Monday, December 13, 2004

ICTs in Africa: EU and African Union Summit

The Third Meeting of Ministers from the African Union and the EU met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 4 December 2004.

Among the topics discussed were the role of ICTs in African development. At the end of the meeting a joint communiqué was issued which highlighted some of the most pressing issues in this area. According to the communiqué:

"Ministers recognised the widening digital gap between Africa and the rest of the world as a serious setback in the efforts to bring about sustainable development, poverty eradication and integration of the continent in the global information society. They acknowledged that strong ICT infrastructure and services are necessary for accelerating the continental economic integration process, territorial cohesion for peace and security, socio-economic development and regional and international cooperation. In this regard, they expressed their commitment to the Declaration of Principles and the Plan of Action adopted at the first World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva and to support the process and outcome of the second phase of the WSIS scheduled to take place on 16-18 November 2005 in Tunis.

They also welcomed the framework put in place by the AU through its New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) in the area of ICT which seeks to strengthen the policy and regulatory environment, enhance broadband connectivity, unify the continental telecommunications numbering space and expand the use of ICT in the delivery of socio-economic services including public administration (e-government), education (e-schools), health (tele-medicine), business (e-commerce) and others. They pledged to support African endeavours in this regard. Furthermore, the EU took note of the request of the African side to provide support to the Digital Solidarity Fund.”

The role of NGOs was also encouraged in this field.

The full statement is available from African Union News.