A UN-sponsored World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) aimed at bridging the digital divide between rich and poor nations kicked off on Wednesday in Tunis.
Dozens of heads of state and government, and over 10,000 participants from 173 countries including business leaders, technology experts and civil society representatives gathered in the Tunisian capital of Tunis for the three-day summit.
"This summit must be a summit of solutions," United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan told the opening ceremony, adding that principles and plans on an open and inclusive information society must be translated into concrete deeds.
The Tunis summit is the second phase of the WSIS, with the first phase held in Geneva in December, 2003.
The Geneva summit adopted a Declaration of Principles and an Action Plan, outlining a common vision of building a people- oriented information society and setting a goal of bringing half of the world population online by 2015.
According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 942 million people living in developed nations enjoy five times better access to fixed and mobile services, nine times better access to Internet services and own 13 times more personal computers than the 85 percent of the world population living in low and lower-middle income nations.
Tunisia proposed the idea of holding the WSIS in 1998, which was endorsed by the UN Assembly in 2001. Afterwards, the ITU, a Geneva-based UN agency specialized in global telecommunication services, decided to hold the WSIS in two phases.