Mali to host information society conference

A regional conference to discuss African society in the information era is due to take place in the Malian capital, Bamako, on 26-30 May, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), reported on Wednesday.

Bringing together representatives of African governments, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector, the conference is part of preparations for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), planned for 2003.

The Malian Government, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the ECA are organising the regional “Bamako 2002” conference. Similar regional preparatory conferences are expected to take place in Europe, Asia and Latin America before the 2003 summit. Each will prepare a plan to address key issues and identify solutions to problems identified.

"The Bamako 2002 proceedings start from a common digital vision for Africa in the form of the African Information Society Initiative (AISI), launched in May 1996 by the Ministers of Economic Planning and Development, and later adopted by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Summit of Heads of State and Government in Yaounde, Cameroon," ECA said.

The WSIS will formulate a common vision and understanding of the global information society. It is expected to adopt a declaration of principles and an action plan to facilitate the effective growth of the information society and to help bridge the digital divide. It would also be an effective means to assist the United Nations in fulfilling the goals of the Millennium Declaration.

To be held under the patronage of Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the WSIS will be coordinated by the ITU, UN agencies and host countries, the ECA said.