Mr. Mongi Hamdi of UNCTAD introduced the UN Secretary-General’s report on Progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society at the regional and international levels (document A/67/66-E/2012/49 (and Addendum 1)). That two-phase Summit was held in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005.
The report was prepared by UNCTAD in collaboration with other entities, particularly the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
There had been a tremendous growth in information and communications technology, Mr. Hamdi said. The number of mobile subscriptions worldwide was now nearly 6 billion, with Africa now the fastest-growing cellular phone market. The number of Internet users had more than doubled to 2.5 billion since 2005. There were more than 1.7 billion broadband subscriptions worldwide. European Union led the world in broadband connectivity. In Africa, broadband connectivity was less than 4 per cent, compared with more than 90 per cent in the Republic of Korea.
With those disparities in mind, he stressed the urgent need to address the digital divide. Society and citizens were increasingly becoming dependent on information and communications technology, such as cloud computing, smart phones, social networks, and “micro blogging” to pay their bills or to express themselves. But there were challenges, such as crimes and security issues in cyberspace. “We need to create an information society for all,” with universal assess to information and communications technology, he said.
The Economic and Social Council then turned its attention to draft resolutions contained in a report on the Commission on Science and Technology for Development’s fifteenth session which was held in Geneva 21 - 25 May 2012.
The Council adopted without a vote draft resolution I on Assessment of the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society, by which the body highlighted the urgent need for the incorporation of the recommendations of the outcome documents of the 2003 World Summit in the revised guidelines for United Nations country teams on preparing the common country assessments and United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks, including the addition of an information and communications technology for development component.
Next, the Council adopted without a vote draft resolution II on Science and Technology for Development, by which the body decided to make recommendations for consideration by national Governments.
Governments, individually and collectively, were encouraged to take into account the findings of the Commission and consider taking such actions as promoting the development of information and communications technology platforms, involving national research institutes and universities, with a view to participating in international research networks and benefiting from opportunities for collaborative learning.