World business leaders today called on governments to join them in creating the right conditions for information and communication technologies and the internet to reach their full potential as engines of economic growth and social development.
In a three-page plan entitled Statement on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and the Internet for Economic Growth and Social Development, business pledged to do its part to promote investment, innovation and building new businesses that create jobs in related industries.
The statement was signed at the International Chamber of Commerce's 35th World Congress, taking place in Marrakesh from 6-9 June.
Citing some 5.7 billion people worldwide who are still not participating directly in the networked economy, ICC's members from business around the world urged governments to take action in six specific areas: intellectual property rights protection; stable and predictable legal systems; trade liberalization; education and capacity building; technology neutrality; and a regulatory framework which promotes competition and fosters entrepreneurship.
"In turn, the private sector will continue to play its critical role in building and deploying the necessary infrastructures and innovating and developing applications and content," the statement said. The statement also outlined the key issues concerning the work of the UN Secretary-General's working group on internet governance and his task force on financing.
Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, chair of ICC's Commission on E-business, IT and Telecoms, signed the statement with Maria Livanos Cattaui, ICC's Secretary General.
Mr Abu-Ghazaleh said: "Telecoms liberalization is a perfect example of how governments and businesses, working hand in hand, can unleash the power of the communications revolution to benefit all citizens. Government reform initiatives together with private investment create new communications services and vastly improve the quality and value for money of fixed line services, which is a first step in allowing many countries and citizens to use ICTs and benefit from the information society. The ICC will work with governments and business and all partners to raise awareness, share information and experience and keep pushing this effort forward."
Bruno Lanvin, Senior Advisor for e-strategies at the World Bank, said: "The World Bank has a strong record in supporting competition with appropriate regulation in the developing world's telecommunications and ICT sectors. At present, about 80 countries receive World Bank support in creating an enabling regulatory environment, developing and implementing market opening strategies, and attracting private investment. The key actions that business is urging in this statement are the ones that we have found work. We support and commend the business community and ICC's statement."