Annan calls for bridging digital divide in world's poorest countries

17 May 2003

With millions of people in the world's poorest countries still excluded from the right to communicate, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for bridging the digital divide between developed and developing countries.

"The terms 'information society,' 'digital era,' or the 'information age' have all been used to describe this age," Mr. Annan said in a message marking World Telecommunication Day. "Whatever term we use, the society we build must be open and pluralistic – one in which all people, in all countries, have access to information and knowledge.

"This is the primary goal of the World Summit on the Information Society, the first phase of which will take place this December in Geneva," he added.

He said the theme of this year's Telecommunications Day, "Helping all of the world's people to communicate," was an integral part of the Millennium Development Goals, agreed upon by Heads of State and Government at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000.

In particular, the eighth Goal aimed "to develop a global partnership for development" and, "in cooperation with the private sector, make available the benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications technologies," he noted.

"Information and communication technologies must be used to bridge the digital divide and accelerate progress in the poorest corners of the world," he declared.


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