Mbeki commits SA to ICT development

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President Thabo Mbeki has reiterated the government`s commitment to making an information society a reality, and has called for multi-stakeholder control of the Internet.

He was speaking at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis this week, where around 10 000 delegates from around the world convened to discuss issues such as ICT for developing nations.

Mbeki said the fact that this second phase of the WSIS was taking place in Africa underlined the need for everything possible to be done to promote the use of modern ICT to "help extricate the poor of Africa and the world from their condition of underdevelopment, marginalisation and social exclusion".

Mbeki said: "We welcome and fully support the agreed position that Internet governance is an essential part of a people-centred, inclusive, development-oriented and non-discriminatory information society. We commit ourselves to the stability and security of the Internet as a global facility and to ensuring the requisite legitimacy of its governance, based on the full participation of all stakeholders.

"One of the fundamental challenges facing all of us is to build multilateral and multi-stakeholder institutions and systems rooted within the United Nations (UN) system to ensure inclusive and equitable access to ICT within the context of an Internet governance system that is legitimate, transparent and accountable," he said.

The president agreed that the World Summit should mandate the secretary-general of the UN to convene the Internet Governance Forum to enable multi-lateral, multi-stakeholder, democratic and transparent dialogue to take place covering all relevant areas.

Collaborative development

Mbeki also stated the government`s position on proprietary and open source software.

"We believe that we should move with the necessary speed to implement the agreement to utilise various technologies and licensing models, including those developed under both proprietary schemes and open source and free modalities to expedite access to ICT and the elimination of the digital divide by fostering collaborative development, inter-operative platforms and free and open source software," he said.

"Our country and continent are determined to do everything possible to achieve their renewal and development, defeating the twin scourges of poverty and underdevelopment. In this regard, we have fully recognised the critical importance of modern ICT as a powerful ally we have to mobilise, as reflected both in our national initiatives and the priority programmes of the New Partnership for Africa`s Development."

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