An expert on Information Communications Technology says the most pressing of many challenges facing the Pacific is the need for simple phone connections to many areas.
Eighty people are to meet in Suva, Fiji, today for a four-day conference on ICT and the Pacific, hosted by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and jointly sponsored by the United Nations' Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the International Telecommunications Union.
The Forum's infrastructure adviser, John Budden, says ICT is at the beginning stages in the Pacific.
And he says the most pressing need is for phone connections in many areas.
"In many countries in the Pacific the capital cities and some of the major provincial towns are satisfied but you go out to the villages and there's very little. Many of the countries are still relying on technologies which work but which are very old fashioned, like HF radio and wireless techniques. Some have paging over radio and a lot of local adaptations to the ability to be able to get people to be able to talk to their wontoks or talk to their governments or talk to somebody else in the major cities."
John Budden says the conference will provide input for future meetings and documents, including the Forum's Pacific Plan, on ICT directions and needs in the Pacific.