PEOPLE - WSIS PREPCOM IN TUNISIA

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*   The WSIS caravan rolls on...This week sees the preparatory meeting (Prepcom) for the big event.The Civil Society session began half an hour late, as many representatives had not factored in the 80km drive from Tunis airport to the resort town, writes Steve Lang of Highway Africa News Agency.  The opening session was used to bring up to speed representatives who had not attended the first phase of the summit in Geneva or those who had not been closely monitoring developments in the field.

 Renate Bloem, president of the Conference of NGOs (CONGO), and chair of the session explained that one of the most important tasks at hand was to decide on how to use the time allocated to Civil Society during the plenary sessions of the government meeting. Bloem said that so far, Civil Society would have two 15-minute slots to address the government representatives.  She stressed the importance of making best using of the two slots, and said that speakers should take great care not to overrun their allotted times.

http://rights.apc.org/documents/financing.pdf

http://rights.apc.org/documents/governance.pdf

According to Rebecca Wanjiku of Highway Africa News Service, African ministers at the Prepcom have expressed fear of losing control of the Digital Solidarity Fund (DSF) to the civil society organisations. Their fear stems from the enthusiasm expressed by several European local governments for funding the DSF as a vehicle of bridging the digital divide. Cities such as Lyon, Paris, Geneva and Bilbao, as well as the Basque province in Spain have committed themselves to the cause. Mamadou Diop, the Senegalese minister of information and Pan African Cooperation, said that such enthusiasm may lead to the money being channeled through the civil society instead of governments who initially proposed the fund.

But the shape of the Digital Solidarity Fund is still at the "back-of-the-envelope" stage.Samassekou said that the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) had gathered a group of experts in Addis Ababa to discuss and formulate a concrete document on the DSF. The meeting expressed optimism that by the time the regional WSIS meeting is held in Ghana in February next year, there will be some progress on the conceptual framework of the DSF.

Meanwhile the ITU is putting out the begging bowl to find the money for the final summit. It has so far raised 24% of the 5 million Swiss Francs the event will need, the majority of which has so far come from Switzerland (carried over from the previous event), Japan, Korea and Norway. No sign yet of other major developed country donations. And it will cost just over a million Swiss francs to support the process in financial year 2004/2005.

*   Unisys Africa has appointed Frederick Daniels as area sales director for its Western Cape branch. Daniels will take total management responsibility for the Western Cape region, with primary responsibilities for directing the overall sales operations, managing the sales planning process, and ensuring excellent maintenance, support and general ICT services for new and existing clients.

*   A correction: CCK's Sammy Kirui does not have a new job at the ITU. He was the Chair of ITU Council 2004 which just concluded. The Chairmanship is appointed from Members of ITU Council (46 countries). The Council oversees ITU's activities between ITU Plenipotentiary Conferences where the full membership (189 countries) sets ITU's strategic direction.