Tuesday, November 15, 2005


    Jakarta, Nov. 15/2005 (ANTARA) - Tunisia is hosting the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) whose process was launched in Geneva in December 2003, under the auspices of the United Nations, from November 16 to 18, 2005.
      "The call for a Summit was made by Tunisia at the Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunication Union in Minneapolis (USA) in 1998," said Sadok Boudguiga, First Secretary in charge of the Press of the Tunisian embassy in Jakarta, in a statement here, Wednesday.

      For Tunisia and all the developing as well as the developed countries, this is an event of paramount importance. Confronted "though in varying degrees" with the challenges of the digital revolution, they all have felt the urgent need to develop a common vision of the information society of tomorrow. The choice made of Tunisia to host this international event of a new kind, setting in motion new forms of partnership between governments, civil society and private sector, is neither fortuitous nor surprising.
     The second phase of the WSIS is comprised of two constituents, namely the official part of the Summit which will take place on November 16-18, 2005 in the Kram Exhibition Center, Tunis, and the parallel events such as meetings, debates, workshops, and exhibitions, which will take place on November 14-19, 2005 also in the Kram Exhibition Center, Tunis.
     The parallel events of the WSIS second phase consist of "Partnership for the development of the information society" which includes an exhibition on the theme of 'Partnership for the development of information and communication technologies".
     The objective of these events is to foster contact between the different parties attending the summit in conformity with the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly.
     Tunisia's aim was to mobilize the international community to provide concerted and solidarity-based solutions to ICTs-related issues, in such a way as to enable humanity to make optimum use of the technological means available, and to allow each citizens, wherever he is, to have free access to sources of information and knowledge necessary for his full development.
        The Internet

        Universal and unfettered access to the Internet is a fact of life in Tunisia. The number of Internet users has grown to 900,000 in January 2005. There are 12 Internet Service providers, five of which belong to the private sector. The country has 310 Internet Service centers at the end of 2004.

        Measures and incentives introduced by the authorities to facilitate access to the Internet have made Tunisia today one of the best connected African and Arab countries.

        A program for the generalization and promotion of the Internet is being implemented. All secondary and higher education institutions are connected to the web. All primary schools will be connected by the year 2006. The country plans to launch Internet buses to connect local communities even at the remotest regions of the country.

        Initiatives for the creation of websites are encouraged particularly through public grants and other incentives. Tunisian law, however, prohibits all forms of incitement to commit acts of violence and terrorism.

        Freedom of the press

        The press in Tunisia is free and pluralistic. About 90 percent of the newspapers are privately owned and editorially independent. Opposition parties, professional organizations and civil society associations have their own publications.

        All opposition newspapers benefit from a public subsidy-mechanism allowing them to get back 60 per cent of the costs of newspaper production.

        Besides, the national press benefits from numerous indirect forms of support, including exemption from customs duties fro all printing materials.

        The number of journalists is steadily increasing. There are currently in Tunisia about one thousand professional journalists, comparing to 639 in 1990. About 950 foreign publications and newspapers are distributed in this North African country. Virtually all Tunisian households have access to radio and television. More than 60 per cent of Tunisian homes are equipped with satellite dishes. Around 70 foreign correspondents are permanently based in Tunis.

        "The Tunisia of today is different from the Tunisia of yesterday, thanks to the level of welfare achieved by its people as shown by human, economic and social indicators," according to the embassy s release.

        The GNP s growth during 2002-2005 period is estimated at 4.1% at constant prices against 5.3% expected for the same period in the Tenth Plan. The per capita income registered an improvement as it reached 3,805 dinars against 2,980 dinars in 2001, that is an estimated annual growth of 5.8% between 2002 and 2005.

        The value added in the sector of manufacturing industries registered in 2004 an increase of 5.1% against 0.9% in 2003, thanks to the dynamic shown by the mechanical and electric sectors. Tunisia is sparing no effort to ensure the success of the WSIS second phase. Tunisia has proposed the creation of an international fund to facilitate the participation of representatives of civil society from the least developed countries.

        Tunisia has already made a 400,000-dinar contribution to this Fund. President Ben Ali has called on all concerned parties, including governments, international institutions, NGOs, associations and the private sector, so that they participate massively in the Tunis Summit, said the embassy diplomat. (T.F001/B/A014/B) (T.F001/C/I010/A014) 16-11-2005 15:27:25

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