Subject: [fem-women2000 453] Re: ECOSOC 情報通信技術提言事項アップデート / ECOSOC High Level on ICTs - recommendation update
From: lalamaziwa <lalamaziwa@jca.apc.org>
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2000 21:08:08 +0900
Seq: 453

>  From: Gillian Marcelle <gmarcelle@yahoo.com>
>  Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000 13:00:22 -0700 (PDT)
>  Subject: Update on the recommendations of the UN Panel of ICTs
> --
*clip*
> For more details of the Panel and its report see
> http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/ecosoc/itforum/expert.htm


text from 
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http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/ecosoc/itforum/expert.htm
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A high-level panel of experts on information and communication
technology (ICT). The group was comprised of 16 experts
(government, business, academia/NGOs from the five regions).
The meeting took place on 17-20 April. The group prepared a
report, to be made available in early June 2000, containing
recommendations on the role of the United Nations in enhancing
the integration of developing countries in the emerging global
information network; facilitating access for developing countries to
ICT, and promoting the participation of developing countries,
including through infrastructure facilities, in knowledge-intensive
sectors of the global economy.

       Copyright ゥ United Nations
   Department of Economic and Social Affairs
    Comments and suggestions: esa@un.org
              07 Jul 2000 


text of the Expert Report from
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http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/ecosoc/adovoc02.pdf
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A/55/75-E/2000/55

Report of the meeting of the high-level panel of experts 
on information and communication technology
(New York, 17-20 April 2000) 

Table of Contents 

I   The Challenge 

II  The Opportunity 

III The Mission 

IV  Summary of Findings
   - Why ICT Programmes are Beneficial for Development 
   - Why now -Conditions for Effectiveness 
   - Actions that Worked -Problems and Obstacles 

V   Ensuring Fair and Equal Participation in the Information Society 

VI  An International ICT Action Plan 
   - At the Policy Level -Development Initiatives 

VII The Role of the United Nations in Promoting ICT for Development 

VIII Conclusions and Recommendations 


ANNEX 

National and Regional Presentations 

Other Presentations 
   - Technology Constraints -Internet Management 
   - InfoDev -A Multi-media Approach 


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Members of the panel: 

>From Africa
Pascal Baba Couloubaly (Mali), Minister of Culture
Nii Quaynor (Ghana), Executive Chairman of National Computer Systems
Sushil Baguant (Mauritius), Chairman of the National Computer Board
Najat Rochdi (Morocco), President of the Internet Society of Morocco 

>From Asia
Wang Quiming (China), Ministry of Science and Technology 
Srinivasan Ramani (India), Director, Silverline Technologies, Inc. 
Taholo Kami (Tonga), Manager of the Small Island Developing States Network 

>From Eastern Europe
Toomas-Hendrik Ilves (Estonia), Minister of Foreign Affairs 
Andrei Kolesnikov (Russia), Founder of Russia -on-Line
Orlin Kouzov (Bulgaria), CEO, National Education and Research Network 


>From Latin America and the Caribbean
Pedro Urra (Cuba), Director of the Medical Network, Ministry of Health 
Jose Maria Figueres Olsen (Costa Rica), former President of Costa Rica
Tadao Takahashi (Brazil), Chair, Federal Task Force 
          for National Information Society 
Gillian Marcelle (Trinidad), telecommunications policy 
          and gender specialist 

Western Europe and Other Groups
Paolo Morawski (Italy), UN World TV Forum and RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana 
William Sheppard (United States), Vice-President of INTEL
Anders Wijkman (Sweden), Member of the European Parliament 

Panelists benefited from presentations by several guests, including
Vinton Cerf, Director of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers (ICANN); John Daly, Acting Work Programme Administrator of
InfoDev at the World Bank; Gabriel Accascina, Regional Coordinator of
the UNDP Asia and Pacific Information Development Programme; Edward
Gelbstein, Director of the United Nations International Computing Center
in Geneva; Amir Dossal, Executive Director of the United Nations Fund
for International Partnerships; and Denis Gilhooly, Director, Digital
Partners. 


I. The Challenge 

The world is undergoing a revolution in information and communication
technologies (ICT) that has momentous implications for the current and
future social and economic situation of all countries of the world. 

In March 2000 an estimated 276 million persons worldwide were users of
the Internet with a growth rate of roughly 150,000 persons per day, 220
million devices were accessing the worldwide web and almost 200,000
devices were added each day. Web pages totaled 1.5 billion with almost 2
million pages being added each day. E-commerce, or business conducted
over the Internet, totaled $45 billion as recently as 1998 and an
estimate in January 2000 projected it could explode to over $7 trillion
as early as 2004. 

These are astonishing figures, unprecedented by any measure, but they
reflect activity by less than 5% of the world's population. The gross
disparity in the spread of the Internet and thus the economic and social
benefits derived from it is a matter of profound concern. There are more
hosts in New York than in continental Africa; more hosts in Finland than
in Latin America and the Caribbean; and notwithstanding the remarkable
progress in the application of ICT in India, many of its villages still
lack a working telephone. 

The formidable and urgent challenge before national governments and the
development community is to bridge this divide and connect the remainder
of the world's population whose livelihoods can be enhanced through ICT.
As each day passes, the task becomes much more difficult. To give just
one example, exploding e-commerce ties individuals, firms and countries
closer and closer together, while those who do not try to catch the
"Internet Express" run the risk of being further and further
marginalized. Developing countries have great potential to compete
successfully in the new global market, but unless they promptly and
actively embrace the ICT revolution they will face new barriers and the
risk of not just being marginalized but completely bypassed. 

II. The Opportunity 

Members of the panel, coming from all regions of the world and from
countries at all stages of development, are unanimous in their belief
that the issue is not whether to respond to the challenges brought about
by the revolution in ICT, but how to respond and how to ensure that the
process becomes truly global and everyone shares the benefits.
Experience of a number of countries (*1), including developing and
transition economies, some of them working under conditions of a severe
shortage of resources, complex political environments and acute
socio-economic problems, demonstrated that bold actions in bringing
their countries into the digital age paid off and brought tangible
positive results in economic, social and political terms. Moreover, this
experience proved that the argument that ICT should only be introduced
once progress has been made in tackling poverty is spurious: ICT brings
early, tangible and important benefits to the poor. These countries, by
extensively and innovatively using ICT for their development, were able
to extract value from globalization, rather than watching globalization
extract value from them. 
--
*1 See the Annex for summaries of country and regional presentations. 

This report seeks to summarize this experience so that other countries
could benefit from lessons learned and find their own approach to
bringing ICT to the service of their development. The report also
identifies areas and actions that the international community, in
particular the United Nations, should undertake to support national ICT
programmes. 

In this report, we share our convictions, formed and tempered by our
practical experience, as to why all countries need to embrace the ICT
revolution, and why now. We outline a set of actions that worked for our
countries, discuss important conditions for these actions to be
effective, and identify problems and obstacles that need to be addressed
to assure effectiveness and sustainability of ICT's contribution to
development for all. 


III. The Mission 

We firmly believe that at the national level, governments, the private
sector and all segments of civil society must unite to address this
challenge. We also assert that the international community, especially
the United Nations, has a special obligation to assist countries in
maximizing the benefits they can secure from ICT. 

In this regard, we present our proposals and recommendations on how to
bring greater coherence and synergy to the many uncoordinated activities
currently undertaken, with limited effect, by individual organizations
of the United Nations system, including the World Bank, by the European
Union, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and
numerous other multilateral and bilateral organizations. 

The panel believes that the international community, working in concert
with national governments, private business and civil society, is fully
capable of reversing the current alarming trend of the growing "Digital
Divide" and must do it. The panel calls on all actors to unite in a
global initiative to meet the following challenge: provide access to the
Internet, especially through community access points, for the world's
population presently without such access by the end of 2004. 

The panel proposed the following action points for reaching this goal: 

(a) The United Nations, at the Millennium Assembly in September 2000,
should proclaim the right of universal access to information and
communication services such as the Internet as an important new
component of the United Nations principles and conventions on human
rights and development. 

(b) The United Nations should create, under the leadership of the
Secretary General but outside United Nations' organizational structures,
an ICT Task Force. This Task Force should bring together multilateral
development institutions, private industry, foundations and trusts and
would facilitate, including by investment, the expansion of the market
for ICT in developing countries, thereby helping to bridge the digital
divide. 

(c) This Task Force would provide overall leadership and strategy for
ICT development. A fund should be created that the Task Force would
administer and for which up to $500 million would be solicited from
sources such as the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships.
This amount would be matched by funds raised from the private sector and
foundations. The fund will leverage additional resources by assisting
developing countries in putting in place their own ICT programmes
provided they match the contributions from the fund. 

(d) Organizations of the United Nations system should work with
governments and financial institutions for the writing off of one per
cent of the debt of each developing country with the commitment that the
country would allocate the equivalent financing to ICT for development.
In a similar manner, the United Nations should work towards countries
receiving international financing for ICT development on the basis of
their progress in carbon-fixation activities. 

IV. Summary of Findings 

A number of general conclusions emerged from the presentations and
discussions. A basic premise is that knowledge differs from other
factors of production in that it expands when applied. The challenge of
a knowledge-based economy is not a scarcity of knowledge but
inadequacies in diffusing and using it. Unlike capital resources,
knowledge cannot easily be redistributed as a result of political
decisions, it needs to be nurtured  by individuals, communities, and
countries. The State has an interest and an obligation to promote this
nurturing and to ensure that its citizens have access to ICT tools and
services. Why ICT Programmes are Beneficial for Development 

ICT has been extremely beneficial to those nations that have used it
with determination and enthusiasm as part of their national development
strategies to accelerate development, as demonstrated by the country
examples (see Annex). While benefits from ICT investments may not be
immediately perceptible in all cases (several years passed before such
evidence became available in the United States following investments in
ICT in the 1980s), panelists urged nations that had not yet launched
national ICT initiatives to catch the "Internet Express" without further
delay. 

Among examples of positive impact of the introduction of ICT were the
following: 

* Direct contribution of ICT sector's output to the economy, in
particular to exports. In this regard, examples of India and Costa Rica
are particularly striking (see Annex). 

* Providing rural communities with convenient on-line access to a full
range of government services was seen as a significant instrument for
improving their well-being and enhancing the sense of belonging, both of
which could discourage excessive migration to urban centers. 

* Voting by computer had alleviated skepticism about the possibility of
fraud in elections. 

* Improvement in public sector administration, in particular that
transparency in the procurement process for public service contracts had
reduced corruptive practices. 

* Tremendous potential for improving education, including distance
learning and training, and for facilitating better gender balance in
this regard. 

* Important improvements in the delivery of services such as health care,
including through the application of tele -medicine. 

* Employment generation that has been attributed to the ICT sector,
especially among recent graduates from high schools as well as technical
colleges and universities. 

* For small developing and transition economies with limited natural and
human resources, in particular for SIDS, using ICT is perhaps the only
way to carve niche markets for their unique endowments. 

* Diffusion of best practices and lessons learned, in particular
exchange of information on locally/ regionally appropriate solutions.

* Empowering of communities with the resultant easing of the burden on
the Government to provide services. 

* Enabling countries to monitor ecological situations and maintain
environmental stability. 


Why now 

There are no excuses for lack of action.

* Technology is no longer a major barrier for putting ICT in the service
of development, since technological solutions exist for almost any need
or situation. The costs of equipment and materials, currently at one
fifth of the levels five years ago, are projected to decrease to only
one fifth of today's prices within five years. At the same time,
panelists were emphatic that no State should use this anticipated
decrease in installation costs as an excuse to delay action since
aggregate costs of delay will far out-weight savings on the cost of
equipment. 

* Inadequacy of infrastructure (e. g., for assuring connectivity or
access for remote areas) can be overcome by determined government
policies aimed at building demand for ICT, which in turn leads to
expansion of the infrastructure. 

* Emerging e-commerce is rapidly becoming a new and very significant
trade barrier for those who are not connected. 

* While costs of ICT projects are, of course, a matter of concern for
governments, the panelists' experience proved that relatively modest
investments in key sectors, such as health services, relying perhaps not
on the most modern technology, brought quick and substantial results.


Conditions for Effectiveness 

* The importance of strong political leadership, of a national leader or
champion to lead the ICT campaign cannot be overemphasized. When leaders
such as Heads of State committed their prestige and authority, rapid
progress resulted. But a leader need not necessarily be an individual -
it can be a successful network in health or education, for example. The
ICT campaign must be part of a clear national strategy and plan for the
use and application of ICT within the country. 

* To be effective, ICT initiatives require a competitive
telecommunications environment or the certainty that such an environment
will shortly be created. 

* Decision-makers in the public sector need to recognize the valuable
contribution the private sector and civil society can make in the area
of ICT. The role and support of the media has also been important. Some
panelists commented that high-level political support needs to be
complemented by support from the civil service. ICT operations both
generate and eliminate jobs and senior civil servants need to make sure
that the benefits from computerized operations are well understood and
that training and retraining programmes are offered. 

* Prominence of local content is necessary to ensure wide diffusion of
use of ICT. In this regard, development of local language character sets
for computer interface is critical. 

