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 Friday, July 12, 2013

ITU workshops in Durban, South Africa have underlined Africa’s commitment to countering spam and ensuring the eco-friendly management of e-waste, the subjects of new provisions of the revised International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs).

The events were hosted by South Africa’s Department of Communications at the International Convention Centre in Durban. Two full-day ITU workshops – free of charge and open to all – discussed “Countering and Combating Spam”, 8 July 2013, and “Environmentally Sound Management of e-Waste”, 9 July 2013.

The workshops considered questions of particular relevance to African countries. Spam is said to account for 60-80 per cent of emails in Africa and the continent has become the world’s most prominent importer of used electronic goods.

The spam workshop opened with presentations on the nature and dimensions of the spam challenge, followed by interactive tracks on the roles of policy and standards in combating spam and the associated contributions of government and industry. Targeted sessions presented the outcomes of WTSA-12 and WCIT-12 as they related to spam, with another giving an overview of the standards developed by ITU-T Study Group 17 (Security) under its study of “Countering spam by technical means”.

The workshop’s outcomes, detailed here, propose that the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) partners with the African Union to develop a model law for spam (including SMS spam) and to craft a model programme for cooperation between governments and industry in combatting spam, with components such as mechanisms for inter-agency cooperation to detect and eliminate ‘botnets’. ATU was also invited to collaborate with the African Union, ITU and the Internet Society (ISOC) in creating a programme helping African ISPs to implement effective anti-spam tools and to educate end-users on the safe identification and handling of suspicious messages.

The e-waste workshop highlighted the complexity of the e-waste challenge, hearing the views of government, industry and consumer representatives in analyzing lessons learnt from Africa’s fast-growing volume of experience in managing e-waste. Presentations covered existing policy frameworks and standards relevant to eco-friendly e-waste management, spurring discussions on future e-waste actions in Africa with an emphasis on the establishment of requisite legal and regulatory environments.

The workshop’s outcomes, detailed here, set the tone for African countries to develop and implement e-waste policies, regulations and best practices, pursuant to Article 11 of the ITRs. ATU was encouraged to partner with the African Union, Regional Economic Committees, ITU and other relevant organizations to assist African countries in developing national e-waste regulation. It was in addition asked to work with the African Union to develop a model programme for cooperation between government and industry in managing e-waste through the implementation of international standards (ITU-T Recommendations). Outcomes also called for collaboration between ATU and ITU-T Study Group 5 (Environment and climate change) in exploring the possibility of an ITU project to assist in the establishment of processing and refining/recycling facilities in the region, and SG5 was invited to carry out a survey on the existing e-waste legislation of ITU Member States.

More information on ITU-T, the Environment and Climate Change is available here.

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