Presentation of the Plan of Action of the Bamako 2000 "Internet: Bridges to Development" conference for readers of the Bisharat! web site. Return to Basic Documents. View the Bamako 2000 Declaration. View the French version of the Plan of Action.

Bamako 2000

Plan of action

The Bamako 2000 Plan of Action is the direct outcome of deliberations of the Bamako 2000 Meeting held in the Malian Capital from February 21 to 26, 2000. It comprises the recommendations of workshops as well as the conclusions of special sessions.

It lays the operational basis for an equitable and true international information society.

It lists essential activities that participants thought necessary to undertake without delay.

It is not restrictive and remains open to contributions from networks and recommendations of other international conferences.

The Plan of Action involves the local, sub-regional and international levels and takes into account the specific roles as well as different and complimentary responsibilities of public, business and private stakeholders of the information society.

1. Infrastructure

ICTs must be considered as factors for structuring and planning the territory. As such, they should play an important role in generalising access to public services in areas such as health, education, etc.

The creation or improvement of telecommunication infrastructure must take into account other components of a good communication network such as telephone, express mail, roads, electricity, air and rail routes so as to develop these networks complementarily.

There must be an action of willingness, to correct the existing imbalance between towns and rural areas in infrastructure and communication.

Linking telecommunication networks should be considerably strengthened at the sub-regional level as a tool for economic and political integration. This will involve improving the quality of networks and reducing intra-regional communication costs.

Research and setting up new infrastructure should encourage technologies which are better adapted to countries and populations currently with very little facilities by putting special emphasis on satellite networks, mobile telephone as well as communication systems and tools which function with very little electricity.

For Africa not to lag behind, it is necessary, to implement an African project for the development of the Internet and the generalisation of the third generation of cellular telephones.

2. Access

Community and public access points should be established as a strategy to complement individual or restricted access, and collective access. In order to serve all sectors of the population, it is equally necessary to develop access points in partnership with private businesses operating locally.

The economic, social and cultural parameters that limit access should be analysed so as to improve their understanding and to make adequate changes to them.

Tools, such as tactile screens and voice servers should be provided so far as they enable populations used to oral culture and illiterates to have direct access to communication networks.

In order to provide countries, governments and populations which are not financially sound with quality computers, it is necessary to establish international channels for recycling material, and to solicit for a lot of equipment.

3. Contents

All the fields of development, knowledge and cultural expression could benefit from the dissemination methods offered by ICTs. It is therefore necessary to encourage the creation of original and high value added contents in all areas of activity of our society, without limiting ourselves to contents with value which is instrumental and/or thought to be economically useful and profitable. In this regard, the South-North balance of information flow should be re-established in all areas of activity.

Satisfying the needs of the most deprived populations in information and communication, involves providing contents for local and regional use and developing knowledge bases which draw support from the knowledge of local population and researchers who are keen to formalise indigenous knowledge.

4. Information rights

Exercising information rights supposes that these rights are widely known, which is not currently the case. A deliberate effort must therefore be made at all the relevant levels, to make these rights together with their domains and applications known.

To enable everyone to avail themselves of these fundamental rights relating to production, use and dissemination of information in the new context created by the convergence of information technologies and multimedia, it is indispensable to sensitise the general public on the use which could be made of information relevant to the world at large.

The respect of information rights involves the adoption of the necessary measures in the relevant national and international legal frameworks.

5. Quality of information

Unfortunately, the proliferation of information on networks is not accompanied by a proportional effort to improve their quality.

A concerted effort of all interested professional groups is needed in order to:

- Rehabilitate the profession and to link the skills of record keepers, archivists, journalists and editors of data bases and web sites,

- Establish support services in electronic writing, and

- Establish the criteria for quality, to guide the formulation of contents.

6. Intellectual Property

The discussion on the application of intellectual property rights for new information products resulting from the convergence of ICT and multimedia progressed relatively slowly. However, some landmarks emerged immediately:

- Strengthening of legal provisions and laws for the protection of intellectual property applicable to commerce,

- Adoption of legal provisions at international level, to end the practice of pilfering information, pictures and data,

- Recognition of the legality of electronic signature and contracts,

- Improvement in consumer protection measures for Internet shoppers, by clarifying the terms of contract.

Software must appear in the "public domain" after a given period, which is to be agreed upon.