Actions that Worked 

From an analysis of the experiences of the panelists, it is clear that
there is no one single formula for a successful ICT programme. Every ICT
strategy and plan should be tailor-made to fit a particular national
context. This having been said, a number of actions were seen as
important for the success of ICT initiatives. 

* Clear focus and narrowly defined, realistic objectives for ICT
projects. 

* Establishing a legal and regulatory framework, including intellectual
property rights, information technology, and telecommunications acts. 

* Tax and customs incentives and loans at concessional rates to speed up
the growth of the ICT-based services sector. 

* Early support for ICT initiatives can be gained through the use of
entry points such as education, health, public administration and
e-commerce. Outreach campaigns, including travelling demonstrations and
competitions, have proved to be effective means of raising awareness and
winning support. 

* Development of local content as a result of national technological
initiatives to develop local language character sets for use in computer
interface for the countries where a significant part of population
neither speaks nor reads English. 

* A determined effort to use ICT to help to integrate isolated rural
populations into the national economy. 

* De-politicization of the computerization issue by, for instance,
establishing an NGO foundation that received government monies for
hardware and software, and was tasked with determining the order in
which communities would be benefited. 

* The provision of public access points such as cybercafes, community
centres and telecenters has proven very successful and should be a key
component of the Action Plan to extend connectivity. 

* The issue of affordable access costs should be addressed by the public
sector authorities taking into full account the benefit that ICT brings
in improving performance of the public administration. 

* A strategic psychological approach whereby, first of all, each
recipient of ICT hardware, software and services was required to
contribute up to a half of the costs involved, thus creating a sense of
ownership, and, subsequently, building on the spreading sense of "envy"
in the neighbouring communities without comparable equipment. 

* Use of defence budgets for the purposes of creating an ICT
infrastructure that could in the interim, security situation permitting,
be used as resource for education and provision of other services. 


Problems and Obstacles 

Panelists voiced their concern about several issues connected with ICT
development. The cost of Internet usage is the key issue, with typical
charges still far exceeding levels that would permit popular use. Other
issues raised included security of on-line transactions, computer crimes,
the protection of intelle ctual property rights, feasibility of
restrictions of Internet traffic containing material that could be
considered offensive or that might threaten social stability, and lack
of participation of developing countries in the management of the
Internet, in particular the assignment of top-domain names. 


V. Ensuring fair and equal participation in the information society 

The potential for ICT to contribute to human development, including
elimination of gender disparities, is currently compromised by
unevenness in the pace and spread of these technologies and the
differential effect that their rapid diffusion produces across social
structures. Urgent reform and actions are required at both the national
and international levels to ensure that ICT produce their optimal
benefits on the basis of fairness: 

- Identification and eradication of factors that restrict equal
participation of men and women in the ICT sector, in particular
discriminatory and unequal access to education and training, social
pressures that limit women's and girls' access to science and technology
activities in general and limit their access to training and necessary
ICT equipment in particular, and labour market segmentation; 

- Encouragement of corporate practices within firms in the ICT sector
that ensure overall fairness in employment conditions, in particular
with respect to the recruitment and retention of women; 

- Ensuring that the diffusion of ICT produces a positive impact on job
creation and conditions of employment, and in particular for women's
employment, employment of marginalized groups such as the disabled, by
providing fair access to retraining and reskilling programmes;

- Active encouragement and programmes for young people, male and female,
to access the new economy and use ICT in schools and in other
educational endeavours; 

- Democratization of ICT policy processes that facilitate the active
participation and full integration of advocates of human development
concerns. In particular, ICT sector reform and governance processes
should involve the full participation of a wide range of civil society
organizations; 

- Strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations, including
women's organizations, so they may participate more effectively in the
transformations made possible by the ICT sector; 

- Active encouragement of partnership efforts to allocate and direct R&
D budgets to design and development of ICT services and applications
that serve social and development objectives, including applications for
non-literate communities, content development, human-computer interfaces
that are non-text based and natural language processing systems. 


VI. An International ICT Action Plan 

There is an urgent need to develop and launch an International ICT
Action Plan. The Millennium Assembly would provide an appropriate forum
for an initiative of such magnitude. The overall target should be to
bring connectivity to all communities by the end of 2004 drawing on the
full range of available technologies ranging from television to cellular
telephones to computers. In view of the magnitude of the task and of its
immense potential benefit to the poorer people of the world, and in
order to gain momentum and move the process forward the Panel believes
that action should be started immediately, where possible, while for
those actions that require preparation specific and early target dates
should be set as soon as possible. The Panel expectated that creative
and flexible approaches can be developed and preparatory work begun even
prior to consideration of the Panel's report by the 55 th session of the
General Assembly. Suggestions included: 


At the Policy Level 

* Adoption, in bodies such as the Economic and Social Council and the
General Assembly during 2000, of resolutions that, first, recognize the
importance of ICT in national development plans; second, call for a much
higher profile for ICT in ODA portfolios; and third, request all parties,
specifically public and private sector initiatives at the national level
as well as bilateral and multilateral programmes, to re-examine their
ICT policies to ensure that equal opportunities are being provided to
all sectors of society. 

* Adoption of national ICT strategy by mid-2001 including, as a first
step, setting of minimal connectivity targets to be reached within a
year. 

* Development, on an urgent basis, of the United Nations system's clear,
comprehensive and coherent policy and strategy for the use of ICT as a
tool to improve the delivery of services to Member States, with a view
to an adoption of such strategy no later than by mid-2001. 

* Implementing of this ICT strategy, on a priority basis, by ACC, UNDG
and individual organizations of the United Nations system. 

* Development, on an urgent basis, of a comprehensive programme for
transforming the United Nations into a knowledge organization. Such a
programme should contain a coherent set of training and organizational
measures aimed at bringing the Organization's collective mindset into
the digital age. 

Development Initiatives 

* Building on the on-going initiatives of the Secretary General, form,
as soon as possible, a strategic alliance between the United Nations,
the private sector and financing institutions. The alliance, which would
be responsible for promoting the International ICT Action Plan, will be
spearheaded by the ICT Task Force (see above). The alliance should
introduce a simplified and very rapid approval process for the
allocation of funds 13 14 14 for ICT projects in developing and
transition countries. The alliance should aim to mobilize a fivefold
increase in funding for ICT projects by mid-2001 and a further doubling
by mid-2002. 

* Prepare, under the auspices of the United Nations TCDC programme, a
special programme to intensify South-South cooperation in ICT for
development projects, including ideas and projects for enhancing direct
connectivity among developing countries. 

* Start immediately an active exploration of new, creative financing
initiatives for ICT, including a debt-for-connectivity fund and the
linkage of the provision of financing for ICT to actions in developing
countries that have a direct positive impact on global warming. 

* Start immediately an exploration of measures that would reduce the
average cost of access to the Internet within developing countries by a
factor of five by the end of 2001 compared to the beginning of 2000; 

* Facilitate an increase in the number of computers supplied to
developing countries by a factor of ten by the end of 2001 compared to
the beginning of 2000. 

* By the end of 2001, mobilize 30,000 new ICT trainers, primarily from
developing countries, for training programmes in developing countries.
This should be undertaken in conjunction with the UNITeS initiative
announced by the Secretary General in his Millennium Report. 

* Facilitate a tenfold increase in national training and education
budgets for ICT by the end of 2001 relative to allocations at the
beginning of 2000.

VII The Role of the United Nations in Promoting ICT for Development 

* Global initiatives such as achieving sustainable development,
alleviating poverty, improving governance, combating HIV/ AIDS, gaining
gender equality or tackling climate change 14 15 15 require a broad,
integrated response by national, multilateral and bilateral actors. The
potential benefits of the ICT revolution to economic and social
development, including the achievement of the goals mentioned above, are
of such magnitude that they warrant a global action. 

* Similarly, the present inequities in participation in the ICT
revolution dictate the necessity of coherent action on the part of
international community. The global challenge of bridging the digital
divide requires a global response. 

* The United Nations could potentially become a major force in promoting
and fostering the application of ICT for development and in serving as a
possible arbitrator with respect to certain key legal and policy issues
such as security and intellectual property rights. 

* The United Nations can be instrumental in helping its Member States
overcome existing cultural and mental barriers that are currently among
the major impediment in the pursuit of the benefits of ICT for
development. The United Nations should help developing countries
understand challenges and options in this area 

* The United Nations could compile an inventory of ICT-related
activities for development worldwide to provide developing countries
with more informed choices in selecting technologies, approaches and
communication partners and providers. 

* The panelists were informed about the recent initiatives of the
Secretary-General contained in his Millennium Report, in particular the
establishment of a United Nations Information Technology Service [UNITeS].
They welcomed this initiative and suggested that the implementation
strategy be configured taking into account that: 

- Opportunities for mobilizing national human resources should be given
priority; 

- Training trainers in-country should have priority; 

- Every effort should be made to identify national volunteer candidates,
including professors and teachers (both men and women); 

- States could be encouraged to consider the idea of substituting ICT
service for military service; and 

- Care should be given to ensuring that this initiative empowers
indigenous private ICT entrepreneurs rather than crowds them out. 

* The United Nations should lead by example in providing fair and equal
access to ICT among all sectors of society and specifically by
addressing present disparities that restrict equal participation by
women and other marginalized groups. No segment of the population can be
left behind, handicapped by the absence of information, knowledge and
expertise. But rather than focusing on the potential divisiveness of a
digital gap, the international community, and especially the United
Nations, should look at the situation as a source of opportunities for
economic and social growth, providing "digital dividends". To obtain
these dividends, though, one must accept the view that ICT is a potent
tool for bridging the gap between rural and urban areas, between those
who govern and those governed, and between developed and developing
countries. 

* Regional cooperation in the implementation of ICT pilot programmes and
purchase arrangements for ICT equipment should be encouraged,
strengthened and supported. The international community, and in
particular the United Nations system, can provide information on
technological choices and options and in so doing reduce the cost of
searches. The United Nations could also contribute to a more systematic,
ongoing identification, review and dissemination of ICT information,
case studie s, best practices, and successful models and become an
important "knowledge bank" in this regard. 

* The panelists, however, believed that for the United Nations to play
an active role in a major global ICT initiative for Member States, the
Organization must itself get its own ICT house in order by, first of all,
adopting a coherent ICT strategy that would ensure coordination and
synergy between programmes and activities of individual organizations of
the system. The 16 17 17 United Nations should also review how its
outreach activities using television and radio could be more closely
integrated with IT activities. 

* Organizations which regularly publish indicators that assess
development, including the World Bank and the United Nations Development
Programme, should reconsider their treatment of the "connectivity factor".
It is rapidly becoming a more significant factor in economic and social
development, and its measurement should factor in connected schools and
universities, libraries, hospitals and even public administration.
Treatment of e-commerce activities may be more controversial, but may
likewise become an indicator for measuring economic activity. 


VIII Conclusions and Recommendations 

1. ICT is already making an important contribution to economic and
social development, but this contribution can be much more powerful. ICT
is fostering a better mutual understanding among tens of millions of
people in countries with different economic and social policies. It is
enhancing appreciation of the challenges that Governments and the United
Nations are confronting as they promote global economic growth, social
equity and sustainable development. In this context it is important that
developing countries give priority to developing indigenous content and
that this content be shared with developed countries. 

2. In general, the international donor community has not yet implemented
a well-coordinated, forward-looking and strategic programme for the use
of ICT in development. There has been much talk but little action. Some
panelists noted that modest, strategic investments in ICT had yielded
big dividends. Unfortunately, the opportunities for rapid growth of some
initiatives continued to be severely hampered by the lack of serious
financial support. 

3. The private sector is and will remain for the foreseeable future the
principal driving force for the development and use of ICT. Marketing
forces and strategies should be outlined whereby both industry and the
member States are placed in a win-win situation. 

4. It is a matter of urgency that the United Nations system adopt a
coherent institutional strategy that incorporates the use and
application of ICT in its own work. Failure to quickly do so will result
in considerably increased cost in future and a far greater challenge to
catch up. 

5. Member States should require the United Nations to move much more
rapidly to use ICT to improve the efficiency of its own services,
including for development planning and project implementation, and the
requisite human and financial resources should be allocated to achieve
this goal. The United Nations should provide a structure for continued
discussion of the theme of ICT for development. 

6. Member States, particularly developing countries, should evolve a
vision of ICT for development and a suitable plan of action. High
priority must be accorded to the following: a forward-looking regulatory
framework; proactive efforts for improved exploitation of ICT, including
efforts to improve the delivery of public services over the Internet;
education and training in ICT and the use of ICT in education and
training; commitment to the promotion of gender equality, particularly
in education and training in the ICT area; job creation;
telecommunications regulatory policies that encourage the development
and usage of wide area networks; promotion of the exchange of
experiences and sharing of training facilities on a South-South basis;
partnerships with the private sector and civil society; and efforts to
provide universal access to ICT and its applications. 

7. The international community should assist developing countries in
expanding national and regional ICT infrastructures by facilitating and
expanding access to financial resources for the importation of equipment
and services, arranging and encouraging financial intermediaries to
design creative mechanisms, including supplier credits, insurance
schemes, and concessionary financing. 

