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Wednesday, September 8, 1999 Published at 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK


Bowie and Bono launch NetAid

David Bowie joins the world's top statesmen to launch NetAid.

Pop stars David Bowie, U2's Bono and the Fugees' Wyclef Jean have helped launch NetAid, a project to promote Internet use in the world's poorer countries.

The initiative is backed by the United Nations. President Clinton, Nelson Mandela and Prime Minister Tony Blair also supported the launch by taking part in a live Internet broadcast.

The three statesmen contributed to the event via satellite from their respective countries.

[ image: UN's Kofi Annan hopes the Net will help tackle poverty.]
UN's Kofi Annan hopes the Net will help tackle poverty.
Bowie, Bono and Wyclef joined UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in a live Webcast from New York.

Jazz legend Quincy Jones introduced the programme which was available on the NetAid Website.

U2 star Bono said he was putting his weight behind NetAid because it supported the cancellation of Third World debt. NetAid is seeking to end extreme poverty and "debt aid is the first stage in that rocket," the star remarked.

Bono said the site would be "the yellow pages of aid in cyber space". He hoped the project would inform people about their world and "help them to make it better".

As well as unveiling the site, NetAid organisers announced the bills of three star-studded benefit concerts to take place in simultaneously London, New York and Geneva on 9 October.

The London gig at Wembley Stadium will feature the likes of Robbie Williams, George Michael, Bryan Adams, Catatonia, The Corrs and Eurythmics.

Irish megastar Bono and Wyclef Jean will appear at the New York show, performing a song they have recorded together for NetAid called New Day.

[ image: U2's Bono will headline NetAid's New York gig.]
U2's Bono will headline NetAid's New York gig.
Jimmy Page, The Who's Pete Townsend and Celine Dion will also be seen in the global spectacular to be broadcast on radio and BBC and MTV television channels.

Up to 60 million people every hour will also be able to watch the event on the NetAid Website, which has been designed to allow 10 times greater viewing capacity than any previous Webcast.

"Nothing like this has ever been done on this scale before," says Robert Piper from the United Nations Development Programme.

Cash raised for the concerts, which bring a cyber-twist to the tradition of charity gigs such as Live Aid and Band Aid, will go to help the poor of Sudan and refugees in Kosovo.

The shows are also intended to showcase the potential of the Internet.

[ image: NetAid brings a cyber-twist to the Live Aid concept.]
NetAid brings a cyber-twist to the Live Aid concept.
The NetAid project aims bridge the gap between affluent Net users and those in developing nations who have not even heard of the "Worldwide Web".

The NetAid site will act as a rallying point for the international effort to tackle poverty.

The site will show development projects in action and link schools and institutions from the rich and poorer nations.

"Net Aid will be a lasting weapon that will help mobilise people who were not involved previously, and create new virtual communities that will work together to eradicate extreme poverty," says the UN's Mark Malloch Brown.

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