" ITREALMS: Before the 'summit of solutions'

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Before the 'summit of solutions'

Features of the week:

Plans to make the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS-05), also christened the ‘summit of solutions’ for the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Development, a success have been advanced, reports REMMY NWEKE.

As the dates for the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS 2005) draw nearer and precisely just days away, it is pertinent to recall certain issues that would dominate the meeting.

These include the issues on the Internet Governance, Financing Mechanisms and WSIS follow-up and implementation, which form the top-three agenda for the summit’s Preparatory Committee meeting (PrepCom-3) due to resume Sunday, November 13 through 15, prior to the official opening ceremony to be performed by world leaders led by the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Mr. Kofi Annan, on Wednesday, November 16.

Therefore, the aforementioned top-three agenda are expected to take centre stage, whereas the last on the list – WSIS follow-up and implementation becomes a module for continuity and sustaining the Plan of Action, which evaluation after two years of experimentation by member nations bugged by the need to reduce the gap of digital divide would also be examined.

The evaluation is crucial to ascertain the actual efforts being put in place to determine the gap between the rich and poor as concerns the access to information and in achieving the goals stipulated for making Information Society a relative realty, since the first phase in 2003.

ITU resolve

Interesting thing, however, is that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as lead agency of other arms of UN and in alliance with the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and possibly the UN Development Programme; have resolved not to set up any new body to manage the follow-up, as they have to contribute resources for the follow-up to be kept alive via coordinated meetings of coordinators and reporting of implementation on country levels.

According to ITU’s position paper on implementation and follow-up, (WSIS-11/PC3/contro/97-E), there is a widespread agreement that the multi-stakeholder nature of WSIS should be maintained through the overall implementation and follow-up process after Tunis.

CCBI too …

In the same vein, the Coordinating Committee of Business Interlocutors (CCBI) for the summit has also indicated in a position paper made available to Champion Infotel that key focus should be on people-centric Information Society thereby bringing to the people the benefits of ICTs through development, capacity building, education and training are all welcome concept.

CCBI further said that clear commitment to create the necessary enabling environment to attract investment, promote innovation, stimulate infrastructure development, and foster entrepreneurship must not be over looked.

International level follow-up and implementation, CCBI stated, must not be left to be led, coordinated, moderated or even facilitated by one single UN agency, and must involve all stakeholders on an equal footing, thus ICT and development should be mainstreamed and integrated into the agenda of UN bodies.

The $100 laptops

Chief, Media Relations at ITU, Ms Sarah Parkes and the Communication Officer at the WSIS Executive Secretariat, Mr. Sanjay Acharya, disclosed in a joint statement that highlights of WSIS phase two, alongside the three days of plenary sessions, include the launch of the $100 laptop system developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT's) Media Lab, which will serve as the cornerstone of the One Laptop Per Child global development initiative.

The new system would be unveiled at the occasion to be hosted by the Media Lab's Professor Nicholas Negroponte, UN scribe, Mr. Annan and Mrs. Nane Maria Annan.

The ITU’s ‘Connect the World Roundtable’ featuring around 20 top-level representatives from government, the private sector and civil society, comprising European Union (EU) Information Society Commissioner, Vivianne Reding, Chief Executive officers (CEOs) and chairmen of leading global Information Technology (IT) players namely Mr. Narayana R. Murthy of Infosys, ICT development pioneer Professor M. S. Swaminathan, and Mr Noah Samara of WorldSpace, along with heads of UN agencies and leaders of ICT-oriented civil society organizations.

The launch of a ground-breaking new ITU report, ‘The Internet of Things’, at a media panel debate featuring senior technical gurus from Alcatel, KDDI, Microsoft, Nokia and Sun Microsystems, would also make the event.

ITU’s high-level panel featuring ICT ministers from India, Mexico and the Republic of Congo, top level representatives from the European Commission (EC), the Grameen Foundation and the Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion, as well as senior executives from Nokia, Sentech and Skype, is expected to be exciting.

A programme of about 300 parallel events featuring presentations and debates by WSIS participants on topics central to the development of tomorrow's Information Society equally would take place.


Five-day Information and Communications Technology (ICT) trade fair located at 10'000 meter exhibition center, would enable showcasing of activities from over 100 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and private sector enterprises, focusing on developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) is billed to attract over 40,000 participants including chief executive officers of private organizations, according to Mr. Edoardo Bellando of the United Nations Department of Public Information.

ICT4All, organized along with the main WSIS would this year start on November 15, a day earlier before the official opening of the summit at Kram Pla Expo and to end on Saturday, November 19.

Mr. Bellando also said that companies from developed and developing countries would use the chance to showcase innovative ideas and practical solutions, meet and forge new partnerships, noting that corporate partners of the Tunisian Organising Committee for WSIS-05 include Alcatel, Ericsson, Huawei, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and ZTE.

Champion Infotel recalls that in 2003 at the first phase of WSIS held in Geneva, 175 countries reportedly adopted a Declaration of Principles, outlining a common vision of the Information Society and a Plan of Action, which sets targets on how to improve connectivity and access in using ICT.

Task before stakeholders

As stakeholders assemble in Tunis, they must not forget individual national agenda or so soon the ITU’s recent report that estimated 942 million people living in the world's developed economies enjoy five times better access to fixed and mobile phone services; nine times better access to Internet services, and own 13 times more personal computers than the 85 per cent of the world's population living in low and lower-middle income countries.

ITU also estimates that 800,000 villages still lack connection by telephone line, the Internet or any other modern ICT tools.

Therefore, it is very important that the outcome of this second phase of WSIS must be worthy of aiding efforts to really bridge the Information Society gap already existing, mostly as demanded in the Plan of Action and we all will be better for it.

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