Michael Gurstein on Thu, 26 Jul 2001 19:21:48 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Fw: [GKD] G8 plan to bridge digital divide with poor

While much of the world and virtually all of the Net was focussing on the
drama in the streets in Genoa an interesting by-play was taking place
inside "the Castle"

Since the Okinawa G8 summit a Digital Opportunities Task Force (DotForce)
http://www.dotforce.org appointed by the G8 Governments and including
representation from the G8 Governments, and an appointed corporate sector
and Civil Society (CSO) sector "Representative" from each country; has
been meeting to discuss strategies for responding to the global "Digital
Divide". Others involved in the discussions with observer status included
other NGO's and Developing Countries representatives.  Their report was
presented in Genoa and the recommendations approved, committing the G8
Governments to taking considerable steps towards responding to what they
are perceiving as an increasing and increasingly debilitating global
digital gap between the developed and the Less Developed countries.

The work of the Task Force has been criticized for not including the
voices of grassroots ICT users in developing countries and for the most
peculiar manner in which the "Civil Society" representation was
identified.  The 8 representatives included one that was largely funded by
Microsoft (Russia), one that is an arms length agency of a second
government (Canada), a well-known Foundation (the USA), and others which
were appointed by their national governments with no requirement that
there be any communication or accountability back to civil society within
the individual countries--however, at least two of the CSO reps (the IDRC
in Canada http://www.idrc.ca and the Markle Foundation
http://www.markle.org in the US had e-lists allowing for broader CSO

An e-list was established growing out of the Global Community Networking
Congress in Barcelona which discussed the Civil Society aspects of the
intiative and provides, I believe, an interesting window on the very
thorny questions which are raised (and will evidently be increasingly
prominent) as national governments look to formally engage CSOs in global
dialogues and negotiations. The archive is at

Mike Gurstein

Michael Gurstein, Ph.D.

Michael Gurstein & Associates
Vancouver BC CANADA

(Visiting) Professor of Management
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Newark NJ USA

----- Original Message -----
From: "Zubair Faisal Abbasi" <zfa@comsats.net.pk>
To: <gkd@phoenix.edc.org>
Sent: Sunday, July 22, 2001 10:41 PM
Subject: [GKD] G8 plan to bridge digital divide with poor

> http://www.dawn.com/2001/07/22/ebr13.htm
> G8 plan to bridge digital divide with poor
> GENOA, July 21: The world's big eight powers endorsed an action plan on
> Saturday to bridge the "digital divide" with the poorest countries.
> Host nation Italy said leaders at a Group of Eight summit backed a task
> force report on how to harness technology in the cause of development.
> The Digital Opportunity Task Force was set up at last year's G8 summit in
> Okinawa, Japan. "Even a year ago, demonstrators were burning computers on
> the streets of Okinawa saying that poor people need water and you can't
> drink a computer," Vernon Ellis, a business executive who served on the
> task force, told a news conference.
> "In fact...there isn't a trade-off between information and communication
> technologies and other development needs. These technologies can make a
> real difference to health, to education, to empowerment and to
> enterprise."
> Ellis is international chairman of the consulting firm Accenture and was
> one of 43 members on the task force.
> The cover of the action plan document shows a photograph of two black
> children, their bodies covered with ceremonial paint, squatting next to a
> laptop computer on a dusty plain.
> The idea is to help those in poor countries gain better access to
> information and communications technology, if not on the desert floor then
> perhaps at communal sites in villages, and to promote the use of these
> technologies in reducing poverty.
> The World Bank's director of investment in digital technology in poor
> countries, Mohsen Khalil, said the Bank invests about $1.5 billion
> annually in information infrastructure and in projects using such
> technology, and the new action plan could leverage more funding.
> Zoe Baird, president of the New York-based advocacy group Markle
> Foundation and another task force member, said the U.S. government had
> pledged $100 million to help implement the report. But participants said
> that while money was important, the key to the report was setting up a
> strategy to start bridging the North-South divide.
> Canada, next year's G8 chair, will work with Italy for the rest of this
> year and next on implementing the report, seeking private-sector
> volunteers to take the lead on each of nine action points.
> Among these are improving connectivity and lowering costs, helping
> establish national Internet strategies, and deploying information
> technology in health care, development aid and fostering
> entrepreneurship.-Reuters
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