8. A new strategic alliance should be formed that includes the United
Nations, private industry and financing trusts and foundations. The
United Nations should promptly and seriously re-examine the role it can
effectively play in any such alliance and the resultant new ICT
initiative for Member States. Unless a progressive ICT policy and
strategy is adopted in the next two to three months, the role of the
United Nations would be limited to promoting ICT, brokering transactions
on behalf of Member States and possibly serving as an arbitrator with
respect to certain policy issues and activities related to the
protection of IPR, security, and preventing crime on the Internet. 

9. The United Nations should find ways to promote and facilitate
investment by private ICT companies in the research and development of
technologies, products and services that would contribute to raising the
literacy levels in developing countries. This would create a win-win
situation for all involved since it would not only have immediate social
benefits but would also eventually increase the market for ICT products.

10. The United Nations should quickly establish an effective mechanism
for close interaction with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names
and Numbers (ICANN) to ensure that the claims of Member States
concerning issues such as top level domain name policies and procedures
and representation in Internet administrative mechanisms are speedily
addressed and resolved. The purpose of United Nations engagement should
be to complement ICANN and other governance bodies in areas currently
not covered by them. 


ANNEX 

National and Regional Presentations 

As the first step to providing down-to-earth advice and recommendations,
panelists outlined their own ICT experiences in anticipation that it
would be possible to identify elements that were common to success as
well as to failure. Fourteen presentations (twelve national and two
regional) confirmed that ICT initiatives have not been confined to
countries with high per capita incomes, well-developed infrastructures,
high levels of venture capital and a highly trained labour force.
Remarkable progress is evident where some of these elements have been
lacking, as is illustrated by the experiences described below. 

In Brazil initiatives regarding the diffusion of Internet in the country
date back to 1988, when three research institutions deployed direct
links to NSFnet/ ESnet in the USA. In 1989, a national effort, the
Brazilian Research Network, was launched in order to plan and oversee
the diffusion of networking in academic institutions. As of 1995, almost
all universities and research centers in Brazil were interconnected,
serving an audience of some 150 thousand users. A major move was then by
the government through the definition of directives for open Internet
services in Brazil and the creation of a Steering Committee (composed of
representatives from government, academia and business) to direct the
future of Internet in the country. In the ensuing five-year period, the
Brazilian Internet market has skyrocketed to over seven million
individual users connected through 200 thousand hosts. Internet-based
applications have been widely disseminated within government as well, to
the extent that, for example, this year eight out of ten people have
forwarded Income Tax Forms through the net. 

A new cycle of Internet infra-structure and services in Brazil is now
being planned by a newly launched initiative, the Information Society
Program, coordinated by the Ministry for Science & Technology, with a
budget for the 2000-2003 period of US$ 1.7 billion. Main lines of action
in the program include Market & Jobs, on the one side, and
Universalization of Services, on the other side. Current plans include,
for instance, the interconnection of all public libraries and the
creation of thousands of community access centers throughout the country.

The ongoing experience of Bulgaria illustrates the challenges that still
need to be met in some countries with economies in transition before ICT
can more effectively contribute to economic and social development. When
Bulgaria was a trade partner within the former communist block, it was
assigned the responsibility for the development of several high
technology sectors, including microelectronics. Thus a substantial body
of highly educated and skilled ICT specialists, including electrical
engineers and programmers, was built up. Following the breakup of the
block, Bulgaria abruptly lost almost all of the market for its products
and industries were downsized over the following years, which eventually
encouraged emigration by a large number of the nation's top specialists.

Today there are approximately 200,000 Internet users in Bulgaria, but
the potential for very rapid growth is underlined by the fact that there
is a high literacy rate and more than 4,000 schools, 40 universities and
almost 100 scientific divisions and institutes of the Bulgarian Academy
of Sciences. The Government of Bulgaria is now exploring new market
opportunities and preparing legislation that will encourage the
reinvigoration of industries such as those in the ICT field. Agriculture
and tourism are two sectors that could significantly benefit from an ICT
programme. However, progress is hampered by the lack of institutional
reforms, especially privatization of the telecommunications authority,
which remains a state monopoly. The situation calls for an ICT champion
to lead the reform process (this need not be restricted to an
individual; it could be a successful network in the health or education
sector, for example). However, despite several recent networking
initiatives, such a champion has not emerged primarily because of a lack
of political understanding of the modest investments that are necessary
for the Internet to be demonstrably successful. 

The Internet has been an important instrument of choice for the
Government of China as the country moves from a rigid centrally planned
economy to a socialist market economy. Between April 1994 when the first
64 Kpbs leased line was opened and the end of 1997, only 300,000
computers were connected to the Internet and web sites numbered 1,500.
By the end of 1999, the number of connected computers had surged to 3.5
million and over 9 million users were connected to the Internet, 1
million through leased lines, 7 million through dial-up connections, and
1 million using both. Another 200,000 users are connected using mobile
phones and PDA and this sector is growing very rapidly. There are now
35.6 million e-mail accounts and nearly 50,000 top-level domain names
registered (. cn) of which 39,000 are registered as dot com. Total
bandwidth of the leased international connections has been increased to
351 Mbps. Distribution of Internet access, however, remains
unsatisfactory with the 10 coastal provinces with 42 percent of the
nation's population accounting for 71 per cent of users whereas the 7
most western provinces account for 20 per cent of the population but
only 5 per cent of Internet use. Great efforts are under way to increase
connectivity with the rural population. There are 5 large Internet
service providers (ISPs), all State owned, three of which are in
commercial operation, including one, Chinanet, with 83 per cent of the
total number of accounts. In March 2000, these 5 ISPs were connected
within China for the first time and bandwidth was increased 15 fold to
1G. Private ISPs are permitted, although connectivity through the five
state-owned ISPs is required. Currently there are roughly 520 ISP and
1,000 Internet Content Provider (ICP) accounts, many of which are
financed with private or joint venture capital. The 1,000 websites
providing E-commerce support services generated an estimated $55 million
in 1999. China's rapidly expanding telephone system has reached 110
million connections. Cellular telephone growth is the fastest in the
world: it has exploded to over 50 million units since 1994. The
Government is aware that ICT is indispensable to economic and social
development, but it is also sensitive to the issue of restricting access
to certain types of information to help to ensure social stability. 

Reasons for progress in ICT include: 

(a) Appreciation of the fact that ICT is indispensable for economic and
social development; 

(b) Development of local content as a result of a national technological
initiative to develop Chinese character sets for use in ICT since over
95 per cent of the population neither speaks nor reads English. Very
rapid expansion of ICT activities followed the achievement of this goal
in 1996; 

(c) A proactive campaign to complete joint venture agreements with
hardware and software manufacturers whereby production facilities are
established in China; 

(d) Government programmes to accelerate training and education in ICT;
initiatives to encourage credit card security to further stimulate
e-commerce, which is poised to explode; and an appreciation of the need
to enforce legislation protecting intellectual property rights (IPR). 

Challenges remain, including: 

(a) Sensitivity about access to certain types of web sites which may
threaten social stability along with recognition that denying access is
becoming less and less realistic; 

(b) The need to address the problem of security from hackers and virus
attacks, which is used by some to argue for Internet control; 

(c) The difficulty during a period of transition to a socialist market
economy to understand how and at what pace market forces will determine
the value of information without disrupting growth of ICT and the steps
necessary to encourage investment in ISPs and ICPs. Many of the latter
may fail without advertising and venture capital. Opening the stock
exchange to these entities in June 2000 is under consideration. 

In Costa Rica political capital has been invested in the national
sustainable development programme and the ICT sector was used to
turbo-charge the country to help it move its national development
strategy forward. Costa Rica attributes much of its recent economic
growth to the widespread adoption of ICT, and in this regard its
experience conforms to that of some other small countries with limited
natural resources. 

Some of the reasons for success include: 

(a) Strong political leadership and the determination to allocate part
of the national budget to the growth of ICT; 

(b) Initial focus on the education sector nationwide as well as a
determined effort to use ICT to help to integrate isolated rural
populations into the national economy. 

ICT applications for possible replication in other countries include: 

(a) The installation of computer laboratories in 100 per cent of the
nations public high schools, impacting on 50 per cent of the children
enrolled in public schools; 

(b) The introduction of "smart cards" nationwide and their widespread
application with respect to public administration, transportation,
public telephones and health services; 

(c) The development of self-contained multi-purpose/ multimedia package
that can be taken to any rural community and provide a variety of
functions, including Internet access, training in ICT, a small theatre,
e-mail facilities, etc. The unit, which uses abandoned cargo containers
to house computers and peripherals, has its own generator. These units,
called "LINCOS" (little intelligent communities), have been designed in
collaboration with the Media Laboratories of MIT. Although they cost
about $70,000 in the present pilot stage, this cost is expected to
decrease significantly once production increases; 

(d) An innovative ICT-based inventory of the entire bio-diversity of the
nation using bar-coding technology. 

Cuba was in the midst of a blockade and an epidemic when it launched
Infomed, a national network of the public health system. Created when
there was no information infrastructure in the country, it began as a
simple network approach to sharing knowledge and access to information
via e-mail. It used the best available technologies. Since its inception,
the network has been expanded to enjoy nationwide coverage with regional
and provincial nodes; it has a virtual library component covering
medical journals; and it has contributed to the building of national
capacity to manage new information technologies and empower people.
Infomed succeeded because: 

(a) The proposal received the highest level of political support based
on the understanding that ICT can lead to improvements in socio-economic
conditions; 

(b) Resistance to the idea of making certain types of information such
as medical records available to the public was overcome; 

(c) The project was clearly focused with narrowly defined, realistic
objectives; 

(d) The initiative was driven by a vision of a knowledge network that
could lead to broader applications, especially in the area of education
as it relates to health. 

Estonia had a very low level of ICT technology and activity when
independence was restored in 1991. Government offices and some private
companies were sparsely equipped with old mainframe mini-computers;
there were two mobile phones in the Ministry of Foreign affairs,
virtually no computers in private hands and a per capita income of $600.
Today the country has one of the highest degrees of connectivity in
Europe and ranks among the top 20 nations worldwide. All schools have
been connected to the Internet; 80 percent of bank transfers are made
over the Internet; 28 percent of the population is connected to the
Internet either at home or at work compared to just 7 percent in 1997;
annual per capita income is $5,000; and dial-up service is the least
expensive in Europe. "Smart cards" have been introduced and legislative
and administrative preparations completed for their application on a
nation-wide basis in 2001 for services requiring interaction with the
public administration, hospitals, for public transportation, public
telephones, etc. Progress required: 

(a) An understanding that improved connectivity could contribute to the
survival of a small, newly independent country. In this context a clear
picture of both the national as well as the regional situation was
essential for planning; 

(b) Belief that ICT could help to bridge the gap between poverty and
wealth and in particular encourage the rural population to remain in
situ because it felt connected and a part of the urban world; 

(c) Creation of the requisite infrastructure through a concession
agreement with Swedish and Finnish telecommunications operators by which
they modernized the telephone network in exchange for profits from the
telecommunications business; 

(d) De-politicization of the computerization issue, whereby an NGO
foundation with a catchy name (Tiger Leap) received government monies
for hardware and software and determined which communities would be
benefited; 

(e) A strategic psychological approach whereby any recipient of a
computer was required to pay 50 per cent of its cost, thereby increasing
the sense of ownership and leveraging the envy created on the part of
those without equipment to increase connectivity; 

(f) A professional and aggressive marketing and advertising campaign.

Ghana is a leading ICT country in the West African sub-region and is
providing technical support services to neighbouring countries. Ghana
was the first West African country to attain full connectivity to the
Internet in 1994 through a private sector initiative. The sector is
managed by the Ministry of Communication, an independent regulatory
agency and private sector operators. There are two national
telecommunications operators, four cellular operators, five ISPs, three
television operators, and dozens of fm and community radio stations. An
offshore knowledge industry is developing and targeting data entry,
call-center applications, software development for export and design
center applications. 

As a gateway to the sub-region, Ghana has developed a strong Internet
protocol economy with sufficiently large international bandwidth
capacities to support its emerging information economy. There are now
special programs for networking schools, for distance learning, and for
telemedicine applications under development in the national information
plan (url: www. nici. org. gh ). Although E-commerce is in its infancy
compared to traditional commerce, there is a growing industry with
storefronts serving both the local and international markets. 

Internet access is now widely available throughout India and the mobile
phone network is rapidly expanding. Software development and expansion
of the service industry have been impressive. Progress with the
development of telecommunications has likewise been satisfactory. Over
200,000 professional jobs have been created in ICT-related activities.
Exports from the software development and services sector earn
approximately US$ 40 million a week. The service economy already
contributes more than 60 per cent to the economies of cities such as
Mumbai. Hundreds of domestic companies have sprung up to meet the demand.
ICT-enabled services provide support to hundreds of other businesses
elsewhere in the world, for example, in legal, accounting and the
insurance industries. Using ICT for development is an essential motor
for the growth of the Indian economy. 

