Formed in June, GAID is charged with harnessing the potential of the information revolution to advance development and promote the achievement of world anti-poverty goals by using information and communication technologies (ICTs) as tools for economic growth and social development.
In his introductory remarks, Mr Annan stressed the importance of translating the vision of a truly global information society into reality. He identified four priority areas for GAID: health, education, poverty reduction through enterprise creation, and citizen participation in governance.
“Business has a critical role to play as an innovator and investor in ICTs,” said Mr Sebban. “This forum provides an important opportunity for participants from government, business and non-governmental organizations to pool their experience and expertise to make ICTs work as tools for development.”
Under the leadership of Mr Barrett, who serves as Chairman of GAID, the steering committee will set quantifiable goals and monitor their progress to ensure tangible results. Mr Sebban said ICC has supported this approach from the beginning.
Speaking with media, Mr Barrett said the challenge extends beyond simply providing developing countries with affordable hardware. It also includes building the infrastructure to connect to the Internet as well as teaching people to use the tools once they get them.
Mr Barrett added that initial aims include using high-speed Internet connections to link isolated communities with a focus on least developed countries, which are characterized by few Internet users, low connectivity and a lack of hardware and software. Latin America, much of the Asian and African continents, Eastern Europe and the Middle East were all possible targets, he said.