email@example.com, so as to collate as many views points as possible on the outstanding issues for WSIS. Honourable Members may also wish to join in the online discussions.
One positive outcome of the first phase of WSIS has been the adoption of Africa's proposition for the creation of a Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF) and its subsequent launching on 14th March to complement existing financial mechanisms for intervention in social sectors and disadvantaged areas which otherwise will
not attract private investment.
This Fund rel ies on voluntary contributions of Governments, local authorities, private sector, civil societies and international organizations and would be accessible by all countries.
It would be recalled that Ghana was honoured to host the Africa Region Preparatory Conference in February this year under the mandate of the African Union. The Conference was attended by ICT stakeholders from all over the continent including some Heads of State and 25 Ministers of Communications who helped to build consensus over issues of particular concern to the continent including the development of the African Regional Action Plan on the knowledge Economy (ARAPkE).
Mr. Speaker, subsequent to this meeting, Ghana has been accorded the role of presenting Africa's position in the WSIS negotiations and recently, on 10th May 2005 in Cairo, Egypt, solidarity with the African position was received during the Pan-Arab Preparatory Conference for WSIS where it was agreed to work together on all levels to stress and highlight the importance of the issues of common concerns during the World Summit.
The Joint communiqué issued at the end of the Conference reinforced Government's commitment among other things to:
Declare that the ICT sector should be a priority item Foster an enabling environment that allows for reliable electronic commerce by 2008
Acknowledge the importance of the development of infrastructure, including rural areas, universal
communication including adequate access to the Internet through competitive market environment
Ensure that computers and Internet are made available at low and affordable cost
Develop the content industry through the use of open source software among others
Develop human resource as a major cornerstone for building the Information Society
Ensure Government's use of ICT at all levels to promote efficiency and transparency and provide cost- effective ICT-based information services to citizens
Promote ICT education in schools and universities and ICT skills training in the workplace
Encourage appropriate measures to ensure interconnection of the communication infrastructure of countries by 2008.
Mr. Speaker, in February 2004, this honourable House considered and gave overwhelming endorsement to the National ICT for Accelerated Development Policy. The Policy, which was developed through extensive consultation with stakeholders including honourable Members, is very comprehensive in its coverage, and one notes with pride that the elements of the WSIS discussions have been captured in our policy document even though its development preceded the whole WSIS process. The contribution of the House is very well appreciated.
In furtherance of the Policy, ICT implementation strategies are also being developed for electronic governance, e -commerce , hea l th , educa t ion , agriculture, and, in security in conjunction