Key Note Address by
UN Resident Co-ordinator
On the occasion of the IT Awareness Seminar
Organized by NiDA in Partnership with UNESCO and UNDP
At the Intercontinental Hotel
September 11-13 Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my honor and pleasure to join the Information Technology Awareness Seminar
Organized by NiDA in Partnership with UNESCO and UNDP.
Information and Communication Technology is indispensable to all countries, especially the
least developed countries. It is a key tool in strengthening their capacity to develop the
national economy and to move towards becoming knowledge based societies.
Therefore UNDP Phnom Penh is happy to cooperate with UNESCO and NiDA to make this
I realize that some people doubt whether providing access to Information and
Communication Technology can play a significant role in reducing poverty. However we
know that Information and Communication Technology is a powerful tool which can
effectively help us to address health care challenges, education challenges and human
rights issues. We now have available many approaches to address basic development
issues which use digital methods and are cost effective, country-specific and empowerment-
oriented. However, as with all tools, their usefulness depends on how they are employed.
Understanding and awareness can help us use them in the best way.
In the area of health, Information and Communication Technology is already being used in
Cambodia to map and track disease outbreaks and our responses to them. The Ministry of
Health website shares information. In some developing countries Information and
Communication Technology is used to facilitate remote consultation, diagnosis and
treatment. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the Internet is used to monitor daily cases of
meningitis and to help to coordinate mass vaccination program when threshold level are
In education, many organizations and vocational training facilities are employing Information
and Communication Technology for distance learning and to train workers and even
teachers in an array of functional areas. And through IT, curricula can be developed
collaboratively and educational materials can be distributed and updated more cheaply.
In terms of political empowerment, Information and Communication Technology can provide
poor people, and those who work with them, with new channels for voicing their concerns,
organizing popular movements, and enabling governments to be more accountable to those
who elect them.
Information and Communication Technology can also help to create jobs. The tremendous
inequality in economic development that exists globally is a consequence of the tremendous
distance between the developing countries and the major corridors of trade and markets of
the world. Information and Communication Technology can make those distances much less
significant. For some countries, such as India, IT offers major economic opportunities.
Therefore I am convinced that Awareness of Information and Communication Technology
can play an important role in bridging the digital divide.
People should know that this is the Information Age.
People should know that information that allows people to develop their skills and resources.
This is the century in which telecommunication infrastructure will allow people to exchange
ideas and skills. For Cambodia to benefit much still needs to be done, and Awareness is the
first step. Particularly among key decision makers in the public sector.
Other steps include increasing the access and affordability of Internet and
Telecommunication services. New wireless technologies have great potential for Information
and Communication Technology development because they cut down the cost of cabling
and have less environment impact. This is particularly relevant in remote locations and at
cultural heritage sites where cabling is prohibited or too costly. In the least developed
countries, they can be can be used to bypass the installation of expensive 20th century
This is a great opportunity for us here in Cambodia. I believe we can make the best use of
such an opportunity by formulating a National Information Technology Plan, with provision
for Technical Training for Information Technology Personnel in Ministries and Government
Agencies and the implementing of Intranet Pilot Projects in Selected Institutions.
For implementing such a national plan, Cambodia will need political commitment and
leadership. It will also need to identify ways of increasing the number of internet users in the
I hope that the use of Information Technology in Developing countries will be supported by
investment or even donation from the industrialized countries, with contributions from private
foundations and businesses, particularly those in the technology industry.
The digital-divide will no longer be an issue if the two worlds, the third world and the
industrialized world can unite to bridge the technology gap.
I hope that this Information Technology Seminar will be successful in creating awareness of
the importance and potential of Information and Communication Technology in Cambodia