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12 June, 2008


A new computer refurbishment centre was opened today in the Ugandan capital Kampala with the support of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

The centre, to be run by Uganda Green Computers Company, aims to supply affordable personal computers to small businesses in Uganda.

“Fostering entrepreneurship is critical to economic growth in Africa. No economy can thrive and be competitive without dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises,” Kandeh K. Yumkella, Director-General of UNIDO, said in a statement. “We are enthused by this project because PC refurbishment centres provide one of the missing links for many micro and informal businesses in the country.”

The centre’s goal is to refurbish 10,000 quality-brand PCs a year and to resell them at a retail price estimated to start at $175, one third of the price of a new business PC.

For its distributor network, the Uganda Green Computers Co. relies on District Business Information Centres, which UNIDO has established throughout the country to support small enterprises.

The new centre will re-use working components, such as memory, resell high-value material, including copper and circuit boards, and locally recycle simple materials such as steel and plastic. The centre will work with regional or global recyclers for the proper disposal of toxic substances such as lead glass.

The initiative is part of a partnership between UNIDO and Microsoft to support opportunities for small businesses in Uganda. The partners, working with governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), aim to reach one billion people who don’t have access to computers, by 2015.

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8 October, 2007


Experts at a United Nations-backed conference have agreed to jointly take action to combat the constantly evolving and increasingly sophisticated challenges posed by cybercrime.

“The legal, technical and institutional challenges posed by cyber-threats and cybercrime are global and far-reaching, and can only be addressed through a coherent strategy taking into account the role of different stakeholders and existing initiatives, within a framework of international cooperation,” Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU), said at the meeting on 5 October in Geneva.

This was the first-ever gathering of the High-Level Experts Group for the ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Agenda, and it drew 60 experts from governments, the private sector, academia, research institutions and regional and international organizations.

“New and emerging threats to cybersecurity cannot be solved by any one nation alone,” President of Costa Rica and Nobel peace prize laureate Óscar Arias Sánchez said in a special address.

“There is an urgent need for an international framework, giving us international principles and allowing rapid coordination between countries at the regional and global levels,” added Mr. Arias, who also serves as the Patron of the Global Cybersecurity Agenda.

Participants at the one-day meeting decided that the next steps to be taken to lay the foundation for the anti-cybercrime agenda are to study five key areas – legal measures, technical and procedural measures, organizational structures, capacity building and international cooperation – in depth to create a global roadmap to bolster cybersecurity.

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24 September, 2007


Stressing the growing role of information and communication technology (ICT) in the quest for development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on youth attending a United Nations-backed summit to harness the power of the digital revolution to tackle global challenges.

“The digital revolution has increased young people’s capacity to bring about positive social change,” Mr. Ban said in a message to the Global Forum on Youth and ICT for Development, which began in Geneva today.

The three-day gathering, co-hosted by the Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) and the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU), brings together what Mr. Ban called “two of the most powerful agents of change in our world today” – youth and ICT.

He noted that “as information flows seamlessly around the planet, young people can more effectively act as catalysts for change – locally and globally.”

Youth can come up with innovative ideas to help confront today’s global challenges, he stated, particularly as the world presses ahead to achieve the set of anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. “Young people’s energy and idealism can help make up for lost ground, and achieve our development goals in full and on time.”

Emphasizing that young men and women everywhere are valuable and committed partners in the global efforts to achieve the MDGs, Mr. Ban encouraged those gathered to use the Forum not only to exchange views and experiences, but to help create “a new dynamic for development.”

“Together, let us harness the power of information and communications technology to advance our shared objective of building a better world for all.”

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23 May, 2007


The next meeting of the Internet Governance Forum in November will focus on access, openness, security and diversity, a top United Nations official said today at a press conference in Geneva.

Speaking after today’s preparatory consultations for the Forum’s second meeting, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro from 12 to 15 November, Markus Kummer, Executive Coordinator of the Forum’s secretariat, told reporters that the Rio meeting would advance the discussion that had taken place at the first Forum meeting in Athens last November.

At today’s consultations, participants felt “the next meeting in Rio should not merely be a repetition of the Athens meeting, but should rather be an ‘Athens plus,’” Mr. Kummer said, adding that the speakers from Germany, on behalf of the European Union, and the United States had emphasized the importance of a format involving all players and of a private sector-driven process.

It had also been proposed that in Rio all Internet governance-related organizations should present their activities and engage in a dialogue with all concerned, Mr. Kummer said.

“The idea for today’s meeting was for participants to discuss what the Rio meeting should focus on,” said Nitin Desai, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Internet Governance, who chaired the meeting, adding that some 200 representatives from civil society, the private sector and the Internet community attended the consultations.

Some participants felt that the Forum should focus more on Internet resources, Mr. Kummer said, including the internationalized domain names. Participants had proposed to include agenda items dealing with emerging and topical issues, under which the question of Internet resources could be raised. Many wanted to see this issue discussed more openly, Mr. Desai said, although the Rio agenda had not been finalized yet.

The Forum had a very broad mandate, Mr. Kummer said, and could discuss virtually any subject related to the Internet, Internet governance and the use or abuse of the Internet. After the Athens meeting, many differences had been voiced on its outcome. While governments, in particular, were accustomed to diplomatic processes resulting in negotiated documents, the Athens meeting had simply provided a forum for discussion.

But although the Forum had no decision-making power, its mandate did allow it to make recommendations “if appropriate,” Mr. Kummer said.

