UN panel examines boosting information, communication technologies in Africa

30 September 2002 –

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, today said he was pleased that a UN expert group on information and communication technologies was using its latest meeting to focus on developing such know-how in Africa.

In his opening remarks to the third meeting of the UN Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Task Force, the Secretary-General said while such technology was not "a magic formula that is going to solve all the problems," it was a powerful tool for economic growth and poverty eradication, which could help African countries integrate into the global market.

"By making the development of ICT one of the priorities of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, African leaders have shown that they are committed to seize the opportunities of the digital revolution," he noted.

The two-day meeting of the ICT Task Force at UN Headquarters in New York is to discuss the action plan for the African Digital Diaspora Network. It will also review progress made during its first year and set out its future strategy and work programme.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General said there was a "vast potential" for investment growth in the developing countries, as information and communication technologies could help turn this potential into concrete opportunities that would help the poor work their way out of poverty, while at the same benefiting the world community as a whole.

But bridging the digital divide, in Africa and elsewhere, was a formidable task that required not only leadership, but also a major commitment of resources. What was needed, Mr. Annan said, was the use of low-cost technologies to provide cheap, fast, and eventually free access to the Internet.

"Now is the time to think of partnerships and initiatives that will make a difference on the ground," he said.

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