S.Korea pledges to support region's IT

The country's PM calls for "collective economic strategies" to bridge digital divide.

South Korea has pledged to share its expertise with other Asian countries in an effort to narrow the region’s IT divide.

The country’s information and communications minister Rho Jun-Hyong said on Tuesday South Korea would help in whatever way it could to increase the use of technology in the region.

“Korea will not spare efforts to support countries in not only building advanced network infrastructure ... but also in introducing e-government services,” he said.

The minister was speaking in Seoul during the opening ceremony of the sixth meeting of Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), a body set up in 2002 to promote cooperation between Asian countries.

Middle East members of ACD include Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman.

South Korean officials indicated IT would be one of the main topics discussed during the meeting.

The country’s Prime Minister Han Duck-Soo also pledged to set up education programmes and to send volunteers abroad to help other countries develop their IT infrastructure.

Han said the divide must not translate into "a rift in the economic and social opportunities of our constituents”, and called on members to forge “collective economic strategies” to maintain Asia’s competitiveness.

"The information gap between the haves and the have-nots is more glaring in this age of instant information access and sophisticated communications technology," he said.

South Korea’s comments come just days after a report said internet access in the Arab world remains far less developed than Western countries.

The annual study into the use of information and communications technology (ICT) services in Arab countries found that despite a boom in cellular services across the region, use of the internet still lags way behind Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) markets.

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