Business & UN

ICC Secretary General in Geneva to accelerate ICT for development initiatives

  • 23 May 2007

The UN Commission for Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) must deepen the involvement of all stakeholders and address the requirements of business to build an information society accessible to all, ICC Secretary General Guy Sebban said in an opening address at the two-day CSTD meeting from 21-22 May.

“It is essential that legal, policy and business approaches are put in place to attract investment, stimulate innovation, boost competition and foster entrepreneurship – the preconditions for investing in these technologies – so the benefits of the information society are made available to more people. Business is a key partner and investor to help deliver these benefits,” Mr Sebban said.

The CSTD assists the UN in assessing the progress in fulfilling commitments made at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis 2005 and Geneva 2003, a series of goals established to create a more inclusive information society.

The meeting coincided with the annual World Information Society Day May 17. The UN set aside this day to call world attention to the urgent need to more fully use information and communications technologies for economic and social development and to promote a people-centred information society for all. The UN placed special accent this year on delivering these benefits to the young, and on helping achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals to reduce poverty.

Kiyo Akasaka, UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, in an essay published to commemorate the day, said “Governments must of course do their part, by supporting fair competition and business innovation through sound regulatory systems.”

On the second day of the CSTD meetings, Mr Sebban co-chaired a CSTD and Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Development event that examined ways to stimulate ICT innovation in developing countries and ICT projects that directly benefit the poor, plus new ways of supplying e-government services.

The interactive discussions included high-level panelists from business, government, academia, civil society and international organizations, including the Chairman of the Board of Orange, Sanjiv Ahuja, the Ministers of Information of several countries, such as Malaysia, Tunisia and Mali, and renowned development expert, Professor C.K. Prahalad.

The United Nation’s Secretary-General, Ban-Ki Moon, delivered a recorded message to the participants by video. “Let us turn the digital divide into digital opportunities,” he said.

In his opening remarks, Mr Sebban stressed that the multistakeholder approach to ICTs and development is fundamental to successfully addressing these issues, not only internationally but also nationally and regionally.

Highlighting the role of business in advancing ICTs as tools for development, Mr Sebban added: “Businesses around the world are innovators, investors, contributors to capacity building through education and skills training, and job creators.”

The Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation of Malyasia, Kong Cho Ha, gave an example of how the government of Malaysia is working in partnership with business to stimulate entrepreneurship at the local level, by putting in place incubators with multinational companies like Microsoft and IBM, which function as centres to nurture company startups.

“ Unless regulatory systems shift to support connectivity in developing countries, I don’t believe you will have a conducive environment for ICT development,” said panelist Juan Rada, Senior Vice President, Public Sector and Education Global Business Unit, Oracle Corporation.