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Public Administration News  
Local governments focus on digital inclusion
Source: www.futuregov.asia
Source Date: Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Internet Governance
Country: China
Created: Aug 16, 2010

Since January 2004, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China has been carrying out the Cun Cun Tong, or Village Connected Project. As the venture draws to a close, Wang Zhen Jian, Director of the Wenzhou Municipal Bureau of Informatisation, spoke to FutureGov about what’s been achieved so far.

More than three million farmers have benefited from the RMB 200 billion (US$30 million) project and village connectedness has been achieved, said Wang. There is a 29 per cent discrepancy between the internet penetration rates in urban and rural China, and the objective of Cun Cun Tong is to reach out and care for the rural community via internet services.

This has been done through a number of ways.

“By introducing Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to the rural community in China, farmers are able to use the internet as a platform to sell their produce. They can advertise their products online and attract buyers in this manner,” he said. The internet has also opened doors to a multitude of information on weather forecasts, market trends and up-to-date pricing data for agricultural products and services.

Through partnerships with companies like China Mobile, which adopted the Village Connected Project as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts, three types of networks have been set up – the Basic Infrastructure Network, Rural Information Network and Network of Rural Sales Channels.

By establishing Rural Information terminals across the provinces, messages pertaining to crop distribution in Winter, pest control and disaster prevention have also been sent to farmers. The government hopes to build a “New Countryside” with the expansion of network coverage and introduction of modern telecommunications and information services to remote areas.

This goal is being achieved step by step, said Wang. China Mobile’s efforts alone, for example, has improved telecommunications coverage in 99.8 per cent of China’s administrative villages and 93 per cent of natural villages across 27 provinces. In 2009, there was an average of 33,000 calls per day on the Rural Information hotline service and approximately 700,000 hits on the Rural Information Network website set up by China Mobile across the nation.

The next step, said Wang, is to implement the Nong Xing 121 Project, which seeks to build upon the foundation of the Village Connected Project and improve on it. This initiative will focus on two areas, namely communications related to farming and the management of information in villages, he said.

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