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On Africa Telecom, ITU Explains Somalia While Charging $100,000 for Access to Heads of State

Issue 296
Front Page

NATO US Navy Commander Speaks Exclusively To S/land Times

Clan militias in Las Anod fight For The Town

Somaliland School Examination Results Announced

Somaliland accuses Puntland of supporting Ethiopia rebels

The Delayed Release of Imprisoned QARAN Leaders: Procedural Hurdles?

New UN envoy on first Somalia trip

Somaliland official says al Qaeda suspects arrested

U.S. Special Envoy Cites Widespread ‘Lack of Confidence’ in Somali Government

Four killed in Mogadishu violence as free press strangled

Saudis 'support Arab-African Somali troop plan'

A Confusing Mix Of Conflict In Somalia

The Next Battlefront

DoD planning 5 regional teams under AFRICOM

Regional Affairs

Families Flee Violence In Sool Region

Democratic governments urged to summon Eritrean ambassadors on anniversary of 18 September 2001 crackdown

Special Report

International News

Bush, Congress at record low ratings: Reuters poll

Life Saving AIDS Drug for Africa Gets Final Clearance

Experts Debate US War Powers as Senate Debates Iraq War


Somaliland And Puntland In War, As Moderate Leader Rises In Somali South

Position Paper: Going to War and The War in Iraq

UNICEF Urges End to Female Genital Mutilation in Egypt

The New Military Frontier: Africa

Peruvians get sick from apparent meteorite crater

Africa: Investment in livestock sought

When our friends start dying

Food for thought


Is This The End Of The Road For Sillanyo?

Crying Wolf: TFG And Puntland Desperately Play The Terrorist Card

Where Is The Beef?

Declaration: Jihadist Youth Movement Boycotting The Mixed Islamist-Secularist Conference (Asmara)

The Disadvantaged People Suffer In Silence


Calling All Somaliland/UK Scholars 1969-71


Mr. Ban and Mr. Toure of the ITU: part of UN or not?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 20 - The International Telecommunications Union, a member of the UN family, has scheduled a "Connect Africa" summit for Kigali, Rwanda at the end of October. In the run-up, ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Toure took questions from reporters at the UN on Wednesday, having handed out a map circling East Africa from Somalia on south as "The Missing Link."  Inner City Press asked about the relative 'Net savvy of Somalis, despite the long lack of a central government. Mr. Toure countered that business people there have to have four or five cell phones, since there is not inter-connectivity.

The World Bank's Mohsen Khalil also deployed that buzzword, inter-connected, along with the inescapable "convergence." He pointed out that some of the most promising ideas are in developing countries with no "legacy problems." More directly on Somalia, he said that businesses rush in to sell telecom services in post-conflict countries, because where there is instability, people "rely more on phones."

Toure spoke repeatedly of the profit motives, as an invisible hand. Toure emphasized that he came to ITU from the private sector, and that "there is nothing wrong with profit." Inner City Press asked about ITU's website's solicitation  of $100,000 sponsorship commitments from private telecom firms, in exchange for which they are promised that their CEO will appear on TV, logos can be used, "guaranteed slot in high-level panel for CEO," and "access to bilateral meeting rooms." In light of this last, Inner City Press asked if the ITU has any standards to screen potential sponsors, beyond simply their willingness to pay $100,000. Video here, from Minute 25:50.

Mr. Toure said that their willingness to pay "shows their commitment." Many people want access to the heads of state he said will be at the Summit; these have to be screened in some way. So why not by money? 

Except, one wondered, that this is the UN family. Or is it? Perhaps the ITU, which as Toure pointed out, existed before the UN, is free to sell its logo and to monetize its perceived affiliation with the UN without even the few safeguards in place, for example, in General Assembly Resolution 92(I) of 1946 and in the "Guidelines on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Business Community" issued by the Secretary-General on July 17, 2000. Similar issues have been raised by the UN Development Program's claim to be exempt from the UN's Ethics Office...

Source: Inner City Press

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