Reasons for progress include: 

(a) The setting up of a high level IT Task Force by the Government and
quick implementation of its comprehensive recommendations; 

(b) The focus of research, education and training facilities on the
creation of a highly skilled, creative workforce; 

(c) Provision of tax incentives to speed up the growth of the ICT-based
services sector (which industries are now progressively repaying); 

(d) Availability of a large English-speaking and literate population. 

Mali has benefited since 1997 from the US bilateral Leyland initiative,
which aimed to bring connectivity to some 20 countries in Africa. Today
a VSAT antenna with 128 Kbps permits access to 16 lines through the
Association of Telecommunications of Mali, SOTELMA, and 10 lines at 64
Kbps for ISPs. Five ISPs have commercial agreements with SOTELMA
following competitive bidding and a sixth is under consideration. User
growth has increased from 800 in 1997 to 4,500 today although 98 per
cent are in Bamako. Although telephone lines are already saturated, the
demand for services is increasing and major investments to improve
capacity are needed. To compensate for ongoing shortcomings, major
emphasis has been given to encouraging the growth of public access
points such as cybercafes. Today Mali benefits from ICT in applications
such as telemedicine, long-distance learning and e-commerce.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become more active, including
special initiatives for youth, and hotels offer Internet connectivity to
their clients. The impact of ICT on economic and social development has
been so positive that current plans call for connecting the University
as well as all 701 communes throughout Mali. The country has also taken
steps to share its positive ICT experience through "Bamako 2000" in
March 2000, which brought together 2,000 participants from 48 countries.
Progress was made in ICT owing to: 

(a) The full support and personal engagement of the President of the
Republic; 

(b) The collaboration of a donor who listened to national aspirations; 

(c) Repatriation of the domain name by France in November 1997; 

(d) The creation of a competitive environment for the telecommunications
sector. 

Constraints to further expansion include: 

(a) The need for venture capital; 

(b) The costs for connectivity, which vary between ISPs but which can be
as high as $30/ month, beyond the purchasing power of most citizens. 

Mauritius adopted five objectives for its National Information
Technology Strategy Plan developed in 1997: 

(a) Enable the services sector to grow into a business hub; 

(b) Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector; 

(c) Bring government closer to the people through e-government; 

(d) Use ICT to enhance the education system and service sector; 

(e) Enhance the competitiveness of business in the global market. 

The intent was to achieve an e-government; to close the digital divide
within the country and also between Mauritius and other countries; to
ensure access to information to everyone and from anywhere and at any
time; and to bridge the technology gap by focusing on skills development
and leverage on our knowledge capital and highly educated population.
Many actions have been taken to achieve these goals, including: 

(a) Creating a fully digitized network within the country using the
latest Broadband ATM technology; establishing 10M bit links with
international networks, which are to be upgraded through the South
Africa/ Far East optical cable to 80 gigabits by the third quarter of
2001; 

(b) Establishing a legal and regulatory framework, including copyright,
information technology and telecommunications acts; a policy statement
on the telecommunications sector in October 1999; and an Electronic
Transactions Bill this year. In January 2000, the Mauritius
Telecommunications Authority was established as the new regulator which
will ensure enforcement of the telecommunications act and level playing
field for all stakeholders. New ISP licenses will be issued in June and
complete privatization of the sector is set for 2003; 

(c) A dedicated Ministry was created to set the tone of highest
commitment for this sector; 

(d) The customs duty on computer equipment has been eliminated and
special bank loans at only 3 percent are available for equipment
purchases to make computers more affordable to the population. 

ICT penetration in the country is excellent due to several actions taken
over the decade. Today over five per cent of the population use Internet
(compared to continental averages of two per cent for Asia and South
America and less than one per cent for Africa). There is a plan to
increase the number of ICT professionals by 500 per cent by 2005; a
University of Technology is planned; training loans are available and
student competitions have begun to raise ICT sensitivity. All local
government authorities and many government programmes (immigration, tax,
courts, customs, health, etc.) have been fully computerized; computers
have been installed in all private and state secondary schools; Internet
access has been provided to centres dealing with social welfare,
community affairs, women's programmes and citizens' advice offices.
Finally, a series of aggressive steps have been taken to stimulate
e-commerce. 

In Morocco ICT was initially viewed in 1995 as an enabling mechanism to
liberalise the economy and thereby enable Morocco to participate more
effectively in the global economy, to slow the emigration of skilled
workers, especially to Europe, as well as to create employment
opportunities. By 1996 there were already 20 ISPs, some 50 cybercafes,
an estimated 10,000 Internet subscribers, some 50 websites, 1.4 millon
fixed telephone lines and an estimated 100,000 mobile phones. The
average cost of an Internet subscription was $50 /month. But there was
no vision for the development of IT, no action plan, no liberalisation
process and no regulatory process. In March 1998 the responsibility for
implementation of ICT in the country was placed in the Office of the
Prime Minister. With the highest political support as well as the
collaboration of selected business leaders and representatives of civil
society a national action plan was formulated in December 1998 and
finalized in May 1999. Features of the plan included improving the
productivity of Moroccan industry; to modernize the public sector
administration, making it more efficient and responsive and gaining
greater trust by rendering it more transparent; and to reinforce the
governments programmes aimed at eradicating poverty. In the latter
regard information technology was to be directed a raising levels of
literacy; improving the delivery of government services, especially
health, education and training; and to give isolated rural communities a
sense of solidarity and identification with national development goals.
An implementation strategy for the action plan was devised with emphasis
on preparing the necessary legal environment; building consensus for
change among the private and public sectors as well as civil society
based on partnerships and common benefits that would result from the
introduction of ICT; and a well planned and steady promotion campaign
aimed at many levels from parliamentarians to town meetings and for
special interest groups such as the media. 

An analysis of the impact of the ICT campaign on the national economy is
awaited, but there is broad agreement it has contributed to stability
and a growing sense of confidence that Morocco can compete in the global
economy. Some tangible results are a positive impact on the important
tourism industry [a new proposal is to develop one portal for all
tourist information]; the development of ISPs and cybercafes have
provided employment opportunities, especially for young people, and
provided an entrepreneurial spirit; and the curricula in engineering
schools have been revised to give emphasis to the IT sector. An academic
and research network has been set up and already connects over half of
the universities and engineering schools. The impact of this network has
profoundly impacted on the interaction amongst teaching staff as well as
students both within the country and overseas. 

Today with population of 28 million, of which over 50% are under the age
of 20 years, Morocco has 300 ISPs, 500 cybercafes and a reasonable
communications infrastructure of 1.6 million fixed and 700,000 mobile
telephones. The number of websites passed 1,000 during 1999 and most
significantly the cost of a monthly Internet subscription dropped to
about $6 per month. Priority development targets are to accelerate the
development of national content; to extend access to rural areas; and to
complete liberalisation of the telecommunications sector by 2002. Costs
of access and the costs of hardware and software are the major
constraints to more rapid expansion of the Internet. 

Internet activities began in Russia in the early 1990s as a loose
network of small private enterprises and a number of institutes active
in education and research. The Internet has since grown in a
de-regulated environment and is now being served by almost 300 service
providers. A robust fiber-optic network 9,400 km. in length between
Moscow and Khabarovsk was completed in 1999 and will be capable of
handling the rapid increase in activity that is now forecast for 2001.
Cities not connected to the fiber-optic backbone are using VSAT
technology. Sixty per cent of the present Internet traffic occurs within
the country. This can be attributed to the completion in 1997 of
Cyrillic character sets and the rapid resultant development of local
content. The President-Elect of Russia has expressed his appreciation of
the substantive benefit that an aggressive ICT programme could make
towards improving the economic and social situation in the country. He
has already invited representatives of the government, NGOs and the
private sector to outline a forward-looking strategy and assured them of
his support. Thus political will has been mobilized and the first draft
of a National Internet Law is now being prepared by leaders of the
Russian Internet community as well as members of the State Duma. The
combination of good access, a highly educated population, and the
ability to work with local content is forecast to result in very rapid
growth and penetration of the Internet in the next few years. 

The Small Island Development States Network (SIDSnet) is a global
network of 42 island nations in the Caribbean, in the Indian Ocean, the
Atlantic Ocean off Africa, and the Pacific Ocean. Small island nations
have unique problems owing to geographic isolation and small internal
markets that have hindered investment in necessary infrastructure.
However, ICT provides new opportunities for these nations to participate
in the global economy, enabling access to niche markets for tourism and
local goods. Internet web pages have provided up to 80 per cent of the
market for some small tourism ventures and have transformed traditional
access to the tourism market. Niche service industries have been
enhanced with live financial and insurance services provided to the
United States market from the Caribbean. Market information is now
readily available to island exporters. In the Pacific, monitoring of
fishing zones is done using web technology and communications demand for
basic services such as e-mail has led to open challenging of the
existence of current monopoly telecommunication companies. Telemedicine
and distance education projects have been successful on a small scale,
but with more investment in infrastructure, they promise to transform
underfunded education systems and understaffed health facilities.
Coordination of a common global agenda among island countries has been
improved with Internet-based networking facilities such as SIDSnet (www.
sidsnet. org). However, access costs remain high at $US8-10/ hour in
island countries and users still represent less than two per cent of the
population. These countries are in danger of being further marginalized
if they are not able to develop the necessary infrastructure that
provides the foundation for a ICT-literate society and create the
necessary industries that can meet the demands of a global customer. 


e-Europe 

The e-Europe initiative is a collaborative effort between the European
Commission, member States and industry. Its key objectives are: (a) to
bring every citizen, home, school, business and administration into the
digital age and online; (b) to create a digitally literate Europe,
supported by an entrepreneurial culture ready to finance and develop new
ideas; and (c) to ensure that the whole process is socially inclusive,
builds consumer trust and strengthens social cohesion. It focuses on 10
key areas where action can make a difference: availability of the
Internet and multimedia access in all classrooms; less costly Internet
access; acceleration of e-commerce; the development of high-speed access
for researchers and students; the use of smart cards for secure
electronic access; the provision of risk capital for high-tech small and
medium enterprises; e-participation for the disabled; on-line health
care; improved road, rail and air transportation to increase efficiency
and safety and to reduce air pollution; and to provide government
services on-line. Target dates have been set for each activity, many by
the end of 2000 but with some extending to the end of 2004. In May the
European Ministers of Communication proposed to provide quality access
to the Internet for all European citizens before 2004. 


Other Presentations 

Technology Constraints 

As a result of progress by the ICT industry, the technology to enable
developing countries to use ICT for economic and social development is
now available. Both traditional infrastructures based on copper wiring
and telephony using cellular phones, satellites and fiber-optic
connections can be installed. Wireless solutions are the most
cost-effective, costing roughly 20 per cent of traditional wired
installations. Since many developing nations are not overly encumbered
with substantial legacy systems, they have a clear opportunity to
leapfrog directly to systems based on telephony. Moreover, such systems
offer other potential advantages such as minimal outlays to establish
and protect rights of way as well as the possible use of a pool of
low-cost labour (e. g., the use of military conscripts) for developing
the infrastructure.

Internet Management 

The representative of ICANN and a UNDP official speaking for developing
countries addressed a number of concerns with respect to the assignment
of Internet protocol, addresses and domain name management. ICANN and
its predecessors had been using codes from the Organization for
International Standardization (ISO) for assigning country code top level
domain (ccTLD) names. It was also noted that in a few instances, top
level domain names had been assigned to applicants whose status was now
challenged by the respective governments in those countries who
considered TLDs as sovereign assets. 

It was recommended that the United Nations participate in ICANN meetings
and that Member States should also participate in the Government
Advisory Committee (GAC) of ICANN whenever there was a request to assign
a TLD and there was any possible doubt whether the requesting party
represented the country in question. Thus a national institutional
grouping of public, private and NGO interests should be given priority
over a request from an individual or group of individuals which did not
represent all interest groups. The representative of ICANN noted the
demand of some Member States that this matter be urgently addressed. The
issue was complex, touching on Internet stability, and an ICANN Board
meeting scheduled in July would take up this matter. 

The panel also called attention to the disadvantaged situation of
developing countries in their representation on ICANN bodies compared
with that of much wealthier nations and organizations, owing to a lack
of information and/ or resources. The representative of ICANN
acknowledged these concerns and noted they were under ongoing review.
ICANN and the United Nations share a common interest in learning more
about the impact of the Internet on society and should collaborate in
this regard. 


InfoDev 

The Information for Development Programme (InfoDev) of the World Bank
programme is an important player in the ICT arena.. There are currently
23 donors including some developing countries as well as private
corporations. The programme has received over 500 requests for
assistance from its core programme and has provided grant funding for
110. The programme also funded 139 planning and implementation projects
under a special initiative to address the Y2K challenge. The programme
presently disburses roughly $20 million/ year and a typical grant
averages $250,000. Current priorities include looking for more and
better proposals as well as speeding up the approval process which has
been slow since start-up. 

The panel noted the contribution of InfoDev, but underlined that its
resources remained very far below the levels of funding required for ICT
advancement in developing countries. The panel also noted the cumbersome
preparation, review and approval process given the speed with which
requests in the ICT sector require action. 


