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Report from the Global Internet Summit in Yokohama

sectors of the Internet, but has begun moving swiftly into the enterprise

as well.

Severe challenges arise, however, in achieving universal or

near-universal access to the Internet in many developing nations.

Overcoming the digital divide via "digital bridges" to bring people out

from behind the "information curtain" or "knowledge curtain" is thus a

key policy challenge for government and private sectors, and many

innovative approaches are springing up in this regard.

Buses with satellite Internet hookup make tours of some Malaysian schools

in rural areas, offering monthly or fortnightly Internet access. The

first Internet café has opened recently in Baghdad. Internet community

centres in Peru have brought Internet access costs via shared lines down

to about 40 cents an hour, a model to be pursued by Sam Pitroda's

WorldTel in six Indian states.

An NGO called the M.S.Swaminathan Foundation (www.mssf.org) has been

experimenting with rural "knowledge centres" in Tamil Nadu, where trained

Net users help disseminate localised agricultural, medical,

meteorological and educational content to villagers. UNDP (United Nations

Development Fund) has helped set up online resource centres for farmers

in Bhutan.

Other NGOs active in Asian Internet initiatives include Kuala

Lumpur-based Asia Pacific Development Information Program

(www.apdip.net), Singapore-based PAN (Pan-Asian Networking initiative),

supported by Canada's International Development Research Centre

(www.idrc.org.sg). PAN has launched e-commerce services for textile and

handicraft manufacturers in Bangladesh and Nepal.

Developing countries should also track and participate in international

fora framing e-commerce policy, said Magda Ismail of Egypt's Ministry of

Communication and IT. Such fora include the World Trade Organization

(WTO), U.N. Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), World

Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Organization for Economic

Cooperation and Development (OECD), and U.N. Conference on Trade and

Development (UNCTAD).

Another key organisation for all countries to participate in is the

International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (www.icann.com)