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Gates kicks off philanthropy mission

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Microsoft wants to work with the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) to improve education through information & communication technologies (ICT), develop digital resources, provide access to low-cost ICT devices and build human capacity to expanding e-health services and other e-applications.

These are some of the subjects that were discussed at this week's meeting between Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré along with a high-level ITU delegation including the director of the ITU Standardization Bureau, Malcolm Johnson, director of the Development Bureau, Sami Al Basheer, and Doreen Bogdan-Martin, chief of strategic planning and membership.
Gates this week stopped working full-time at Microsoft to focus his time and efforts on philanthropy.
At the ITU meeting, Gates emphasised that ICT is a key component for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. He expressed interest in ITU's standardization work, especially on audio and video coding.
Secretary-General Touré explained that by connecting the world and fulfilling everyone's fundamental right to communicate, the world can be a better and safer place.
"Connectivity must be our focus for the coming years to empower people everywhere with access to information on healthcare, agriculture and the environment," he told Mr Gates. "My dream is to connect the world and I hope that Microsoft will join me in fulfilling this dream."
Focusing on ITU's Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA), Dr Touré highlighted the importance of Internet safety for children and his plans to launch a global coalition to focus on protecting children in cyberspace. He reinforced the need to empower women and youth and to stimulate job creation in developing countries.
Saying that human capacity building is the cornerstone of development, Dr Touré sought collaboration with Microsoft to promote digital literacy in ITU's Internet Training Centres and to make libraries of digital resources available in schools and other institutions in developing countries.
Microsoft, under its Unlimited Potential initiative, has a specific focus to enable sustained social and economic opportunity for those in the middle and the bottom of the world's economic pyramid – the next 5-billion people.
ITU also discussed ways to co-operate with technology companies like Microsoft to explore the options for shared access and inexpensive ICT devices, including mobile smartphones and low-cost notebooks.
Discussions with Microsoft also centred on global concerns such as strengthening cybersecurity to build confidence in the use of networks, emergency communications to mitigate the effects of natural disasters, ICTs and climate change and approaches to technology standardization and interoperability among heterogeneous systems.
ITU Global View, the online platform developed in collaboration with Microsoft and based on Virtual Earth technology, presents information available through the ITU ICT-Eye and related data sources. The solution will be further developed in line with ITU strategy and its broadening impact across the UN system.