Friday, November 22, 2013

ICTs Will Accelerate Inequalities unless Concerted Action is Taken”, says CTO’s Secretary-General Professor Tim Unwin

ICTs Will Accelerate Inequalities unless Concerted Action is Taken”, says CTO’s Secretary-General Professor Tim Unwin

LONDON, 19 NOVEMBER 2013 – Professor Tim Unwin, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) spoke at a luncheon hosted by Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs Professor G. L. Peiris for Commonwealth foreign ministers last week in Colombo, at which he called for more concerted action in the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to reduce socio-economic inequalities.

Organised during this year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and attended by over 30 Commonwealth foreign ministers, the luncheon was an opportunity for Professor Unwin to explain the CTO’s role and support for national ICT4D initiatives. Also present at the meeting were other leading figures, including Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma.

Speaking about the ongoing collaborative efforts by the CTO, the International Telecommunication Union and the Commonwealth Secretariat to promote broadband access in the Commonwealth, Professor Unwin said:

ICTs not only play a central part in shaping our societies today, but they also lie at the heart of efforts to deliver many development agendas".

However, unless we take concerted action, ICTs as accelerators will vastly increase inequalities between our countries, and indeed within them. Many Commonwealth countries have less than 5% Internet penetration.  Quite simply, we must ensure access for all” Professor Unwin concluded.

In most member countries, the CTO’s work is undertaken in collaboration with ICT ministries and regulatory agencies. However, foreign and Commonwealth affairs ministers are important stakeholders for the CTO not only in respect of its ongoing efforts to mainstream ICTs in national social and economic development initiatives, but also with respect to ever-rising cross-border and borderless issues such as cybersecurity. They are also essential for ensuring a joined-up approach across governments in implementing ICT initiatives.

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