From July 6-26, CIFAL Shanghai, in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the P.R. of China, hosted its third training programme of 2011, with a focus on information and communications technology (ICT) services to build Smart Cities.

The 20-day training brought 38 participants from 24 countries, covering Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe, Latin America and Caribbean regions to explore not only Chinese development of integrated ICT services in Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Beijing, but also to compare and discuss country to country experiences in achieving digital inclusion and modernized ICT services for all urban populations.

Participants hailed from Ministries of Information and Communication, Ministries of Interior, Finance and Planning, National Research Institutes, Parliaments, Local governments and more; and were from countries as varied as Egypt, Chile, Uganda, Nigeria, Tonga, Viet Nam, Albania and more.

The training opened with a focus on the City of Shanghai, showcasing the scaling up ICT services throughout the mega-city, and the how tos of investing in a "Digital Shanghai," as well as how investing in digital inclusion and digital literacy has exponential economic growth benefits for all. Participants had the chance to discuss and compare their own local development plans and how they address ICT planning and delivery, with that of Shanghai's past and present plans.

On day 7 of the training, all participants were moved to Beijing to visit IBM offices and its Cloud-Computing Centre, learning firsthand about how cloud computing can provide a low-cost solutions for ICT infrastructure and the extension of services for public and business users. Participants also had site visits to Lenovo Group's Beijing Innovation Centre, visiting the birthplace of Lenovo and learning about Lenovo Mobile Communications Technology.

Participants also had various lectures from leading Chinese companies in ICT services, such as Neusoft Corporation, noting the growth in Chinese public-private corporations in ICT research and development, consumer products, and services delivery, as well as the role of government in promoting Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) growth and business development in ICT. To learn about the role of ICT in delivering online media for "netizens", participants also had a site visit to People's Daily Online (one of the country's leading online news sites since 1998 Finally, participants visited China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, to learn firsthand about China's Informatization Development Strategy.

With a short pause to visit the Great Wall of China, participants were next taken to Hangzhou, the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China, to visit Hangzhou's Hi-tech Industry Development Zone, to attract e-Commerce companies from abroad, the park has a complete range of infrastructure, which has been constructed in accordance with the new city plan and all complementary basic services.

Participants then returned to Shanghai, learning about spillover development in satellite cities such as Wuxi, and ICT inclusion and upgrading for underdeveloped districts such as Fenxiang District in Shanghai.

With a wealth of examples of Eastern China's rapid informatization and how this is linked to effective local development planning, strategies, and financing, participants had a chance to gather a comprehensive view of how ICT investments extend to and can improve everything from disaster preparedness, health services, transport, job creation, to the general wealth and digital literacy of their populations.

For more information on CIFAL Shanghai's upcoming programmes and how to participate see the online UNITAR Training Catalogue at: