APC Forum, 9 February 2005
They also asked the partners to reduce the complexities in financing requirements to make it easier for community-based organizations to secure funding for the deployment of ICT at the rural level.
The participants argued that without sustained timely and copious financial support, countries in Africa risked being left behind in the use of ICT to facilitate development.
These were the views when the thorny issue of how to finance the information society took centre stage in one of the parallel workshops taking place at the three-day African Regional Preparatory Conference in Accra.
The conference, which is on the theme: "Access: Africa's Key to an Inclusive Information Society", is expected to prepare a common position of the Continent for the second phase of the WSIS to be held in Tunis in November 2005.
Mr Pietro Sicuro, a French ICT Expert, who was the keynote speaker, said donors were willing to support countries in designing e-strategies. However, these countries must as a first step, incorporate ICT in their national financing and development programmes.
He acknowledged the complexities in current donor support arrangements at national and regional levels and gave the assurance that the process would be demystified.
Mr Willie Currie, Programme Manager, Association for Progressive Communications, said effective mainstreaming of ICT could not take place without the necessary infrastructure backing.
The establishment of the Digital Solidarity Fund also dominated discussion with most of the participants asking the donors not to view it as competing with existing financing mechanisms but rather as a complement to mobilise funds for ICT development.