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02.02.2005 General News

Let's demystify ICT - Media told

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Accra, Feb. 2, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Wednesday appealed to the Media in Africa to help to educate the people to demystify Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

He said through such education, Africans would be involved in making Africa part of the World Information Society. President Kufuor made the appeal when he delivered the keynote address at the opening session of the three-day Second Africa Regional Preparatory Conference of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Accra.

The theme of the Conference is: "Access - Africa's Key to an Inclusive Information Society", and it is being attended by stakeholders, ranging from government to civil society, private sector, academia, parliamentarians, local authorities, African Regional Institutions, development partners and international organisations. The Conference is to ensure a strategic and inter-dependent digital partnership that would promote growth and human development on the Continent.

It is to prepare Africa for an effective participation in the second phase of the WSIS scheduled for Tunis, Tunisia, in November 2005. The first phase of the WSIS was held in Geneva in December 2003 and it adopted a Declaration of Principles and a Global Plan of Action, setting the stage for international cooperation to close the existing digital divide between developing and developed countries while involving all stakeholders in building an inclusive information society.

President Kufuor expressed optimism that Africa could bridge the digital divide and "that the next few years will see Africa making amazing strides in this sector and leapfrog its development".

He said it was important for African Governments to use the opportunities created through the African Information Society Initiative of the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) to link the implementation of African strategies to the Global Action Plan to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

President Kufuor said a major impediment to the implementation of the vision on ICT was the inadequacy of the telecommunications infrastructure because the widespread promotion of ICT on the Continent was dependent on telecom infrastructure that would provide an affordable gateway to the African developing economies.

"The situation on the Continent, however, does not lend itself to the easy promotion of these initiatives. Regional connectivity is greatly hampered by gaps in cross-border infrastructure. We still appear to be prisoners of our colonial past with each little country clinging to its telecommunications network."

President Kufuor said it was time to resolve to harmonize telecom infrastructure usage under a common regulatory environment in all the Sub-Regional groupings of Africa under the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) arrangements.

He said it was time to come out with an African ICT infrastructure backbone plan that would run across the entire Continent and beyond.

"It is time to work with the rest of the world to ensure that this time round, Africa will not be left behind and that by the 2015 deadline, we will be in the mainstream of the ICT revolution not just in the consumption of the products of ICT but also in providing the wherewithal to produce some of them," he said.

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