development of the information society, particularly in the so-called
'developing countries'. Discussions focused on a Digital Solidarity
Fund, based on the Senegalese proposal that consumers in North
America and Europe be asked to voluntarily donate a small financial
contribution to a designated fund.
But major donor countries
-- the US, Japan and Western Europe -- resisted the idea of such a
fund. They argued that existing financing mechanisms could be better
Lack of time or will?
speaks louder than words," said Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF)
president Guy-Olivier Segond, who recently provided PrepCom-3
participants with an overview of the origins and purpose of the
Digital Solidarity Fund.
The fund seeks to fight poverty
through an innovative approach to financing development, targeting
principally smaller community-based projects that respect cultural
diversity and local content, and help create new activities, new
jobs, and new markets.
At the Tunis Summit, the DSF showcased
some 111 projects from the African, Asian and Caribbean region. These
projects seek to demonstrate how money generated by the fund is
helping extend the benefits of ICTs through applications like
tele-education and tele-health.
But, the problem of effective
financial strategies to promote the development of ICTs in the
world's underserved regions like Africa was raised during the WSIS
Geneva Phase. Without consensus on the best way to address the issue,
the first phase of the WSIS requested UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
to establish a Task
Force on Financing Mechanisms.
II's final report served as a basis for the discussions, as it had
largely agreed on the text except for a few paragraphs forwarded for
approval by PrepCom III.
PrepCom III also stressed the
importance of the multi-stakeholder approach and coordination between
government and business. While there was no major impediments to
consensus, due to a lack of time, PrepCom III did not finalise.
Virtual forum for 'virtual' resources
There is a strong need to promote
an environment conducive to transfer of technology for mutual
advantage, on mutually-agreed terms, and allow non-discriminatory
access to appropriate required technology.
It has been
recognised that there are a number of areas in need of greater
financial resources and where current approaches to ICT for
development financing have devoted insufficient attention to date.
Prior to the WSIS, its proposed text indicate that it is
important for the WSIS to improving the ability to access existing
financing facilities for ICT infrastructure and services and promote
North-South flows and South-South cooperation.
multilateral, regional and bilateral development organisations should
consider the utility of creating a virtual forum for the sharing of
information by all stakeholders on potential projects, on sources of
financing and on institutional financial mechanisms.
forum could leverage multiple sources for programs supporting digital
inclusion and strategic investment objectives including, inter alia,
broadband, rural and regional projects, development of local language
and cultural content, capacity building and creative industries.
functional models to
third world countries' economies
Also, what could help is the
establishment of a 'virtual' financing facility to leverage multiple
sources in support of programmes oriented to digital inclusion and
identified investment objectives in key areas notably broadband,
rural and regional projects, and development of local language
content, capacity building, and creative industries; entertainment
enterprises, training software, regional web portals, media
broadcasts based in local communities and motion picture DVDs.
world countries need enabling mechanisms to generate funds and new
financial instruments, including trust funds and seed capital adapted
to their economies.
Multilateral, regional and bilateral
development organizations need consider cooperating to enhance their
capacity to provide rapid support to developing countries that
request assistance with respect to ICT policies.
the key role played by the private sector, the pre-WSIS text agreed
on by PrepCom II endorsed the focusing of financial resources in
- ICT capacity building programmes, regional
backbone infrastructure and internet exchange points, assistance for
least developed countries and small islands developing states to
lower transactions costs related to the international donor
- Integration of ICTs into the implementation of
poverty eradication strategies particularly in the health, education,
agriculture and the environment. Funding of small, medium and micro
enterprises, fostering of local ICT manufacturing for developing
countries, ICT regulatory reform and local government and community
owned initiatives that deliver ICT services to
The appeal for an E-quality
fund was made by Unifem Director Noeleen Heyzer during the WSIS
Gender Caucus high level panel. Through its digital diaspora
initiative, Unifem is setting up the E-quality Fund for African Women
and Innovation. There have been efforts to foster the fund. Unifem
supported the E-discussion group of the WSIS gender caucus to enhance
women's networking around the WSIS process right from Bamako to the
Digital Solidarity Agenda
Solidarity Agenda aims at putting in place the conditions for
mobilizing human, financial and technological resources for inclusion
of all men and women in the emerging information society.
national, regional and international cooperation among all
stakeholders in the implementing of this Agenda is vital. To overcome
the digital divide, we need to use more efficiently existing
approaches and mechanisms and fully explore new ones, in order to
provide financing for the development of infrastructure, equipment,
capacity building and content which are essential for participation
in the information society.
and strategies: National e-strategies should be made an
integral part of national development plans, including poverty
reduction strategies. ICTs should be fully mainstreamed into
strategies for official development assistance (ODA) through more
effective donor information-sharing and co-ordination, and through
analysis of best practices and lessons learned from experiences with
ICT for development programmes.
resources: All countries and international organisations
should act to create conditions conducive to increasing the
availability and effective mobilisation of resources for financing
development as elaborated in href="http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/Monterrey-Consensus-excepts-aconf198_11.pdf">the
countries should make concrete efforts to fulfil their international
commitments to financing development including the Monterrey
Consensus, in which 'developed' countries that have not done so are
urged to make concrete efforts towards the target of 0.7 per cent of
gross national product as ODA to 'developing' countries and 0.15 to
0.20 per cent of GNP of developed countries.