17 May 2007 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged policymakers and industry leaders to work together with young people to give more of them access to information and communications technology (ICT).
“In many instances, young people are the driving force behind innovation in the development and use of new technologies,” Mr. Ban said in a message on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which is being observed under the theme Connect the Young.
“But the digital chasm leaves others out of this picture, and unable to capitalize fully on the benefits of globalization,” he said. “Young people everywhere must have equal opportunities to rise out of poverty and illiteracy, and to realize their full potential,” he added.
Pointing out that the UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has been helping the world to communicate from the advent of the telegraph to the present, he said the entire UN system, following the World summit on the Information Society, is now committed to strongly linking ICT with development.
“So let us promote visionary public policies, innovative business models and creative technological solutions that will empower young people and engage them in the global effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” Mr. Ban urged, referring to the internationally agreed targets for reducing poverty and other world ills by 2015.
The ITU observed the occasion by launching a campaign, along with the Government of Qatar, to provide hundreds of scholarships for digital study, as well as the announcement, by its Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré, of initiatives to curb cyber crime and connect Africa.
At a ceremony at ITU headquarters in Geneva, Mr. Touré also presented The World Information Society Awards for 2007 to Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, First Lady of the Dominican Republic, for “her outstanding personal contribution towards building an inclusive and equitable global information society.”
In addition, Mark I. Krivocheev, chief scientist of the Radio Research Institute in Moscow, received the honour for developing television systems, and the Mozilla Corporation of the United States was praised for developing “world-class Internet technologies and applications.”
Also marking the International Day today, 16 UN information centres (UNICs) that provide communication services to 34 countries in sub-Saharan Africa today launched new websites in an effort to bring the work of the UN closer to local constituencies.
In addition to news generated by UN Headquarters, the UN Country Teams and the UNICs themselves, the websites will host translations into more than 20 national languages of key UN documents, as well as providing a variety of links to UN system websites and programmes, according to UNIC Pretoria, which is responsible for ongoing maintenance and updating of the sites.
The websites will be based at the UNICs in Ghana, Madagascar, Eritrea, Republic of Congo, Burundi, Senegal, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Togo, Zambia, Lesotho, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Namibia and Cameroon.
For its part, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) used the International Day to highlight its efforts to extend its electronic financial network throughout the world by developing regional exchanges, especially in Africa, Asia and Arab countries, with Latin America also targeted.
“Millions of people need reliable electronic money transfer services,” Edouard Dayan, Director-General of the UPU, said. “The postal network offers an ideal means of bringing these services within the reach of populations and our project offers a concrete solution to the challenges associated with migrants’ international money transfers, and with poverty reduction,” he added.