Business & UN

Investment crucial to building the information society

  • 19 September 2003

Business is calling for more emphasis on competition and investment as preparations for the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) enter their final phase.

Proposed changes to a draft action plan tabled here by business representatives underline their readiness to invest in building the information society provided that governments introduce policies, laws and regulations that favour competition, the creation of new businesses and innovation.

Business is represented at the preparatory meetings for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) by a group of company executives and business organizations headed by the International Chamber of Commerce. The group is called the Coordinating Committee of Business Interlocutors.

Ayesha Hassan, ICC’s representative at the preparatory meeting here, said: “There needs to be a clear commitment by governments to create an environment that is conducive to investment, both foreign direct and domestic. This is lacking in preparatory texts we have seen so far.

“Without the necessary policies, and if the right legal and regulatory frameworks are not in place, there will be limited investment, entrepreneurship will be inhibited and it will become that much harder to build an information society for all,” Ms Hassan warned.

WSIS is taking place in two parts, the first in Geneva in December and the second in Tunis in November next year.

The action plan now being debated is filled with high hopes and specific targets, so that the benefits of information and communications technologies become available to people everywhere.

Business acknowledges that fulfilling those targets would mark a great leap forward for world economic integration. Ms Hassan observed: “you don’t have to be a futurologist to realize that much more besides will be required to make it all happen. These admirable goals must be balanced against realistic measures for achievement and cannot be realized without private sector investment.”

“There will have to be investment on a massive scale. Infrastructures will be needed where none exist today. Primary education will have to reach the most remote and deprived regions. It is worth remembering as we move into WSIS that to use a computer, you first have to know how to read.”