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LESSONS:

Information Technology Development Project

sector: Information and communication technology | country: Maldives

Project design. The project was the first of its kind for ADB in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector and in the Maldives. ICT projects are very different from transport projects, in design, implementation, and operation. ICT projects need to have a physical infrastructure for connectivity, software applications for the connectivity to be functional, and a regulatory regime to support the connectivity and applications. The project suffered delays, especially in the initial phase, due to the complexity of the project components and the Ministry of Finance and Treasury’s (MOFT) lack of experience in ADB procurement procedures in the ICT sector.

Local information and communication technology environment. Project design should adequately consider the local situation, including sector development status, regulatory framework, and local capacity for implementing the project and absorbing the new technology. The implementation should be conducted jointly by external consultants and local experts to avoid transitional issues. Unlike transport projects, the completion of an ICT project, especially of turnkey projects, only means half the project is finished and many follow-up issues in operation, maintenance, and sustainability need to be attended to. Therefore, the design and formulation of an ICT project should consider not only implementation, but also the operation phase.

Sustainability. Projects with adequate counterpart funds (capital and operational) can encourage government ownership and improve sustainability. The project plan should incorporate a strong operational and sustainable model. Some of the factors leading to unsatisfactory sustainability in ICT projects include an inadequate financial and business plan, and a lack of trained personnel, ownership, and support from public leaders.

Project management. Adapting to a formal project management framework approach and a central repository for tasks, processes, guidelines, and templates can help a great deal with the efficient implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of a project. This can have positive impacts on the overall efficiency of the organization, as well as reporting.

Technical expertise. To expedite project implementation and avoid project delays, the gap between technical and management expertise should be bridged by frequent consultations and diverse team compositions. For example, ADB missions should include information technology (IT) and procurement experts, who may provide adequate and timely guidance on technical matters and ADB procurement. The government’s supervision and oversee consultants should facilitate mutual understanding and trust between the contractors and government, and provide adequate problem solving.

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