The 25th Meeting of the Follow-up Committee of the COMCEC was held on 12-14 May 2009 in Izmir, Turkey, with the participation of 11 member countries of the Committee (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Palestine, Senegal, Kuwait, Iran, Cameroon, Pakistan, Qatar, Indonesia and Sierra Leone). United Arab Emirates also attended the Meeting as observer. The OIC General Secretariat and the following subsidiary, affiliated and specialised organs (SESRIC, ICDT, IDB, ICCI, IUT, ITFC, OISA and ICYF-DC) attended the Meeting.
The Centre was represented at the meeting by its Director General Dr. Savaş Alpay, Mr. Nabil Dabour, Director of Research Department, Mr. Mehmet Faith Serenli, Director of Training and Technical Cooperation Department and Mr. Mazhar Hussain, Researcher.
The Committee reviewed and discussed the progress achieved in the implementation of the resolutions and decisions of the 24th COMCEC Session, which was held in October 2008 in Istanbul. The discussion included a set of common issues of concern to the member countries with a view to enhancing economic and commercial cooperation among them. These issues were discussed under the following main Agenda Items:
- Review of the implementation of the OIC Ten-Year Programme of Action relating to economic cooperation and the Plan of Action to Strengthen Economic and Commercial Cooperation among the OIC Member States;
- Expansion of intra-OIC trade and investment, progress in the establishment of Trade Preferential System among the OIC Member States (TPS-OIC);
- Cooperation among the stock exchanges of the OIC member countries;
- E-government applications in OIC countries;
- Review of the implementation of the action plan for the OIC cotton producing countries;
- Vocational education and training programme of action for OIC member states (OIC-VET); and
- Preparations for the exchange of views on “Impact of food crisis on the economies of the OIC countries”.
The Committee also prepared the Draft Agenda of the 25th COMCEC Session, which will be held in Istanbul in November 2009.
Under Agenda Item: “E-government applications and their impact on the OIC Member States”, Mr. Nabil Dabour, Director of Research Department, briefed the Committee on the latest developments on this Agenda Item. He informed the Committee that the Centre has recently prepared a report on “E-Government Readiness in the OIC Member Countries”, which evaluates the capability of the OIC member countries in E-Government Readiness based on the data provided by the United Nations e-Government Survey 2008. Mr. Dabour also informed the Committee that the Centre will organise, in collaboration with TODAIE and TIKA, the International Conference on Sharing Experiences in E-Government in Antalya, Turkey, on 8-11 December 2009. The Conference will bring together leaders, bureaucrats, technocrats, ICT representatives (regulatory bodies, NGOs, suppliers, etc.) and academicians from the member countries and elsewhere. The participants will exchange their experiences and explore ways and means of cooperation in various issues related to e-government applications.
The Committee welcomed the offer of the Centre to organise the said Conference on this important area of cooperation and requested it to submit a comprehensive report on the subject including means and ways of cooperation to the 25th Session of the COMCEC.
Under Agenda Item “Vocational education and training programme of action for OIC member states (OIC-VET), Mr. Mehmet Faith Serenli, Director of Training and Technical Cooperation Department, briefed the Committee on the latest developments related to the preparations and implementation of the programme. The Committee took note with satisfaction of the progress that has been achieved in the OIC-VET Programme since the 24th Session of the COMCEC. The Committee commended the efforts exerted by SESRIC to organize the Operational Meeting among the relevant OIC Institutions in the field of vocational education and training on 4 April 2009 in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as the First Meeting of the Monitoring and Advisory Committee (MAC) of the OIC-VET Programme in Izmir on 13 May 2009 with a view to initiating the Pilot Application Phase of the Programme in the Fall of 2009.
