Annan urges African countries to join digital revolution

20 November 2002

Underscoring the rising importance of communications technologies, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today encouraged the world’s poorest countries to embrace the digital revolution in a message marking Africa Industrialization Day.

Underscoring the rising importance of communications technologies, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today encouraged the world’s poorest countries to embrace the digital revolution in a message marking Africa Industrialization Day.

“Information technologies are a fundamental part of industrial development,” said Mr. Annan, in emphasizing this year’s theme, “The Industrialization of Africa and the New Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).” ICT, he said, can increase productivity and bring distant locations together by reducing communications and transportation costs.

In addition, ICTs can simultaneously make valuable market information available to African producers and improve the ability of Africans to market their products by “linking African industrial and trade centres with their counterparts in the rest of the world,” said Mr. Annan.

He urged African governments to do their utmost to help their peoples to seize opportunities offered by the digital revolution and assured that the “UN system and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) will likewise do their part to ensure that ICTs serve the continent’s efforts towards industrial development and the wider quest for progress and peace.”

For his part, the President of the General Assembly, Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic, said that since by the year 2025 it is expected that more than half of the African population will be living in cities, new ICT is the key to rapid sustainable development.

“ICT would facilitate human development, accelerate intra-African trade and improve access to the markets of developed countries,” Mr. Kavan said, calling for a renewal of the commitments by all parties –including the African Union, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the Conference of African Ministers for Industry and specific public and private partnerships – to the sustainable development of the continent.

 

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