In the ever-increasing global digital economy, electronic governance or ‘e-governance’ is the way of the future – more and more governments around the world are digitising their services to maximise efficiency and make government administration more transparent, quick, and accountable. At the request of the Solomon Islands Government Australia is dedicated to working with partners to help modernise major Solomon Islands Government Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems.
The recent completion of several upgrades to Government ICT systems builds on Australia’s infrastructure investment in the high-speed fibre optic internet cable project, the Coral Sea Cable System, alongside which the importance cyber security and infrastructure resilience must be recognised. Timely upgrades to both software and hardware ensures government services are available to citizens in a convenient, safe, and transparent manner, and the networks and devices we use are protected from attempts to damage or destroy their function. In a world where we are increasingly reliant on technology in our day to day lives, prioritising cyber security strengthening also preserves data privacy and protects sensitive information.
To this end, recent upgrades to the Windows Server operating platform and licences now align with Microsoft support and security recommendations, making internet access and anti-virus protection function more effectively and securely. Further, the installation of security cameras and access controls, and procurement of storage hardware from Australia for the Solomon Islands data-center, has bolstered the physical security of the new ICT premises built with Australian support in 2019.
Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded challenges to the ICT landscape, in Solomon Islands and across the world. Yet at the same time, the pandemic has created opportunities, including for Solomon Islands ICT Services, by fast-tracking enhancements to connectivity. Reliable access to external technical assistance, training through virtual meetings, and better ICT security enables large-scale access to the benefits of remote working. To support remote connectivity is Australia’s investment in the upgrade of Citrix, the platform which enables users to access government ICT servers virtually.
These advancements are part of a package of eight ICT support projects supported by Australia totaling approximately SBD $8.9 million.
At the launch on 3 November, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury McKinnie Dentana congratulated the ICT Services staff and acknowledged the importance the Government of Solomon Islands places on enhancing ICT:
“In this growth industry, we need to move forward with the commitments under our ICT strategy – including enhancing security and infrastructure and expanding IT services into the provinces.”
“E-commerce and e-governance are priority areas, and we value the continued support of our stakeholders, as we continue to grow the skills of our workforce and contribute to Solomon Islands’ economic growth”.
Australian High Commission Counsellor Kevin Playford, also acknowledged the critical role ICT plays in service delivery for governments:
“ICT is such a critical part of our world these days and an essential tool for the effective functioning of the public service. There are changes and evolutions all the time, it’s hard to keep up, but it’s becoming increasingly vital for the effective functioning of government.”
Counsellor Playford also paid tribute to the Solomon Island Governments’ leadership and commitment in modernizing ICT systems software, and applications to improve the delivery of services for the people of this country.
“It takes time and effort to coordinate and sequence priorities and stay on the front foot of emerging changes to both technology and its supporting infrastructure, and yet Australia’s partnership with Solomon Islands to date has brought significant improvements of which we can be proud, and excited. We are delighted to continue partnering to harness the incredible and life-changing power of technology and help the government improve its delivery of services for the people of the Solomon Islands”.
Australia has been supporting Solomon Islands Government ICT Services since 2003. More recently, since 2017, Australia has delivered key investments including the new ICT Services Building in Lengakiki, the Data Centre, the 5-year ICT Strategic Plan, an ICT Training Lab, Solomon Islands Government Portal and Mobile APP, the Security Operations Centre, license upgrades in the Service Monitoring Centre, and significant upgrades to the IT Service Management System.