Tools used by government institutions, business and other public service structures must be free software in order not to compromise the independence of the public service in the choice of technology.

Likewise, all information, database and other products prepared from information collected with public funding, must be without time restriction, must have free use and remain in the public domain.

Strategic data on traditional pharmacopoeia, cultural diversity as well as other information on the heritage of humanity must be specially protected in order to remain in the public domain and be widely accessible.

7. Fiscal Arrangements

Significant reduction in customs duties as well elimination of taxes and other direct deductions are a means of reducing the cost of materials.

The proceeds of a fee charged on all telephone communication networks should allow funding of access to the most deprived and the production of contents of public interest.

The adoption of encouraging fiscal policies should encourage the development of services through private national companies operating in the ICT sector.

8. Policy on Cost and Funding of Operations

Widespread access to and use of communication networks involve a thorough revision of policies on cost of equipment, connection and services. The authorities must therefore enter into negotiation with private operators in order to propose a new list of realistic and justified costs. To this end, different ways of reducing costs could be explored, especially through sub-regional mechanisms.

In order to be abreast with the daily realities of stakeholders on the ground, strategies for funding carried out within the framework of international co-operation must develop and move away from the logic of funding of products to that of inclusion in a process of appropriation of tools and the creation of contents.

The funding procedure which is cumbersome, bureaucratic and written out in only one language puts non-professionals off international subvention. In order to give a chance to stakeholders in the field who benefit less from international community support, it is necessary to revise the current procedure for funding by seeking more strictness in the use of public funds and greater efficiency in human and financial efforts agreed upon.

National or international public funding alone cannot ensure good functioning of community structures for access to ICT, especially in countries in the South. It is therefore important, right from the formulation phase of these projects, to adopt methods to make community access profitable or self-financing.

These methods, which also include costs relating to sensitisation of the population, training, maintenance and the necessary social support for the optimum use of these communication networks, must be compatible with the purchasing power of the population and the type of services offered.

9. Relations between the Media

There is the need to strengthen the role of the radio and the development of bridges between the traditional media and the Internet, to increase information flow and encourage interactivity.

10. Plurilinguism

Linguistic diversification of contents must be created through the development of multilingual tools, especially software and research mechanisms.

The linkage between electronic information and the languages of the populations must be ensured through resource persons qualified in the national languages and in the translation of contents.

11. Cultural Diversity

For the world of ICT to reflect the diversity of people and cultures and not to diminish the social and human reality of our societies, it is necessary to highlight the importance of the cultural content of sites and electronic information products.

12. Role of the State and Governments

The elected must be more involved in policy discussions on the key conditions for the development of the information society.

A campaign on an information policy must be carried out to sensitise citizens on new potentials and on the risks involved in the development of ICT.

The creation of public information access points should enable interactive exchanges and the participation-reaction-proposal of citizens to information they are provided with.

Political support must be given to finance the provision of contents of public interest in the following priority information sectors:

- Government action and national, regional, departmental and community administrative services (budgets, public sites, businesses, etc.),

- Electoral processes and party proposals,

- Human rights, administrative and trade rights and other legal provisions governing a democratic society,

- Sustainable development,

- Equality and promotion of women,

- International affairs, co-operation and solidarity,

- Distant education,

- Enhancing scientific production.

Information products of public interest and/or based on data collected and financed by public funds must remain in the public domain.

In order to ensure conditions for a healthy economic and commercial competition between companies in the private sector, it is necessary to listen to the ideas of all stakeholders and not only to pressure groups who have financial resources and important political links. Likewise, it is necessary to harmonise the costs of communication and connection within a sub-region.

13. The Role of Civil Society

The people and stakeholders in the field must be able to indicate their needs and expectations on the information content to be created and the community access to be established.

Sensitisation on the ICT potentials for local development and international solidarity must result in the production and dissemination of relevant uses for development and social cohesion.

Businesses must resort more to ICT to disseminate information on their activities.

Platforms for electronic exchanges and discussions must be opened to civil society, public stakeholders, private entrepreneurs and different organisations, which represent them. They could be facilitated in the form of a distribution list and electronic fora.

Civil society must ensure that the government and the multilateral organisations involved respect and consolidate cultural diversity in the contents and flow of information.

14. Role of Private Enterprise

The private sector must play an active role by proposing, in conjunction with the government and civil society, economically viable formulae to make community access to structures profitable or self-financing.

