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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

C’Wealth leaders call for investment in ICT

HEADS of State and Government of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have called for an inclusive and development-oriented information society, outlining the important contribution of Information and Communications Technology (ICTs) in stimulating economic growth and development within the region, reports CHARLES OKOH.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Connect CIS leaders Summit which ended over the weekend in Belarus also recognized the “essential role of governments in devising national e-strategies and establishing an enabling policy and regulatory framework to foster ICT investment. Achieve the vision and goals of the World Summit on the Information Society in the CIS region.”

In a press statement the Chief, Media Relations and Public Information (ITU) Mr. Sanjay Acharya, said the two-day summit brought together some 350 participants, including five Heads of State and Government from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, as well as seven Ministers and other leaders from the CIS territories and neighbouring countries, the ICT industry, financial institutions and international and regional organizations. The Summit was hosted by the President of the Republic of Belarus Mr Alexander Lukashenko.

In his message to the Summit, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon said, “unequal access to ICT impedes productivity and innovation,” stressing that this directly affects efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“We want to enhance digital opportunities for all, and find new ways for these remarkable technologies to advance economic and social development,” he said.

As the specialized UN agency for information communication technologies (ICT), this landmark event was organized as part of ITU’s Connect the World series, an ambitious multi-stakeholder effort aimed at connecting the unconnected by the year 2015.

Acharya also said overall objective of the Connect CIS is to mobilize the human, financial and technical resources required to support a rapid, region-wide transition to digital infrastructure and services, widely recognized as the engine of future employment, economic growth and social and economic development.

In his opening remarks, ITU Secretary-General Dr. Hamadoun Touré said the time has come to turn words into action, and that was the reason behind the summit.

“This can only happen through a renewed commitment to partnership — in particular partnerships between the public and private sectors. It can only happen if policy and regulatory frameworks are conducive to doing business profitably. And it can only happen with the political will on the part of governments to make ICTs a key priority in their development agendas,” Toure said.

Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, Mr. Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid focused his remarks on the increasingly important role of broadband Internet access for the overall economy.

“Broadband is no longer a luxury. It has become the core infrastructure of the modern economy, which is needed to support advanced applications and services for governments, businesses and consumers. If we take the right steps together now, broadband networks will serve as a platform in the coming years for innovation, growth and development across the CIS region,” he said.

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