From Digital Divide to Digital Opportunity: A Global Call to Action (7/22/00)
                          A GLOBAL CALL TO ACTION
                               July 22, 2000

Today, the world has an historic opportunity to promote global
participation in the network economy and society.  New information and
communication technologies like the Internet are transforming the way we
live, learn and work.  Nations that succeed in harnessing its potential can
look forward to greatly expanded economic growth, dramatically improved
human welfare, and stronger forms of democratic government.  Developing
nations have an unprecedented opportunity to meet vital development goals
such as poverty reduction, basic healthcare, and education far more
effectively than before.

The challenge to bridge the global digital divide cannot be underestimated.
But it is essential that developing nations become full participants in the
network economy and society.  Technology is no "silver bullet" for the
problems of the developing world.  Yet if we fail to ensure that all
nations have the opportunity to participate fully in the network economy
and society, we run the risk that the divide between nations will grow.  It
is against this background that we issue A Global Call to Action with the
stated goal of achieving digital access and education for all before this
decade is out.

We recognize that to be successful in turning the digital divide into the
digital opportunity a concrete and coordinated effort must be undertaken
with the participation of all partners and stakeholders, including
companies, foundations, non-governmental organizations, governments and
multilateral organizations.  The G-8, developing nation, multilateral
institution, private sector, and foundation commitment to the creation of a
Digital Opportunity Task Force (the dot force) is a vital and unprecedented
first step toward the goal of achieving digital access and education for
all by the year 2010.

We also recognize that the diverse conditions and needs of the developing
nations should be taken into account, and that local cultures be preserved
and promoted.  There is no "one size fits all" solution.  The critical
success factor will be developing nations' ownership through the adoption
of coherent strategies to build national information infrastructure in
pursuit of core development goals, expanded human capacity, community
initiatives and indigenous entrepreneurship, and a pro-competitive policy
and regulatory environment.

There has never been a better time to take action. An unprecedented
willingness exists in industrialized nations, developing countries, the
private sector, and civil society to work together and offer their efforts
to eradicate digital inequity among rich and poor, young and old. The
developed nations offer their efforts to create the policy framework and
enabling conditions that can allow nations and their citizens to benefit
from the digital opportunity.  And multilateral institutions and global
networks of non-governmental organizations offer their efforts as catalysts
and guarantors in this process.

As companies, foundations, and non-governmental organizations we are
committed to help create digital opportunity for the people of the
developing nations, and to take concrete steps in the following five key
strategic areas:

1. Fostering Policy, Regulatory and Network Readiness: Help developing
countries adopt the policies, practices, and regulatory frameworks that
will encourage private sector investment but also reap the full economic,
social and cultural benefits of the widespread diffusion of the Internet,
e-commerce and other information and communications technologies.

2. Expanding Basic Connectivity to People Everywhere: Support the expansion
of community access points or other forms of shared connectivity so that
the Internet and telecommunications services are within walking distance
for everyone on the planet.  Invest in R&D that will lead to products and
services tailored to the needs of developing countries and poor communities
everywhere, such as low-cost, low-power, wireless devices.

3. Building Human Capacity in Education and Training: Increase
significantly the number of people in developing nations with the
technology skills and know-how needed to build, manage, and effectively use
the information infrastructure of the 21st century.  Equip more people in
developing nations become "technologically literate" through the
appropriate use of educational technology in schools, universities,
communities, and the workplace.

4. Enhance Healthcare and Quality of Life Using Information Technology:
Promote applications of the Internet and information technology -- such as
e-health, distance learning, natural resource management, and preservation
of cultural heritage - that have particular relevance to improving the
quality of life for the people of the developing world.

5. Create New Opportunities for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Through
E-commerce and E-business: Encourage the development of micro-enterprises
and small businesses that harness the power of new information and
communications technologies. In all societies, develop venture financing
sources that can drive innovation.


Agilent Technologies
Andersen Consulting
Carnegie Corporation
Center for Democracy and Technology
Center for International Development, Harvard University
Cisco Systems
Communities in Schools
Corning Incorporated
Discovery Communications
Eastman Kodak
Cap Gemini Ernst & Young
Gates Foundation
Global Information Infrastructure Commission
Information Technology Association of America
Information Technology Industry Council
Internet Policy Institute
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Lucent Technologies
Lyceum Network Integration
Markle Foundation
New York Life International, Inc.
Open Society Institute
People Technology Foundation
Rubin Systems
Solar Electric Light Fund
StarMedia Foundation
Sun Microsystems
The Chubb Corporation
Time Warner
Verizon Foundation
World Links Organization
World Resources Institute
WorldCom Inc.

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