WSIS Geneva : A Personal Observation

First of all let us have a look at WSIS and its background. The development of new information communication technologies (ICT) has provided a variety of opportunities for the people world over. Yet a vast majority of humanity remains untouched by the digital revolution. There are real disparities between countries and socio-economic groups that are benefiting from IT and those are not. Under the Resolution 73 of the International Telecommunication Union resolved to instruct the ITU Secretary General to place the question of holding a World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) on the agenda of the UN Administrative Committee on coordination and to report to the ITU governing body.

In 2001 the ITU decided to hold a summit in two phases with the first phase to be held from 10-12 December 2003 in Geneva and the second from 16-18 November 2005 in Tunis. Accordingly UN General Assembly resolution 56/183 endorsed the framework for the summit adopted by the ITU council. The resolution also endorsed the leading role of the union in the summit and its preparation, in cooperation with other interested partner organizations. The UG GA has” further recommended that preparation for the summit take .place through an open-ended intergovernmental preparatory committee that would define the agenda of the summit, modalities of the participation, finalize draft declaration and draft plan of action.

The Summit, organized under the patronage of Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, aims to address the major social, economic challenge through the use of technologies, W5IS brought together 54 Heads of State, 83 Ministers & Vice Ministers and high level government officials from 176 countries. Executive Heads of      United      Nations      agencies, representatives of multi-lateral organizations, civil society, non-governmental organizations, media representatives, academia and the private sector industry leaders, to address the fundamental characteristics, opportunities and challenges of the Information Society and to chart a path for future action which ensures that the benefits of the information Society accrue to all. In order to achieve this, an important objective of the WSIS has been to align the objectives, modalities and partnerships surrounding the development of the Information Society with the agenda outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of which ICT. can provide a powerful tool for achieving poverty alleviation, hunger & disease. The summit activities involved the formulation of draft declaration of Principles and Draft ._ Action —Plan– which -was discussed and endorsed in Geneva.


The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) is a consortium of 53 information technology (IT) industry associations from economies around the world. WTTSA members represent over 90 percent of the world IT market. As the global voice of the IT industry, WTTSA is dedicated to: advocating policies that advance the industry’s growth and development; facilitating international trade and investment in IT products and services; strengthening WITSA is national industry associations through the sharing of knowledge, experience, and critical information.

WITSA has increasingly assumed an active advocacy role in international public policy issues affecting the robust global information infrastructure.

WITSA has a real impact on the global IT environment. It strengthens the industry at large by promoting a level playing field and by voicing the concerns of the international IT community in multilateral organizations, including the World Trade Organization (WTO), and – other international bodies where policies affecting industry interests are developed.


IT Mentors alliance (ITMA) is a joint project of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance and USAID to enhance   the  capacity  and   sustain ability of IT industry associations in emerging economics like Bangladesh, Kenya, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda to promote the use of information and communication technology for economic development.

Through this program WITSA donate on the ground expertise and maintain mentoring relationships with associations in countries whereat present provides training on key aspects of association management.

As this program is a flexible instrument that allows the program to be tailored to the individual needs of the country associations to customized workshops and strategic sessions with that ICT association leaders gain knowledge and develop expertise in following key areas of association management.


The      WITSA/Information Technology Mentors Alliance (1TMA) stand at Palexpo Geneva sought to provide an opportunity for WITSA officials and representatives

from some 1TMA program associations to explain to visitors about TMA in particular and WITSA in general. ITMA is a WITSA program formed in partnership with the U.S.

Agency for International Development. Stand presentations were in the form of poster exhibits; brochures and information sheets, PowerPoint Presentations as well as one-to-one interactions with stand visitors.

On. hand representing ITMA are Waudo Siganga of Kenya, Harry Hare of Tanzania and Abdullah H. Kafi (the writer) from Bangladesh, who have been active participants in the Alliance. Tom Chesney of Computer Frontiers, USAIDis project management firm also participated along with WITSA executive director Allen Miller and WITSA Marketing Director Monica Welch.

Many visitors passed through the stand over the 5 days from Dec. 9 to Dec. 13 and showed keen interest in WITSA, ITMA and their partner association activities.

CCBI business meetings

The Coordinating Committee of Business Interlocutors (CCBI) which is formed by the International Chamber of Commerce to address issues stemming from and connected with WSIS, held a number of meetings and briefings for the ICT business community. WITSA is a constituent member of the CCBI. Some key issues were discussed there.

WSZS 3rd Roundtable

Through WITSA live participated in the 3rd Round Table on ‘Using’ ICT as a Tool for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals’. This was one of the four Round Tables. The other 3 were: 01. Creating Digital Opportunities, 02. Diversity   in Cyberspace and 03. Empowering AH Citizens.

