Now is the time to guide the future of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as it recovers from the effects of the economic crisis, the head of a United Nations technology unit said today.
“I am optimistic that not only will the ICT sector recover quickly, but it will also act as a catalyst in stimulating investment and growth in other sectors,” Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), said as the World Telecommunications Policy Forum (WTPF) opened in Lisbon, Portugal.
“WTPF presents a timely opportunity to forge global strategies that underpin the development and growth of future ICT networks and services,” he added.
ITU’s concerns have grown rapidly in recent years to go beyond fixed and mobile telephones to issues concerning internet bandwidth and the increased convergence of devices, applications and services that “facilitate seamless communications in a multi-protocol, multi-vendor environment,” according to the Union, which is sponsoring the three-day Forum.
This phenomenal growth of the sector, highlighted by mobile subscriptions reaching the 4 billion mark at the beginning of this year, prompted ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference in 2006 to convene the WTPF to review emerging directions.
WTPF-09 focuses on key policy issues that will guide future regulatory and standardization efforts worldwide in the areas of new technologies and networks, communications security and regulations to bolster interconnection between different networks and types of communications, the Union said.
A Strategic Dialogue on ‘Confronting the Crisis’ opening yesterday ahead of the WTPF, moderated by TV anchors Stephen Cole and Vasco Trigo, and focused on how investment and financing in ICT can make a critical difference in the current recession.
At the session, repeated calls were made for a digital Marshall Plan, which had been proposed earlier by ITU at the Connect Africa Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda in October 2007.
Dr. Touré pointed out that Australia, the United States and several European countries are investing in stimulus packages based on the development of ICT infrastructure such as high-speed broadband.
Over 880 participants, representing 126 Member States and including 40 ministers, are expected to attend WTPF-09 along with representatives of the private sector, international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).