RealTime IT News

South Africa, Nigeria Under the UN IT Spotlight

[Lagos NIGERIA] South Africa and Nigeria are the first two countries to go under the Andersen Consulting microscope as part of the United Nation's digital technology project to examine ways in which IT and the Internet can be used to address the economic disparity between wealthy and developing nations.

The UN last month mandated the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to engage the expertise of Andersen Consulting to draw up a framework for this project.

This project was initiated by the United Nations following the recent G8 Conference on the Japanese island of Okinawa.

A number of African leaders, notably South African President Thabo Mbeki, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Algerian Premier Abdelaziz Bouteflika, called on the leaders of the world's wealthiest nations to examine ways in which they could aid developing nations in harnessing the Internet and digital commerce for economic upliftment.

As a consequence, G8 delegates voted to establish a Digital Opportunity Taskforce (or DOT Force) that would report back to next year's summit with proposals outlining how this could be achieved.

Andersen Consulting partner for Central and Eastern Europe, India, Africa and the Middle East region, Leslie Bergman, explained that his company would focus initially on Nigeria and South Africa in establishing an infrastructure for this project. The company has entrenched operations in Nigeria's capital, Lagos and throughout South Africa. Bergman revealed that his company had allocated up to $3 million for this project.

The choice of Andersen Consulting appears to be an inspired move by the United Nations.

Not only does Andersen have operations in a number of developing regions, it also has extensive experience in conducting studies of a similar magnitude, research credibility and an in-depth understanding of IT and Internet issues in the business environment. The company will report back with proposals to the next G8 summit, scheduled to be held in Genoa, Italy next year.