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ITU Strategy and Policy Unit News Update 
Monthly Flash - August 2003

Issue 2 August 2003   

Previous editions

In this edition
ICT Success Stories
ITU Preparatory Activity for WSIS
Related Links

1. ICT Success Stories

In preparation for the 2003 World Summit on the Information Society, the ITU is highlighting some of the ongoing and successful ICT development projects taking place around the world. Listed below are links to specific overviews about how ICTs, and the Internet in particular, are being used to help bridge the global digital divide:

  • Digital Education  
    Insights: Each of the highlighted initiatives provides a glimpse into the creative ways that ICTs are being deployed and used in educational contexts.  While simply providing a snapshot of how ICTs are helping developing countries create new generations of indigenous knowledge producers and consumers, these cases offer a framework for using ICTs for social and cultural advancement for other marginalized communities throughout the world.  

  • E-Commerce 
    From shawls in India to goats in Ethiopia and e-shopping malls in Bolivia, the deployment and diffusion of ICTs throughout the developing world has opened up many new economic development opportunities for historically marginalized groups.  As these cases clearly demonstrate, access to ICTs and the global electronic marketplace not only offers social and economic development opportunities to citizens in the developing world, but such access also helps to cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit of disadvantaged peoples the world over.  

  • Public Access Points
    Insights: Although they can take many forms, public access points (e.g. telecottages and multipurpose community telecenters) have proven to be a crucial ingredient in helping the "have nots" overcome poverty, illiteracy, inequality, and perhaps most importantly isolation.  As many communication development theorists and practitioners have pointed out, ICT-based development initiatives must be based on a participatory model to be effective and sustainable. 

  • E-Health
    Similar to the education sector, the lack of access to basic healthcare continues to stifle social and economic advancement in many parts of the world, specifically in Africa and East Asia.  The fact that much of the working population in many developing countries is negatively impacted by AIDS, malaria and a variety of other deadly diseases makes it extremely difficult for underdeveloped societies to actively participate and contribute to the global economy. 

  • E-Government
    From Brazil to Singapore, governments around the world have embraced ICTs as a means of making their operations more efficient and transparent.  Moreover, the digitization of public service information has also made government agencies and officials more accountable.  While many governments in the developing world have only just begun to modernize dated institutional structures, successful implementation of ICTs have proved to be an effective instrument for connecting disparate government communication networks at every level. 

  • Innovative ICT Implementations
    Insights: Since the late 1990s, the micro-loan provided by Grameen Bank to a woman in Bangladesh who used it to purchase a cell phone has been touted as the universal example of how new technologies can be used to facilitate rural socio-economic development.  However, other examples illustrate that there are a wide array of unique and creative ways that ICTs are being deployed in rural contexts.  Although there are a multitude of variables that determine the success of ICT deployments in underprivileged societies, some important lessons can be gleaned from the above examples: ICTs must be tailored to cultural and social contexts (e.g. radios in Mozambique); modernizing initiatives must be participatory; ICT-based development programmes must begin at the grassroots level; and localized content is essential for successful deployment and diffusion of ICTs. 

  • E-Environment
    Insights:ICTs are playing an increasingly important role in helping societies the world over learn how to protect the earth's fragile environment.  From protecting against desertification to providing farmers in rural Africa with the day's crop prices and ensuring the preservation of biodiversity, ICTs (specifically the Internet) have become a crucial resource for information sharing among scientists and concerned citizens alike. 

  • ICTs and Gender
    Insights: ICTs have proven to be an effective tool for empowering marginalized societies the world over, and for women ICTs have become an increasingly important means of ending oppression and exclusion. Not only does access to modern technologies, specifically the global information network, help level the playing field between the genders, but such access also significantly enhances their freedoms.

  • ICT Success Factor Case Studies 
    Selected case studies that highlight some of the innovative ways that ICTs are being used to address a variety of development issues

  • Useful ICT Links

 2. ITU Preparatory Activity for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)

ITU  Council Res. 1207, instructs the Secretary General and the Directors of the Bureaux to perform a "stock-taking exercise" and prepare an analysis paper, to show how ITU's current work programme contributes to the fulfillment of the objectives outlined in the WSIS draft action plan. 

ITU has prepared a table structure based on the WSIS draft Action Plan (5 June 2003, refined version) detailing the activities/plans/initiatives being undertaken by the different sectors and offices of the Union for each item on the Action Plan and the corresponding website addresses. 

In order to review the results of the recent WSIS inter-sessional meeting (Paris, 15-18 July 2003), and to prepare for the forthcoming WSIS PrepCom-3, a fourth meeting of the ITU Council Working Group on WSIS (WG-WSIS) will be held in Madeira, Portugal, on 10 and 11 September 2003.

 3. Related Links 

For further information on Policy and Strategy Trends, please contact: ITU Strategy and Policy Unit, International Telecommunication Union, Place des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 20 (Switzerland). Fax: +41 22 730 6453. E-mail: . Website:



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