Internet and ICT
France and its European partners have placed themselves in the forefront when it comes to determining the key issues of international policy on Internet governance.
Key subjects at the heart of Internet governance are:
promoting human rights;
protecting privacy and personal data;
cultural diversity and the place of French on the Internet;
new Internet domain extensions (".paris", ".hotels", etc.);
governance of the "Internet of things";
neutrality of electronic communications networks;
protection of virtual heritage.
The vital contribution that ICT makes to development is universally acknowledged: ICT offers extremely powerful tools that have an important role to play in implementing each of the eight MDG (Millennium Development Goals), and access to ICT is in itself an indicator for MDG 8. ICT can be used to develop applications in many fields (healthcare, education, etc.) and is a formidable contributor to economic growth through the massive productivity gains it generates (e-commerce, e-banking, e-administration, etc.).
Bridging the digital divide is also a major economic issue: according to OECD figures, the global ICT market represents some $3,000 billion a year. While mobile telephony has made a remarkable breakthrough in Africa, Internet access remains extremely marginal (4% to 5% in Africa, compared to 70% in the developed countries) and access to IT equipment is still very limited. Further effort is clearly still needed.
It is for this reason that the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made bridging the digital divide one of its priorities over recent years.
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs works to bridge the digital divide in various ways: either directly or in association with its operators, through support for local and regional authorities and through its contributions to international organisations.
The Fostering Digital Inclusion (ADEN) project
The ADEN project, launched in 2003 for the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, received €6 million in funding from the MAE. It has three goals: providing IT equipment and Internet connections for some 60 community Internet access points, managed by local people, in digitally isolated areas; organising training in the technical and administrative management and running of such access points; supporting the development of local Internet use and applications of benefit to the community, and posting original content online.
French cultural center in Tblissi, Georgia (Photo : MAE/F. de La Mure)
support for decentralised cooperation
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs supports regional authorities in their international initiatives, particularly on behalf of Global South countries.
the actions of French Ministry of Foreign Affairs operators
ITC programmes sponsored by the French Development Agency (AFD) are part of a strategy adopted in January 2005. AFD has provided funding for infrastructure projects involving the laying of submarine cables, mobile telephone network development projects implemented by public operators or the extension of Internet networks into underprivileged areas, as well as providing various forms of institutional, commercial and technical support.
PROPARCO, AFD’s private sector development subsidiary, is particularly active in the field of mobile telephony.
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Update : 16.01.13