The Chair's conclusions of the Information Society and Development Conference (ISAD'96), held in South Africa on 13-15 May 1996, reiterate the participants' commitment to the creation of a Global Information Society, involving all countries, including developing countries and countries in transition. The conference concluded that the potential of the Information Society should be used to meet the needs of the developing world. The major need here is for the required investment to be mobilized to bridge the technology gap between the developing and industrialized countries. In tandem with the mobilization of investment, the appropriate regulatory conditions to permit competition in an international environment must be implemented. The participants agreed that using the potential of information technologies requires a strong focus on education and training, entailing a shift towards a culture of lifelong learning in order for people to profit from the opportunities of the Information Society. The benefits of the Information Society must be extended to as wide a constituency as possible. In addition, the participants felt that the Global Information Society should be developed jointly through common principles and collaborative actions between developing and industrialized countries. Development should be based on public and private sector partnerships. This development will be based on the following key issues identified at the conference: - Universal service; - Clear regulatory framework; - Sustainable socio-economic development; - Job creation; - Global cooperation and competitiveness; - Diversity of applications and content; - Diversity of language and culture; - Cooperation in technology; - Private investment and competition; - Protection of intellectual property rights; - Privacy and data security; - Narrowing the infrastructure gap; - Cooperation in research and technological development. The Commission welcomed the chair's conclusions and agreed that developing countries should be full partners in the Global Information Society. Commission President Jacques Santer, speaking at the conference, confirmed that Europe was prepared to assist developing countries in this. Europe had the largest aid programme in the world, and was already supporting development projects in the area of the Information Society. He also announced that the Commission would finance an ECU 11 million project of trade points in sub-Saharan Africa. These would distribute trade information electronically to SMEs.