A Multimedia Approach 

The positive impact of new information and communication technologies
such as the Internet should not overshadow the importance of more
traditional media, especially radio and television. Thus some 15 million
people already use the Internet to access radio. Brazil already enjoys a
high level of television penetration and is concerned about providing
access to the Internet through television. Several other developing
countries have already moved to strengthen their radio and television
programming to support economic and social initiatives and a broader
approach combining the Internet is now possible. The potential
significance of a broader multimedia approach was illustrated by noting
that while 50 million cell phones now operate in China, it was reported
that an audience of 700 million in that country had recently viewed a
television event. The synergies between the various communication
technologies should be taken into account in developing any
communication strategy, including support for initiatives for the
redissemination, on a timely basis, of information which is obtained as
a result of ICT. 

 *Pages 1--35 from  by*

A/ 55/ 75 - E/ 2000/ 55 
Report of the meeting of the high-level panel of experts 
on information and communication technology (New York, 17-20 April 2000) 


Table of Contents 
I   The Challenge 
II  The Opportunity 
III The Mission 
IV  Summary of Findings
   - Why ICT Programmes are Beneficial for Development 
   - Why now -Conditions for Effectiveness 
   - Actions that Worked -Problems and Obstacles 
V   Ensuring Fair and Equal Participation in the Information Society 
VI  An International ICT Action Plan 
   - At the Policy Level -Development Initiatives 
VII The Role of the United Nations in Promoting ICT for Development 
VIII Conclusions and Recommendations 

ANNEX 

National and Regional Presentations 

Other Presentations 
   - Technology Constraints -Internet Management 
   - InfoDev -A Multi-media Approach 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Members of the panel: 

From Africa
Pascal Baba Couloubaly (Mali), Minister of Culture
Nii Quaynor (Ghana), Executive Chairman of National Computer Systems
Sushil Baguant (Mauritius), Chairman of the National Computer Board
Najat Rochdi (Morocco), President of the Internet Society of Morocco 

From Asia
Wang Quiming (China), Ministry of Science and Technology 
Srinivasan Ramani (India), Director, Silverline Technologies, Inc. 
Taholo Kami (Tonga), Manager of the Small Island Developing States Network 

From Eastern Europe
Toomas-Hendrik Ilves (Estonia), Minister of Foreign Affairs 
Andrei Kolesnikov (Russia), Founder of Russia -on-Line
Orlin Kouzov (Bulgaria), CEO, National Education and Research Network 


From Latin America and the Caribbean
Pedro Urra (Cuba), Director of the Medical Network, Ministry of Health 
Jose Maria Figueres Olsen (Costa Rica), former President of Costa Rica
Tadao Takahashi (Brazil), Chair, Federal Task Force 
          for National Information Society 
Gillian Marcelle (Trinidad), telecommunications policy 
          and gender specialist 

Western Europe and Other Groups
Paolo Morawski (Italy), UN World TV Forum and RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana 
William Sheppard (United States), Vice-President of INTEL
Anders Wijkman (Sweden), Member of the European Parliament 

Panelists benefited from presentations by several guests, including
Vinton Cerf, Director of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and
Numbers (ICANN); John Daly, Acting Work Programme Administrator of
InfoDev at the World Bank; Gabriel Accascina, Regional Coordinator of
the UNDP Asia and Pacific Information Development Programme; Edward
Gelbstein, Director of the United Nations International Computing Center
in Geneva; Amir Dossal, Executive Director of the United Nations Fund
for International Partnerships; and Denis Gilhooly, Director, Digital
Partners. 


I. The Challenge 

The world is undergoing a revolution in information and communication
technologies (ICT) that has momentous implications for the current and
future social and economic situation of all countries of the world. 

In March 2000 an estimated 276 million persons worldwide were users of
the Internet with a growth rate of roughly 150,000 persons per day, 220
million devices were accessing the worldwide web and almost 200,000
devices were added each day. Web pages totaled 1.5 billion with almost 2
million pages being added each day. E-commerce, or business conducted
over the Internet, totaled $45 billion as recently as 1998 and an
estimate in January 2000 projected it could explode to over $7 trillion
as early as 2004. 

These are astonishing figures, unprecedented by any measure, but they
reflect activity by less than 5% of the world's population. The gross
disparity in the spread of the Internet and thus the economic and social
benefits derived from it is a matter of profound concern. There are more
hosts in New York than in continental Africa; more hosts in Finland than
in Latin America and the Caribbean; and notwithstanding the remarkable
progress in the application of ICT in India, many of its villages still
lack a working telephone. 

The formidable and urgent challenge before national governments and the
development community is to bridge this divide and connect the remainder
of the world's population whose livelihoods can be enhanced through ICT.
As each day passes, the task becomes much more difficult. To give just
one example, exploding e-commerce ties individuals, firms and countries
closer and closer together, while those who do not try to catch the
"Internet Express" run the risk of being further and further
marginalized. Developing countries have great potential to compete
successfully in the new global market, but unless they promptly and
actively embrace the ICT revolution they will face new barriers and the
risk of not just being marginalized but completely bypassed. 

II. The Opportunity 

Members of the panel, coming from all regions of the world and from
countries at all stages of development, are unanimous in their belief
that the issue is not whether to respond to the challenges brought about
by the revolution in ICT, but how to respond and how to ensure that the
process becomes truly global and everyone shares the benefits.
Experience of a number of countries (*1), including developing and
transition economies, some of them working under conditions of a severe
shortage of resources, complex political environments and acute
socio-economic problems, demonstrated that bold actions in bringing
their countries into the digital age paid off and brought tangible
positive results in economic, social and political terms. Moreover, this
experience proved that the argument that ICT should only be introduced
once progress has been made in tackling poverty is spurious: ICT brings
early, tangible and important benefits to the poor. These countries, by
extensively and innovatively using ICT for their development, were able
to extract value from globalization, rather than watching globalization
extract value from them. 
--
*1 See the Annex for summaries of country and regional presentations. 

This report seeks to summarize this experience so that other countries
could benefit from lessons learned and find their own approach to
bringing ICT to the service of their development. The report also
identifies areas and actions that the international community, in
particular the United Nations, should undertake to support national ICT
programmes. 

In this report, we share our convictions, formed and tempered by our
practical experience, as to why all countries need to embrace the ICT
revolution, and why now. We outline a set of actions that worked for our
countries, discuss important conditions for these actions to be
effective, and identify problems and obstacles that need to be addressed
to assure effectiveness and sustainability of ICT's contribution to
development for all. 


III. The Mission 

We firmly believe that at the national level, governments, the private
sector and all segments of civil society must unite to address this
challenge. We also assert that the international community, especially
the United Nations, has a special obligation to assist countries in
maximizing the benefits they can secure from ICT. 

In this regard, we present our proposals and recommendations on how to
bring greater coherence and synergy to the many uncoordinated activities
currently undertaken, with limited effect, by individual organizations
of the United Nations system, including the World Bank, by the European
Union, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and
numerous other multilateral and bilateral organizations. 

The panel believes that the international community, working in concert
with national governments, private business and civil society, is fully
capable of reversing the current alarming trend of the growing "Digital
Divide" and must do it. The panel calls on all actors to unite in a
global initiative to meet the following challenge: provide access to the
Internet, especially through community access points, for the world's
population presently without such access by the end of 2004. 

The panel proposed the following action points for reaching this goal: 

(a) The United Nations, at the Millennium Assembly in September 2000,
should proclaim the right of universal access to information and

communication services such as the Internet as an important new
component of the United Nations principles and conventions on human
rights and development. 

(b) The United Nations should create, under the leadership of the
Secretary General but outside United Nations' organizational structures,
an ICT Task Force. This Task Force should bring together multilateral
development institutions, private industry, foundations and trusts and
would facilitate, including by investment, the expansion of the market
for ICT in developing countries, thereby helping to bridge the digital
divide. 

(c) This Task Force would provide overall leadership and strategy for
ICT development. A fund should be created that the Task Force would
administer and for which up to $500 million would be solicited from
sources such as the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships.
This amount would be matched by funds raised from the private sector and
foundations. The fund will leverage additional resources by assisting
developing countries in putting in place their own ICT programmes
provided they match the contributions from the fund. 

(d) Organizations of the United Nations system should work with
governments and financial institutions for the writing off of one per
cent of the debt of each developing country with the commitment that the
country would allocate the equivalent financing to ICT for development.
In a similar manner, the United Nations should work towards countries
receiving international financing for ICT development on the basis of
their progress in carbon-fixation activities. 

IV. Summary of Findings 

A number of general conclusions emerged from the presentations and
discussions. A basic premise is that knowledge differs from other
factors of production in that it expands when applied. The challenge of
a knowledge-based economy is not a scarcity of knowledge but
inadequacies in diffusing and using it. Unlike capital resources,
knowledge cannot easily be redistributed as a result of political
decisions, it needs to be nurtured - by individuals, communities, and
countries. The State has an interest and an obligation to promote this
nurturing and to ensure that its citizens have access to ICT tools and
services. Why ICT Programmes are Beneficial for Development 

ICT has been extremely beneficial to those nations that have used it
with determination and enthusiasm as part of their national development
strategies to accelerate development, as demonstrated by the country
examples (see Annex). While benefits from ICT investments may not be
immediately perceptible in all cases (several years passed before such
evidence became available in the United States following investments in
ICT in the 1980s), panelists urged nations that had not yet launched
national ICT initiatives to catch the "Internet Express" without further
delay. 

Among examples of positive impact of the introduction of ICT were the
following: 

* Direct contribution of ICT sector's output to the economy, in
particular to exports. In this regard, examples of India and Costa Rica
are particularly striking (see Annex). 

* Providing rural communities with convenient on-line access to a full
range of government services was seen as a significant instrument for
improving their well-being and enhancing the sense of belonging, both of
which could discourage excessive migration to urban centers. 

* Voting by computer had alleviated skepticism about the possibility of
fraud in elections. 

* Improvement in public sector administration, in particular that
transparency in the procurement process for public service contracts had
reduced corruptive practices. 

* Tremendous potential for improving education, including distance
learning and training, and for facilitating better gender balance in
this regard. 

* Important improvements in the delivery of services such as health care,
including through the application of tele -medicine. 

* Employment generation that has been attributed to the ICT sector,
especially among recent graduates from high schools as well as technical
colleges and universities. 

* For small developing and transition economies with limited natural and
human resources, in particular for SIDS, using ICT is perhaps the only
way to carve niche markets for their unique endowments. 

* Diffusion of best practices and lessons learned, in particular
exchange of information on locally/ regionally appropriate solutions.

* Empowering of communities with the resultant easing of the burden on
the Government to provide services. 

* Enabling countries to monitor ecological situations and maintain
environmental stability. 


Why now 

There are no excuses for lack of action.

* Technology is no longer a major barrier for putting ICT in the service
of development, since technological solutions exist for almost any need
or situation. The costs of equipment and materials, currently at one
fifth of the levels five years ago, are projected to decrease to only
one fifth of today's prices within five years. At the same time,
panelists were emphatic that no State should use this anticipated
decrease in installation costs as an excuse to delay action since
aggregate costs of delay will far out-weight savings on the cost of
equipment. 

* Inadequacy of infrastructure (e. g., for assuring connectivity or
access for remote areas) can be overcome by determined government
policies aimed at building demand for ICT, which in turn leads to
expansion of the infrastructure. 

* Emerging e-commerce is rapidly becoming a new and very significant
trade barrier for those who are not connected. 

* While costs of ICT projects are, of course, a matter of concern for
governments, the panelists' experience proved that relatively modest
investments in key sectors, such as health services, relying perhaps not
on the most modern technology, brought quick and substantial results.


Conditions for Effectiveness 

* The importance of strong political leadership, of a national leader or
champion to lead the ICT campaign cannot be overemphasized. When leaders
such as Heads of State committed their prestige and authority, rapid
progress resulted. But a leader need not necessarily be an individual -
it can be a successful network in health or education, for example. The
ICT campaign must be part of a clear national strategy and plan for the
use and application of ICT within the country. 

* To be effective, ICT initiatives require a competitive
telecommunications environment or the certainty that such an environment
will shortly be created. 

* Decision-makers in the public sector need to recognize the valuable
contribution the private sector and civil society can make in the area
of ICT. The role and support of the media has also been important. Some
panelists commented that high-level political support needs to be
complemented by support from the civil service. ICT operations both
generate and eliminate jobs and senior civil servants need to make sure
that the benefits from computerized operations are well understood and
that training and retraining programmes are offered. 

* Prominence of local content is necessary to ensure wide diffusion of
use of ICT. In this regard, development of local language character sets
for computer interface is critical. 

Actions that Worked 

From an analysis of the experiences of the panelists, it is clear that
there is no one single formula for a successful ICT programme. Every ICT
strategy and plan should be tailor-made to fit a particular national
context. This having been said, a number of actions were seen as
important for the success of ICT initiatives. 

* Clear focus and narrowly defined, realistic objectives for ICT
projects. 

* Establishing a legal and regulatory framework, including intellectual
property rights, information technology, and telecommunications acts. 

* Tax and customs incentives and loans at concessional rates to speed up
the growth of the ICT-based services sector. 

