United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for the vision of a global information society to be transformed into reality, stressing the need to use technology for development and urging a new international alliance to build a “network of networks” to harness high-tech innovations for the benefit of everyone.
Mr. Annan made his remarks in a speech to the recently formed Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development (GAID), which was launched in Malaysia in June as a means of utilizing new technologies to fight poverty and promote development.
“We must translate the vision of a truly global information society into reality… The Alliance’s Strategy Council has identified four priority areas: health, education, poverty reduction through enterprise creation, and citizens’ participation in governance,” he told the group’s high-level Steering Committee at today’s meeting in New York.
“The Alliance will… have the flexibility to encourage additional organizations and individuals to participate. The idea is to develop a decentralized ‘network of networks’ on a global scale, so that the Alliance can draw in the relevant stakeholders, particularly as new issues emerge.”
He said the group’s success will hinge on several factors, including its ability to formulate clear and attainable objectives, to operate with transparency and accountability and to work with a broad group of participants, and he commended its initial efforts, particularly recognition of the special challenges facing women, youth and marginalized groups.
The Alliance’s Steering Committee brings together senior figures from government, as well as people from the fields of business, media and civil society. It includes Jamaludin Jarjis, Malaysia’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, while the chairman is Craig Barrett, who also holds the same position for semiconductor giant Intel.
“The challenge for the Alliance is relatively straightforward but certainly not simple – it’s really to bring the information and communication technologies and resultant development associated with the introduction of those technologies to the emerging worlds, the emerging marketplaces,” Dr. Barrett told reporters before the meeting.