problem could have serious social
and economic repercussions, affecting financial systems, transport,
energy and communications networks, as well as the delivery of
health and government services.
"This initiative creates a special window for Year 2000-related
activities," says infoDev Program Manager Carlos Primo Braga.
"We expect about 40 grants, valued at $100,000 each, to go
toward helping countries design or improve National Y2K
programs, and another 20 grants, at $500,000 apiece, to help
countries with systems remediation and testing. Priority is being
given to IDA countries."
Braga describes the problem as a good news/bad news situation for
developing countries. On the one hand, they don?t depend on
computer systems and embedded chips as much as industrialized
nations do, but they?re also less aware of the issues and have older
systems to fix.
infoDev recently awarded a contract to Consiel, a subsidiary of
Finsiel S.p.A. of Italy, to develop a toolkit that will help
governments to manage Y2K risks. Under infoDev?s Y2K
Initiative, 20 international seminars are also being organized between
now and September to help developing countries sort out the
millennium computer issue.
In a related story, leaders of the G-8 agreed in their summit?s final
communiqué to take "further urgent action" to tackle the Y2K
problem. The group said it will work closely with business and
international organizations such as the World Bank, to alleviate
disruption in telecommunications, capital markets, defense, and
central bank systems.
infoDev, established in 1995, is a cooperative program managed by
the Bank?s Industry and Energy Department. In 1997, infoDev
became part of the Development Grant Facility of the World Bank.
Financed by governments, private companies, and multilateral
institutions, the program provides grants to innovative information
and communication technology projects in developing countries. It
has already funded 30 projects, including the feasibility study of the
African Virtual University, a toolkit for Internet connectivity in
Africa, and networks focusing on health (SE Asia) and
environmental (Mexico) themes.
To find out more about the program and application guidelines, visit
the infoDev website at http://www.worldbank.org/infodev.