* Early support for ICT initiatives can be gained through the use of
entry points such as education, health, public administration and
e-commerce. Outreach campaigns, including travelling demonstrations and
competitions, have proved to be effective means of raising awareness and
winning support. 

* Development of local content as a result of national technological
initiatives to develop local language character sets for use in computer
interface for the countries where a significant part of population
neither speaks nor reads English. 

* A determined effort to use ICT to help to integrate isolated rural
populations into the national economy. 

* De-politicization of the computerization issue by, for instance,
establishing an NGO foundation that received government monies for
hardware and software, and was tasked with determining the order in
which communities would be benefited. 

* The provision of public access points such as cybercafes, community
centres and telecenters has proven very successful and should be a key
component of the Action Plan to extend connectivity. 

* The issue of affordable access costs should be addressed by the public
sector authorities taking into full account the benefit that ICT brings
in improving performance of the public administration. 

* A strategic psychological approach whereby, first of all, each
recipient of ICT hardware, software and services was required to
contribute up to a half of the costs involved, thus creating a sense of
ownership, and, subsequently, building on the spreading sense of "envy"
in the neighbouring communities without comparable equipment. 

* Use of defence budgets for the purposes of creating an ICT
infrastructure that could in the interim, security situation permitting,
be used as resource for education and provision of other services. 


Problems and Obstacles 

Panelists voiced their concern about several issues connected with ICT
development. The cost of Internet usage is the key issue, with typical
charges still far exceeding levels that would permit popular use. Other
issues raised included security of on-line transactions, computer crimes,
the protection of intelle ctual property rights, feasibility of
restrictions of Internet traffic containing material that could be
considered offensive or that might threaten social stability, and lack
of participation of developing countries in the management of the
Internet, in particular the assignment of top-domain names. 


V. Ensuring fair and equal participation in the information society 

The potential for ICT to contribute to human development, including
elimination of gender disparities, is currently compromised by
unevenness in the pace and spread of these technologies and the
differential effect that their rapid diffusion produces across social
structures. Urgent reform and actions are required at both the national
and international levels to ensure that ICT produce their optimal
benefits on the basis of fairness: 

- Identification and eradication of factors that restrict equal
participation of men and women in the ICT sector, in particular
discriminatory and unequal access to education and training, social
pressures that limit women's and girls' access to science and technology
activities in general and limit their access to training and necessary
ICT equipment in particular, and labour market segmentation; 

- Encouragement of corporate practices within firms in the ICT sector
that ensure overall fairness in employment conditions, in particular
with respect to the recruitment and retention of women; 

- Ensuring that the diffusion of ICT produces a positive impact on job
creation and conditions of employment, and in particular for women's
employment, employment of marginalized groups such as the disabled, by
providing fair access to retraining and reskilling programmes;

- Active encouragement and programmes for young people, male and female,
to access the new economy and use ICT in schools and in other
educational endeavours; 

- Democratization of ICT policy processes that facilitate the active
participation and full integration of advocates of human development
concerns. In particular, ICT sector reform and governance processes
should involve the full participation of a wide range of civil society
organizations; 

- Strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations, including
women's organizations, so they may participate more effectively in the
transformations made possible by the ICT sector; 

- Active encouragement of partnership efforts to allocate and direct R&
D budgets to design and development of ICT services and applications
that serve social and development objectives, including applications for
non-literate communities, content development, human-computer interfaces
that are non-text based and natural language processing systems. 


VI. An International ICT Action Plan 

There is an urgent need to develop and launch an International ICT
Action Plan. The Millennium Assembly would provide an appropriate forum
for an initiative of such magnitude. The overall target should be to
bring connectivity to all communities by the end of 2004 drawing on the
full range of available technologies ranging from television to cellular
telephones to computers. In view of the magnitude of the task and of its
immense potential benefit to the poorer people of the world, and in
order to gain momentum and move the process forward the Panel believes
that action should be started immediately, where possible, while for
those actions that require preparation specific and early target dates
should be set as soon as possible. The Panel expectated that creative
and flexible approaches can be developed and preparatory work begun even
prior to consideration of the Panel's report by the 55 th session of the
General Assembly. Suggestions included: 


At the Policy Level 

* Adoption, in bodies such as the Economic and Social Council and the
General Assembly during 2000, of resolutions that, first, recognize the
importance of ICT in national development plans; second, call for a much
higher profile for ICT in ODA portfolios; and third, request all parties,
specifically public and private sector initiatives at the national level
as well as bilateral and multilateral programmes, to re-examine their
ICT policies to ensure that equal opportunities are being provided to
all sectors of society. 

* Adoption of national ICT strategy by mid-2001 including, as a first
step, setting of minimal connectivity targets to be reached within a
year. 

* Development, on an urgent basis, of the United Nations system's clear,
comprehensive and coherent policy and strategy for the use of ICT as a
tool to improve the delivery of services to Member States, with a view
to an adoption of such strategy no later than by mid-2001. 

* Implementing of this ICT strategy, on a priority basis, by ACC, UNDG
and individual organizations of the United Nations system. 

* Development, on an urgent basis, of a comprehensive programme for
transforming the United Nations into a knowledge organization. Such a
programme should contain a coherent set of training and organizational
measures aimed at bringing the Organization's collective mindset into
the digital age. 

Development Initiatives 

* Building on the on-going initiatives of the Secretary General, form,
as soon as possible, a strategic alliance between the United Nations,
the private sector and financing institutions. The alliance, which would
be responsible for promoting the International ICT Action Plan, will be
spearheaded by the ICT Task Force (see above). The alliance should
introduce a simplified and very rapid approval process for the
allocation of funds 13 14 14 for ICT projects in developing and
transition countries. The alliance should aim to mobilize a fivefold
increase in funding for ICT projects by mid-2001 and a further doubling
by mid-2002. 

* Prepare, under the auspices of the United Nations TCDC programme, a
special programme to intensify South-South cooperation in ICT for
development projects, including ideas and projects for enhancing direct
connectivity among developing countries. 

* Start immediately an active exploration of new, creative financing
initiatives for ICT, including a debt-for-connectivity fund and the
linkage of the provision of financing for ICT to actions in developing
countries that have a direct positive impact on global warming. 

* Start immediately an exploration of measures that would reduce the
average cost of access to the Internet within developing countries by a
factor of five by the end of 2001 compared to the beginning of 2000; 

* Facilitate an increase in the number of computers supplied to
developing countries by a factor of ten by the end of 2001 compared to
the beginning of 2000. 

* By the end of 2001, mobilize 30,000 new ICT trainers, primarily from
developing countries, for training programmes in developing countries.
This should be undertaken in conjunction with the UNITeS initiative
announced by the Secretary General in his Millennium Report. 

* Facilitate a tenfold increase in national training and education
budgets for ICT by the end of 2001 relative to allocations at the
beginning of 2000.

VII The Role of the United Nations in Promoting ICT for Development 

* Global initiatives such as achieving sustainable development,
alleviating poverty, improving governance, combating HIV/ AIDS, gaining
gender equality or tackling climate change 14 15 15 require a broad,
integrated response by national, multilateral and bilateral actors. The
potential benefits of the ICT revolution to economic and social
development, including the achievement of the goals mentioned above, are
of such magnitude that they warrant a global action. 

* Similarly, the present inequities in participation in the ICT
revolution dictate the necessity of coherent action on the part of
international community. The global challenge of bridging the digital
divide requires a global response. 

* The United Nations could potentially become a major force in promoting
and fostering the application of ICT for development and in serving as a
possible arbitrator with respect to certain key legal and policy issues
such as security and intellectual property rights. 

* The United Nations can be instrumental in helping its Member States
overcome existing cultural and mental barriers that are currently among
the major impediment in the pursuit of the benefits of ICT for
development. The United Nations should help developing countries
understand challenges and options in this area 

* The United Nations could compile an inventory of ICT-related
activities for development worldwide to provide developing countries
with more informed choices in selecting technologies, approaches and
communication partners and providers. 

* The panelists were informed about the recent initiatives of the
Secretary-General contained in his Millennium Report, in particular the
establishment of a United Nations Information Technology Service [UNITeS].
They welcomed this initiative and suggested that the implementation
strategy be configured taking into account that: 

- Opportunities for mobilizing national human resources should be given
priority; 

- Training trainers in-country should have priority; 

- Every effort should be made to identify national volunteer candidates,
including professors and teachers (both men and women); 

- States could be encouraged to consider the idea of substituting ICT
service for military service; and 

- Care should be given to ensuring that this initiative empowers
indigenous private ICT entrepreneurs rather than crowds them out. 

* The United Nations should lead by example in providing fair and equal
access to ICT among all sectors of society and specifically by
addressing present disparities that restrict equal participation by
women and other marginalized groups. No segment of the population can be
left behind, handicapped by the absence of information, knowledge and
expertise. But rather than focusing on the potential divisiveness of a
digital gap, the international community, and especially the United
Nations, should look at the situation as a source of opportunities for
economic and social growth, providing "digital dividends". To obtain
these dividends, though, one must accept the view that ICT is a potent
tool for bridging the gap between rural and urban areas, between those
who govern and those governed, and between developed and developing
countries. 

* Regional cooperation in the implementation of ICT pilot programmes and
purchase arrangements for ICT equipment should be encouraged,
strengthened and supported. The international community, and in
particular the United Nations system, can provide information on
technological choices and options and in so doing reduce the cost of
searches. The United Nations could also contribute to a more systematic,
ongoing identification, review and dissemination of ICT information,
case studie s, best practices, and successful models and become an
important "knowledge bank" in this regard. 

* The panelists, however, believed that for the United Nations to play
an active role in a major global ICT initiative for Member States, the
Organization must itself get its own ICT house in order by, first of all,
adopting a coherent ICT strategy that would ensure coordination and
synergy between programmes and activities of individual organizations of
the system. The 16 17 17 United Nations should also review how its
outreach activities using television and radio could be more closely
integrated with IT activities. 

* Organizations which regularly publish indicators that assess
development, including the World Bank and the United Nations Development
Programme, should reconsider their treatment of the "connectivity factor".
It is rapidly becoming a more significant factor in economic and social
development, and its measurement should factor in connected schools and
universities, libraries, hospitals and even public administration.
Treatment of e-commerce activities may be more controversial, but may
likewise become an indicator for measuring economic activity. 


VIII Conclusions and Recommendations 

1. ICT is already making an important contribution to economic and
social development, but this contribution can be much more powerful. ICT
is fostering a better mutual understanding among tens of millions of
people in countries with different economic and social policies. It is
enhancing appreciation of the challenges that Governments and the United
Nations are confronting as they promote global economic growth, social
equity and sustainable development. In this context it is important that
developing countries give priority to developing indigenous content and
that this content be shared with developed countries. 

2. In general, the international donor community has not yet implemented
a well-coordinated, forward-looking and strategic programme for the use
of ICT in development. There has been much talk but little action. Some
panelists noted that modest, strategic investments in ICT had yielded
big dividends. Unfortunately, the opportunities for rapid growth of some
initiatives continued to be severely hampered by the lack of serious
financial support. 

3. The private sector is and will remain for the foreseeable future the
principal driving force for the development and use of ICT. Marketing
forces and strategies should be outlined whereby both industry and the
member States are placed in a win-win situation. 

4. It is a matter of urgency that the United Nations system adopt a
coherent institutional strategy that incorporates the use and
application of ICT in its own work. Failure to quickly do so will result
in considerably increased cost in future and a far greater challenge to
catch up. 

5. Member States should require the United Nations to move much more
rapidly to use ICT to improve the efficiency of its own services,
including for development planning and project implementation, and the
requisite human and financial resources should be allocated to achieve
this goal. The United Nations should provide a structure for continued
discussion of the theme of ICT for development. 

6. Member States, particularly developing countries, should evolve a
vision of ICT for development and a suitable plan of action. High
priority must be accorded to the following: a forward-looking regulatory
framework; proactive efforts for improved exploitation of ICT, including
efforts to improve the delivery of public services over the Internet;
education and training in ICT and the use of ICT in education and
training; commitment to the promotion of gender equality, particularly
in education and training in the ICT area; job creation;
telecommunications regulatory policies that encourage the development
and usage of wide area networks; promotion of the exchange of
experiences and sharing of training facilities on a South-South basis;
partnerships with the private sector and civil society; and efforts to
provide universal access to ICT and its applications. 

7. The international community should assist developing countries in
expanding national and regional ICT infrastructures by facilitating and
expanding access to financial resources for the importation of equipment
and services, arranging and encouraging financial intermediaries to
design creative mechanisms, including supplier credits, insurance
schemes, and concessionary financing. 

8. A new strategic alliance should be formed that includes the United
Nations, private industry and financing trusts and foundations. The
United Nations should promptly and seriously re-examine the role it can
effectively play in any such alliance and the resultant new ICT
initiative for Member States. Unless a progressive ICT policy and
strategy is adopted in the next two to three months, the role of the
United Nations would be limited to promoting ICT, brokering transactions
on behalf of Member States and possibly serving as an arbitrator with
respect to certain policy issues and activities related to the
protection of IPR, security, and preventing crime on the Internet. 

