Creating a common digital area in the Mediterranean region is imperative for economic development as information and communications technologies remain a major catalyst for growth, argued a policy paper presented at a Beirut conference Tuesday. “ICTs can act as catalysts for economic and human development, it is imperative to set up a comprehensive, multi-sectoral policy at regional level with the aim of creating a common digital area – a Mediterranean society of information and knowledge,” the paper said. The policy paper, which was presented at a panel discussion held at Ecole Superieure des Affaires, said rapid computerization renders regional cooperation on both policy and infrastructure levels essential. “The development of a digital world is too significant to be strategically led and governed at national level,” said the report authored by L’institut de Prospective Economique du Monde Mediterraneen. A major policy recommendations put forward by the report is developing a pan-Mediterranean cloud computing platform. Boosting cloud computing, the report argued, would significantly enhance various sectors, ranging from Internet security and electronic commerce to usage and production of renewable energy. Cloud computing is a relatively new technology that utilizes broadband Internet and high-capacity servers to store and maintain data remotely. It allows entities and individuals to access their files using any computer with adequate Internet access. The technology allows for highly efficient computing that saves storage, memory and processing capacities. Speakers at the conference highlighted that cloud computing could create up to 14 million jobs by 2015, and urged the region to catch up with others that have been leading in the lucrative technology. The paper also called on regional countries to define a clear user and reference charter and a Mediterranean Information and Communications Technology label to encourage standardized practices and compatibility. In the southern Mediterranean, governments should do more to encourage industrial production of content particularly software, to match more advanced levels in the north, the report said. The report alsocalled on governments to create an investment fund devoted to ICT businesses. A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 13, 2012, on page 5.