Regulating for impact: A personal perspective

Cosmas Luckyson Zavazava
Director, Telecommunication Development Bureau, ITU

For over two decades, the Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) has given the world a platform for exchanging the best practices in the regulation of digital technologies.

Our latest edition, GSR-24, brought government ministers and heads of regulatory authorities together with industry executives and academics to discuss the most pressing issues in this fast-evolving field.

Over four days in Kampala, Uganda, we discussed core policy and regulatory issues, particularly how to maximise the potential of digital technologies to improve people’s lives.

Our discussions charted new paths to regulatory agility, collaborative practices, and excellence.

My takeaways

The discussions at GSR-24 explored the future of regulation. Here are some of my takeaways:

  • Collaborative approaches have gained momentum, helping stakeholders navigate challenges,
  • Responsible policy and governance approaches to amplify the positive impact of emerging technologies are key,
  • Capacity building on emerging technology policy and regulatory issues is essential,
  • Regulation has a role to play in building an inclusive, safe, and sustainable space economy,
  • ⁠Agile and anticipatory governance models can help keep pace with technological change,
  • ⁠Innovations in digital finance require mechanisms for safe, secured, and inclusive digital financial ecosystems,
  • ⁠New developments in AI and robotics have raised the importance of the regulatory debate.

Latest regulatory topics

We started GSR in 2000, and since then, have encouraged broad collaboration on “regulating for impact.”

Key topics this year included how to regulate generative AI and robotics; how to build an inclusive, safe, and sustainable space economy; and how to address climate change challenges.

Other sessions fostered exchanges, learning and networking, while exploring how regulation can keep pace with innovation.

Regulators and regulation, we all concurred, can and must become more agile if we are to unlock the potential of emerging, transformative technologies for development. We must also, of course, minimize associated risks.

Fostering digital transformation

The latest GSR Best Practice Guidelines published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) offer valuable options for balancing innovation with regulation to create a positive impact on societies and economies.

I am confident this new edition – which looks more closely at emerging technologies like AI – will help the global regulatory community build successful governance initiatives and amplify positive digital impact worldwide.

At GSR, I also had the opportunity to launch the new Africa’s National Broadband Mapping Systems project, supported by the European Commission, to help establish broadband mapping systems to foster investment and digital transformation in Africa. With a budget of EUR 15 million over 4 years, the project will initially benefit 11 countries: Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Moving forward

This year’s GSR has strengthened our collective capacity – as digital regulators and policy-makers – to navigate the fast-changing technology landscape and drive sustainable and inclusive digital transformation for the good of everyone.

Along with summing up our successful discussions, I would like to thank the Government of Uganda for giving us such as warm welcome and generous hospitality. I must also thank the Uganda Communications Commission for helping ITU bring this year’s GSR to life.

Looking ahead, the announcement that the Communications, Space and Technology Commission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would host the Global Symposium for Regulators in 2025 was met with acclaim by delegates. We look forward to coming together in Riyadh next year!

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