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Jayne Cravens,

UNDP Chief Warns G-8 Leaders of a Widening “Digital Divide”

Friday, 21 July 2000

This is text from a statement on the
United National Development Programme (UNDP) web site in the year 2000. You can see an archived version of the original on

United National Development Programme
Communications Office

UNDP Chief Warns G-8 Leaders of a Widening “Digital Divide”

The Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Mark Malloch Brown, called on G-8 leaders gathered in Japan this week to help the developing world take full advantage of the Information Revolution.

Speaking at a meeting of developing country leaders and development agency heads with G-8 leaders in Tokyo, Malloch Brown stressed that the world has an historic opportunity and obligation to reach out and help the poor take advantage of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

Malloch Brown said that while it was true that the Information Gap - -or digital divide - between rich and poor was vast and growing, ICT and the Internet offer new hope in areas ranging from health, to education to business development. "If we fail to act now the Information Gap risks being widened into an uncrossable gulf that increases global inequality and leaves the poor further behind," he said. "But if we approach the matter with the same kind of urgency and application as the commercial "dot-com" sector, then we have every chance of building a strong, new wired future that not only includes the world's poor but gives them an unprecedented opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty."

Malloch Brown lauded Prime Minister Mori for the announcement last Friday that the Japanese government would pledge $15 billion over five years in aid as part of a "Comprehensive Co-operation Package to Address the International Digital Divide." He also thanked Mori for highlighting the ICT for development issue during the G-8 summit which Japan is hosting this week. And he singled out UNDP's cooperation with the Government of Japan in providing technical support for Pacific Island and African countries.

At a meeting with G-8 leaders in Tokyo this week, UN Development Programme Administrator Mark Malloch Brown announced that UNDP is launching a series of project activities that will boost internet connectivity and access in some of the poorest countries in the world.

UNDP is already helping countries gain access to the digital economy in places ranging from Estonia to East Timor. The organization supports the launching of new networks and helps construct policy frameworks for Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

"At a time when Tokyo has more telephones than all of Africa and Finland has more Internet hosts than Latin America, the challenge is huge," Malloch Brown said. "But the fact is the revolution has only just begun, and if we can work together, we can work to ensure the end result provides the world's poor with a stake and a voice in the global economy."


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