Tuesday, February 01, 2005
WSIS Africa regional conference opens today
By Angella Nabwowe -HANA, ACCRA-
Ghanaian President John Kufuor is today expected to officially open the Africa Regional World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) preparatory meeting at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC), Ghana.The meeting precedes the second phase of the WSIS to be held in Tunis, Tunisia in November, 2005.
The theme for the three-day conference (February 2-4, 2005) is, “Access: Africa’s key to an inclusive information society.”About 1000 delegates, including the secretary general of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Yoshio Utsumi, Rwanda's president Paul Kagame, the president of the 2nd phase of the WSIS preparatory meetings, Janis Karklins and the prime minister of Tunisia, Mouhamed Ghounnushi are expected to attend.
Parallel workshops feeding into the main conference discussions about policies and regulatory interventions will take place simultaneously at the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence and the British Council offices in Accra.
The conference, which started with a series of pre-conference workshops on January 28, seeks to review progress achieved in implementing the Plan of Action adopted at the first phase of the WSIS in Geneva, Switzerland in December 2003. It will also debate methods of financing information and communication technologies in Africa and various aspects of internet governance.
Delegates are expected to come up with concrete solutions and recommendations aimed at reducing poverty, broadening access to health care, education and to bridge the technology gap between Africa and the developed nations. The key issue here is to understand the powerful potential of ICTs in promoting socio-economic development. A major platform, dubbed the “Information Communication Technology for Development” (ICT4-D) has been put in place to showcase ICTs by representatives of local and international businesses, governments and United Nations agencies.
The media was identified as a key role player early in the WSIS process. Many local and foreign journalists are expected to ensure that the meeting of African ICT experts receives wide coverage.Two innovative news organisations, Simbani Radio News Agency and the Highway Africa News Agency (HANA) are reporting daily on the conference. Simbani produces radio current affairs programmes throughout the day, while HANA is distributing news articles and photographs to online subscribers throughout the continent.
The conference is organised by the Ghana Ministry of Information and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), in partnership with over 50 national and international sponsors.