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23 August 2007 – Over 1,000 participants from 66 countries have gathered at the United Nations Centre in Addis Ababa to explore how the latest information and communication technology (ICT) can help countries overcome poverty and advance development.

ICT for Development and Prosperity” is the theme for the three-day World Information Technology Forum which kicked off yesterday in the Ethiopian capital.

The Forum grew out of the 2003 and 2005 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which affirmed the importance of bridging the so-called “digital divide” that separates poor communities from affluent ones through their lack of access to such technology. It seeks to help developing countries in particular to use ICT to achieve the set of agreed global anti-poverty targets known as the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

At the Forum’s opening session, Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), underlined the vital role of the knowledge economy in Africa.

In a message read by Aida Opoku-Mensah, ECA’s Director of ICT, Science and Technology Division, Mr. Janneh stressed that “through globalization new ideas and innovation are spreading faster than ever before and as a result, knowledge-based development is becoming a reality for all countries irrespective of whether they are developed or developing.”

Participants will look at successful and sustainable ICT strategies in developing countries, as well as issues such as human resource development, leapfrogging rural communications and low-cost telecommunication systems and information services for rural communities.

The Forum is organized by the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) in cooperation with the ECA, the Ethiopian Government, the Ethiopian ICT Development Agency (EICTDA) and the Ethiopian IT Professional Association (EITPA).

Also in Addis Ababa, a new publication released today highlights the vital role of a strong media and communication environment to a developed and prosperous Africa.

The publication, “Framework for the Development of a Sustainable and Pluralistic Media,” states that achieving the MDGs requires a free and democratic environment in which the media can play an effective role in promoting sustainable development, fighting corruption and promoting good governance, according to a press release issued by ECA.


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