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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 September, 2004, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Africa seeks gadget lovers' cash
Woman using mobile phone in Senegal
Mobiles can be used to keep track of market prices
A global fund designed to shrink the technology gap between rich and poor nations is to be launched in November, said one of its key advocates.

President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal said it would seek voluntary donations.

Technology is seen by many as a way of helping developing nations educate their people, make them healthier and escape poverty.

But richer countries rejected the idea of compulsory donations at a UN summit in Geneva in December 2003.

Hi-tech contributions

President Wade has been one of the chief proponents of a so-called digital solidarity fund for developing nations.

He led efforts at the Geneva summit for firm financial commitments from the industrialised nations.

Women using computer in Bangladesh
Increasing access to computers and the internet is a UN priority
But there were no pledges for cash to bankroll technology-related projects at the meeting.

The fund announced by President Wade at a news conference in Geneva is a far cry from the original idea.

It is due to be launched in Geneva on 17 November.

The Senegalese leader said it would be based on voluntary contributions from the buyers of hi-tech goods in wealthy nations.

Exactly how this would work has yet to be explained.

But President Wade argued the fund would benefit industrialised countries, as millions of dollars would be used to buy computers, mobiles and other equipment from them.

2005 follow-up

Nations like Senegal see technology as a way of promoting economic growth and improve the life of its people.

The World Summit on the Information Society held in December was the first UN summit which looked at the impact of technologies like the internet and mobile phones.

It brought together more than 10,000 politicians, business representatives, development workers and technology experts for three days in Geneva.

The summit ended with agreement on the great potential of technologies like the internet and the need to extend its benefits to all, without going into specifics.

A follow-up summit is due to be held in Tunisia in 2005.

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