Voice of business heard at Global Alliance for ICT and Development

  • 11 September 2009

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) play an important role stimulating economic growth and development around the world. As a primary innovator and partner in putting ICTs to work, business is a crucial participant at international meetings and forums on such issues.

ICC permanent representative to the UN in New York, Louise Kantrow, recently joined members of the ICC Commission on E-Business, IT and Telecoms (EBITT) and the ICC Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) initiative to convey global business priorities at the 2009 Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) in Monterrey, Mexico.

GAID was launched by the then United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2006 to bring together governments, business and civil society to promote policy dialogue and forge partnerships for the use of ICT for the achievement of internationally agreed development goals such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – eight quantifiable goals that promote poverty reduction, education, maternal health, and gender equality, and aim to combat child mortality, HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

The theme of this year’s GAID meeting was ‘ICT and Innovation for Education’.

“Establishing an enabling environment is vital for development and education,” said Ms Kantrow. “Business plays a key role attracting investment, promoting innovation and helping to build the infrastructures necessary to improve the access required.”

Talal Abu-Ghazeleh CEO of the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization and former Chair of the ICC EBITT Commission and BASIS presided over the meetings for the first time in his role as GAID Chairman.

In the opening session, Mr Abu-Ghazaleh stressed that the meetings offered an unparalleled opportunity to advance the dialogue and debate on key issues, share experiences on sustainable and lasting change, and further develop existing strengths.

Haiyan Qian, Director of the UN Division for Public Administration and Development Management, provided a briefing on the UN agenda on e-governance and its role in the current economic crisis to support the MDGs.

Annual meetings of the GAID Steering Committee, Strategy Council and Global Forum are designed not only as opportunities for dialogue, but also to help build partnerships for action.

Participating in the Global Forum on ICT and Innovation for Education, ICC EBITT and BASIS members shared business experiences and lessons on the priority themes of the Strategy Council:
financial and economic crisis and poverty eradication; health and education; climate change; and gender.

The Strategy Council held four “solution salons” on these issues, designed to move GAID beyond the traditional panel format to a hands-on, participatory community development and collective action mode.

ICC’s contributions focused on the key elements for a policy, legal and regulatory environment that promotes investment and fosters entrepreneurship in ICTs that in turn help to address these areas.

Many ICC/BASIS member companies have partnership initiatives, programmes or applications and/or services that can contribute towards health and education objectives in the development context.

In the coming year – with a new leadership team, renewed governing and advisory bodies (Steering Committee and Strategy Council) and a widening circle and range of engaged stakeholders – GAID is poised to build on and leverage the networks that have been created, to focus on action and result-oriented policy issues and partnership-building in the ‘ICT for development’ domain.

Special focus will be on the economic crisis, climate change, health and education. The goal is to demonstrate that ICTs can be a strategic enabler for progress toward the MDGs.

The Global Alliance will continue to focus its actions in 2009-2010 on promoting ICT access, connectivity and content to achieve MDGs relating to poverty eradication, the economic crisis, climate change, governance, health and education. On 22 September 2009 GAID will play a key role in organizing technology and innovation roundtables during the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Partnership Forum on Climate Change which will take place at UN Headquarters in New York.