Posted by: APO | 29 October 2007

SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS ‘CONNECT AFRICA’ SUMMIT NARROWING ‘DIGITAL DIVIDE’ BETWEEN RICH, POOR NATIONS CENTRAL TO DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS

29 October 2007

SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS ‘CONNECT AFRICA’ SUMMIT NARROWING ‘DIGITAL DIVIDE’ BETWEEN RICH, POOR NATIONS CENTRAL TO DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS

 
 

 

This is the text of a message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the “Connect Africa” Summit in Kigali, Rwanda (delivered on his behalf today by Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs):

 

It is a great pleasure to send my greetings to this “Connect Africa” Summit.  On behalf of the United Nations family, I express my appreciation to President [Paul] Kagame and the Government of Rwanda for hosting the Summit at this strategic time.

 

I commend Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Communication Union, for his leadership.  Thanks also go to Dr. Craig Barrett of the Intel Corporation and Chairman of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, for mobilizing the private sector, and to the World Bank for its commitment to connecting Africa.

 

This meeting illustrates the power and potential of public-private partnerships.  It joins together the African Union, the African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, African Governments and the private sector to address the barriers to connectivity in the region.

 

The partnership augurs well for the hopes and aspirations of all of the people of Africa for a better future.  The World Summit on the Information Society set a clear course of action for advancing the information society and for achieving the Millennium Development Goals — our common vision to build a better world for all in the twenty-first century.

 

Narrowing the digital divide is part and parcel of our global efforts to achieve development for all.  Information and communication technologies have much to contribute to the fight against poverty, disease, hunger, illiteracy and environmental degradation.

 

They can empower women and poor people in underserved communities.

 

They enable young people everywhere to more effectively act as catalysts for change — locally and globally.

 

And they can accelerate progress towards our development goals by improving the efficiency and accountability of Governments, facilitating the delivery of health services, nurturing and disseminating knowledge and education, and creating business opportunities for entrepreneurs.

 

These benefits must be made available to all segments of society, in urban and rural areas, and in all regions, especially in Africa, the one region not on track to meet the Goals by 2015.  That is why we must redouble our efforts and form a true partnership for development.  The Goals can still be achieved if we all work together — Governments of rich and poor countries alike, civil society, the private sector and the international development community.

 

To help fill the implementation gaps in Africa, I recently convened the Millennium Development Goals Africa Steering Group, bringing together leaders of major multilateral and intergovernmental development organizations.  The Group is focusing on three major challenges: identifying effective mechanisms for implementing commitments in the areas of health, education, agriculture and food security, infrastructure and statistical systems; improving aid predictability and effectiveness; and strengthening our joint efforts at the country level.

 

Information and communication technologies can be key enablers for meeting each of these challenges.  I am encouraged by your determination to act, as evidenced by your engagement in this Summit, with its focus on implementation.

 

Together, let us harness the power of information and communications technologies to advance our shared objective of ending the scourge of poverty once and for all, in Africa and around the world.

 

I wish you every success at this forum, and I look forward to learning about its outcome.


 


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