The Prime Minister and IT Minister Austin Gatt this morning launched the government’s Information Technology strategy 2008-2010, saying they wanted Malta to be transformed into a “smart island” and be among “the best in the world” .

The strategy itself is called The Smart Island. Dr Gonzi said it is the fruit of the government’s work in the IT sector in the past six years as well as a broad consultation process. Some 85 percent of suggestions had been taken on board, he said. The previous strategy had 161 objectives, of which only 21 had not yet been attained. In terms of the new strategy, the government wanted to see IT in every aspect of life, with the country exploiting all the opportunities which IT offered and all the people benefiting from these gains.

Dr Gatt said Malta’s progress in this field was widely acknowledged. The World Economic Forum had even classified Malta as the 21st most technologically prepared country. The Economist Intelligence Unit put it at 24.

The new strategy will focus on a number of main areas, of which the technical infrastructure is first. It isplanned that by 2010 Malta willgave four undersea gateway cables giving Malta improved, secure and efficient connectivity with the rest of the world with ample capability for growth, including SmartCity.

Second will be work to further narrow the digital divide. It is hoped that by 2010 some 80 percent of Maltese homes will have broadband and 75 percent of the Maltese will know how to use computers. There will also be 100 community centres were people can access broadband.

E-government services will continue to be improved and extended so that by 2010 all government services will be given online.

In all, there are 180 measures aimed at Malta become a Smart Island, among the best 10 in the world, Dr Gatt said. He expressed confidence that Malta will be able to achieve its aims and the people will benefit from these gains.

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