The Meaning of ICT 4
Aiko Doden, Japan
Presenter, NHK Japan Broadcasting Corp.
WSIS Goodwill Ambassador of Japan
Around 5 AM in Tokyo, tofu shops open to
cater those who have traditional Japanese breakfast.
“You must be working hard to start the day this early”,
the shop owner said to me one morning as I walked past
his shop. I was not on my way to office. I was on my way
home from office after having worked through the night,
preparing for the panels that I was assigned to moderate
at WSIS Tunis. Working at odd hours seemed to be the
most sensible thing to do. I was often talking with the
hard working ITU team in Geneva, and there was a 7 hours
time difference between Geneva and Tokyo.
I was given the honour of moderating two
panels at WSIS Tunis, the ITU High Level Panel,
“Information Society 2015: Building the way forward”,
and the Japanese government workshop, “Toward the
realization of a ubiquitous network society.” Both were
demanding tasks. There was simply so much to be done
before the Summit in Tunis. Although I was neither an
engineer nor a ICT savvy, in my journalist capacity I
was aware that “ICT” had different connotation to
different people, depending on the conditions that they
lived. To some, ICT innovation was the paramount issue,
while to other, what ICT can deliver to bring about
change in societies mattered. Diverse implication of ICT
was evident even as I worked in the news room. What I
was experiencing everyday was the constant flow of ICT
related news reported globally, from ICT business merger
and acquisition to sophisticated cyber crimes.
The obvious question was: What should
the core issues be at the panel, and how should they be
conveyed ? Although the high-tech aspects of ICT are
often attractive, the organizers and I agreed that it
was vital to stay focused on how best to deliver the
benefit of ICT evolution to all. I kept reminding myself
that the UN General Assembly resolution on WSIS took
note that ICT was an important tool to achieve UN’s
Millennium Development Goals, aiming to alleviate
poverty, improve delivery of education and health care,
make services more accessible and much more. The
resolution also stressed that “the potential of
knowledge and technology to be put at the service of
development of all”. ICT was not to be reserved for the
exclusive use of the privileged few, but was to be put
to use by all.
To deliver such message, panelists from
different sectors were contacted to participate in the
panel, thereby making it a multi-stakeholder panel.
Panelists from the private sectors were expected to
speak about the technology innovation as well as the
enabling environment of policies and strategies.
Participants from governments were to comment on the
national strategies in advancing ICT. International
organizations discussed how best to foster international
cooperation especially in addressing the digital divide
that existed in developing countries. Civil societies
contended that there is the need to identify the
community needs, and then deploy technologies in a
sustainable way. WSIS was a multi-stakeholder initiative
and I was seeing the very spirit reflected in the panels
that I was moderating.
It was especially meaningful for me to
have taken part in the WSIS as Japanese government
goodwill ambassador, but also as a journalist for
Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK. Needless to say,
broadcasting constitutes a vital form of ICT. NHK as
broadcaster, has fulfilled a unique role over the past
80 years since its foundation, in bridging the digital
divide nation wide. Television and radio broadcasts have
come to reach virtually all regions in Japan. NHK’s
educational television programmes contributed to
elevating the level of education, when Japan was
recovering from devastation after the WW2.
Regionally in Asia, NHK has been playing
a significant role in bridging the divide in the
developing countries by providing technical training to
engineers and organizing news reporting courses for
journalists. The recent example will be the early
warning training course designed for broadcasters from
the tsunami and earth quake prone countries in Asia.
Broadcasting may not be a solution to problems in
itself, but it certainly plays a role in bringing about
change in the life of people.
WSIS is a multi-stakeholder initiative.
Not only at the summit meetings themselves were each
stakeholder expected to play a role, but also the steps
to achieve the 2015 connectivity goals commands on each
and every one of the stakeholders to play a role. In
that sense, I believe that we are being tested on the
Gone are the days when I had to work
until dawn everyday, until the time when tofu shops
started their day. The WSIS is over but the
multi-stakeholder initiative does not end. I now know
that there are governments, international organizations,
private sectors and civil societies working to reach
that 2015 connectivity goals. Broadcasters also have the
mission to bridge the digital divide. Journalists need
to report on the progress in the global effort to bridge
that divide. The Summit is over, but the endeavour has
yet to come to an end.