ESCWA Launches 2011 Report on Information Society in Western Asia
The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) on 4 May said that countries with a low Gross National Income (GNI) spend on the information and communication services more than the developed ones, and that the Arab region comes in the second rank in terms of the cost of these services. The regional Commission, which launched a flagship report on “Profile of the Information Society in Western Asia 2011”, at the UN House, Beirut, also noted that the use of Arabic on Internet recorded its highest growth percentage between 2000 and 2011, while the range of Digital Arabic Content (DAC) was estimated between 1.5 to 2.3 per cent.
ESCWA Director of Information and Communication Technology Division Haidar Fraihat said this report describes and evaluates the data on the information society in the region. “The performance of ESCWA Member Countries improved since 2005 when the World Summit of Information Society convened its second phase,” he said. Fraihat added that the Commission focuses on bridging the digital divide through all its programs and activities.
For his part, ESCWA Information and Communication Technology Officer Rami Zaatari ran through the report’s chapters, saying that fixed-line penetration rates remained neutral at zero per cent compared to 20 per cent increase in mobile penetration rates. The Internet sector remains the most competitive in the region despite its expensive services fees. He said the report calls on setting independent regulatory frameworks to speed up the liberalization of the communications sector and to increase its competitiveness. E-government applications in some countries are nowadays seeking citizens’ feedbacks on the information and communication services and the public policies formulation in spite of a weak e-participation rate in the region.
Zaatari highlighted the report’s recommendations, which called on using the Internet to improve the development process, and to build capacities to use the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) through including them in the academic curricula and making them accessible to all. The report referred to the importance of modernizing national legal frameworks in line with the requirements of the Information Society, and to the creation of an enabling environment for DAC growth.
NB: The report is available on the following link:
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