17 May 2004
Global Support for Information Society Targets in ITU Survey
Cyberspace Seen as Shared Resource for Global Public Good;
Results Released on World Telecommunication Day
(Reissued as received.)
GENEVA, 17 May (ITU) -- Targets set for improving access and connectivity to information and communication technologies (ICTs) by 2015 at the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) have received strong support in a global International Telecommunication Union (ITU) survey.
The Summit approved a Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action that set forth a road map to bring the benefits of ICTs to underdeveloped economies. The Summit was organized by the ITU under the patronage of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to ensure that social and economic development, which is increasingly driven by ICTs, will result in a more just, prosperous and equitable world.
The survey shows overwhelming support for the belief that if the information society is to be one in which all citizens throughout the world can equally access and use information resources for sustainable economic and social development, cyberspace should be declared a resource to be shared by all for the global public good.
This opinion was held by more than 94 per cent of survey respondents and was consistent across all the regions surveyed.
The survey was released on World Telecommunication Day, which commemorates the founding of the International Telecommunication Union in 1865. The ITU, the oldest multilateral organization in the world, chose to celebrate its 139th anniversary with the theme ICTs: Leading the way to sustainable development.
Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of ITU, notes that ICTs alone may not feed the hungry, eradicate poverty or reduce child mortality, but they are an increasingly important catalyst that spurs economic growth and social equity. ICTs allow for more efficient agricultural production, diversity and distribution. They offer the possibility of delivering basic health services to those in dire need living in areas with little or no access to health-care facilities. They can extend the reach of educators allowing them to bring knowledge to the most remote corners of our planet.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan adds, On World Telecommunication Day, let us resolve to do all we can to lead the way to a truly open, inclusive and prosperous telecommunications age. The entire text of Mr. Annans and Mr. Utsumis messages can be found at: http://www.itu.int/newsroom/wtd/2004/
The 10 targets in the WSIS Plan of Action for improving access and connectivity to ICTs by 2015, which were endorsed by 175 Member States, were all rated as very important to achieving an information society that would benefit all of humanity. Again, these results were consistent regardless of region, gender, age or profession of those who responded to the survey.
The targets for 2015, as accepted in the WSIS Plan of Action, and their rankings, are as follows:
1. Connecting universities, colleges, secondary schools and primary schools with ICTs:
-- 85.43 per cent viewed this target as very important.
2. Connecting scientific and research centres with ICTs:
-- 84.76 per cent viewed this target as very important.
3. Ensuring that more than half the worlds inhabitants have access to ICTs within their reach:
-- 69.2 per cent viewed this target as very important. It was rated higher in Africa and the Arab States (83 per cent and 82 per cent), and less so in Europe and Australasia (64 per cent and 55 per cent).
4. Connecting villages with ICTs and establishing community access points:
-- 65.75 per cent viewed this target as very important. This target was rated even higher in Africa and Asia (79.44 per cent and 72.73 per cent).
5. Connecting all local and central government departments and establishing websites and e-mail addresses:
-- 65.53 per cent ranked this as very important, with higher ratings in Africa (80.56 per cent) and Asia (71.90 per cent).
6. Connecting health centres and hospitals with ICTs:
-- 64.89 per cent of respondents view this as a very important goal. However, it was considered less so in Europe (57 per cent), while in Africa and the Arab States it was significantly higher (74 per cent and 78 per cent). This may reflect a greater belief in those regions of the potential that ICTs hold for extending health services to people in remote or less developed areas.
7. Connecting public libraries, cultural centres, museums, post offices and archives with ICTs:
-- 64.87 per cent ranked this as very important. This target was rated considerably higher in Africa (76 per cent) and Asia (73 per cent), but less so in Europe (59 per cent) and the Americas (68 per cent). The results may reflect the relative availability of information technologies as a resource in libraries in Europe and the Americas.
8. Adapting all primary and secondary school curricula to meet the challenges of the Information Society, taking into account national circumstances:
-- 62.82 per cent ranked this as very important, with a range of 55 per cent (Europe) to 76 per cent in the Arab States and the Americas.
9. Encouraging the development of content and putting in place technical conditions in order to facilitate the presence and use of all world languages on the Internet:
-- 52.79 per cent viewed this as very important, with a range of 45 per cent in Europe to 70 per cent in the Arab States.
10. Ensuring that all of the world's population has access to television and radio services:
-- 47.80 per cent ranked this as very important. The ranking of very important was significantly lower in Australasia and Europe (30 per cent and 43 per cent), but much higher in Africa (70 per cent). Again, this may reflect the current availability of the technology in these regions.
The survey was conducted online between 10 April and 10 May 2004. The 1,250 respondents were from Africa (8.71 per cent), Asia (9.8 per cent), Australasia (3.02 per cent), the Americas (22.07 per cent), Europe (52.6 per cent) and the Arab States (3.10 per cent). The response rates in these regions reflect the telecommunication access indicators, as determined for WSIS in the World Telecommunication Development Report 2003 and are consistent with the digital divide that separates developed nations from less developed ones.
20.78 per cent of respondents identified themselves as working for government, 8.56 per cent for international organizations, 21.03 per cent as civil society, 35.41 per cent as business and 14.21 per cent as media.
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