The Round Tables were high-level meetings involving Heads of state or their representatives as well as carefully selected high-level business and industry leaders. Where Presentation was made by our Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister said ‘Our aim is to build an ICT-driven nation comprising a knowledge-based society by the year 2006.

USAID discussion meeting

USAID held a ‘Public-Private Partnerships for Digital Opportunity’ discussion forum in the afternoon of December 10, 2003. The purpose of the meeting was to look at and discuss the role of the private sector in promoting TCT for development and also what governments can do to enable the private sector to play a lead role in economic development.

Ambassador David Gross, the U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, and Anthony Meyer, Acting Director of USAID EGAT bureau, opened the meeting. There was a panel discussion there by diffefent panel discussants

During his presentation Allen Miller invited Waudo Siganga of the Venya to make brief comments on the ITMA program. Waudo gave an outline of the activities that CSK has been    able    to    undertake   . with

WITSA/ITMA over the past one year and clearly showed how these activities have made the Venya IT Association: stronger, more focused, better run and managed, more effective, more visible and having improved financial sustain-ability.

Finding & comments

As I was invited by WITSA to participate in the WSIS to represent ” the ITMA program. In WITSA exhibit space, to greet visitors and sharing perspectives       on       the

impacts of the ITMA activities on the Association development initiatives around the world, was a wonderful opportunity for me. I did learn a lot from other participants and I have found that there were plenty of opportunities to get assistance for our association building efforts.

Needless to say during my presence for the WITSA assistance of future development programs in Bangladesh, live introduced all the Presidents of our iT associations (BCS, BASIS & ISPAB) and tried to arrange- a formal meeting with Executive Director WITSA for further details. But due to time constrain formal meeting was not been held. Anyway live spoken to the WITSA Executive director and requested him to extend WITSA cooperation in following areas:

Considering the scope, I think our IT associations such as BCS/ BASIS & ISPB can consider to propose WITSA for:

1. Training for Capacity Building: Arrange training for BCS, BASIS & ISPis members to use of ICT for further development.

2. Bangladesh IT Market study with following areas needs to be covered: IT market size (both Hardware, Software, Key players). Workforce study. Under this study Bangladesh can asses problems & prospects of this IT industry.

In this connection, I would like to mention that regarding the above issues, I have already discussed with concerned WITSA & USAID ofHcials and informed them that in some cases, if required our IT association can also share some expenses. WITSA & other development partners showed their interest to cooperate on the above areas on the basis of my suggestions. Therefore, I suggest our association leaders to prepare a common development proposal for Bangladesh and immediately submit to WITSA for assistance.

For any WITSA/ITMA projects in Bangladesh, I have already informed WITSA that I shall be delighted to be a coordinator for their projects.

Participation in the 14th World Congress on Information Technology: as we all know that 14th World congress on Information Technology will be held in Athens, Grece from May 19-21, 2004 with a main theme ‘Future is Now’ and following three key areas will be covered in WC1T; 01. Telecommunications, 02. Information Technology and 03. e-Democracy & e-GovL’rnment.

This will be another high profile and important event on 1CT where over 40 ICT ministers form various countries is going to participate. I strongly feel that some of the delegates from Bangladesh should participate in this event.

I feel the registration fee (Approx. US$1500/person) is very high and almost unaffordable for the delegates from developing countries like Bangladesh. So, I have already expressed my concern and informed relevant officials of WITSA/WCIT organizing committee and other key steak holders to consider reducing registration fee for developing country delegates’ at a very nominal rate. Officials agreed in principal and they have assured that they will consider this issue very seriously.

Meanwhile Iirn pleased to report that based on my suggestions, WOT organizing committee has invited Professor Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank to participate as one of the distinguished speakers to share his invaluable experience.

In this regard WOT organizing committee requested me to communicate with Prof. Yunus for his kind consent. I shall be doing accordingly.

Finally live found that WSIS summit has a tremendous opportunity for reducing digital divide and there are scope to get various assistance from partner countries and associations. What we have to do is we have to be very focused and specific about our goal.

Although all of us know that the first computer was used in Bangladesh way back in 1964 and first PCs were also introduced to our society in 1982. However very little progress was achieved for various reasons. Let us not try to discuss about our faults/ mistakes what we have committed in past. Let us think and try to do something positively with a very faster speed. Otherwise, as we have already missed the digital revolution, which brought the rich countries of the world to the level at which they are in today. It is going to be ridiculous, costly and dangerous if we fail to join in the battle towards information society.

Considering the scope, I think our IT associations such as BCS, BASIS & ISPB can consider to propose WITSA for:

1. Training   for   Capacity Building: Arrange training for BCS, BASIS &   ISPis   members   to use of ICT for further development.

2. Bangladesh   IT  Market study   with   following areas needs to be covered:   IT   market   size (both    Hardware, Software, Key players), Workforce    study. Under      this study Bangladesh  can asses problems  &  prospects of this IT industry.

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