University of  Sussex MEDIA RELEASE

The Information Office, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9RH.

29 April l998 For immediate release

UN LOOKS TO NET TO SHRINK GAP BETWEEN RICH AND POOR

Developing countries must decide for themselves how the Internet will benefit them. Such crucial choices can't be left to corporate grandees like Bill Gates or to daydreamers sold on visions of 'Cybertopia' no matter how well-meant. That is the key message of Knowledge Societies, a major new report for the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development edited by Professor Robin Mansell and Uta Wehn of the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex.

Knowledge Societies puts developing countries at the heart of debates about the impact of the global information society. It examines the impact of new technologies on market opportunities, employment, lifelong learning, new styles of working and the role of women. It offers new insight into the relationships between infrastructure, skills and experience in enhancing knowledge-based development, and it provides practical guidelines for government and business leaders on the creation of national IT strategies.

"Knowledge from new information and communications technologies can be converted into real social and economic benefits," explains Robin. "If governments and other stakeholders can find ways to use the Net more creatively, the gap between rich and poor might not vanish, but it could shrink."

From l995-l997, the Working Group on Information Technology and Development of the UN Commission investigated the claims and counterclaims about the risks and benefits of information and communications technologies (ICTs). Knowledge Societies encapsulates the findings of the Working Group. It argues that although the costs of building ICT infrastructures in the developing world are high, the costs of not doing so - in terms of benefits foregone - are likely to be much higher.

For further information contact Sue Yates, Information Officer, University of Sussex, Tel. 01273 678384, Fax 01273 678335, email s.m.yates@sussex.ac.uk OR Professor Robin Mansell at the Information Networks and Knowledge research and training centre in the Science Policy Research Unit Tel. 01273 686758 or email r.e.mansell@sussex.ac.uk

Note for Editors:

Knowledge Societies: Information Technology for Sustainable Development is edited by Robin Mansell and Uta Wehn and published by Oxford University Press (ISBN 0-19-829410-7)


This file produced by USIS - 28th April 1998