ITU ACTION IN THE REGION
A Global Presence
To reinforce its unique role as a global organization committed to fostering the growth of telecommunications
throughout the world’s developing countries, ITU maintains a strong on-the-ground regional presence through eleven strategically-located field offices around the world.
These offices allow ITU to work even more closely with its members, tailoring its programmes to the specific and diverse needs of different countries and regions. Activities range from training programmes, seminars and conferences on new technologies, to provision of policy and regulatory advice and grass-roots assistance to countries in special need.
Field offices also help ITU maintain close ties with administrations, operators and manufacturers, serving as an important focal point for local industry and helping facilitate the public/private sector partnerships which are increasingly vital to building and strengthening networks.
Home to more than three-quarters of all Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Africa has an urgent need for capacity
building in areas ranging from infrastructure deployment and human resources development to sector reform.
ITU field offices in Africa continued to work together with local partners on a number of projects, including INDAFTEL, a regional undertaking aimed at freeing operators from the need to buy expensive imported equipment through the establishment of local manufacturing facilities, and AFRITEL, which seeks to cut costs and improve efficiency through a new, fully interconnected pan-African network that will obviate the need for African operators to transit African-bound calls through offshore third party networks. In 2000, technical studies to modernize two of the sub-regional networks of
AFRITEL were completed in partnership with the Southern African Development Community and the Economic Community of West African States.
In addition, Africa’s first-ever regulators’ summit was organized in Gaborone, Botswana, in October, in collaboration with the African Telecommunication Union, the Economic Commission for Africa and the Regional African Satellite Communications Organization. As well as fostering an exchange of views on challenges in sector restructuring, one of the major aims of the summit was the preparation of regional action plans, with a view to providing greater levels of support to countries embarking on telecoms reform.
Ad hoc regulatory assistance was also provided to a number of countries throughout the region, including five Least Developed Countries, in the areas of regulatory reform, tariffs, frequency spectrum and network management, and human resources development. Workshops and seminars were organized on issues relating to radiocommunication and standardization, as well as on the WTO telecoms agreement.
Finally, for the first time, assistance on gender issues was provided to the Higher Multinational School for Telecommunications (École Supérieure Multinationale de Télécommunication — ESMT) in Dakar, with a view to harnessing the powerful contribution women can make to development.
ITU activities in the Americas included a strong emphasis on the Enterprise Incubator Partnership, a project which seeks to extend the success of Brazil’s enterprise incubator programme to other countries in the region. Enterprise incubators are environments that provide under-funded start-ups with access to essential services such as premises, shared equipment, business consultancy and trained accountants. The Enterprise Incubator Partnership project aims to establish pilot incubators in two countries in the Americas region, focusing on enterprises based on telecoms or IT technologies, such as community telecentres. The year 2000 saw the development of the Guide for Pilot Incubators and the organization of Incubators and Entrepreneurship courses, which form part of the project’s initial Capacity Building Plan.
ITU also worked closely with Latin America’s CITEL (Inter-American Telecommunication Commission) to develop a database to monitor regional allocation and use of radio spectrum between 137-3700 MHz. This new system makes it easy to generate band-by-band tables of domestic frequency allocation for each country in Latin America, showing each country’s
modifications to the International Allocation Table. In addition, work was undertaken to harmonize use of the frequency band 170 MHz-2.5 GHz, which is used for a wide range of critical applications including broadcasting and mobile
In conjunction with ITU field offices in Chile and Honduras, the Union also organized seminars on tariffs, costing, regulatory matters, spectrum management and issues surrounding the World Trade Organization agreement on trade in basic telecommunications, and undertook a study on Telecommunication Network Cost Estimation for OECS (Organization of Eastern
Caribbean States) countries.
Finally, a revised Cost Model Methodology was prepared in conjunction with national operators which will help Latin American and Caribbean carriers accurately evaluate cost and termination charges, in line with the global push to realign international settlement rates to reflect actual incurred costs.
With an increasing number of Arab States embracing privatization and opening their markets to foreign investment, restructuring is now gaining momentum, with several countries now following Jordan’s lead and establishing a separate national regulator.
In line with this changing regulatory and operational environment, work in the Arab States region focused predominantly on training, human resources and assistance with policy development. A number of meetings, seminars and workshops were held throughout the year on topics critical to the future development of the region, including IMT-2000, rural telecommunications and universal access/service, trade in telecommunications, effective business planning, human resources management and development, and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System.
Field missions were also carried out in Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Sudan, Tunisia, and with the Palestinian Authority, to define needs and provide solutions in the area of telecom regulation and/or human resources development, while ad hoc direct assistance was provided to Morocco, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and to the Palestinian Authority, again in the area of human resources.
Four important preparatory and coordination meetings were also organized to help countries of the region exchange their views and positions, with a view to facilitating the adoption of common proposals. These were the Arab Regional Preparatory Meeting for WTDC-02, the Annual Meeting for Telecommunication Development, the Preparatory Meeting of the Arab States to WTSA-2000, and the ITU-D Study Group coordination meeting.
The range of development activities carried out by the ITU field offices in Bangkok and Jakarta bears witness to the size and diversity of the Asia-Pacific region. In 2000, assistance in policy and regulatory matters ranked first in the overall programme of field activities. In particular, a sector restructuring project in Cambodia was undertaken under the Special Programme for LDCs.
Human resources development was another high priority area, particularly through the Asia-Pacific Centre of Excellence, a virtual training network offering information and e-learning courses in a range of telecommunication development topics. Support was also provided to a number of countries needing assistance with network development and universal access provision.
New development initiatives focused on the Internet and related “new economy” applications, such as e-commerce and IP-based networks. Case studies on costing and pricing of services and the Internet were also conducted in several countries throughout the region.
In addition, ITU field offices continued to work closely with the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity in the areas of policy and regulation, new technologies and training. Finally, efforts were made to strengthen support for the broadcasting sector through joint activities with the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union and the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development.
Europe and CIS Countries
While not technically a developing region — of the region’s 53 Member States, only 30 are considered developing — a number of countries in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) nonetheless have special development needs. With the transition to a market economy and the need to develop telecommunication capability to enhance overall economic and business development, countries throughout the region are now embarked on a rapid restructuring process. Actual needs range from policy advice and assistance in telecoms regulation, market liberalization and privatization of
the national operator, to help in addressing urgent problems of poorly served rural communities, introduction of new services, and network development and infrastructure reconstruction in countries that have been victims of natural
disasters or civil unrest. Almost all the countries in need identify improved human resources as one of the most effective instruments in their development process.
During the year 2000, a number of training seminars were organized in the region, including a sub-regional seminar on tariffs for CIS countries, and regional seminars on interconnection, universal access, and technological, financing and regulatory issues. Through close cooperation with the private sector, ITU attracted sponsorship to fund many of its activities in this region.