Fund for community computer projects launched in Geneva UN

“The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is shrinking distances, fostering new approaches to existing challenges and bringing dramatic changes in the economic, social and cultural realms,” Mr. Annan said in a message delivered at the launch by UN Office in Geneva (UNOG) Director-General Sergei Ordzhonikidze.”Yet there is considerable distance to be travelled to bridge the gap between those who have access to the Internet and other technologies and those who do not.”The new Fund was an important contribution to the fight against poverty and UN’s broader agenda of change, Mr. Annan said, noting that President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal has been a driving force behind the initiative.Other Heads of State attending were President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, who is also chairman of the African Union (AU), and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria. The Foreign Ministers of France, Switzerland and Morocco and Fund chairman Guy-Olivier Segond were also present among the 400 participants.The creation of the fund had confounded many sceptics, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi said. “Without the strong political will of the African Heads of State involved in the process, it would not have been possible.”The Fund will raise money for community projects by collecting voluntary contributions of 1 per cent of public ICT procurement contracts and allowing donors to use the label, “Digital Solidarity,” under the “Geneva Principle.” The money could not be used for major infrastructure investments.Mr. Utsumi called on Fund managers to avoid being bogged down in bureaucracy and advocated transparency in allocating monies.Algeria contributed $500,000, Nigeria €500,000 (euros) and France €300,000 to the Fund.The Fund was one of the results of the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) held in December 2003 in Geneva. The Summit’s second part will be held in November in Tunis, Tunisia. read more

Loonie gains TSX declines amid soaring oil prices crude at highest level

Loonie gains, TSX declines amid soaring oil prices; crude at highest level in 2016 by The Canadian Press Posted Dec 12, 2016 5:59 am MDT Last Updated Dec 12, 2016 at 3:58 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email TORONTO – Canada’s largest stock market declined Monday while the loonie gained, as oil prices soared to their highest level in nearly a year and a half amid optimism about a surprise weekend deal by non-OPEC members.The January crude oil contract gained $1.33 to settle at US$52.83 a barrel, a record price for this year. The last time crude was at this level was on July 14, 2015 when it hit US$53.04 a barrel.On Saturday, Russia and 10 other nations agreed to scale back production by 558,000 barrels a day for six months, following a Nov. 30 decision by OPEC members to decrease supply by 1.2 million barrels a day over the same time period.Craig Fehr, a Canadian markets strategist with Edward Jones, says that although OPEC and non-OPEC members want the same goal of higher oil prices, it’s not a sure thing that they’ll stick to their quotas.“This is only half the story. The next leg is the execution of these freezes of cuts, which might not be as seamless as the deal looks like on paper,” he said from St. Louis.But their mere agreement to participate shows how desperate they are to get prices to a more profitable level, he noted.In mid-2014, a barrel of oil hovered around the US$100 mark, dropping to below US$30 at the start of this year.The Canadian dollar, which often trades in tandem with crude, gained 0.27 of a U.S. cent at 76.14 cents US.The spike wasn’t enough to lift Canada’s largest stock market, as the S&P/TSX composite index fell 24.50 points at 15,287.70, weighed by losses from the industrials sector.On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 39.58 points at 19,796.43 to a record high. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 slipped 2.57 points at 2,256.96 and the Nasdaq composite index fell 31.96 points to 5,412.54.Fehr said the rally in equity markets have been “relentless” in the past several weeks, and investors should not be surprised if a pullback is coming.“It’s reasonable to expect that there is going to be pauses along the way,” he said.“Investors should expect to see a little more volatility as we turn the page into 2017. This bull market is very much in tact, but it’s not going to be a steady march higher as we’ve seen since the U.S. election.”In other commodities, January natural gas contracts dropped 24 cents at $3.51 per mmBTU, February gold contracts gained $3.90 at US$1,165.80 an ounce and March copper contracts fell three cents at US$2.62 a pound.Follow @LindaNguyenTO on Twitter. read more