The Committee called upon the Member States that have not done so, to designate their National Focal Points (NFPs) for the OIC-VET Programme in order to facilitate the communication between SESRIC and the relevant Member State. The Committee also called upon the Member States to cooperate and collaborate with SESRIC during the preparation period of the initial activities of the Pilot Application Phase scheduled to start in the Fall of 2009. In this context, the Committee requested SESRIC to establish a common online platform for the National Focal Points (NFPs) of the OIC-VET Programme in order to facilitate the process of sharing their experience on their best practices in the field of vocational education and training and to exchange information about their relevant training activities, partner institutions or organizations and resource persons.
Under Agenda Item “Preparation for the exchange of views on the “Impact of food crisis on the economies of the OIC countries”, the representative of the ICDT briefed the Committee on the preparations for the Workshop on the said theme which will be organised by the ICDT, in collaboration with the ITFC and SESRIC, as the coordinator institution of the Exchange of Views sessions of the COMCEC, and held in Casablanca on 17-18 June 2009. Under the same Agenda Item, the Committee took note of the following proposals as possible themes for the exchange of views sessions to be held during the subsequent COMCEC Sessions: (1) The impact of exchange rate policies and currency harmonization on intra-OIC trade; (2) Development of financial architecture in OIC Member States; (3) Islamic Banking in the new financial system; and (4) Agricultural development and water related issues in the Member States. In this context, the Committee requested SESRIC to circulate a questionnaire to the Member States to explore their views on the above themes and report to the 25th Session of the COMCEC.
The 25th Meeting of the Follow-up Committee of the COMCEC was preceded one day before, i.e. on 11th May by three-related meetings.
The first meeting was the 2nd Project Committee Meeting of the OIC Cotton Action Plan. The Meeting was chaired by the representative of the IDB, as Chairman of the Committee, and attended by the representatives of the OIC General Secretariat, COMCEC Coordination Office, SESRIC, ICDT, ITFC and ICCI. The Committee reviewed and discussed a number of project proposals presented by the OIC countries who are members in the Committee. These project proposals were presented by Uganda, Senegal, Cameroon, Sudan, Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia and Syria. After examining the project proposals, the Committee called on IDB and other financial institutions to contribute to the budgets of these projects.
The second meeting was the 14th Meeting of the Sessional Committee of the COMCEC, which was attended by the OIC General Secretariat, the COMCEC Coordination Office, SESRIC, ICDT, IDB, ICCI, IUT and some Turkish public institutions, which are owners of the proposed cooperation projects of the COMCEC. The Meeting mainly reviewed and discussed the progress so far achieved in the implementation of 9 cooperation projects of the COMCEC, which have been proposed by different Turkish institutions. The Committee noted that there has been no progress in 4 of these projects due to various reasons and, therefore, decided to cancel them from the COMCEC project proposals list, which now includes only 5 projects. In this connection, it is worth mentioning that SESRIC has been designated by the Committee as the Coordinator of the project proposal entitled “Pre-Feasibility Study on Determining the Need for Regional Aircraft in OIC Member Countries”, which was proposed by the School of Civil Aviation of the Anadolu University of Turkey. The Centre has been also designated by the Committee to share with the ICDT the coordination of the project proposal entitled “Creation of a Network of Cross-border Parks and Reserves in West Africa”.
The third meeting was the 3rd Meeting of the Steering Committee for the Implementation of the OIC Cotton Action Plan. The Meeting was chaired by the representative of Turkey, as Chairman of the Committee, and attended by the representatives of the OIC General Secretariat, COMCEC Coordination Office, SESRIC, ICDT, ITFC and ICCI. Only three member countries in the Committee attended the Meeting (Turkey, Egypt and Burkina Faso) The Committee adopted the report of the 2nd Project Committee Meeting and decided to submit the approved project proposals to both the IDB and the international financial institutions through the OIC General Secretariat. The Committee also adopted a report on “the Mid-Term Review of the Five-Year OIC Cotton Action Plan”, which was prepared and presented by the OIC General Secretariat, in collaboration with the Chairman of the Committee.