With his three portfolios in the French government – Industry, the PTT and Tourism – Alain Madelin is a busy chap, but not too busy to give the traditional allocution at the untraditional Sicob Printemps, held this year at the brand new exhibition centre at Villepinte, hard by Charles de Gaulle airport. M Madelin has a lot on his plate one way and another, what with winding down the excesses of his socialist predecessors, and making a judgement of Solomon over the future of CGCT. One of President Mitterrand’s most cherished dreams, the Centre Mondial Informatique, which was to preach the virtues of computing to the Third World, and took up much of the president’s allocution at his first Sicob in 1981, will be wound up on July 1, M Madelin announced. His address also heralded a tough new era of competition in French computing, but he pointed out that Groupe Bull, which has benefitted enormously from the cossetting of the previous administration, has been growing twice as fast as the French industry as a whole. The role of the state towards computing is now being redefined, with competition to be encouraged and protectionism to be guarded against – M Madelin pointed with distaste to the row going on between the Americans and the Japanese over chips. Also to face the bracing winds of competition is the world of telecommunications, where plans to licence value-added network operators are progressing. One area that will continue to benefit from state assistance is software development, and the French equivalent of the Software Products Scheme will continue to get funds.
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