Local community access to information technologies is vital – UNESCO chief

10 December 2003

Local community access to information technologies is essential if the digital divide between rich and poor is to be bridged, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said today in a message to mark the launch of 150 community multimedia centres (CMCs) in Africa.

UNESCO’s Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said a CMC – where locals can run their own radio station, use telephones, surf the Internet and access other information technologies – serves as “a tremendous platform for development.”

Under a joint initiative of UNESCO and the Swiss Agency for Development and Change, 150 CMCs will be set up in Mali, Mozambique and Senegal. An earlier pilot project created 20 CMCs across Africa.

Mr. Matsuura said the CMCs have already produced gains in education, health, agriculture and environmental protection, as well as in empowering women and young people.

His message came at a ceremony in Geneva during the World Summit for the Information Society, where the CMC initiative was launched.


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