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Speech by Mrs Jessie Ting, Deputy Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting at NetAid Hong Kong Press Conference

08 October, 1999

Mr Sum, Mr Accascina, the Hon. SIN Chung-kai, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here today to witness the announcement of the NetAid concerts to be held simultaneously tomorrow in New York, London and Geneva. These concerts, which feature an impressive line-up of world-famous artists, will mark the launch of the NetAid campaign, a global initiative spearheaded by Cisco Systems and the United Nations Development Programme to fight world poverty. For many years, mankind has been trying to grapple with the problem of extreme poverty, to varying degrees of success in different parts of the world. By tapping into the enormous strengths and capabilities of leading edge information and telecommunications technology, NetAid offers us hopes that this campaign will make a difference, that people and resources all over the world can truly be brought together to tackle poverty head-on.

At the threshold of the new Millennium, the Internet has become a powerful communication tool that pervades every aspect of our lives. It has transformed the way we live, the way we work, the way we learn and the way we do business. In ways never dreamt of before, the Internet has brought the world closer together, across geographical boundaries and time zones. It has created a digitally-connected virtual community that is expanding by the minute. Three years ago, the number of Internet users worldwide stood at the meague figure of 40 million. This has grown four-fold to over 150 million this year and is set to increase further by leaps and bounds.

NetAid has brought a new dimension to the transforming power of the Internet - that it can become an agent of social and economic change. I applaud the vision and ingenuity of Cisco Systems and the United Nations Development Programme to tackle a long-standing problem with an innovative solution, a solution that unites the more fortunate amongst us who have benefited from technological advancement with those forsaken souls little touched by the wonders of technology.

The netaid.org web-site, which supports the NetAid campaign, is a powerful web-site on a world scale. It provides a global exchange point 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people around the world not only to learn more about the problem of extreme poverty, but more importantly to share ideas and to pool resources to resolve the problem. By deploying cutting-edge Internet technology and networking architecture, netaid.org will help to build up a global community committed to alleviating the plight of our less fortunate brethren.

Tomorrow, the Internet, television and radio will join forces to bring the NetAid concerts to the four corners of the globe. I feel most encouraged by the enthusiastic response of our local telecommunications and broadcasting industries to participate in this global initiative. The cause of the NetAid campaign has my Bureau's wholehearted support and I appeal to all Hong Kong citizens to contribute, financially or otherwise, to this worthy mission. I would like to take this opportunity to wish the NetAid concerts tomorrow and similar activities of NetAid in future every success.

Thank you.