Information & communications technologies key to sustainable development in Africa: UNU

Innovative use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) will help Africa to quickly achieve decades of progress in the transition to sustainable development and bridge a widening gap between its prosperity and that of other regions, United Nations University experts say.

By facilitating training, information sharing, decision making and environmental monitoring, the Internet and other high-tech tools hold the promise of improving African international competitiveness and lifting its productivity and the incomes of millions without sacrificing the environment, says UN Under Secretary-General Hans van Ginkel, Rector of UNU.

"It cannot be stressed too strongly how important it is for Africa to be equipped with the advantages of modern ICTs, especially for training people throughout the continent," he says. "The health and food security of tens of millions of Africans today and of billions more in generations to come depend on this outcome being achieved as rapidly as possible. If Africa is ever to fully meet its potential in a sustainable way, these technologies must be a central part of its strategies."

He made the comment as UNU announced at the World Summit on the Information Society, (Tunis, Nov. 16-18, 2005) a joint initiative with the Borj-Cedria Science and Technology Park to build a virtual academy to bolster the sustainable development of Africa.

The academy's primary focus will be online training in the fields of water, the environment, renewable energy and biotechnology. It will exploit new technologies to share information and expertise throughout Africa and offer electronic technical assistance.

The initiative includes a media centre, a digital library and a computing centre to foster cooperation between African universities and research institutions and to network with other online initiatives worldwide, including the UNU-affiliated Global Virtual University, UNU's Water Virtual Learning Centre, an

Contact: Kristen Elsby
United Nations University

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