9. The United Nations should find ways to promote and facilitate
investment by private ICT companies in the research and development of
technologies, products and services that would contribute to raising the
literacy levels in developing countries. This would create a win-win
situation for all involved since it would not only have immediate social
benefits but would also eventually increase the market for ICT products.

10. The United Nations should quickly establish an effective mechanism
for close interaction with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names
and Numbers (ICANN) to ensure that the claims of Member States
concerning issues such as top level domain name policies and procedures
and representation in Internet administrative mechanisms are speedily
addressed and resolved. The purpose of United Nations engagement should
be to complement ICANN and other governance bodies in areas currently
not covered by them. 


ANNEX 

National and Regional Presentations 

As the first step to providing down-to-earth advice and recommendations,
panelists outlined their own ICT experiences in anticipation that it
would be possible to identify elements that were common to success as
well as to failure. Fourteen presentations (twelve national and two
regional) confirmed that ICT initiatives have not been confined to
countries with high per capita incomes, well-developed infrastructures,
high levels of venture capital and a highly trained labour force.
Remarkable progress is evident where some of these elements have been
lacking, as is illustrated by the experiences described below. 

In Brazil initiatives regarding the diffusion of Internet in the country
date back to 1988, when three research institutions deployed direct
links to NSFnet/ ESnet in the USA. In 1989, a national effort, the
Brazilian Research Network, was launched in order to plan and oversee

the diffusion of networking in academic institutions. As of 1995, almost
all universities and research centers in Brazil were interconnected,
serving an audience of some 150 thousand users. A major move was then by
the government through the definition of directives for open Internet
services in Brazil and the creation of a Steering Committee (composed of
representatives from government, academia and business) to direct the
future of Internet in the country. In the ensuing five-year period, the
Brazilian Internet market has skyrocketed to over seven million
individual users connected through 200 thousand hosts. Internet-based
applications have been widely disseminated within government as well, to
the extent that, for example, this year eight out of ten people have
forwarded Income Tax Forms through the net. 

A new cycle of Internet infra-structure and services in Brazil is now
being planned by a newly launched initiative, the Information Society
Program, coordinated by the Ministry for Science & Technology, with a
budget for the 2000-2003 period of US$ 1.7 billion. Main lines of action
in the program include Market & Jobs, on the one side, and
Universalization of Services, on the other side. Current plans include,
for instance, the interconnection of all public libraries and the
creation of thousands of community access centers throughout the country.

The ongoing experience of Bulgaria illustrates the challenges that still
need to be met in some countries with economies in transition before ICT
can more effectively contribute to economic and social development. When
Bulgaria was a trade partner within the former communist block, it was
assigned the responsibility for the development of several high
technology sectors, including microelectronics. Thus a substantial body
of highly educated and skilled ICT specialists, including electrical
engineers and programmers, was built up. Following the breakup of the
block, Bulgaria abruptly lost almost all of the market for its products
and industries were downsized over the following years, which eventually
encouraged emigration by a large number of the nation's top specialists.

Today there are approximately 200,000 Internet users in Bulgaria, but
the potential for very rapid growth is underlined by the fact that there
is a high literacy rate and more than 4,000 schools, 40 universities and
almost 100 scientific divisions and institutes of the Bulgarian Academy
of Sciences. The Government of Bulgaria is now exploring new market
opportunities and preparing legislation that will encourage the
reinvigoration of industries such as those in the ICT field. Agriculture
and tourism are two sectors that could significantly benefit from an ICT
programme. However, progress is hampered by the lack of institutional
reforms, especially privatization of the telecommunications authority,
which remains a state monopoly. The situation calls for an ICT champion
to lead the reform process (this need not be restricted to an
individual; it could be a successful network in the health or education
sector, for example). However, despite several recent networking
initiatives, such a champion has not emerged primarily because of a lack
of political understanding of the modest investments that are necessary
for the Internet to be demonstrably successful. 

The Internet has been an important instrument of choice for the
Government of China as the country moves from a rigid centrally planned
economy to a socialist market economy. Between April 1994 when the first
64 Kpbs leased line was opened and the end of 1997, only 300,000
computers were connected to the Internet and web sites numbered 1,500.
By the end of 1999, the number of connected computers had surged to 3.5
million and over 9 million users were connected to the Internet, 1
million through leased lines, 7 million through dial-up connections, and
1 million using both. Another 200,000 users are connected using mobile
phones and PDA and this sector is growing very rapidly. There are now
35.6 million e-mail accounts and nearly 50,000 top-level domain names
registered (. cn) of which 39,000 are registered as dot com. Total
bandwidth of the leased international connections has been increased to
351 Mbps. Distribution of Internet access, however, remains
unsatisfactory with the 10 coastal provinces with 42 percent of the
nation's population accounting for 71 per cent of users whereas the 7
most western provinces account for 20 per cent of the population but
only 5 per cent of Internet use. Great efforts are under way to increase
connectivity with the rural population. There are 5 large Internet
service providers (ISPs), all State owned, three of which are in
commercial operation, including one, Chinanet, with 83 per cent of the
total number of accounts. In March 2000, these 5 ISPs were connected
within China for the first time and bandwidth was increased 15 fold to
1G. Private ISPs are permitted, although connectivity through the five
state-owned ISPs is required. Currently there are roughly 520 ISP and
1,000 Internet Content Provider (ICP) accounts, many of which are
financed with private or joint venture capital. The 1,000 websites
providing E-commerce support services generated an estimated $55 million
in 1999. China's rapidly expanding telephone system has reached 110
million connections. Cellular telephone growth is the fastest in the
world: it has exploded to over 50 million units since 1994. The
Government is aware that ICT is indispensable to economic and social
development, but it is also sensitive to the issue of restricting access
to certain types of information to help to ensure social stability. 

Reasons for progress in ICT include: 

(a) Appreciation of the fact that ICT is indispensable for economic and
social development; 

(b) Development of local content as a result of a national technological
initiative to develop Chinese character sets for use in ICT since over
95 per cent of the population neither speaks nor reads English. Very
rapid expansion of ICT activities followed the achievement of this goal
in 1996; 

(c) A proactive campaign to complete joint venture agreements with
hardware and software manufacturers whereby production facilities are
established in China; 

(d) Government programmes to accelerate training and education in ICT;
initiatives to encourage credit card security to further stimulate
e-commerce, which is poised to explode; and an appreciation of the need
to enforce legislation protecting intellectual property rights (IPR). 

Challenges remain, including: 

(a) Sensitivity about access to certain types of web sites which may
threaten social stability along with recognition that denying access is
becoming less and less realistic; 

(b) The need to address the problem of security from hackers and virus
attacks, which is used by some to argue for Internet control; 

(c) The difficulty during a period of transition to a socialist market
economy to understand how and at what pace market forces will determine
the value of information without disrupting growth of ICT and the steps
necessary to encourage investment in ISPs and ICPs. Many of the latter
may fail without advertising and venture capital. Opening the stock
exchange to these entities in June 2000 is under consideration. 

In Costa Rica political capital has been invested in the national
sustainable development programme and the ICT sector was used to
turbo-charge the country to help it move its national development
strategy forward. Costa Rica attributes much of its recent economic
growth to the widespread adoption of ICT, and in this regard its
experience conforms to that of some other small countries with limited
natural resources. 

Some of the reasons for success include: 

(a) Strong political leadership and the determination to allocate part
of the national budget to the growth of ICT; 

(b) Initial focus on the education sector nationwide as well as a
determined effort to use ICT to help to integrate isolated rural
populations into the national economy. 

ICT applications for possible replication in other countries include: 

(a) The installation of computer laboratories in 100 per cent of the
nations public high schools, impacting on 50 per cent of the children
enrolled in public schools; 

(b) The introduction of "smart cards" nationwide and their widespread
application with respect to public administration, transportation,
public telephones and health services; 

(c) The development of self-contained multi-purpose/ multimedia package
that can be taken to any rural community and provide a variety of
functions, including Internet access, training in ICT, a small theatre,
e-mail facilities, etc. The unit, which uses abandoned cargo containers
to house computers and peripherals, has its own generator. These units,
called "LINCOS" (little intelligent communities), have been designed in
collaboration with the Media Laboratories of MIT. Although they cost
about $70,000 in the present pilot stage, this cost is expected to
decrease significantly once production increases; 

(d) An innovative ICT-based inventory of the entire bio-diversity of the
nation using bar-coding technology. 

Cuba was in the midst of a blockade and an epidemic when it launched
Infomed, a national network of the public health system. Created when
there was no information infrastructure in the country, it began as a
simple network approach to sharing knowledge and access to information
via e-mail. It used the best available technologies. Since its inception,
the network has been expanded to enjoy nationwide coverage with regional
and provincial nodes; it has a virtual library component covering
medical journals; and it has contributed to the building of national
capacity to manage new information technologies and empower people.
Infomed succeeded because: 

(a) The proposal received the highest level of political support based
on the understanding that ICT can lead to improvements in socio-economic
conditions; 

(b) Resistance to the idea of making certain types of information such
as medical records available to the public was overcome; 

(c) The project was clearly focused with narrowly defined, realistic
objectives; 

(d) The initiative was driven by a vision of a knowledge network that
could lead to broader applications, especially in the area of education
as it relates to health. 

Estonia had a very low level of ICT technology and activity when
independence was restored in 1991. Government offices and some private
companies were sparsely equipped with old mainframe mini-computers;
there were two mobile phones in the Ministry of Foreign affairs,
virtually no computers in private hands and a per capita income of $600.
Today the country has one of the highest degrees of connectivity in
Europe and ranks among the top 20 nations worldwide. All schools have
been connected to the Internet; 80 percent of bank transfers are made
over the Internet; 28 percent of the population is connected to the
Internet either at home or at work compared to just 7 percent in 1997;
annual per capita income is $5,000; and dial-up service is the least
expensive in Europe. "Smart cards" have been introduced and legislative
and administrative preparations completed for their application on a
nation-wide basis in 2001 for services requiring interaction with the
public administration, hospitals, for public transportation, public
telephones, etc. Progress required: 

(a) An understanding that improved connectivity could contribute to the
survival of a small, newly independent country. In this context a clear
picture of both the national as well as the regional situation was
essential for planning; 

(b) Belief that ICT could help to bridge the gap between poverty and
wealth and in particular encourage the rural population to remain in
situ because it felt connected and a part of the urban world; 

(c) Creation of the requisite infrastructure through a concession
agreement with Swedish and Finnish telecommunications operators by which
they modernized the telephone network in exchange for profits from the
telecommunications business; 

(d) De-politicization of the computerization issue, whereby an NGO
foundation with a catchy name (Tiger Leap) received government monies
for hardware and software and determined which communities would be
benefited; 

(e) A strategic psychological approach whereby any recipient of a
computer was required to pay 50 per cent of its cost, thereby increasing
the sense of ownership and leveraging the envy created on the part of
those without equipment to increase connectivity; 

(f) A professional and aggressive marketing and advertising campaign.

Ghana is a leading ICT country in the West African sub-region and is
providing technical support services to neighbouring countries. Ghana
was the first West African country to attain full connectivity to the
Internet in 1994 through a private sector initiative. The sector is
managed by the Ministry of Communication, an independent regulatory
agency and private sector operators. There are two national
telecommunications operators, four cellular operators, five ISPs, three
television operators, and dozens of fm and community radio stations. An
offshore knowledge industry is developing and targeting data entry,
call-center applications, software development for export and design
center applications. 

As a gateway to the sub-region, Ghana has developed a strong Internet
protocol economy with sufficiently large international bandwidth
capacities to support its emerging information economy. There are now
special programs for networking schools, for distance learning, and for
telemedicine applications under development in the national information
plan (url: www. nici. org. gh ). Although E-commerce is in its infancy
compared to traditional commerce, there is a growing industry with
storefronts serving both the local and international markets. 

Internet access is now widely available throughout India and the mobile
phone network is rapidly expanding. Software development and expansion
of the service industry have been impressive. Progress with the
development of telecommunications has likewise been satisfactory. Over
200,000 professional jobs have been created in ICT-related activities.
Exports from the software development and services sector earn
approximately US$ 40 million a week. The service economy already
contributes more than 60 per cent to the economies of cities such as
Mumbai. Hundreds of domestic companies have sprung up to meet the demand.
ICT-enabled services provide support to hundreds of other businesses
elsewhere in the world, for example, in legal, accounting and the
insurance industries. Using ICT for development is an essential motor
for the growth of the Indian economy. 

Reasons for progress include: 

(a) The setting up of a high level IT Task Force by the Government and
quick implementation of its comprehensive recommendations; 

(b) The focus of research, education and training facilities on the
creation of a highly skilled, creative workforce; 

(c) Provision of tax incentives to speed up the growth of the ICT-based
services sector (which industries are now progressively repaying); 

(d) Availability of a large English-speaking and literate population. 

