What is the UN ICT Task Force?

The UN ICT Task Force was established by the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2001.  It is a multi-stakeholder institution and includes participants from both the developed and developing world. In addition, the UN ICT Task force works closely with WSIS and the World Economic Forum. Many members of the ICT Task Force come from top computer development companies, including Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Nokia, Siemens, and Sun Micro Systems. These large companies also collaborate with a select groups of NGOs and a small UN secretariat, creating a fairly diverse membership.

This group is then divided into four working groups:

1.ICT Policy and Governance

2. Enabling Environment

3. Human Resource Development and Capacity Building

4. ICT Indicators and MDG Mapping

The main objective of the ICT Task Force is to provide policy advice to governments and international organizations, informing them on what ICTs realistically can and cannot do, in order to help combat the digital divide. On the ICT Task Force’s intro page, they summarize their mission as:

“One of the most pressing challenges in the new century is to harness this extraordinary force, spread it throughout the world, and make its benefits accessible and meaningful for all humanity, in particular the poor. The principal mission of this Task Force is to tell us how we might accomplish this ambitious goal.”

One interesting project of the UN ICT Task Force was the “Challenge to Silicon Valley,” issued by Kofi Annan in 2002. The challenge was for top companies in Silicon Valley to create ICT solutions that could be created at a price point low enough that they could be deployed anywhere in the world. The companies responded to the challenge, although by 2004, only a handful of UN programs were using ICTs.

The UN ICT TF also produces several publications on effective ICT policy and use and leads many workshops and the many dimensions of and possibilities for ICTs. Currently, the UN ICT TF is being replaced by a new group, called Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID), which has a direct focus on ICTs for International Development.

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