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ITU Regional Forum on Digital Inclusion boosts regional cooperation

Ministers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and the Republic of Nepal (ABBMN countries) committed to increasing regional cooperation at a Forum on Digital Inclusion organized by ITU in the Maldives on 3–5 August 2010. The event ended with a Ministerial Declaration resolving to implement the following objectives, which are considered crucial for successful digital inclusion in the region:

  • stimulate broadband access

  • ensure cybersecurity

  • minimize climate change, and

  • build emergency communications capacity

The Declaration recognizes the key role that governments have to play in formulating and implementing relevant policies and regulations, as well as facilitating reasonable returns for investments by the ICT industry. It also mentions the need for the ICT industry to act responsibly in terms of business expansion and policies.

The Declaration resolves to establish national broadband policies and enabling regulatory environments, and strengthen national advanced ICT training capabilities. It also encourages service providers to expand broadband access using the full potential of wireless broadband to deliver innovative solutions in rural and remote areas, while encouraging establishment of broadband community centres, capable of offering online applications such as e-governance, e-learning, e-health, and e-publications, using local content with the engagement of local communities.

The Declaration recommends the establishment of national cybersecurity strategies and national Critical Incident Response Teams (CIRTs), the exchange of knowledge and expertise among ABBMN countries and special measures to protect children in cyberspace.

In the areas of climate change and emergency communications, the Forum agreed to establish a National Emergency Telecommunications Team in each of the ABBMN countries, to provide resources for disaster preparedness and response (including frequencies for use in emergency situations, to create an Asia-Pacific Multi-partnership Regional Platform for Disaster/Emergency Communications and to promote the deployment of “green” environmentally-friendly technologies.

The Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, highlighted ITU’s priority areas in the five countries. One of these priorities is that ITU will work in close collaboration with member administrations and its partners to develop a National Emergency Telecommunications Plan and to facilitate ratification of the Tampere Convention by the five ABBMN countries. ITU is also leading efforts to set up the Asia-Pacific Regional Platform for Disaster/Emergency Communications Management with its partners, including United Nations agencies, international development organizations, the private sector and member administrations.


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