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E-Government Conference Opens in Palermo - 2002-04-11

An international conference on electronic government opened Wednesday in the Sicilian capital, Palermo. Delegates from all over the world are discussing how to reduce the digital divide between the developing and industrialized world.

Electronic government, utilizing the latest developments in computing and communications, is considered a crucial factor in reducing the gap between developing and industrialized countries. Some policy-makers believe it can strengthen democracy by empowering citizens; streamlining bureaucracy; and improving the relationship between business and government in the developing world.

More than 500 ministers and government representatives are attending an unprecedented two-day conference titled "E-Government for Development" in Palermo, Sicily. More than 90 countries are represented including 71 developing ones.

In his opening speech at the conference Wednesday, Italian Minister for Innovation and Technologies Lucio Stanca said the objective of e-government is democratic growth and transparency. The minister says an efficient and transparent public sector gives governments more credibility and investors more confidence.

The Italian Government is making available more than $100 million in assistance to Albania, Jordan, Tunisia, Nigeria and Mozambique, All have announced e-government programs at the Palermo meeting, each with a different focus.