The Forum’s next steps after Rio were still to be determined, Mr. Desai said, as the Forum itself was an evolving process. “We are experimenting with a multi-stakeholder open-ended process without a fixed membership,” he said, adding that the Forum would meet in India in 2008 and in Egypt in 2009. The Forum’s mandate provided for a review within five years of its inception, which would result in a recommendation by the Secretary-General on the future of the body.

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16 January, 2007


The UN body tasked with promoting sustainable industry unveiled a joint project with Microsoft today to support rural Ugandan enterprises through technology.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) “greatly values the commitment and resources brought through partnership with the private sector,” said Kandeh Yumkella, the agency’s Director-General.

The project, launched in Kampala, aims to support micro, small and medium-sized Ugandan businesses through the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Six District Business Information Centres will provide rural businesses and those who operate them with integrated solutions, instruction in technology and entrepreneurial skills, and Internet access. The second phase of the project will increase the number of these centres to eight.

Microsoft has extensively researched rural computing in India and will now apply its knowledge in Uganda. “With this programme,” said Cheick Diarra, Microsoft’s Chairman for Africa, “we are able to make ICT and skills available to adults and young unemployed Africans who want to start a business.”

This combined effort between the Vienna-based UNIDO and Microsoft also seeks to increase the participation of women in rural enterprises through ICT and business management training.

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27 September, 2006


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called for the vision of a global information society to be transformed into reality, stressing the need to use technology for development and urging a new international alliance to build a “network of networks” to harness high-tech innovations for the benefit of everyone.

Mr. Annan made his remarks in a speech to the recently formed Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development (GAID), which was launched in Malaysia in June as a means of utilizing new technologies to fight poverty and promote development.

“We must translate the vision of a truly global information society into reality… The Alliance’s Strategy Council has identified four priority areas: health, education, poverty reduction through enterprise creation, and citizens’ participation in governance,” he told the group’s high-level Steering Committee at today’s meeting in New York.

“The Alliance will… have the flexibility to encourage additional organizations and individuals to participate. The idea is to develop a decentralized ‘network of networks’ on a global scale, so that the Alliance can draw in the relevant stakeholders, particularly as new issues emerge.”

He said the group’s success will hinge on several factors, including its ability to formulate clear and attainable objectives, to operate with transparency and accountability and to work with a broad group of participants, and he commended its initial efforts, particularly recognition of the special challenges facing women, youth and marginalized groups.

The Alliance’s Steering Committee brings together senior figures from government, as well as people from the fields of business, media and civil society. It includes Jamaludin Jarjis, Malaysia’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, while the chairman is Craig Barrett, who also holds the same position for semiconductor giant Intel.

“The challenge for the Alliance is relatively straightforward but certainly not simple – it’s really to bring the information and communication technologies and resultant development associated with the introduction of those technologies to the emerging worlds, the emerging marketplaces,” Dr. Barrett told reporters before the meeting.

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11 July, 2006


The United Nations should continue to play a leading role in expanding information and communications technologies to promote development, participants have told the world body’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), currently meeting in Geneva.

The calls during Monday’s session came as delegates discussed follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which was held in 2003 and 2005 and produced a global strategy to harness the power of the Internet and information and communications technologies in the fight against poverty.

ECOSOC President Ali Hachani said the Council needed to act on a number of recommendations advanced by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to ensure that all parts of the UN system carry out the results of the Summit. He pledged to hold intensive informal discussions to advance the Summit’s follow-up immediately after the end of the ECOSOC session.

“Access to information should now be regarded as a utility and basic human right,” said Malaysia’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Jamaludin Jarjis, adding that conventional development means were no longer adequate in today’s economic climate where knowledge capital was the new currency and the new raw material.

Assistant Secretary-General Patrizio Civili said implementation of the World Summit decisions would require consistent support and guidance from governments, as well as input from intergovernmental bodies and other interested parties in order to sustain the momentum generated in the follow-up.

The Geneva Plan of Action, adopted in 2003, established a set of connectivity targets to be reached by 2015 and set forth a series of areas for action, such as information and communications infrastructure, access to information and knowledge, and e-business, e-learning and e-government.
In the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society, adopted in 2005, world leaders agreed on concrete mechanisms to achieve those objectives, involving all interested parties and with particular reliance on different UN institutions and bodies.

As requested by the World Summit, a UN Group on the Information Society is to coordinate the work of the UN system, in cooperation with the UN resident coordinators in developing countries. The Group is to hold its first meeting in Geneva in July.

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17 May, 2006


From on-line banking to the benefits of telemedicine, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the world community to enhance global security in cyberspace so as to realize the full potential of information and communication technologies (ICT) and accelerate the pace of development.

“In an increasingly interconnected and networked world, it has become critically important to safeguard our vital systems and infrastructures against attack by cybercriminals, while instilling confidence in online transactions in order to promote trade, commerce, banking, telemedicine, e-government and a host of other e-applications,” he said in a message marking the first World Information Society Day.

“As this depends on the security practices of each and every networked country, business and citizen, we need to develop a global culture of cybersecurity,” he added

He called on all Member States and stakeholders to help increase global awareness of cybersecurity, and to develop an international network of initiatives and ICT-based countermeasures to enhance security and build trust in the use of information and communication technologies.

“This is essential for the continued growth and development of our economies, and especially important for developing countries,” Mr. Annan said.

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005, decided to mark the Day in recognition of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the world’s oldest international organization, which was founded on 17 May 1865 and is now a UN specialized agency.

Also today, Mr. Annan a 46-member Advisory Group to assist him in convening the Internet Governance Forum for a dialogue among concerned participants on Internet governance, an outcome of the WSIS.

The Group members come from government, the private sector and civil society, including the academic and technical communities representing all regions of the world under the chairmanship of Nitin Desai, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the WSIS.

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