Report offers ways to bridge the digital divide
- By IDG News Service, Martyn Williams
- Jul 24, 2000
Members of the World Economic Forum (WEF) presented Japanese Prime Minister
Yoshiro Mori last week with their suggestions for how leaders from the world's
major industrial powers, the Group of Eight, can address the growing digital
divide between nations.
The report addresses the gap between those who have access to information
technology, and those who don't, the so-called digital divide. The Group
of Eight (G8) comprises U.S., U.K., Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Canada
The report, which was commissioned by Late Japanese Prime Minister Keizo
Obuchi as part of the run up to the G8 Summit, which took place over the
weekend in Okinawa, recommends nine initiatives that the WEF thinks could
be pursued by the international community, under the leadership of the G8,
together with businesses, nonprofit groups and other organizations.
Chief among the recommendations was the need for the G8 to take the lead
in organizing a coordinated effort to assist developing countries in bridging
the gap. Coordination among multilateral institutions, the international
business community and civil societal and philanthropic organizations is
also key, the report said.
The WEF, which is made up of business leaders from major multinational corporations,
outlined steps it believes should be taken to help address the problem —
one it sees as a "global digital opportunity" for both the people of the
world and business.
Access to education is another key area highlighted by the report and by
Richard Li, chairman and chief executive officer of Hong Kong's Pacific
Century Group. "In our opinion, it is not a digital divide, but an education
divide," he said. "We feel IT is only a conduit to the knowledge-based economy.
We can use IT to spread basic education to everyone."
The report also noted the need for national economic stability and new sources
of funding if entrepreneurship is to flourish, as well as access to information
technology for every citizen as a foundation for the Information Age. In
addition, it called for the establishment of government policies that encourage
competition in telecommunications, the Internet infrastructure area and
global electronic commerce.