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Commissioner highlights role for ICT in developing countries

Speaking at the Euforic annual general meeting in Bonn on 11 June, European Commissioner for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, Poul Nielson, emphasised the positive role that information and communication technologies (ICT) have to play in developing countries. 'I...

Speaking at the Euforic annual general meeting in Bonn on 11 June, European Commissioner for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, Poul Nielson, emphasised the positive role that information and communication technologies (ICT) have to play in developing countries. 'If applied with a pragmatic sense of realism, IT can be a useful tool for economic development and possibly even underpin a positive evolution of democracy,' said Mr Nielson. Such pragmatism will reduce the danger of the digital divide created by unequal access to ICT among and within countries, said Mr Nielson. Mr Nielson declared that he is 'open for the Commission to use ICT whenever and wherever there is a well founded demand and within the normal decision making procedure'. He added that the Commission will play a background role, guided by the principles of complementarity, coordination and coherence. The Commissioner highlighted where ICT has been used in Commission development programmes, including a recently approved pan-African, satellite based meteorological surveillance, which will monitor desertification and drought warnings. An EC funded project in Chile in the late 1990s helped set up communications between the Chilean fruit farming industry and European data bases. The information system provided background for market intelligence by Chilean producers, thus enabling them to maximise their exports. A project funded by the Research DG called 'Shared' is also promoting the sharing of essential information on health research and development for developing countries using an ICT platform.