Small- and medium-sized telecommunications and information technology firms in Atlanta could benefit from a new agreement between the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), according to Bernard Van der Lande, president of Stone Mountain-based consulting firm Ashford International.

The TIA/USAID agreement, which the two organizations signed during the recent Supercomm 2001 communications and information technology convention at the Georgia World Congress Center, matches TIA members with companies in developing countries that need U.S. technology solutions.

The agreement will operate through USAID’s Global Technology Network (GTN), a program that assists U.S. small- and medium-sized companies to enter emerging markets in 44 developing countries. It provides trade leads in the agriculture, energy, environmental, health and information technology sectors.

Mr. Van der Lande, who returned from Uganda last week, told GlobalFax that new telecommunications technology has “changed the whole nature of business” in developing countries, and this makes success more likely for the TIA/USAID agreement.

          He said countries like Uganda have the advantage of not having to implement “old” technologies like regular land line telephones or computers but, instead, go directly to mobile phones and new wireless Internet products.

          This opens new doors for U.S. communications companies in developing countries, he noted. The only drawbacks, he added, are the fact that many of the emerging markets are small, and some countries prefer to work only through personal relationships. But this is how the GTN partnering program will help TIA members, he noted.

          TIA is the first business association to partner with GTN. It is a trade association of communications and information technology firms that helps develop markets, puts on trade shows, sets domestic and international technology standards and enables e-business.

          The TIA has international offices in Beijing; Brussels, Belgium; Moscow and Sao Paolo, Brazil.

          The GTN began in 1993, and since 1998, it has been responsible for some $300 million in U.S. export business.

          USAID is a federal agency that administers U.S. economic development and humanitarian assistance programs worldwide.

          Visit or for more information. Contact Mr. Van der Lande at (770) 413-4000.