The African Telecommunications Union in conjunction with the National Communication Authority of South Sudan has convened the first Preparatory Meeting (virtual) for the next International Telecommunication Union’s World Telecommunication Development Conference, “WTDC-21”.
The meeting aims to bring together duty bearers of the telecommunications sector across Africa in order to establish leading committees to develop the African common proposals and positions on the WTDC agenda items.
The World Telecommunication Development Conference 2021 and its preparatory meetings come at a time when the world is increasingly aware of the role of ICT as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Digital solutions, economies and connectivity are key enablers of development and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Dr. Alsadig Gamaleldeen, the Director-General of Telecommunication and Post Regulatory Authority (TPRA) Sudan.
WTDC is a crucial forum for ICT development as it sets the roadmap for achieving telecommunications development across the world. With the COVID 19 pandemic having shifted the spotlight to connectivity, the forthcoming WTDC will be seen as the foremost conference for driving global ICT development to enable the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
For the first time, the conference will be held in Africa from 8th to 19th November 2021 in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.
“In as much as these preparations will consider our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as African States, we will also sanction special consideration on the pandemic’s outcomes so far and use them to enhance our individual and international collaborations as well as relevant partnerships during the conference,” said ATU Secretary-General Mr. John Omo who spoke during the opening of the forum.
Through this online preparatory meeting, Africa is expected to among other things, evaluate the implementation of the WTDC-17 outcomes in Africa and consider their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals action plans. As a matter of consequence, this should be able to assist in the evaluation of the progress of projects launched under initiatives by regional bodies.
In addition, the meeting is crucial in starting the formulation of the African common proposals to the Conference that would reflect the new challenges of ICTs in Africa and the mechanisms that would help to accelerate the implementation of the African digital transformation strategy.
Speaking on the benefits of ICT in influencing the growth of economies, Ms. Doreen Bogdan Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union(ITU) reiterated the importance of digital technologies as a catalyst that could accelerate progress towards the SDGs and make the African region the digital frontier where the truly transformational power and potential of connectivity will finally be realized.
ATU Secretary-General also noted that having a common understanding of the issues that Africa faces and how telecommunications can downplay them is highly crucial for community engagements, economic growth and international collaborations especially at this time of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The forum closed with experts agreeing on the preparatory process. Leading committees to develop Africa’s common proposals and positions on the WTDC agenda items were also established.