Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

World Telecommunication Development Conference 2014


Statement by Mr Leon Strous, President, International Federation for Information Processing

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

As President of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), it is my honour and pleasure to address you at this event, an event with an agenda that is also close to the heart of IFIP.

I want to encourage you to read more about IFIP and our goals and activities in the full written statement and limit the speaking time to present some specific statements for your consideration.

  • IFIP acknowledges that broadband is an important technology for sustainable development, and we find clear evidence of the positive impact it is having in the developing world in various surveys and example stories.
  • IFIP is committed to contribute to a clear agenda for sustainable development, as for instance the one highlighted in the "Transformative Solutions for 2015 and Beyond" report of the Broadband Commission Task Force on Sustainable Development. Education / training / increasing awareness are key elements in this respect.
  • IFIP proposes that policy makers prioritise the development and access to broadband. IFIP can work closely together with policy makers to identify more specific (at a regional level) socio-technological mechanisms for such adoption.
  • IFIP realizes that cost is a difficult topic but wants to point out that the cost of broadband in developing countries is still much higher that it should be - this has been a complaint for a long while, but does not seem to resolve itself properly.
  • IFIP encourages governments to work together with the other stakeholders to work faster on legal frameworks and governance of cyberspace. We concur with the statement of dr Hamadoun Toure on 17 March 2014 on Internet governance and are committed to contribute to the transition to a multi stakeholder model for this governance.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for your attention and I look forward to discussing these issues further with you in the next few days.

Additional background and positions

The International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) is a global federation of scientific / technical / professional ICT societies. IFIP's origin and still very strong basis is in academia and research. Established in 1960, during many years of our work we have experienced that the exchange of information and discussions on developments not only in technical areas but also in policy and managerial issues, has been extremely helpful in the advancement of ICT as a tool to achieve welfare and progress. Having these discussions with colleagues in the context of scientific / technical / professional ICT societies facilitates overcoming boundaries and obstacles that are sometimes present in formal settings such as government fora or industry meetings. Making use of the large number of volunteers that are active in IFIP's Technical Committees and Working Groups, IFIP expanded its activities from purely scientific research to include more practical applications. In addition, in the last almost fifteen years we have strongly increased our activities in the area of development and the digital divide.

Scientific / technical / professional ICT societies can play a very important role in capacity building and strengthening research capabilities in a country. Nowadays this could even be more the case in emerging and developing countries. Unfortunately it is very difficult to establish such societies and to get them active in those countries. If societies are established, it is often very difficult to join their regional international colleagues to share information about developments and also discuss the difficulties they have to overcome. IFIP would like to make a strong appeal to governments and industry in emerging and developing countries to encourage and stimulate the establishment of computer societies in those countries where no such society exists and to support and strengthen the societies where they do exist but where they lack the means to be as effective as they could be. Make use of these mechanisms to share information and use the resources of volunteers. And facilitate participation in international activities. It goes without saying that IFIP is more than willing to cooperate in these efforts.

A specific activity I would like to bring to your attention is the World IT Forum (WITFOR) that has been organized five times so far since 2003. This event is organized by IFIP in cooperation with the government of the host country. The overall goal of WITFOR is to assist developing countries in developing and implementing sustainable strategies for the application of ICT and to share experiences that will help to bridge the digital divide and improve the quality of life. The specific goals are:

. To share and discuss experiences in drafting and implementing ICT policies;

. To share and discuss experiences in initiating and implementing ICT projects;

. To present and discuss research concerning the overall goal.

I realize that there are many conferences and events that address the same issues and try to achieve the same. Fortunately I would say because a lot of those are needed. I will not claim that WITFOR is unique but I do claim that WITFOR has a successful concept by bringing together high level politicians on ministerial level, policymakers, researchers and practitioners from developed, emerging and developing countries together in one event with the aim of discussing together ICT policies and practical experiences. We have succeeded in this in the past five editions in Europe, Africa and Asia, growing from 700 to 1500 participants from around 70 countries and with the intended mixture as mentioned. Numbers are not a measure of success in itself, the reactions of the participants and the level of interaction are more important. IFIP seeks more cooperation with other events and organizations in order to make an effective and efficient use of the scarce resources in the form of our many volunteers that are willing to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Finally I want to mention that IFIP is working hard to increase and promote the professionalism of ICT professionals, something definitely linked to capacity building. But also helping in other WSIS action lines such as security. With this line of activities we have and will continue to contribute to WSIS events and for us cooperation with different stakeholders is key to success.