Nº 6 2013 > WSIS
What the WSIS Stocktaking 2013 report shows
Best practice from around the world!
The report on the World Summit on the Information Society Stocktaking 2013 reflects more than 700 of the latest stories collected by ITU between May 2012 and May 2013. This report — the fifth edition — illustrates examples of emerging trends in actions geared to bridging the digital divide and building an inclusive information society.
The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) — organized in two phases — in Geneva in 2003 and in Tunis in 2005 — produced four main documents. At the summit’s first phase, world leaders issued a Declaration of Principles and a Plan of Action (with 11 Action Lines). These were complemented in 2005 by the Tunis Commitment and the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society. The aim is for people everywhere to be able to share and use information and knowledge in order to achieve their full potential and attain internationally agreed development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals and the WSIS connectivity targets.
Knowledge sharing is an essential component of development within the WSIS process. Since 2004, ITU has maintained a stocktaking database as a tool for collecting information and for regular reporting on WSIS-related activities.
Like in previous years, this year’s report includes input from all stakeholders from around the world, representing governments, the private sector, international organizations, civil society and other entities, as well as from facilitators and co-facilitators of the eleven WSIS Action Lines, in response to ITU’s call for updates and new entries. Each entry in the database highlights the efforts stakeholders make to implement WSIS connectivity goals.
The report shows that many governments and other stakeholders are continuing to work together towards connecting rural and marginalized areas and providing access to the Internet.
The important role that community centres and telecentres play in providing access to the Internet, to information, and to training in the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) cannot be overstated. The network of telecentres (KenTel) in Kenya, multipurpose community-service access points and public-information kiosks in Rwanda and community knowledge centres and women's community knowledge centres in Oman are just a few examples of the structures being established to provide access to ICT, information and ICT-literacy training, while also generating new jobs.
A number of initiatives are now focusing on gender mainstreaming, providing relevant training and personal capacity-building tools that help women enter the workforce. In the Dominican Republic, for instance, the Women in the Internet project aims to ensure that poor, young Dominican females have access to training opportunities and to the upper levels of the different ICT industry areas, such as telecommunication networks, programming and multimedia.
The development of e‑accessibility policies is another trend of note that will make society more inclusive. Assistive technologies are being provided in schools, in the work environment and in public places to allow people with disabilities to access information. For instance, a number of countries, including Qatar, have taken major steps towards ensuring the introduction of e‑accessibility policies, while others, notably Lithuania, have implemented initiatives that preserve and promote culture through improved access to electronic publications for persons with visual disabilities.
Youth is becoming a crucial element in the information society, and countries are recognizing the potential benefits of investing in young people. Incubators and innovation centres are offering platforms for raising awareness of ICT among young leaders and boosting entrepreneurship. For instance, the knowledge lab (kLab) project in Rwanda provides a space for the development of ICT solutions, bringing together experienced mentors and young innovators. The Digital Incubation Centre (DIC) in Qatar gives new companies essential resources and help with commercial registration, as well as expert training and counselling. Silicon Oasis Founders (SOF) in the United Arab Emirates is a technology incubation centre established to help entrepreneurs refine their business proposals and implement their plans. New businesses will receive guidance and assistance in the form of services such as business set-up support, workspace facilities, networking opportunities with other IT professionals, videoconferencing and business consultancy, as well as financial, technical and marketing mentorship.
The national and sector strategies reported, in areas such as broadband, accessibility and e-government, are the catalysts required to shape the information society and bridge the digital divide. In many countries, multistakeholder collaboration constitutes the foundation for successful implementation of national strategies. There is no doubt that ICT are becoming increasingly integrated in society, a case in point being Kazakhstan, where the national programme seeks to embed ICT in all fields of economic activity and human life.
Many projects focus on providing free-of-charge Internet access. For example, the free Internet access points in Moldova or the techno- or i-parks in Mauritius. Providing connectivity to public institutions is also on the rise (for example in Egypt). Governments and other stakeholders continue to work and support initiatives and projects that foster ICT integration in schools — Jordan being a good example of this.
The report includes many examples of projects and initiatives that have been launched to enable government agencies to share information securely at high speeds and cost effectively, and also to ensure the link between governments and citizens. Indeed, many countries have established government portals and call centres.
Houlin Zhao, ITU Deputy Secretary-General, comments that the WSIS Stocktaking Report series is a significant contribution to the process of identifying trends in implementing WSIS outcomes with a view to building the information society. "I believe that the best practices reflected in this report will serve as models to be replicated and will encourage stakeholders to move forward towards achieving the WSIS goals which are so important to us all." says Mr Zhao.
Call for contributions to the 2014 report
Stakeholders are invited to contribute updates and new entries for inclusion in WSIS Stocktaking Report 2014, which will be the sixth edition in the series and will be prepared for the WSIS+10 High-Level Event to be held in April 2014. All stakeholders are encouraged to provide their input at www.wsis.org/stocktaking by completing an online questionnaire. The closing date for input is 1 December 2013.