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21.02.2005 General News

Communications Minister briefs PrepCom

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Accra, Feb. 21, GNA - Mr. Albert Kan Dapaah, Minister of Communications, attending the second Preparatory Meeting (PrepCom) of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva, Switzerland, has presented Africa's decisions arrived at during the just ended regional conference in Accra, which seeks among other things to build international cooperation among stakeholders to bridge the digital divide.

Ghana by virtue of its position as a member of the governing Council of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) presented the decisions expected to form part of contributions of various countries and regions to the world community preparing for the second phase of the WSIS conference scheduled for November this year in Tunisia.

The decisions were arrived at during the Africa regional conference hosted by Ghana from February 2-4 at which representatives from 53 African countries pledged to forge a common front to build an information society, which is inclusive of all stakeholders including governments, private sector, civil society as well as international organizations.

At the on-going meeting in Geneva, Mr Kan Dapaah said he presented the decisions on the basis of the outcomes, and taking into account the Declaration of principles and the Plan of Action adopted by the first phase of the Summit in Geneva.

The Accra Conference therefore, adopted the principles that building the information and shared knowledge society would contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals to improve quality of life and eradicate poverty by creating opportunities to access, utilise and share information.

Another principle was that building the information society required the construction and maintenance of adequate ICT infrastructure.

Africa noted in this principle that funding for the construction would necessarily differ and financing mechanism for developed countries could not be the same as for developing countries.

On International Cooperation, the Minister said Africa considered that it was critical to become active players in the Information Society right from the start.

"In the past, countries that had been left out in similar economic revolutions have not been able to catch up," he said, adding, "We, therefore, call upon international and regional organisations to assist African countries in the implementation of the WSIS decision, including the urgent development and implementation of broadband ICT infrastructure as anticipated by the NEPAD."

Mr Kan Dapaah also said the Accra meeting considered some urgent operational aspects of the WSIS for which participants agreed on short, medium and long-term plans required to implement the general objectives of the Geneva Action Plan.

On this aspect, the Minister said member states agreed that in order to access the implementation of the Information Society, a specific set of basic indicators should be established and used to evaluate progress in the process.

The Minister's presentation also contained a call on the continent's leaders to pay attention to human resource training and education for the information society with emphasis on the youth and women to increase the contribution to the global knowledge economy. He said participants reinforced their belief in the Digital Solidarity Fund and other existing mechanisms, saying these should be explored to face financing challenges of implementing the action plan. He informed the PrepCom meeting that Africa agreed on Internet Governance and called for the establishment of appropriate regulatory frameworks to deal with issues relating to SPAM, cyber-criminality and privacy among other things.

Mr Kan Dapaah called for the support of the global community, saying: "As we prepare to move to Tunis in November 2005, our collective aspiration is to create access to telecommunication facilities to enable us achieve the goals of the Millennium Declaration through effective implementation of the action plan we have set for our selves and we call for the support of the global community."

The Accra meeting was mandated by the Africa Union and was coordinated by the Economic Commission of Africa. 21 Feb. 05