OECD and developing countries join Dot.force to tackle digital divide

OECD Observer

Representatives of developing countries, OECD members and the Digital Opportunities Task Force (Dot.force) set up by the G8 in July last year, took advantage of an OECD-organised conference on electronic commerce in Dubai to talk informally about how to tackle the digital divide.

The conclusion of the discussions in late January was that efforts to tackle the digital divide would succeed only if closely tied to the needs of developing countries in areas such as health, education and transport. Participants also agreed that policymakers must learn from the experience of many countries and regions in their search for solutions appropriate in their own countries.

The consultation between the OECD, the Dot.force and some 20 emerging market, transition and developing countries was organised by the OECD with the support of the Dubai government. Participants made a number of suggestions of ways to help less-favoured countries take full advantage of information and communications technology (ICT). These included awareness-building exercises involving senior government officials, government-backed venture capital funds to support ICT initiatives and tax incentives to encourage ICT companies to expand operations in less-favoured countries.

Their suggestions will form part of input for the Dot.force as it prepares to report back to G8 leaders before their next summit in Genoa in July, and will also feed into ongoing work on ICT and e-commerce at the OECD.

The Dot.force consultation took place at the end of an emerging markets economic forum co-hosted by the OECD and the Dubai authorities in Dubai, the first time the OECD has held such a meeting outside a member country. Some 300 delegates from 60 countries attended the forum, which was preceded by meetings bringing together government representatives with participants from the business sector and consumer and civil society organisations.

©OECD Observer No 225, March 2001

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