Electronic payment methods must be developed and publicised in order to facilitate intra-regional monetary transfers.

Chambers of commerce and organisations representing the private sector must support the establishment of companies and services dealing in ICTs.

The private sector in countries in the South must work towards a true local industry of computer assets and equipment in order to reduce the price of hardware.

Technology supply must be diversified, taking into account the different economic resources of clients.

Technological research and development programmes must be carried out in order to respond to the needs of all categories of the population.

The economic impact of ICT development must be measured in terms of the stable and skilled employment it has created.

Quality standards for equipment, tools and services must be collectively defined and the basis for quality certification must be specified at the national, sub-regional and international levels.

15. Partnership and Co-operation

The capacity to listen, and active partnership with stakeholders in the field is important in order to take into account the needs and expectations of local stakeholders in equipment, tools, contents and services.

The principle of collective but differentiated liability must be recognised in the implementation of key conditions for a universal information society, which is equitable and brings hope for a better quality of life for all. In this regard, it is important to increase awareness and mobilisation of stakeholders and decentralised co-operation mechanisms to support the use of ICT in all sectors of development.

In order to increase the skills of stakeholders in the South in the collection, production and dissemination of information of direct interest to them, it is important to revise international co-operation practices. This is to ensure that the emergence of expertise in the countries of the South is not discouraged, in the face of massive and substantive contribution of expertise from countries in the North.

Exchanges between experts, local community leaders and other categories of stakeholders are necessary in order to make exchange of skills and the input of experts easily available. It is therefore necessary to create synergies between poles of excellence, in order to give each person the necessary opportunity to maximise the expertise that he/she intends to develop based on local and national strengths.

A code of conduct must be established to make room for private companies in the South to act as operators of international aid in their respective countries.

16. Knowledge and Experience Base

The reciprocity of experience and exchange of information must be enhanced, especially by facilitating the creation of electronic tools for sharing experience and community work, and by financing the collection of relevant data.

In order to determine all the dimensions of ICT and implement creative realistic and effective policies, fruitful links must be established between researchers and teachers, stakeholders in the field, public officials and private operators.

17. ICT training and Strengthening of Skills

Basic training in ICT must be incorporated into all relevant training programmes. In this regard, it is necessary to ensure training of trainers, to provide equipment for all related training centres and to come out with tools and manuals for continuous training and self-training.

ICT training modules must be geared towards the youth, women, and communication and public activity professionals.

Tools for distant training must be developed, but should avoid being a substitute for real teaching, which is essential to all levels of information.

18. Ethical Code and Legal Provisions

In order to protect life and human dignity, it is necessary to protect personal data transmitted by the communication networks in sectors such as health, administration, бн etc.

All continents must be involved in the on-going global discussions, on the ethical, legal and social stakes of the new ICT laws.

The extent of behaviour and punishable offences must be defined and disseminated to the general public in order to prevent abuses.

A debate must be held on the list of guiding principles to formulate regulation and legislation implemented by national, sub-regional and international entities.

19. Surveillance

The creation of tools and the establishment of the necessary working structures should enable the functioning of thematic surveillance gateways, especially in the following areas:

- Modernisation of governments,

- Sustainable development,

- Electronic commerce.

Given the proliferation of initiatives aimed at surveillance, it is necessary to avoid duplication and waste of resources by ensuring complementarity or interconnection between gateways put in place by the different stakeholders.

The establishment of a "documentary surveillance" on the Internet under the responsibility of professional record keepers must be a monitoring and evaluation tool of contents circulating on the web.

The establishment of surveillance structures must involve the deployment of infrastructure and the creation of contents on sub-regional basis to be in line with human realities and to evaluate the contribution of ICT to the economic and political integration of such sub-groupings.

20. Democratic Debate

The necessary conditions and information and dialogue mechanism for a true democratic debate involving all categories of stakeholders concerned, must be established, to expand the discussion on a number of topics in particular:

- More equitable distribution of proceeds from taxes on the flow of communication,

- Funding strategies for public activities, whether national or resulting from international co-operation,

- The area, mechanism and forms of regulation which must be applied to the development of ICT and their public and commercial uses.

Text source:

Return to the Basic Documents page. View the Bamako 2000 Declaration. View the French version of the Plan of Action.