Rural Focus for World Telecom Day 2011

This year marks the 42nd anniversary of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, as well as the 146th anniversary of the foundation of the International Telecom Union or ITU.



In keeping with the purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) which is to help raise awareness about the use of the internet and ICT to bridge the digital divide, the theme for this year is -Better life in rural communities with ICTs’, which was adopted by ITU Council in 2009 and follows up on the theme for 2010: -Better city, better life with ICTs’.



The ITU has been calling on ICTs each year to focus on rural communities which make up more than half of the world’s population today, and provide opportunities for them to develop on par with the rest of the society in terms of ICT and telecom growth. This is with the belief that overall growth is needed for individual goal accomplishment



Speaking about the theme UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, Recent events around the world, in particular in North Africa and the Middle East, have highlighted the catalytic role that mobile phones and social media can play in galvanizing public opinion against repression.  And in the aftermath of natural disasters that have struck with greater frequency and force, we have seen how these technologies are a vital part of the aid response, establishing lines of communication that can save lives, reunite families and help emergency relief reach people in need.”



As part of this theme, ITU will give global recognition to eminent personalities who have contributed to the benefits of ICT in their respective countries, and especially done exceptional work in ICT for rural areas. This year, the Annual World Telecommunication and Information Society Awards are being presented to President of Finland Tarja Halonen, telecommunication innovator Sam Pitroda, and CEO of Inveneo Kristin Peterson at a special ceremony that will be held on May 17, 2011 at the ITU headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.



Lauding the three winners, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure  said, Information and communication technologies are constantly reshaping the way the world communicates while creating opportunities for a better life through long-term, sustainable development, not least among the most disadvantaged sections of our society. As we focus on extending the reach of ICTs to the remotest rural communities in every corner of the world, it is my pleasure to honour those who have dedicated themselves to harnessing the full potential of ICTs so that we can all enjoy a more productive, peaceful and – in every way – a better life, particularly in rural areas.”



President of Finland Tarja Halonen is co-chairman of the High-level United Nations Panel on Global Sustainability and has focused on several key issues, from sustainable sourcing to improving access to education and improving maternal health in low-income countries.



Sam Pitroda is currently Adviser to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations and Chairman of the National Innovation Council of India. He is also widely considered to have been responsible for India‘s telecommunications revolution and has been a leading campaigner to help bridge the global digital divide.



Kristin Peterson is CEO of Inveneo, a non-profit social enterprise that takes computers, internet access and telephony to rural and underserved communities in the developing world. To help offset connectivity issues and environmental challenges, Inveneo’s solutions incorporate cost-efficient and sustainable features that include ultra-low-power computing and long-distance wireless connectivity and they partner with local ICT entrepreneurs for in-country deployment.



World Telecommunication Day has been celebrated annually on 17 May since 1969 marking the foundation of ITU and the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention in 1865. It was instituted by the Plenipotentiary Conference in Malaga-Torremolinos in 1973.



By Team
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