ITU Global View, a virtual earth-based online platform to track and help accelerate the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) goals in Africa was launched yesterday at the Connect Africa Summit in Rwanda.
Governments, along with industry, development banks and international organizations are gathered in Kigali to mobilize the human, financial and technical resources required to expand the development of ICT infrastructure and ensure it is used effectively in pursuit of the WSIS development goals for Africa.
The International Telecommunication Union and Microsoft today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the Connect Africa summit outlining how they will work together to build a safe, inclusive and interoperable information society. They agreed to support programmes providing skills development and capacity building along with the delivery of relevant applications and services in Africa. These would include the delivery of a new online solution for all stakeholders to showcase and track the implementation of development projects in Africa.
In addition, ITU and Microsoft will collaborate globally on cybersecurity and provide support for regulators in developing countries.
"We are very pleased that Microsoft, as an early signatory of the ITU Connect the World initiative, is stepping up its commitment to help address the effective use of ICT infrastructure in Africa," says Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the ITU. "Connect Africa is a call to action for the private sector, and we are encouraged by the progress we have made together with Microsoft to broaden the scope of capacity building in Africa."
Michael Rawding, vice-president: Unlimited Potential Group at Microsoft, adds: "Bringing the benefits of technology to the next 5-billion people will require new approaches to development and new partnerships between international organizations, governments, and the private sector.
"Through Unlimited Potential we are committed globally to applying technology to advance social and economic opportunity, and we look forward to working with ITU on shared development and technology goals."
As part of the partnership, Microsoft and ITU are launching a flagship on-line visualisation platform called ITU Global View, which is being demonstrated at the Connect Africa Summit in Kigali. Based on Microsoft Virtual Earth, ITU Global View integrates a broad range of new and existing data sources on global ICT for development accomplishments in support of the WSIS goals. Easy to view, the software was developed in partnership with IDV Solutions.
The online platform will be hosted and maintained by ITU, and will be open to all stakeholders – governments, industry, international and regional organizations, as well as civil society – allowing users to check status, identify gaps and avoid overlap in collaborative efforts to achieve the WSIS goals.
The ITU-Microsoft partnership also focuses on providing digital opportunities for youth. Youth empowerment and capacity building is essential to accelerate sustainable social and economic growth towards a competitive Africa. Microsoft and ITU will provide access to computer technology training as well as opportunities to gain valuable work experience in the industry.
ITU and Microsoft will contribute to the development of the Global Cybersecurity Agenda and its associated work programme to assist developing countries with implementation. They will also explore opportunities for Microsoft to support ITU programmes aimed at training regulators and ICT policy-makers in developing countries as they address fresh challenges associated with new information and communication technologies.