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Alcatel and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) reaffirm their commitment for collaboration to bridge the Digital Divide


Paris, November 25, 2005 - Confirming its commitment to bridge the digital divide and following the signature of the UN Global Compact in 2003, Alcatel (Paris: CGEP.PA and NYSE: ALA) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), whose member countries consists of the 13 Arab countries located in Western Asia Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen., reaffirmed their commitment for collaboration to bridge the Digital Divide in this region.

Since the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties on February 9, 2005, a joint workshop was organized in July 2005 in Beirut (Lebanon). This workshop discussed targeted areas of work such as (a) enhancing living conditions of communities earning a livelihood from agriculture and fishing activities through ICT-based market information systems“, ”increasing efficiency of educational, health; (b) government institutions, enterprises competitiveness, and capacities of populations through broadband penetration; and (c) improving services offered by telecommunication operators and leveraging their potential benefits for local socio-economic development by developing added-value applications by local players.

The three day workshop discussed and agreed a list of pilot projects where Alcatel and ESCWA are set to facilitate their execution by (a) providing support in the development of concept papers; (b) assisting in the fund-raising process for the subsequent phases of the pilot projects; (c) ensuring that partnerships are adequate for the successful implementation of the projects; and (d) following up on the implementation towards the established goals. In selected projects, and whenever necessary, Alcatel and/or ESCWA may also become partners, with a dynamic list of potential partners.

During a meeting between the ESCWA delegation and Alcatel management at the World Summit for Information Society (WSIS) held in Tunis (16-18 November), the parties made an assessment of their collaboration and reaffirmed their mutual commitment.

“ESCWA, through its Information and Communication Technology Division, aims to increase the capabilities of member countries in harnessing information and communication technology for their development” declared Ms. Mervat Tallawy, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ESCWA. She added, “In the context of its multidisciplinary activities, ESCWA considers ICT as a cross-cutting discipline and a catalyst of regional integration, which increases productivity and provides an opportunity to build an inclusive information society in Western Asia and the Arab region. Women, youth and the disadvantaged communities should be the first beneficiaries of ICT. That is why ESCWA is collaborating with Alcatel to disseminate access to ICT and encourage investment in the ICT sector in order to improve the conditions of the deprived, while developing appropriate applications and creating sustainable employment.”

“Alcatel has a very strong presence in this region and, consequently, is well positioned to support its diversified ICT for development needs that reflect the variety of the economic and social conditions of its member countries” declared Jacques Dunogué Alcatel Executive Vice-President Europe & South. He added that “not only Alcatel is leader in key technological domains such as broadband access, mobile 3G networks, and added-value services and applications, but the diversity of our solution portfolio makes us a natural partner for ESCWA to join our efforts to make ICT a lever for the economic and social development of this region in line with the WSIS objectives”.

The Digital Bridge Initiative is part of Alcatel’s Sustainable Development strategy. Based on clearly identified local needs, this approach consists of partnering with local players, associations and other stakeholders, to propose solutions that combine, technologies, services and financing.

ESCWA promotes economic and social development through regional and sub-regional cooperation and integration and serves as the main general economic and social development forum within the United Nations system for the ESCWA region. It formulates and promotes development assistance activities and projects commensurate with the needs and priorities of the region and acts as an executing agency for relevant operational projects. More information can be found on:

About Alcatel
Alcatel provides communications solutions to telecommunication carriers, Internet service providers and enterprises for delivery of voice, data and video applications to their customers or employees. Alcatel brings its leading position in fixed and mobile broadband networks; applications and services, to help its partners and customers build a user-centric broadband world. With sales of EURO 12.3 billion and 56,000 employees in 2004, Alcatel operates in more than 130 countries.

Aurélie Boutin-Guezennec



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