15 September 2003


NEW YORK, 12 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the video message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the fifth meeting of the UN Information and Communications Technology Task Force in Geneva, 12 September:

Technology shapes the future, but ultimately it is people who shape technology, and decide to what uses it is put.  And you, the exceptional people in this Task Force, are making a crucial difference.

Since we launched the task force together two years ago, you have brought together leading figures in this dynamic field, and you have been thinking creatively about ways to make information technology help achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  The conference last June on wireless fidelity was just the latest example.

A powerful coalition has now formed to support this cause, and to guide us in our quest.  Exciting opportunities are opening up.  Education and employment, trade and health, governance and tolerance -- all these areas of life, and others too, can be transformed.

Now we all need to work out how best to deploy our respective strengths.  The World Summit on the Information Society -- now just three months away -- offers us a great chance to do this.  I hope you will all do your utmost to make it a success, by using it to spread the word about initiatives that make creative use of technology to improve the quality of life in developing countries.  By so doing, you will enable others to benefit from your ideas, and to replicate them easily.

New technologies and applications continue to emerge.  Current technologies are maturing, and old ones are finding new uses.  We must ensure that the poor are not left further behind by all these dramatic changes, but can join in, and benefit from them.

Ultimately, our aim must be to ensure that people everywhere have access to information technology, and can use it to build better lives, for themselves and for their children.

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