President Thabo Mbeki to Lead South African Delegation to the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS), Tunis, Tunisia, 16-18 November 2005

Tshwane - South African President Thabo Mbeki will today Tuesday 15 November 2005 depart for Tunis, Tunisia where he will together with Minister of Communications Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, lead a senior South African delegation to the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) scheduled from Wednesday - Friday, 16-18 November 2005.

The WSIS aims to build a global, inclusive and development-orientated Information Society.

This objective is in line with Africa's socio-economic development plan, NEPAD that highlights as one of its five priority areas, the development of information and communication technology (ICT). In addition, ICT development has been identified by the United Nations (UN) as an instrument that can help to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The World Summit on the Information Society is therefore the response of the international community, and the developing world in particular, to the challenge of providing access to communication and information technologies globally, through the most efficient use of available resources.

The first phase of the WSIS took place in Geneva in December 2003 and laid the foundations for achieving this inclusive information society through the Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action.

The Plan of Action outlined internationally agreed development goals and targets to be achieved by 2015. The Plan of Action also recommended that priority should be given to developing countries and recommended the creation, through multi-stakeholder fora, of national strategies for the development of the Information Society. South Africa is in this respect developing a national Information Society and Development Plan, designed to accelerate the socio-economic development of our country through the use of ICTs.

The Tunis phase of the WSIS will focus on the implementation and follow up processes with respect to the decisions taken during the first phase of the Summit in Geneva in 2003, in order to chart the way ahead. It is expected that, for the first time, there will be a global agreement that addresses the crucial issue of internet governance as an important part of public policy.

South Africa has been an active participant in this unique two phased summit, and has remained committed to working with other developing countries, to ensure that measures are undertaken to bridge the digital divide and to utilize ICTs as a powerful tool for socio-economic development.

President Mbeki will return to South Africa on Thursday, 17 November 2005.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

15 November 2005

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