Local authorities can help build information society that benefits all – Annan

Local authorities can help build information society that benefits all – Annan

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is calling on local authorities around the globe to help bridge the so-called “digital divide,” the sharp difference in access to information and communication technologies between affluent and poor communities.

“With their unsurpassed grass-roots knowledge, local authorities have long been a potent force for development. Now they need to bring that experience to bear on the new possibilities and opportunities that communications technologies are opening up,” Mr. Annan said in a video message presented yesterday at the World Summit of Cities and Local Authorities on the Information Society in Bilbao, Spain.

He credited local authorities with launching the Digital Solidarity Fund and said they should build on that initiative. He added that they could make an important contribution to the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which will open in Tunis, Tunisia on 16 November, bringing together leaders from governments, industry and civil society to consider how to maximize the potential of information and communication technologies to meet development challenges.

Urging local authorities to provide bold and concrete suggestions for that Summit, he said: “Together, we must build an information society that benefits and empowers all the world's people.”

The Second World Summit of Cities and Local Authorities on the Information Society will conclude tomorrow.