- Mr Janis Karklins, UNESCO ADG addressing the conference
The 5th World Information Technology Forum (WITFOR) was held on 17 and 18 April 2012 in New Delhi, India, under the theme ‘ICT for Sustainable Human Development’. The Forum was organized by the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) and the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India. India was selected to host WITFOR 2012 as the country presents enormous development challenges, and models of innovation and globally competitive IT capabilities.
Attended by representatives from over 30 countries, the Forum provided an opportunity for policymakers, development professionals, IT businesses and experts to share their vision and knowledge; enhance their understanding of the innovative uses of IT for development; share best practices in the use of IT for governance and delivery of key public services; and showcase successful working models of ICT for development.
Inaugurating WITFOR 2012, Mr Kapil Sibal, the Union Minister of Communication and IT, and Human Resource and Development, said that e-Governance promotes transparency and openness, which helps keep people better informed, resulting in higher government accountability. The Minister observed that if the goal of sustainable development is to be achieved, an enabling ecosystem must be created to address the issue of content, connectivity and accessibility in a holistic and integrated manner.
The Minister of State for Communications and IT, Mr Sachin Pilot, said the Government of India faces the challenge of increasing IT and broadband penetration, and a key obstacle is the high cost of IT hardware and connectivity. He observed that this challenge could be overcome by encouraging greater domestic manufacture of IT products. The Minister also noted that Parliament is considering a bill that will mandate provisioning of all public services compulsorily through electronic means to ensure transparency, efficiency, accessibility and reliability in delivery of such services.
In his address, Mr Janis Karklins, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, said that technology offers tremendous opportunities for sharing knowledge and information. According to him, education brings sustainability to development, and technology can be a powerful education multiplier. Mr Karklins emphasized that the innovative and creative use of technology is crucial for achieving international development goals along with literacy and quality education.
WITFOR has emerged as a unique global platform to bring together different stakeholders involved in the application of ICT for sustainable development. After editions in Lithuania, Botswana, Ethiopia and Vietnam, WITFOR moved to India this year. But like its previous editions, the goal of WITFOR 2012 was also to highlight the successful application of ICT for development, with a focus on replicable projects that combine research, policy and practice, with the smart use of resources. Some of the themes discussed during the two-day Forum in India included open government; the use of ICTs in agriculture, health, education, vocational training and skill upgrading; e-governance issues; state data banks and issues of privacy; cyber-security; and administrative reform.
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