UN announces launch of global alliance for information technologies for development

19 June 2006

The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General and Malaysia's Prime Minister today launched the Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Development at a gathering in Kuala Lumpur.

The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General and Malaysia's Prime Minister today launched the Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Development at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

"The Alliance provides the platform and network of international experiences in which partnerships can be based,” said Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown. Pointing out that technology never developed in a vacuum, he said it should be part of a strategy involving people and institutions, and should be accompanied by investment, human capital, infrastructure and national plans.

“Smart public polices” harnessing the power of public-private partnerships should give incentives to the private sector, Mr. Malloch Brown said, adding that “technology is not just a privilege for the rich, but a tool for the poor” which should be applied to work towards the internationally agreed development goals.

“We are all gathered here today for a common cause,” said Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, “motivated by a vision of a truly united global community brought together through the power of ICT. A vision where every nation, every society and every individual is a participant in development that is people-centered, people-oriented and people-driven.”

At the same time, he cautioned that “there are still too many nations too poor to take advantage of these new tools of development and extricate themselves from their present lack of progress into better circumstances for their people.”

The Alliance recognized ICT as a vital tool for development, Mr. Badawi said, “and with the lead given by the United Nations to this Alliance we hope to be able to see more widespread applications of ICT where poorer nations will benefit through greater access to technology and to knowledge.”

Craig Barrett, Board Chairman of Intel Corporation and the Alliance's first Chairman, said the initiative was “about people and ideas.” He said four conditions are needed to accelerate the opportunity for nations and their citizens, namely access and ownership, content, connectivity, and skills.

Welcoming the creation of the Alliance, Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said ICT had brought “tremendous benefits” to the peoples of many countries of the region. Outsourcing and the establishment of high-tech research and development facilities were benefiting India, China, the Philippines, Viet Nam and other countries, also spawning new industries such as microelectronics and textiles. The challenge was now to reduce the “very wide digital divide in Asia and the Pacific” through the “speedy and thorough implementation” of the decisions countries had adopted at the World Summit on the Information Society.

The Alliance's Strategy Council also met for the first time in Kuala Lumpur today. The 60 members of the Council, from the fields of ICT, development, public policy, education, health and other spheres, will establish priorities for the Alliance's work.

The Alliance will seek to stimulate dialogue on formulating policies and exchanging experiences on ICT for development. It will operate as a decentralized network, complementing the work of existing networks and institutions.

 

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