UN forum examines how to maximize Internets potential to help poor countries

16 November 2009A United Nations-backed international gathering focusing on how to make the most of the Internet to boost social and economic well-being for the greatest number of people around the world is underway in Egypt. The fourth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) brings together some 1,500 representatives from government, international organizations, academics, the private sector, civil society and the Internet’s technical community to examine development opportunities through the Internet.Participants at this year’s four-day meeting in the coastal resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh are also slated to discuss the extension of the IGF’s initial five-year mandate beyond 2010, as well as the more traditional issues of Internet access, diversity, openness and security.In his remarks to the Forum’s opening on Sunday, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang underscored that African and Arab States lag behind Europe, Asia and the Americas although more people are gaining access to the Internet in developing countries.Mr. Sha said this year’s overarching theme – “Internet Governance: Creating an opportunity for all” – was timely and appropriate, while drawing attention to the “critical decision that we will have to make about the future of the IGF.” He noted that the IGF fully supported efforts critical to the UN agenda, including the promotion of higher standards of living, full employment, and the conditions of economic and social progress and development.The Secretary-General of the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Hamadoun Touré, stressed that the Forum is key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of international agreed targets to combat poverty, deadly diseases and maternal mortality, as well as achieve universal primary education, gender equality and environmental sustainability by 2015.

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