Are the WSIS Target Objectives Achievable?

As Discussed in class, the World Summit on the Information Society’s goals are lofty. About as lofty as the eight Millenium Development Goals. However, WSIS’s overall objectives and aims for ICTs to reach the masses are admirable. Both the summits held in Geneva and Tunisia made ICTs a “political will” for communities to increase access. The goals are as follows:

1. Connect villages with ICTs and establish community access points
2. Connect universities, colleges, secondary schools, and primary schools with
ICTs
3. Connect scientific and research centers with ICTs
4. Connect public libraries, cultural centers, museums, post offices, and archives
with ICTs
5. Connect health centers and hospitals with ICTs
6. Connect all local and central government departments and establish websites
and e-mail addresses
7. Adapt all primary and secondary school curricula to meet the challenges of
the information society, taking into account national circumstances
8. Ensure that all the world’s population have access to television and radio
services
9. Encourage the development of content and put in place technical conditions in
order to facilitate the presence and use of all world languages on the
Internet.
10. Ensure that more than half the world’s inhabitants have access to ICTs within
their reach

We discussed issues with some of the goals, particularly with number 10’s elusive word choice and number 9’s ambition. Some people in class commented on whether or not there is a need for number 4. We did not, however, look at statistics to support the issues we found with the objectives. This video provides statistics in relation to the cost of broadband as a percentage of average monthly income around the globe. Where in Monaco the cost of broadband is .3%, for 4 of the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa it costs over 1000%. For this reason, individual access to ICTs (particularly Internet) may be unrealistic at this time, but community access through public libraries and cultural centers as mentioned in objective 4 may be the most cost-effective way to reach the WSIS objectives. Establishing community access points (objective 1) may be through the use of public libraries and cultural centers. The video states 11 of the 15 most unaffordable economics for broadband are in Africa while 11 of the 15 most affordable economies for broadband are in Europe. This continues to show the inequality among rich and poor and developing and developed countries. Access is not simply limited to physical barriers but economic as well. The higher the cost for broadband, the more difficult to achieve the WSIS target objectives overall.

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