Collaboration is fundamental for achieving an inclusive digital future for all. That was the message at the ITU Telecom World 2019 opening today in Budapest, Hungary.
Key players from government, industry and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are in Budapest this week discussing – and debating – the hottest issues in technology for sustainable development.
The theme for this year’s ITU Telecom World event, “Innovating together: connectivity that matters”, highlights the importance of global collaboration to ensure that everyone benefits from the digital revolution, especially those in developing nations, said ITU Secretary General Houlin Zhao.
“At stake is the chance to transform and improve the lives of millions across the globe in support of the [United Nations] Sustainable Development Goals and closing the digital divide,” said Mr Zhao. “I believe we can make a difference right here and now with ITU Telecom World 2019.”
From 9–12 September 2019, ITU Telecom World will explore innovations in technology, including new radio technologies, 5G, Artificial Intelligence and smart cities, as well as innovation in policy, strategy and regulatory approaches.
This is the second time in four years that Budapest has hosted ITU Telecom World. Mr Zhao spoke of his excitement of working with the government and people of Hungary to continue building Hungary’s digital future.
“Together, we can and will bring about connectivity that matters, the theme of this year’s event − here in Hungary, the region and the rest of the world.” — ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.
“Hungary has started and is in the process of making a success story of the digitized world,” said H.E. Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, adding that intense internet infrastructure development has already seen the delivery of internet available throughout the country, and that 25 percent of the Hungarian GDP today is created by the digital economy.
“Hungary is already a digital economy in the heart of Europe,” said Mr Orban. “The future has begun, and we are hopeful that Europe is also going to be turning in this direction at full speed.”
“There is no doubt: Innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G and the Internet of Things, can help us achieve the sustainable development goals and improve the lives of all,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said via video message during the opening ceremony.
But with the advance of new technologies such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, there is a real danger that developing nations will be left further behind in the current digital revolution era.
Universal access to these technologies is just one aspect of creating inclusive global digital societies. Connectivity needs to have meaning. It must be affordable and relevant on a local level, which means local content in local languages, supported by digital literacy and skills programmes. Another vital aspect is ensuring technologies are trusted, which requires robust data management, increased education, and cybersecurity.
“SMEs are on the frontline of today’s digital transformation. Their positive impact on innovation and job creation is unmatched.” – ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.
These ambitious goals can only be achieved through innovative thinking and collaborative efforts – which is why ITU Telecom World has a significant role to play in achieving this inclusive digital future.
Over 150 SMEs from 40 countries are at this year’s event.
SMEs play a vital role in bringing the benefits of the digital economy to everyone, everywhere. They are able to adapt quickly and work nimbly to meet the needs of developing countries and are a big driver of the global economy as a source of new ideas and innovative thinking.
“It is important that we should understand the significance of supporting small and medium enterprises. The stronger they are, the more successful they will be for our national economy,” said H.E. Orbán.
“SMEs are on the frontline of today’s digital transformation. Their positive impact on innovation and job creation is unmatched,” Mr Zhao said.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will soon be able to benefit from reduced membership fees to participate in ITU’s work.
“Together, I’m confident we will be able to expand avenues for cooperation and ICT infrastructure investment, make ICT applications and services more relevant, secure and affordable, and give people the tools and skills they need to navigate and succeed in the digital economy,” said Mr Zhao. “Together, we can and will bring about connectivity that matters, the theme of this year’s event − here in Hungary, the region and the rest of the world.”