A new agreement between the United Nations telecommunications agency and the European Commission aims to attract greater investments in information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia and the Pacific.
The collaboration between the UN International Telecommunication Union ITU) and the Commission is a follow-up to commitments made at the Connect Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, in October when the EC expressed support for the agency’s regulatory reform initiatives in Africa.
In a press statement from its Geneva headquarters, the ITU notes that over the past decade, most countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific and the Caribbean have begun reforms in the telecommunication sector, including through setting up national regulatory bodies and introducing competition. At the same time, large sections of the population remain without basic access to ICT services.
Many countries still need to undertake crucial reforms that would provide regulators with the tools and authority to effectively regulate the sector and thereby attract greater investment, promote innovation and build confidence in ICT markets.
The new agreement aims to harmonize regulatory frameworks within the different regions. It also seeks to build human and institutional capacity in the field of ICT through a range of training, education and knowledge-sharing measures. An effective and harmonized regulatory framework will encourage private sector investment, while more competition will lead to lower prices and better service for customers.
The ITU says a fundamental shift in policy and regulatory frameworks is considered essential to achieve by 2015 the connectivity targets contained in the set of global anti-poverty objectives known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
It will also contribute to achieving the objectives of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which recognized that “to maximize the social, economic and environmental benefits of the Information Society, governments need to create a trustworthy, transparent and non-discriminatory legal, regulatory and policy environment.”
As part of the agreement, the European Union has allocated 8 million Euros from the European Development Fund, to which ITU will add $500,000 of its own resources. The work will be managed and implemented by ITU.