12 Oct 09 - Consultation on financing ICT for development

Consultation on financing ICT for developmentThe United Nations Group on the Information Society held the first-ever Open Consultations on Meeting the Challenges of Financing ICT for Development. Financing ICT is important in order to bridge the digital divide and for developing countries to connect to the global economy.

An open consultation on the financial mechanisms for meeting the challenges of ICT for development was held in Geneva on 8 and 9 October 2009.

The meeting was opened by the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, Dr. Hamadoun Touré, and the Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Mr. Petko Draganov. During the meeting, speakers from governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector discussed how to finance ICT infrastructure, ICT applications, relevant content, and capacity-building.

Several speakers highlighted the positive developments witnessed in the area of mobile telephony. At the same time, they noted that the divide is widening in the area of broadband connectivity. This represents a significant development challenge, given that applications such as telehealth, distance learning and exports of ICT-enabled services require sufficient bandwidth to be used effectively.

Participants considered which forms of financing were the most appropriate in different situations. With regard to infrastructure investment, private sector financing has become increasingly prominent, sometimes in the form of public-private partnerships. In the case of capacity-building efforts, by contrast, most efforts are financed through public domestic or foreign sources in the form of official development assistance.

UNCTAD plays an active role in the area of ICT for development. For more than a decade, it has supported developing countries by enhancing their access to ICT statistics, informing governments and other stakeholders on relevant ICT trends and developments, reviewing national policies, and building the capabilities of countries and regions to improve their legal and regulatory frameworks. And on 22 October 2009, the next Information Economy Report will be launched.

In its capacity as secretariat to the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development, UNCTAD also assumes a role in the follow-up process to the World Summit on the Information Society. From 9 to 11 November 2009, the Intersessional Panel of the Commission will meet in Geneva, focusing partly on the financing mechanisms for ICT for development. The outcome of the deliberations during the open consultations will be shared with the Commission on Science and Technology for Development and discussed at its intersessional panel meeting.

For more information on UNCTAD´s work in the area of ICT4D, please contact Torbjörn Fredriksson at torbjorn.fredriksson@unctad.org.

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