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World Summit on the Information Society up for ten-year review in WSIS+10 high-level meeting

by david.nunes

World Summit on the Information Society up for ten-year
review in WSIS+10 high-level meeting

Report assessing achievements of WSIS targets shows mixed results

Geneva, 10 June 2014 – A high level meeting opened today to review progress on the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which was held in Geneva in 2003 and in Tunis in 2005. Policy-makers, including Government Ministers and leaders from civil society, academia, business, and international organizations will focus attention on implementation of the outcomes of the Summit for next year’s ten-year review during the WSIS+10 High-level Event that kicks off today.

“World leaders at the World Summit on the Information Society in 2003 agreed to promote the use of ICTs for the achievement of internationally agreed development goals and targets,” noted ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré. “Today almost everyone on earth lives within reach of a mobile cellular network and nearly 3 billion people are online; we must now ensure that everyone also has access to broadband connectivity. We are here to pave the way for the future and set the roadmap for sustainable development in the post-2015 era.”

With special attention to developing countries, ten targets were adopted at WSIS with the aim of encouraging connectivity in villages, schools, libraries, post offices, national archives and governments, as well as adapting school curricula to meet the challenges of the information society, support the development of multilingualism and content on the Internet, and ensure ICT access to more than half of the world’s inhabitants.

One of the highlights at the WSIS+10 High-level Event today was the launch of the Final WSIS Targets Review, a report prepared by the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development, of which ITU is a founding member. The Report indicated mixed results on the achievements of the WSIS targets and called for strengthening the role of ICTs in the post-2015 development agenda.

“This report is a major milestone in tracking the information society worldwide,” said ITU Deputy Secretary-General Mr Houlin Zhao. “It shows that while significant achievements have been made in the last decade, the digital divide remains a major barrier to an inclusive information society. We are determined to continue to plan, develop and implement large-scale ICT projects as we accompany countries on their development journey.”

According to the Final WSIS Targets Review, significant progress has been made in increasing mobile cellular coverage with all rural communities in the world likely to be covered by 2G mobile cellular signals by 2015. However, Internet connectivity remains a challenge and access to broadband continues to be unequal, with penetration rates around four times higher in developed countries as compared to developing ones. While some countries have successfully integrated computers in schools, less than 10 per cent of schools in many of the world’s poorest countries are connected to the Internet. The proportion of teachers trained to use ICT in the classroom is increasing, but fewer than 10 per cent of teachers in low-income countries have been trained to effectively use ICTs in their classrooms.

Scientific and research centres with broadband Internet access is close to 100 per cent and the total number of national research and education networks (NRENs) has improved significantly, with the majority of universities and research centres being connected. While libraries, museums and archives are important providers of online content related to culture, a lot remains to be done in terms of digitizing cultural heritage and making it available online.

There is a growing divide in broadband access between enterprises in developed and developing countries and it is clear that within developing countries themselves, there are wide differences in ICT use between large and small companies, between enterprises in different industries, and between rural and urban enterprises. Unsurprisingly, mobile phones have become the most commonly used ICT tool among micro and small enterprises, and in the informal sector.

The number of websites has grown exponentially between 2003 and 2013, and the number of webpages even more substantially, with developed countries in Europe, the Americas and parts of Asia generating the majority of Web content. More than 300 languages are now available on Wikipedia and more than 100 on major social networks, while the proportion of Internet users whose primary language is English has fallen significantly as access to the Internet has become more widespread.

Results show that ICT is becoming central to the effective operation of health systems and services although progress is uneven across countries. The WHO Global Observatory reports that the number of countries with e-Health strategies is showing a steady rise.

In 2014, central governments in all 193 UN Member States have an online presence, with online information and services increasing three-fold on government portals in the last decade. By 2012, 70 per cent of countries provided a one-stop portal, compared to 26 per cent in 2003. By 2014, almost all of the countries in Europe and the majority in the Americas and Asia provided online information on education, health, finance, social welfare, labour and the environment, but the proportion was less in other regions, such as Africa.

According to available data, 50 per cent of households in developing countries have access to radio and about 72 per cent to television. Most developed countries have completed, or are on track to complete their transition to digital television, while developing countries have begun or are committed to it.

The Final WSIS Targets Review Report is available at:

For more information, please see www.wsis.org/forum 

About the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development

The Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development is an international, multi-stakeholder initiative to improve the availability and quality of ICT data and indicators, particularly in developing countries. Launched in 2004, the Partnership helps measure the information society by defining a core list of ICT indicators and methodologies. Members include the International Telecommunication Union (ITU); the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Institute for Statistics (UIS); the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC); the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA); the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP); the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA); the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA); Eurostat; the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Secretariat of the Basel Convention (SBC) on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal; the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) ); and the World Bank.

About ITU

ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology. For nearly 150 years, ITU has coordinated the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve communication infrastructure in the developing world, and established the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems. From broadband networks to new-generation wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, satellite-based meteorology and converging fixed-mobile phone, Internet and broadcasting technologies, ITU is committed to connecting the world. www.itu.int

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