Mali has benefited since 1997 from the US bilateral Leyland initiative,
which aimed to bring connectivity to some 20 countries in Africa. Today
a VSAT antenna with 128 Kbps permits access to 16 lines through the
Association of Telecommunications of Mali, SOTELMA, and 10 lines at 64
Kbps for ISPs. Five ISPs have commercial agreements with SOTELMA
following competitive bidding and a sixth is under consideration. User
growth has increased from 800 in 1997 to 4,500 today although 98 per
cent are in Bamako. Although telephone lines are already saturated, the
demand for services is increasing and major investments to improve
capacity are needed. To compensate for ongoing shortcomings, major
emphasis has been given to encouraging the growth of public access
points such as cybercafes. Today Mali benefits from ICT in applications
such as telemedicine, long-distance learning and e-commerce.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become more active, including
special initiatives for youth, and hotels offer Internet connectivity to
their clients. The impact of ICT on economic and social development has
been so positive that current plans call for connecting the University
as well as all 701 communes throughout Mali. The country has also taken
steps to share its positive ICT experience through "Bamako 2000" in
March 2000, which brought together 2,000 participants from 48 countries.
Progress was made in ICT owing to: 

(a) The full support and personal engagement of the President of the
Republic; 

(b) The collaboration of a donor who listened to national aspirations; 

(c) Repatriation of the domain name by France in November 1997; 

(d) The creation of a competitive environment for the telecommunications
sector. 

Constraints to further expansion include: 

(a) The need for venture capital; 

(b) The costs for connectivity, which vary between ISPs but which can be
as high as $30/ month, beyond the purchasing power of most citizens. 

Mauritius adopted five objectives for its National Information
Technology Strategy Plan developed in 1997: 

(a) Enable the services sector to grow into a business hub; 

(b) Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector; 

(c) Bring government closer to the people through e-government; 

(d) Use ICT to enhance the education system and service sector; 

(e) Enhance the competitiveness of business in the global market. 

The intent was to achieve an e-government; to close the digital divide
within the country and also between Mauritius and other countries; to
ensure access to information to everyone and from anywhere and at any
time; and to bridge the technology gap by focusing on skills development
and leverage on our knowledge capital and highly educated population.
Many actions have been taken to achieve these goals, including: 

(a) Creating a fully digitized network within the country using the
latest Broadband ATM technology; establishing 10M bit links with
international networks, which are to be upgraded through the South
Africa/ Far East optical cable to 80 gigabits by the third quarter of
2001; 

(b) Establishing a legal and regulatory framework, including copyright,
information technology and telecommunications acts; a policy statement
on the telecommunications sector in October 1999; and an Electronic
Transactions Bill this year. In January 2000, the Mauritius
Telecommunications Authority was established as the new regulator which
will ensure enforcement of the telecommunications act and level playing
field for all stakeholders. New ISP licenses will be issued in June and
complete privatization of the sector is set for 2003; 

(c) A dedicated Ministry was created to set the tone of highest
commitment for this sector; 

(d) The customs duty on computer equipment has been eliminated and
special bank loans at only 3 percent are available for equipment
purchases to make computers more affordable to the population. 

ICT penetration in the country is excellent due to several actions taken
over the decade. Today over five per cent of the population use Internet
(compared to continental averages of two per cent for Asia and South
America and less than one per cent for Africa). There is a plan to
increase the number of ICT professionals by 500 per cent by 2005; a
University of Technology is planned; training loans are available and
student competitions have begun to raise ICT sensitivity. All local
government authorities and many government programmes (immigration, tax,
courts, customs, health, etc.) have been fully computerized; computers
have been installed in all private and state secondary schools; Internet
access has been provided to centres dealing with social welfare,
community affairs, women's programmes and citizens' advice offices.
Finally, a series of aggressive steps have been taken to stimulate
e-commerce. 

In Morocco ICT was initially viewed in 1995 as an enabling mechanism to
liberalise the economy and thereby enable Morocco to participate more
effectively in the global economy, to slow the emigration of skilled
workers, especially to Europe, as well as to create employment
opportunities. By 1996 there were already 20 ISPs, some 50 cybercafes,
an estimated 10,000 Internet subscribers, some 50 websites, 1.4 millon
fixed telephone lines and an estimated 100,000 mobile phones. The
average cost of an Internet subscription was $50 /month. But there was
no vision for the development of IT, no action plan, no liberalisation
process and no regulatory process. In March 1998 the responsibility for
implementation of ICT in the country was placed in the Office of the
Prime Minister. With the highest political support as well as the
collaboration of selected business leaders and representatives of civil
society a national action plan was formulated in December 1998 and
finalized in May 1999. Features of the plan included improving the
productivity of Moroccan industry; to modernize the public sector
administration, making it more efficient and responsive and gaining
greater trust by rendering it more transparent; and to reinforce the
governments programmes aimed at eradicating poverty. In the latter
regard information technology was to be directed a raising levels of
literacy; improving the delivery of government services, especially
health, education and training; and to give isolated rural communities a
sense of solidarity and identification with national development goals.
An implementation strategy for the action plan was devised with emphasis
on preparing the necessary legal environment; building consensus for
change among the private and public sectors as well as civil society
based on partnerships and common benefits that would result from the
introduction of ICT; and a well planned and steady promotion campaign
aimed at many levels from parliamentarians to town meetings and for
special interest groups such as the media. 

An analysis of the impact of the ICT campaign on the national economy is
awaited, but there is broad agreement it has contributed to stability
and a growing sense of confidence that Morocco can compete in the global
economy. Some tangible results are a positive impact on the important
tourism industry [a new proposal is to develop one portal for all
tourist information]; the development of ISPs and cybercafes have
provided employment opportunities, especially for young people, and
provided an entrepreneurial spirit; and the curricula in engineering
schools have been revised to give emphasis to the IT sector. An academic
and research network has been set up and already connects over half of
the universities and engineering schools. The impact of this network has
profoundly impacted on the interaction amongst teaching staff as well as
students both within the country and overseas. 

Today with population of 28 million, of which over 50% are under the age
of 20 years, Morocco has 300 ISPs, 500 cybercafes and a reasonable
communications infrastructure of 1.6 million fixed and 700,000 mobile
telephones. The number of websites passed 1,000 during 1999 and most
significantly the cost of a monthly Internet subscription dropped to
about $6 per month. Priority development targets are to accelerate the
development of national content; to extend access to rural areas; and to
complete liberalisation of the telecommunications sector by 2002. Costs
of access and the costs of hardware and software are the major
constraints to more rapid expansion of the Internet. 

Internet activities began in Russia in the early 1990s as a loose
network of small private enterprises and a number of institutes active
in education and research. The Internet has since grown in a
de-regulated environment and is now being served by almost 300 service
providers. A robust fiber-optic network 9,400 km. in length between
Moscow and Khabarovsk was completed in 1999 and will be capable of
handling the rapid increase in activity that is now forecast for 2001.
Cities not connected to the fiber-optic backbone are using VSAT
technology. Sixty per cent of the present Internet traffic occurs within
the country. This can be attributed to the completion in 1997 of
Cyrillic character sets and the rapid resultant development of local
content. The President-Elect of Russia has expressed his appreciation of
the substantive benefit that an aggressive ICT programme could make
towards improving the economic and social situation in the country. He
has already invited representatives of the government, NGOs and the
private sector to outline a forward-looking strategy and assured them of
his support. Thus political will has been mobilized and the first draft
of a National Internet Law is now being prepared by leaders of the
Russian Internet community as well as members of the State Duma. The
combination of good access, a highly educated population, and the
ability to work with local content is forecast to result in very rapid
growth and penetration of the Internet in the next few years. 

The Small Island Development States Network (SIDSnet) is a global
network of 42 island nations in the Caribbean, in the Indian Ocean, the
Atlantic Ocean off Africa, and the Pacific Ocean. Small island nations
have unique problems owing to geographic isolation and small internal
markets that have hindered investment in necessary infrastructure.
However, ICT provides new opportunities for these nations to participate
in the global economy, enabling access to niche markets for tourism and
local goods. Internet web pages have provided up to 80 per cent of the
market for some small tourism ventures and have transformed traditional
access to the tourism market. Niche service industries have been
enhanced with live financial and insurance services provided to the
United States market from the Caribbean. Market information is now
readily available to island exporters. In the Pacific, monitoring of
fishing zones is done using web technology and communications demand for
basic services such as e-mail has led to open challenging of the
existence of current monopoly telecommunication companies. Telemedicine
and distance education projects have been successful on a small scale,
but with more investment in infrastructure, they promise to transform
underfunded education systems and understaffed health facilities.
Coordination of a common global agenda among island countries has been
improved with Internet-based networking facilities such as SIDSnet (www.
sidsnet. org). However, access costs remain high at $US8-10/ hour in
island countries and users still represent less than two per cent of the
population. These countries are in danger of being further marginalized
if they are not able to develop the necessary infrastructure that
provides the foundation for a ICT-literate society and create the
necessary industries that can meet the demands of a global customer. 


e-Europe 

The e-Europe initiative is a collaborative effort between the European
Commission, member States and industry. Its key objectives are: (a) to
bring every citizen, home, school, business and administration into the
digital age and online; (b) to create a digitally literate Europe,
supported by an entrepreneurial culture ready to finance and develop new
ideas; and (c) to ensure that the whole process is socially inclusive,
builds consumer trust and strengthens social cohesion. It focuses on 10
key areas where action can make a difference: availability of the
Internet and multimedia access in all classrooms; less costly Internet
access; acceleration of e-commerce; the development of high-speed access
for researchers and students; the use of smart cards for secure
electronic access; the provision of risk capital for high-tech small and
medium enterprises; e-participation for the disabled; on-line health
care; improved road, rail and air transportation to increase efficiency
and safety and to reduce air pollution; and to provide government
services on-line. Target dates have been set for each activity, many by
the end of 2000 but with some extending to the end of 2004. In May the
European Ministers of Communication proposed to provide quality access
to the Internet for all European citizens before 2004. 


Other Presentations 

Technology Constraints 

As a result of progress by the ICT industry, the technology to enable
developing countries to use ICT for economic and social development is
now available. Both traditional infrastructures based on copper wiring
and telephony using cellular phones, satellites and fiber-optic
connections can be installed. Wireless solutions are the most
cost-effective, costing roughly 20 per cent of traditional wired
installations. Since many developing nations are not overly encumbered
with substantial legacy systems, they have a clear opportunity to
leapfrog directly to systems based on telephony. Moreover, such systems
offer other potential advantages such as minimal outlays to establish
and protect rights of way as well as the possible use of a pool of
low-cost labour (e. g., the use of military conscripts) for developing
the infrastructure.

Internet Management 

The representative of ICANN and a UNDP official speaking for developing
countries addressed a number of concerns with respect to the assignment
of Internet protocol, addresses and domain name management. ICANN and
its predecessors had been using codes from the Organization for
International Standardization (ISO) for assigning country code top level
domain (ccTLD) names. It was also noted that in a few instances, top
level domain names had been assigned to applicants whose status was now
challenged by the respective governments in those countries who
considered TLDs as sovereign assets. 

It was recommended that the United Nations participate in ICANN meetings
and that Member States should also participate in the Government
Advisory Committee (GAC) of ICANN whenever there was a request to assign
a TLD and there was any possible doubt whether the requesting party
represented the country in question. Thus a national institutional
grouping of public, private and NGO interests should be given priority
over a request from an individual or group of individuals which did not
represent all interest groups. The representative of ICANN noted the
demand of some Member States that this matter be urgently addressed. The
issue was complex, touching on Internet stability, and an ICANN Board
meeting scheduled in July would take up this matter. 

The panel also called attention to the disadvantaged situation of
developing countries in their representation on ICANN bodies compared
with that of much wealthier nations and organizations, owing to a lack
of information and/ or resources. The representative of ICANN
acknowledged these concerns and noted they were under ongoing review.
ICANN and the United Nations share a common interest in learning more
about the impact of the Internet on society and should collaborate in
this regard. 


InfoDev 

The Information for Development Programme (InfoDev) of the World Bank
programme is an important player in the ICT arena.. There are currently
23 donors including some developing countries as well as private
corporations. The programme has received over 500 requests for
assistance from its core programme and has provided grant funding for
110. The programme also funded 139 planning and implementation projects
under a special initiative to address the Y2K challenge. The programme
presently disburses roughly $20 million/ year and a typical grant
averages $250,000. Current priorities include looking for more and
better proposals as well as speeding up the approval process which has
been slow since start-up. 

The panel noted the contribution of InfoDev, but underlined that its
resources remained very far below the levels of funding required for ICT
advancement in developing countries. The panel also noted the cumbersome
preparation, review and approval process given the speed with which
requests in the ICT sector require action. 


A Multimedia Approach 

The positive impact of new information and communication technologies
such as the Internet should not overshadow the importance of more
traditional media, especially radio and television. Thus some 15 million
people already use the Internet to access radio. Brazil already enjoys a
high level of television penetration and is concerned about providing
access to the Internet through television. Several other developing
countries have already moved to strengthen their radio and television
programming to support economic and social initiatives and a broader
approach combining the Internet is now possible. The potential
significance of a broader multimedia approach was illustrated by noting
that while 50 million cell phones now operate in China, it was reported
that an audience of 700 million in that country had recently viewed a
television event. The synergies between the various communication
technologies should be taken into account in developing any
communication strategy, including support for initiatives for the
redissemination, on a timely basis, of information which is obtained as
a result of ICT. 


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