ABCNews: Developing Countries Face y2k Crisis : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

By Jenny Griffee Jan. 26  Most of the publicity surrounding the year 2000 computer bug has focused on the developed world  the computerized countries of the West and the Pacific Rim. But its becoming increasingly clear that developing countries could be approaching serious trouble. Even the least-developed countries have computerized power systems that could fail, according to a World Bank report on Y2K problems in the developing world released today. Food and fuel transportation could be disrupted. Health and medical systems and the economy are all at risk. Most developing countries are unprepared for the looming problem, Joyce Amenta, who coordinates initiatives on the Y2K problem for the World Bank, told a news conference in Washington, D.C. Any potential Y2K economic and social instability will ripple throughout the global economy and endanger the economic progress being made in the developing world. The World Banks survey found that out of 139 developing countries, only 21 were taking concrete action to deal with Y2K. The remaining countries aging technology is likely to fail when 2000 arrives.

Key Sectors Computer systems in developing countries are particularly fragile because a few mainframe computers often control nationwide systems. A collapse of the few computers that control critical systems would shut down everything from banking to water distribution. Hugh Sloan, the World Banks Y2K specialist for Africa, also cites the interdependence of countries for electricity. A power failure in Uganda would ripple down to other countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda. In addition, developing countries have few resources for computer upgrades or for emergency management. Economic crises in Asia, Russia and Latin America have diverted attention from the computer problems and left countries with less cash to fund a fix. The daily survival faced by developing countries have distracted governments from fixing the Y2K problem, says Amenta. To them the problem is seen as a vague and distant threat. Its getting less distant by the day. In the next three months, youll see a surge in the number of developing countries noticing its a problem, says Bank spokesman Phil Hay. There needs to be contingency planning.

Positive Steps At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, next Monday, U.S. representatives and World Bank officials will call for increased international cooperation to deal with the problem, including money to support a Y2K International Cooperation Center. The World Bank has already loaned $30 million to Argentina for Y2K preparation and approved $29 million for Sri Lanka last week. Officials say other loans are under consideration. The bank also holds seminars to educate participating countries about how to deal with Y2K. According to George West, the banks senior Y2K information manager, 18 such seminars have been held, involving 120 countries and about 1,500 attendees. As Jan. 1, 2000 approaches, more developing countries are coming forward to ask for help. Theres not time to fix all the problems, says West, so you have to identify sectors within the economy that need to function for an orderly national life.

-- Leo (, January 28, 1999


They are not "developing countries". They are instead "never to be developed countries".

-- dave (, January 28, 1999.

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