CTO calls for member countries to invest in broadband and ICT services
Shola Taylor, secretary-general of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, has warned of the risk of many countries missing out on the benefits of IoT, Big Data, AI and augmented reality innovation if they do not invest sufficiently in broadband and ICT services. Secretary-General Shola Taylor was speaking at the opening of CTO ICT Forum’17 held this week in Maputo, Mozambique.
“With the Internet of Things, we have a new environment conducive of opportunities for new forms of digital entrepreneurship or public service delivery,” he said. But he reminded that “there are still far too many without access to the Internet, who are unable to take advantage of the opportunities and benefits digital technologies have to offer.”
Mr Taylor was speaking alongside Carlos Mesquita, Mozambique’s Minister of Transport and Communications; Dr Ema Chicoco, Chair of the Board of Mozambique’s Autoridade Reguladora das Comunicações; Patrick Masambu, Director-General, International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation; Malcolm Johnson, Deputy Secretary-General, International Telecommunication Union.
The event, which was open by His Excellency Carlos Agostinho do Rosário, Mozambique’s Prime Minister, is attended by ministers, regulators, national ICT agencies, industry executives, non-profit organisations and academia from the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, South Asia and the Pacific.
“We need to investigate new options to provide broadband, including low-orbit space solutions. To achieve this, more investment is essential. Of course, universal service funds must continue to invest and deliver on increasing access. Countries must invest in services for their citizens, and in the infrastructure to support the delivery of these services, or they will miss out on the benefits of IoT, Big Data and augmented reality technologies,” Mr Taylor warned.
“It’s important for us to continue developing infrastructures as well as information and communication technology services in order to ensure greater availability and coverage of online services.,” said Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosario.
“Access is front and center; it is the first step towards a digital nation,” said Mr Johnson. “Big Data, Cloud computing, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and 5G will all shape our digital future. They are important steps on the journey towards a digital nation” and “we need to bring together technologists, regulators and policy makers, not only from the ICT sector, but all the sectors that will increasing depend on the technology, in order to address these challenges,” he added.
The theme of this year’s Forum was Digital Nations, Digital Wealth, with discussions focused on the prospects for socio-economic growth in a digital future comprising virtual environments, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine communications and augmented reality applications. The event include participation form other organisations such as ICANN, Facebook and Huawei who actively contributed to various sessions on universal broadband, regulation of virtual environments, the digital economy, security and privacy.
“The event’s theme is extremely relevant today, as we all strive to provide broadband to all the world’s citizens and contribute towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030,” said Mr Masambu.
Consensus emerged from the discussions throughout the event, including:
- The journey to the digital future is both individual and collective.
- Public investment is a necessity to connect the unconnected, as although 3G covers 85% of the world, only half of the world population is connected to the Internet.
- Countries must develop coordinated multisectoral strategies for ICTs, to include broadband infrastructure, health, education, agriculture and other areas.
- IoT and augmented reality may require less and but more flexible regulation.
- The need to balance open data with privacy.
- Government to lead by deploying e-government services.
- Competitive digital economies require government to create the enabling conditions, laws and frameworks, including for machine-to-machine communications.
- Governments must make cybersecurity a priority.
CTO ICT Forum is the annual ICT conference of the Commonwealth. Hosted this year by INCM Mozambique, it is attended this year by ICT ministers and regulators, national information technology agencies, universal service agencies, civil society leaders, technology solution providers, telecoms companies, consulting firms, social media companies and financial and investment institutions from 21 countries.