ITU and Microsoft Launch Online Platform to Track ICT Development

KIGALI, Rwanda — Oct. 29, 2007 — ITU Global View, a Microsoft Virtual Earth-based online platform to track and help accelerate the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) goals in Africa, was launched today on the opening day of the Connect Africa Summit.

Governments, along with industry, development banks and international organizations, are gathered in Kigali to mobilize the human, financial and technical resources required to expand the development of information and communication technologies (ICT) infrastructure and ensure it is used effectively in pursuit of the WSIS development goals for Africa.

The International Telecommunication Union and Microsoft Corp. today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the Connect Africa summit outlining how they will work together to build a security-enhanced, inclusive and interoperable information society. They agreed to support programs enabling skills development and capacity building along with the delivery of relevant applications and services in Africa. These would include the delivery of a new online solution for all stakeholders to showcase and track the implementation of development projects in Africa.

In addition, ITU and Microsoft will collaborate globally on cybersecurity and provide support for regulators in developing countries.

“We are very pleased that Microsoft, as an early signatory of the Connect the World initiative, is stepping up its commitment to help address the effective use of ICT infrastructure in Africa,” said Dr. Hamadoun Touré, secretary-general of the ITU. “Connect Africa is a call to action for the private sector, and we are encouraged by the progress we have made together with Microsoft and the scope of capacity building in Africa.”

“Bringing the benefits of technology to the next 5 billion people will require new approaches to development and new partnerships between international organizations, governments and the private sector,” said Michael Rawding, vice president of the Unlimited Potential Group at Microsoft, referring to the 1 billion people already connected to the Internet. “Through Unlimited Potential we are committed globally to applying technology to advance social and economic opportunity, and we look forward to working with ITU on shared development and technology goals.”

As part of the Memorandum of Understanding, Microsoft and ITU are launching a flagship online visualization platform called ITU Global View, which is being demonstrated at the Connect Africa Summit in Kigali. Based on Microsoft Virtual Earth, ITU Global View integrates a broad range of new and existing data sources on global ICT for development accomplishments in support of the WSIS goals. Easy to view, the software was developed in alliance with IDV Solutions. The online platform will be hosted and maintained by ITU, and it will be open to all stakeholders — governments, industry, international and regional organizations, as well as civil society — allowing users to check status, identify gaps and avoid overlap in collaborative efforts to achieve the WSIS goals.

The ITU-Microsoft alliance also focuses on providing digital opportunities for youth. Youth empowerment and capacity-building is essential to accelerate sustainable social and economic growth toward a competitive Africa. Microsoft and ITU will provide access to computer technology training as well as opportunities to gain valuable work experience in the industry.

ITU and Microsoft will work to contribute to the development of the Global Cybersecurity Agenda and its associated work program to assist developing countries with implementation. They will also explore opportunities for Microsoft to support ITU programs aimed at training regulators and ICT policymakers in developing countries as they address fresh challenges associated with new information and communication technologies.

About ITU

ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues, and the global focal point for governments and the private sector in developing networks and services. For more than 140 years, ITU has coordinated the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoted international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, worked to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world, and established the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems.

ITU also organizes worldwide and regional exhibitions and forums bringing together the most influential representatives of government and the telecommunications industry to exchange ideas, knowledge and technology for the benefit of the global community, and in particular the developing world.

From broadband internet to latest-generation wireless technologies, from aeronautical and maritime navigation to radio astronomy and satellite-based meteorology, from phone and fax services to TV broadcasting and next-generation networks, ITU continues to play a central role in helping the world communicate.

About Microsoft Unlimited Potential

Microsoft, through its Unlimited Potential vision, is committed to making technology more affordable, relevant and accessible for the 5 billion people around the world who do not yet enjoy its benefits. The company aims to do so by helping to transform education and foster a culture of innovation, and through these means enable better jobs and opportunities. By working with governments, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations and industry partners, Microsoft hopes to reach its first major milestone — to reach the next 1 billion people who are not yet realizing the benefits of technology — by 2015.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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