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General News of Friday, 28 January 2005

Source: GNA

Preparatory workshops for WSIS conference begins

Accra, Jan. 28, GNA - A series of workshops preceding the World Summit on Information Society's (WSIS) African Regional Conference scheduled for February 2, began in Accra on Friday to discuss and put together Africa's contribution for a world conference on Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) to be held later this year.

The workshops, which are expected to last for five days, would develop a common position and regional action plan with ideas of representatives from all over the Continent after they have deliberated over issues such as civil society involvement in ICT, Internet in governance, ICT and poverty, media contribution to the development of ICT and financing the information society.

The consensus from the workshops and the conference would ensure Africa's effective participation in the second phase of WSIS conference in Tunisia in November, where representatives of the Continent would seek to build a digital partnership to promote economic growth and human development.

With the theme: "Access: Africa's Key to an Inclusive Information Society", participants believe Africa must by all means make its voice heard at the international level to be part of the development of ICT. Language localisation of software would be discussed.

Already, Africa is lagging in the inroads made so far by the advanced world but most participants to the conference are optimistic that with the right decisions and contributions, the Continent could catch up.

Professor Clement Dzidonu, Senior Research Fellow of the International Institute for Information Technology, told participants of one of the workshops - Internet Governance Workshop - that governance was a very broad area that covered issues such as policy, technology, resources and ruling people.

He said Internet in governance would require that stakeholders identified the actors in the process, the actions to be taken and the objects of those actions.

He said for Africa to make any significant headway in participating in the ICT development it was necessary to overcome its information, technical, financial and institutional barriers.

Mr Kofi Boakye, Programme Officer of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), said the findings of a survey it carried out with 53 per cent correspondents from Asia, 39 per cent from Africa, 3.6 per cent from Europe and 3.6 per cent from the Pacific indicated that the majority of them preferred government involvement in internet development in Africa.

President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Yahaya Jammeh of Gambia would grace the WSIS Conference.

Ghana's President John Agyekum Kufuor and Mr K. Y. Amoako, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission of Africa would address the conference.

The Heads of State are keen to ensure the success of the conference because ICT has been identified as one of the key drivers to turn the Continent's fortunes around and formed part of the target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations. Africa's initiative towards this goal is under the framework of the African Information Society Initiative (AISI).

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