Kuala Lumpur: The Internet is set to play a critical role in world poverty eradication efforts by providing unprecedented access to knowledge to the poor billions, according to experts at a global ICT4D summit.
We are witnessing the emergence of people, markets and technologies that transcend geographies, converge and intertwine and, most importantly, will alter and shape the future, said Walter Fust at the opening ceremony of GK3, the third Global Knowledge Conference hosted by the Global Knowledge Partnership from December 11-13, 2007.
Fust is the Chair of the GKP Executive Committee & Director-General for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
The opening ceremony Photo credit: Global Knowledge Partnership/ Sasa Kralj
Established in 1997, the Global Knowledge Partnership is an ICT for development platform created by and for stakeholders from every sector private companies, governments, international institutions and civil society groups to share knowledge and build partnerships for a better world.
Over 1,700 global visionaries, innovators, practitioners and policymakers from across 135 countries had gathered to debate and take a closer look at how people, markets and technologies the three emerging forces of change interlink to deliver the future.
We believe that knowledge is the key driver for a world of equal opportunities and that ICTs are key in enabling access to knowledge for everyone, said Rinalia Abdul Rahim, GKP Executive Director & Chair, GK3 Working Committee.
Emerging people, emerging markets and emerging technologies
The various sessions on the three themes were debated by speakers and the audience in close interfaces. With a strong focus on youth, women and migrants, GK3 sought to drive home the message: markets drive development in access, effective use of ICT and in governance. The need therefore is for transparent and effective ICT policies by governments that can create and support new markets.
The Internet expects to reach 5 billion people by 2015, in turn creating enormous market opportunities and new jobs. Underlining the emerging technologies of the future, GK3 focused on cyber security, low cost devices and green technologies.
The final day plenary on Emerging Technologies raised some fundamental questions on the future of the Internet: Will the future be more of the same or something different? Will the Internet continue to support business investments and the realisation of creative ideas in the future as today while also sustaining future bandwidth demands?
Pindar Wong, Trustee of the Internet Society, an international non-profit organisation working on standards and policy, said it is the users perception of the utility of the Internet that will dictate the future.
With only a billion connected, the future will be evolutionary, said George Sadowsky, Executive Director, Global Policy Initiative. New devices, niche markets will grow, he added, while cautioning that some e-markets may fail. He also noted that privacy will be a growing concern in the social marketing space.
User perspective is primal to the Internet, said World Bank representative Valerie DCosta. Technology is the conduit. It is the user that drives it, said DCosta, who is Program Manager at InfoDev.
Heather Creech, Director, Knowledge Communications, International Institute for Sustainable Development presented an interesting future scenario for 2050: a future that will address environmental and social concerns and result in high levels of compliance and cooperation through partnerships.
How do we create a new vision for a new internet, asked Creech. The answer, she said, lies in affordable access to infrastructure and knowledge and the free exchange of information and ideas.
The new Internet will overcome the divides of economic, social and geographic differences and will be governed through a shared responsibility of all actors, said Creech. For this she urged a better understanding of the relationship between Internet and sustainable development and the need to integrate their governance frameworks.
Is there a solution to spam?
Governance issues become highly relevant with the Internet impacting our daily routine in the ways we work, live and entertain. Who will govern the future Internet? How can public and development interests be protected?
Whilst Sadowsky spoke on digital hooliganism and the lack of government resources to tackle cyber crime, Wong added that the issue of identity is fundamental in matters of licensing.
Valerie DCosta pointed out the vital role of the Internet Governance Forum and other bodies in recognizing the whole range of vulnerabilities from theft to child pornography.
The technical community needs to be included in matters of law and enforcement, added Sadowsky, even as he warned of a future that will put a possible 2 billion users at risk.
Celebrating 10 years
Nicknamed the MoO, the Market of Opportunities was highly popular among the GK3 participants and provided the perfect space to meet and interact with old and new partners. Over 40 organisations showcased their resources and assets while highlighting current and future needs.
GK3 also marked the tenth anniversary of the GKP in a celebration of its efforts towards harnessing emerging technologies for sustainable development and in making access to the technologies affordable.
GKP is 10! Photo credit: Global Knowledge Partnership /Sasa Kralj