Communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, has revealed that a memorandum of understanding has been signed between the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) and his department.
The MoU between the AIIA and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy was announced yesterday by Conroy at an AIIA sponsored event — "NBN, Cloud and the Digital Economy" in Sydney.
The MoU is to promote digital economy in Australia, with AIIA CEO, Suzanne Campbell, saying that "As the NBN rolls out, it is very important that we take active steps as a nation to create the value promised by high-speed broadband infrastructure in Australia."
"This is about productivity and growth in local economies through new applications and services," Campbell, who took up the reins at AIIA last month, said in a statement.
According to the AIIA, an early focus of the MoU will be involving vendors in the government's "Digital Hubs" initiative.
The Digital Hubs program is part of the National Digital Economy Strategy, unveiled by Conroy in May at the CeBIT trade show in Sydney. The strategy includes $96.2 million over the next four years to drive the development of Australia's digital economy.
The Digital Hubs program targets some of the earliest communities to be connected to the NBN. The hubs are intended to "assist local residents to better understand how they can benefit from the NBN and to improve their digital literacy skills", the strategy states. "...Through these Digital Hubs, local residents will be able to experience the NBN and receive training to develop the digital skills necessary to participate safely and securely and have trust and confidence in the digital economy."
The AIIA's statement on the MoU says that the organisation will work with the government to "drive ICT industry involvement in initiatives aligned to the eight key target areas" outlined in the government's strategy.
These eight goals are for Australia by 2020 to rank in the top five OECD countries when it comes to businesses and other organisations using online opportunities; giving the majority of households and organisations access to smart energy management technology; increased access to electronic health records and telehealth consultations; increased opportunities for online education; a doubling of the level teleworking; and four out of five Australians engaging with the government through online services.
The statement also makes reference to the most recent report by Deloitte Access Economics that pegged the direct contribution of the internet to Australia's economy at $50 billion in 2010 — 3.5 per cent of Australia's GDP.
According to the report, the direct contribution is set to increase by some $20 billion over the next half decade — a growth rate of 7 per cent, which twice as fast as other sectors of the economy.
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