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WSIS Tokyo Workshop on Empowering the Poor through Information Access: What Works And What is Sustainable?

On Sunday, January 12, the World Bank hosted a panel session at the United Nations University, Tokyo on "Empowering the Poor through Information Access: What works and What is Sustainable?" It served as a part of side events of the Asian Regional Conference for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Tokyo.

Session 1. E-Development and Rural Information Access
Session 2: Can ICT Empower the Poor? Creating Opportunities and Meeting Needs
Session 3: Financial and Operational Sustainability and Scaling up of Rural Information Centers

Program (PDF 13.3 KB)


Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) play a growing role in the world's economies and societies. They are also tools that can enable the participation of poor rural citizens in economic and civic life, as well as stimulate their exodus from poverty. As an effective tool to provide access to information for people living in remote areas, the community-based information center has a potential for reaching such rural populations to provide them with basic communication means, ICT training, agricultural information dissemination, e-learning, distance health care, e-government services, and small and micro-enterprise support, to name a few. These activities provide a foundation for their empowerment, as well as economic opportunities. However, ICTs can only be of use to the poor community if social entrepreneurs and developmental institutions act as bridges between technology and people in local communities.

The panel of speakers consisted of policy makers, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, representatives from the private sector, and experts from the World Bank who discussed how they can work together to create feasible and sustainable approaches to community- based information centers. The main key points the panel session focused on is as follows:

(i) Importance of information access for rural communities in context of global e-development and national strategies, taking e-Sri Lanka program as an example;

(ii) Review of cases in Asia where the differing needs and interests of both men and women are considered in the use of ICTs; and

(iii) Identifying financial and operational sustainability and potential for scaling up rural information centers.

NTT Communications; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan; United Nations Center for Regional Development (UNCRD), Nagoya; Association for Progressive Communication - Women's Networking Support Program, Philippines; Basic Human Needs (BHN), Japan; Hickling Corporation, Canada; ITU-D Study Group 2 for Rural Communications; and World Bank, Washington DC.

Click here to view the December 2 workshop.

If you have questions or comments related to this panel session, please e-mail to Kayoko Shibata.


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