opportunities for the have-nots
(January 31, 2001) NEW
YORK -- While business and government leaders hunker down over global issues in
the tiny resort village of Davos, Switzerland, this week, a group of United
Nations delegates and IT industry officials gathered here to discuss possible
approaches to leveraging IT to improve social and economic conditions in
upshot is that government, academia and business need to partner more often to
create business and educational opportunities for citizens in emerging
countries. But to help make that happen, governments will have to open their
markets to investment capital.
problem for many underdeveloped nations is that "there is a severe lack of
capital," which is needed to improve primary and secondary education as
well as to support the growth of industry and to improve the existing
communications infrastructures, said Percy Mangoaela, the UN ambassador from
was one of 17 representatives who attended the roundtable discussion cosponsored
by the UN Working Group on Informatics and AIT Global Inc., a worldwide
association of IT professionals based in Kings Park, N.Y. The event was held at
the Residence of the Danish Mission to the UN.
organization that's taking a step to help is New York University. The school is
working with the government of Albania and with businesses to set up a computer
sciences degree program for several hundred students there. The program is
scheduled to open in about 18 months, said David Finney, dean of NYU's School of
Continuing and Distance Education.
Finney acknowledges that one of the biggest challenges that countries like
Albania face is a fear among government officials that students will receive
long-distance, computer-based learning from information systems professors in
New York and then be courted to work for U.S. companies.
certainly true in India, where 60% to 70% of computer science students who are
attending elite universities there "are being recruited by foreign
companies," said Nitin Desai, the undersecretary general for the UN's
Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
lot more work needs to be done" in partnerships between government,
industry and academia in India to prevent the brain drain that has been
occurring there, Desai added.
the most somber message came from Martin Belinga-Eboutou, the UN ambassador from
Cameroon who is also the president of UN Economic and Social Council.
"Eight-eight percent of the world's Internet users [live] in industrialized
nations. In Africa, we have less than one telephone per 100 inhabitants,"
said Belinga-Eboutou. "So talking about the use of information technology
for social and economic development is a huge problem" for us.
courtesy of Computerworld, an IDG Publication (www.computerworld.com).
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