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First Ever Global Summit On The Information Society Opens In Geneva - 2003-12-10

The first ever “Global Summit on the Information Society” is underway in Geneva. Organizers say one billion people around the world are being by-passed by the information revolution – something they call the “digital divide.”

Among those attending the summit is Stephan Rudgard of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Mr. Rudgard is chief of the FAO’s world agricultural information center outreach team. He spoke to English to Africa Joe De Capua about the purpose of the “Global Summit on the Information Society.

He says, “The divide even occurs within developed countries such as the United States, between the poor and the rich. It occurs between poor and rich countries. It occurs also between urban and rural communities. It also occurs between disadvantaged people within rural communities. So there are different levels of this divide.”

Mr. Rudgard says there are consequences. He says, “People who would otherwise be able to improve their livelihood and their well-being are disadvantaged because they don’t have access to the information that those more advantaged people do have.”

The FAO official says it’s important that poor nations be active participants in formulating information policies. Otherwise the private sector and big business will dominate the debate. About 170 countries and hundreds of civil society, private sector, ngo’s and charities are represented at the summit.

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