German gov't seeks to quadruple Net use
MUNICH (IDG) -- By 2005, at least 40 percent of Germany's population will have easy access to the Internet, if the German government has its way.
Out of Germany's roughly 80 million citizens, only 9 percent currently have Internet access. More than quadrupling the Internet penetration rate is one goal among many in an ambitious plan laid out by the government for putting Germany at Europe's technological forefront.
Siegmar Mosdorf, the parliamentary secretary with Germany's Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, and Edelgard Bulmahn, the minister for Education and Research announced the technology action plan in Berlin. Both belong to the majority Social Democratic government.
The action plan is also designed to ease Germany's high unemployment rates, which are still at more than 10 percent.
Among its goals are to bring the latest technology and Internet connections to Germany's schools by 2001, to train 40,000 new IT employees by 2003 and to increase the number of women employed in the IT industry by 40 percent during the next five years, according to the statement.
The German government also plans to develop an IT strategy for government departments by the second half of 2000 and wants to introduce electronic tax statements in the Finance Ministry by next year.
"We are approaching a marathon race and must assume that the U.S.A. already has a two-kilometer advantage," Mosdorf was quoted by the German Press Agency as saying, in Berlin.
German government officials have not exactly been Internet pioneers until now. Most still fail to give out e-mail contact addresses, for example.
In March, AOL Europe - the online joint venture between AOL and Bertelsmann -- launched a campaign to get more European politicians online, offering them a free Internet connection via AOL.
Mary Lisbeth D'Amico is Munich correspondent for the IDG News Service.
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