Africa: Citizen Access to Internet Can Build Growth

Helping developing countries build their citizens’ access to the Internet is akin to giving them a tool that boosts their chances of achieving sustainable economic growth, a senior United Nations official told a global meeting on Internet governance today.

“The Internet offers a lot of potential and opportunities for sustainable development,” said the Director of the Division for Public Administration and Development Management of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), Haiyan Qian.

Ms. Qian’s remarks, delivered on her behalf, were addressed to more than 1,600 delegates from 128 countries at the conclusion of a four-day conference of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

The Forum included the participation of governments, intergovernmental organizations, business representatives, the technical community, civil society organizations, as well as any individual Internet users interested in Internet governance issues.

The theme for this year’s Forum was ‘Internet Governance for Sustainable Human, Economic and Social Development,’ reflecting the increasing role of the Internet in the evolution of the various aspects of development, across all countries.

“We need to build capacities to address challenges and implement strategies, not only in our own countries and organizations, but also to assist others, especially those in developing and the least developed countries, as well as countries with economies in transition,” Ms. Qian urged.

The question of promoting sustainable development – which aims to meet human needs through resource-use that also preserves the environment – was central to the landmark UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which took place in Brazil in June this year.

One of the main Rio+20 outcomes was the agreement by member States to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals, which will build upon the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – set in 2000 for achievement by 2015 or earlier – and converge with the post-2015 development agenda.