PITA drives policy issues as it relates to the development and growth of the country’s ICT sector. Working in cooperation with the region’s technology ecosystems including academia, research institutions, startups, businesses and angel and VC investors, our policy initiatives are aimed at serving our members and the growing Diaspora who are looking to connect and do business with Palestinian’s technology economy.
What is Advocacy?
Advocacy is the political process of influencing a public policy within an economic, political, cultural, or social context. The process is usually done by a group of people or an association, based on the consensus of internally-formed specialized committees.
How do we implement it?
Within the framework of the recently developed ICT private sector three-year strategy, one of the main pillars that were identified was the need to enable and enhance the ICT Business environment to support its growth. This is true especially in relation to the need to develop the legal and regulatory environment and the policy frameworks relating to the ICT sector.
The Palestinian Information Technology Association of Companies (PITA) is considered by stakeholders as the leading body of the Palestinian ICT industry, and it is therefore considered the appropriate body that must pave the way for industry actors, suppliers and buyers to engage with each other in a facilitated ICT business environment. Since its establishment, PITA aimed to address the policy issues raised by its community members, however, it still needs to build its capacity and consider advocacy as a well- institutionalized function within the association.
Within its advocacy projects, PITA has identified priority issues that include investment policies and regulations, intellectual property rights laws, the need to activate an independent telecom regulatory body, and the need for an improved infrastructure. In cooperation with the “Investment Climate Improvement (ICI)” project, the association is positioning itself as a “Thought Leader” by adopting professional communication and networking strategies, running capacity building programs in advocacy, and addressing priority issues in the regulatory environment.
The five components of "Building the ICT Business Environment" project:
1. Capacity Building:
Two international consultants were hired to develop an advocacy strategy and action plan. Subsequently, representatives of ICT companies have been well-trained to implement the strategy and work in committees to ensure adequate follow up with concerned governmental bodies. The two consultants have further spent five days interviewing major Palestinian stakeholders such as the Prime Minister office, the Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology, the Deputy Minister of National Economy, and representatives of ICT companies. These interviews were helpful in shaping the Palestinian advocacy procedures and customizing the training workshops accordingly.
2. Intellectual Property-Rights Law:
PITA has contracted a Palestinian well-established law firm to develop a position paper on the Intellectual Property Rights Law. A committee of 12 members was created to follow up with the law firm on the existing law drafts of the intellectual and industrial rights along with copyrights. Decision makers from the Ministry of National Economy and the Ministry of culture were invited to a workshop where member companies, lawyers, legislative and regulatory bodies and other stakeholders were able to give recommendations regarding the amended law draft.
3. Activation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority:
PITA has contracted an Equity Legal Group to activate the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA), enrich a drafted position paper and submit it to the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology. A committee of 23 members has been assigned to follow up with the legal firm and the Ministry; in order to provide the needed feedback and guarantee the best implementation of the project.
4. Improvement of the ICT Business and Investment Environment:
This component aims to generate awareness amongst policy makers and various stakeholders. With the professional assistance of an expert, the regulations and challenges facing the ICT sector are discussed in an interactive workshop that brings together Palestinian Ministries with relevant stakeholders from the private sector. Obstacles that hinder the investment climate of the sector are amended for a better investment atmosphere in Palestine.
5. Development of ICT Infrastructure:
We are enhancing policies, regulations, and laws to attain an improved ICT infrastructure. PITA's relevant staff in addition to an infrastructure expert are studying related issues and providing valuable recommendations to develop and publish a clear position paper regarding the issue. During the project, the following items are reviewed:
- Copyright, IP and patent filing laws and regulations.
- The enabling processes between the main actors in entrepreneurial and innovation development.
- Bankruptcy and entrepreneurial second chance.
- Government policy on support - taxation, financial support, and inward investment.
- Policies and regulations regarding setting up businesses including company registration, tax registration, tax policy, local taxation issues, and operational legal requirements.
- Support structures - advice, education, and donor position.
- Employment regulations and policy.
- Shareholding and ownership regulation.
Furthermore, a review from innovation led environments and a gap analysis against the current Palestinian situation is taking place, in addition to a review of the special circumstances relating to Palestine , and which might reduce flexibility in investment laws.