Monday, December 04, 2006

Opening words and adoption of the agenda

The morning is over (there were very few Latin American countries, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Mexico and later Uruguay) and we are in the lunch recess. The first point of the morning was the election of officers and Mr Jaya Ratman, Deputy Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations and Mr. Amr Al Jowaily, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Egypt in Geneva, have been elected as chairperson and vice-chairperson/rapporteur respectively. The election was followed by words of the Secretary General of UNCTAD, Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, who, after the welcoming words of rigour, made reference to the “increasing empirical evidence of the link between the use of new information and communication technologies, growth and development.” He then referred to two diverging realities, one about the narrowing of the traditional digital divide measured in terms of Internet users, and the other the new broadband divide, which might well be relevant for business due to the need of broadband to engage in content-rich e-commerce transactions. Dr. Panitchpakdi also referred to the importance of ICT in the export sector, especially in the services sector, but all of the top 10 exporters of ICT enabled services are all developed countries, mentioning that soon China and India will make it to the top 10. To further support his claims, the UNCTAD’s Secretary General explained that “a 1% increase in a nation’s ICT index resulted on average in 0.1% increase in per capita GDP in 1996 and a 0.3% increase in 2003,” but it seemed that countries that had already reached certain level of ICT diffusion benefited most from further advancement in new technologies. So, governments can and should establish policies for building up their information societies, but measuring them would allow scrutinizing policies and that was what was needed.
His words were followed by a brief welcoming by a representative of the OECD, who spoke in the place of John Dryden, Deputy Director of STI, and mentioned the need to see whether and how ICT can benefit developing countries. She was followed by the Director of Policy Planning of the Employment Sector of ILO, Mr. Rashid Amjad, who talked about how promoting growht was about creating quality jobs, and that ILO was studying whether ICT translates into that.

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