Industry and regulators collaborate to foster meaningful connectivity
Bocar Ba, Chief Executive Officer, Samena Telecommunications Council
Digital transformation can only become a reality through concerted action that mobilizes broad support, including from the private sector.
This was the key takeaway from a consultative meeting of industry leaders in the tech sector last month at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The 24 February meeting of the Industry Advisory Group on Development Issues (IAGDI) and Private Sector Chief Regulatory Officers (CRO) sought concrete input from companies and organizations interested in ITU’s initiatives to expand global connectivity and support the hardest-to-connect communities.
Governments around the world continue exploring policy and regulatory incentives to boost digital inclusion. Two years of global lockdowns and pandemic restrictions have underlined the need for meaningful and affordable connectivity as a pre-condition for full socio-economic engagement.
Still, political will alone is not enough.
“We must continue engaging all stakeholders to bring the most pressing issues hindering connectivity to the fore, and to propose innovative solutions,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau.
Partners to connect
The IAGDI-CRO meeting focused on making digital transformation projects viable and bankable, with an emphasis on applying transformative financing models for connectivity. ITU members from the private sector shared their views on how to connect people everywhere, empower communities, build digital ecosystems, and incentivize investments.
A panel of thought leaders discussed the opportunities opened up by the Partner2Connect Coalition, an alliance of public and private stakeholders that ITU formed last year in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Technology.
The coalition aims to foster digital transformation in the hardest-to-connect communities in the least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), and small island developing states (SIDS) in line with the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.
The Outcome Statement adopted at the meeting invites ITU members to:
- Make commitments via a new Partner2Connect (P2C) online pledging platform.
- Participate in the P2C session at the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) in June 2022.
- Offer guidance on key success factors for partnerships, especially in the context of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for development.
- Provide guidance on partnership frameworks, including governance structures, commitments, and responsibilities.
- Evaluate the efficacy of “plug & play” concepts such as model partnership agreements.
- Propose effective approaches to monitor and track pledges.
An engaged private sector
Private companies have demonstrated keen interest in fostering worldwide connectivity.
Through the Partner2Connect initiative, industry partners have confirmed their intention to contribute to a central part of ITU’s work – ensuring everyone benefits from accessible, affordable, and meaningful connectivity.
As Chair of IADGI-CRO, I encourage ITU’s industry and private-sector members to engage closely with policymakers and regulators, strengthening their respective commitments to ensure affordable and reliable connectivity for all.