UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
A watershed African gathering on information and communications took place in Addis Ababa from 3 to 7 April, 1995 to address key issues concerning telematics -- the convergence of computing, telecommunications and broadcast technologies.
The African Regional Symposium on Telematics for Development organized by the ITU, UNESCO, UNECA and IDRC, brought together some 250 government policy makers, post and telecommunications officials, system operators, equipment suppliers, non-governmental organisations, educational institutions, users and donors. Some 50 telematics initiatives currently working in Africa were discussed and demonstrated.
Participants concluded that:
Unless African countries become full actors in the global information revolution, the gap between the haves and have-nots will widen, opening the possibility of increased marginalisation of the continent. This gap will increase the likelihood of cultural, religious and ethnic ghettos leading to regional and inter-regional conflicts.
Telematics offers African scientists and researchers unparalleled participation in the global scientific community through direct access to the Internet, the global network of networks. Developments in the telematics field make it possible for Africans, particularly in rural areas, to have dramatically increased access to communications and information, accelerating and bolstering sustainable development.
Education, health, trade, and commerce as well as regional and international cooperation will be vastly strengthened by an enhanced telematics infrastructure in the region -- with an investment cost less than the price tag of modern jet fighter.
The increased flow of information will increase Africa's participation in the global dialogue on issues such as the environment, human rights, and democratization.
Among other actions, the Symposium recommended that:
A high-level continental lobby for telematics in development be launched to promote the necessary political decisions and to establish clear priorities at national, regional and international levels.
The U.N. agencies and other partners help create an African Continent Telematics Association (ACTA) -- with membership drawn from all stakeholders -- to consolidate telematics initiatives and act as an interface to the global information superhighway.
The ITU and other concerned international agencies assist member states to develop a framework which encourages the development of telematics services by relaxing regulatory requirements, simplifying licensing and reforming tariffs.
Collaboration, and where appropriate co-financing, should be central to international funding efforts. Donor agencies should build telematics components, using local resources, in all projects they support.
Internet access should be made available in all African countries as quickly as possible, with due regard to existing national initiatives, gender issues and the need to overcome linguistic barriers.
To advance this programme, the Symposium recommends that:
The June 1995 Annual OAU Heads of State meeting as well as the G-15 meeting scheduled for November 1995, should put telematics for development and the outcome of this Symposium on their agendas.
Secretaries General of the UN and the OAU convent a meeting of African Heads of State and all concerned international organizations to set the priorities and strategies and to mobilize resources.
From: Ben.Parker@tt.sasa.unep.no (Ben Parker) Date: 29 Apr 95 11:14:06 +0300 Subject: Email on communique Message-Id: [email@example.com[
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