In 1982, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya, decided to set up the
Independent Commission for World-Wide Telecommunications Development. Chaired by Donald Maitland, the Commission was mandated to identify the obstacles hindering communications infrastructure development, and to recommend ways in which the expansion of telecommunications across the world could be stimulated. The Commission submitted its report in January 1985. Officially titled
The Missing Link, but also known as the
Maitland Report or the
Report of the Maitland Commission, the report drew international attention to the huge imbalance in telephone access between developed and developing countries and concluded that this imbalance was intolerable. It underlined the direct correlation between the availability of, and access to, telecommunication infrastructure and a country's economic growth, and it proposed concrete solutions to fix the missing link. The report is considered to be a core document in the founding literature of modern telecommunications development activity.
In the years following its publication, the report was heavily quoted and referenced. In recognition of the widespread and continuing influence of the document, the 20th anniversary of its publication was commemorated by the publication of
Maitland+20: Fixing the Missing Link. Edited by Gerald Milward-Oliver and published in 2005 by the Anima Centre Limited, this book contains a collection of 20 essays that reflect on the Maitland legacy, review the progress made since the release of the report, and assess the challenges that remain.