789 (XXIX). Strengthening information systems for Africa's recovery and sustainable development


The Conference of Ministers,


            Convinced that information support is vital to Africa's recovery and sustainable development,


            Concerned by the underdeveloped information and documentation sector in many African countries and the inadequate financial and material resources available for its growth,


            Welcoming General Assembly decision 48/453 of 21 December 1993 recommending the provision of adequate staffing and resources for the Economic Commission for Africa subprogramme on information systems development, beginning with the programme budget for the biennium 1994-1995,


            Recalling Economic and Social Council resolutions 1992/51 of 31 July 1992 on the need to ground the Commission's activities in sound data and information system and 1993/67 of 30 July 1993 on the Commission's subprogramme in information systems development,


            Recalling also its resolutions 716(XXVI) of 12 May 1991 on implementing an integrated approach to development information and 766(XXVIII) of 4 May 1993 on strengthening development information systems for regional cooperation and integration in Africa,


            Appreciative of the continuing support given by the International Development Research Centre as well as new support from the Government of the Netherlands and the Carnegie Corporation of New York to the Pan-African Development Information System's activities to strengthen the information capabilities of member States,


            Appreciative also of the approval of the Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of the project "Information Technology for Africa" for further consideration by the European Union in the framework of the Lome IV Convention,


            Bearing in mind the need to strengthen the Commission's subregional development information centres as information support for subregional economic cooperation and integration,


            Noting with satisfaction the efforts being made by the Commission's development information system in the delivery of technical assistance to member States and the large number of requests pending in this area,


            Noting with further satisfaction the full incorporation of the activities on information system development into the programme budget of the Commission,


            Noting however, with concern that the Commission has had regular budget activities in this area since 1984 without resources being provided for them,


            Aware of the decreasing availability of extrabudgetary resources for implementation and utilization of development information systems and technology,


            Noting with grave concern the precarious financial situation of the Commission's activities in this area to meet the important needs of its member States and the urgency to end its reliance on extrabudgetary sources of funding,


            1.         Appeals to member States to recognize the vital importance of developing their information sector by:


            (a)        Adopting national information and informatics policies;


            (b)        Providing sufficient resources in the national budget for the essential growth of this area;


            2.         Urges member States to approve the utilization of new technology for electronic communication in order to permit Africa's full access to the global information highway;


            3.         Further urges member States to formulate their needs for technical assistance in information systems development by:


            (a)        Giving priority to information systems development in the use of their United Nations Development Programme country indicative planning figures, utilizing the technical support services mechanism where applicable;


            (b)        Considering development information activities in their pledges to the United Nations Trust Fund for African Development;


            (c)        Using, where appropriate, the finance provisions under the Lome IV Convention for this purpose;


            4.         Urgently appeals to the European Union to consider favourably the Pan-African Development Information System project approved by the African, Caribbean and Pacific group Council of Ministers and submitted to it for funding;


            5.         Calls upon the donor community to support both national initiatives as well as the Commission's activities to strengthen development information capabilities in the African region;


            6.         Approves the outline of the work programme for 1995-1996 in information systems development, while urging the Commission to continue its leadership role in the area of information systems and sciences, information technology, and telematics in order to support Africa's efforts for sustainable development;


            7.         Encourages the Commission through its information systems development activities to facilitate intra-African information exchange as support for regional economic integration by developing norms and standards, in collaboration with other relevant technical organizations, for information compatibility and promoting their use;


            8.         Requests the Executive Secretary of the Commission to allocate additional section 20 resources to the subprogramme on statistical and information systems development in accordance with the recommendation of the Second Committee;[1]/


            9.         Also requests the Executive Secretary of the Commission to seek additional resources through voluntary contributions for the Commission's subregional development information centres in the framework of the subprogramme on statistical and information systems development;


            10.       Requests the General Assembly, within the spirit of decision 48/453 adopted and in view of the importance of development information systems for Africa's development, to authorize the creation of three professional posts at P3, P4 and P5 levels and four local level posts, to permit the delivery of programmed activities of the Commission's subprogramme on information systems development beginning with its 1994-1995 programme budget.


                                                                                                                                          291st meeting,

                                                                                                                                             4 May 1994.


     [1]/  Document A/C.2/48/L.50/Rev.1.