By Hinewai Netana-Williams, Te Rito journalism cadet.
The author of a critique of the Pacific Forum’s e-commerce digital strategy, emeritus law professor JaneKelsey, says donors to the region need to back off and allow small island states to find solutions that work for them.
Kelsey is concerned the dependency of Pacific Island countries could deepen.
“Whoever controls the digital space is going to be crucially important, especially for small island states that have a really problematic infrastructure,” Kelsey said.
A lot of the New Zealand and Australia aid programmes to the region are driven by the economic and foreign policy interests of the donors, rather than the priorities as identified by Pacific Islands countries.
“We need to look at the aid context because we see, with a lot of the aid funding, that colonial bad habits continue.”
Kelsey says there is an emphasis on self-determination within the region.
"It shouldn’t be influenced by the donors and the donors need to actually back off.”
Kelsey says “Proponents need to actually support the region not support their own interests. Put the Pacific Islands first so Pacific Islands countries can work with other developing countries to come up with solutions that really work for them.”