Arab leaders throw spotlight on regional ICT investment projects,
opportunities at ITU’s Connect Arab Summit
Governments commit to putting the right
regulations in place to stimulate broadband,
promote innovation and youth employment
Doha, 7 March 2012 – Industry and government leaders
attending ITU’s Connect Arab Summit (5-7 March) have identified market
opportunities worth over USD 46 billion for new regionally focused projects
designed to enhance ICT access, applications and services throughout the region.
The investment opportunities identified by the Summit focus around key
priorities for the region, including building a regional Arab ICT highway,
developing e-services, empowering local people through training and human
capacity building, leveraging ICTs for youth job creation, strengthening
cybersecurity, and protecting Arab heritage and culture.
The Summit welcomed some 540 participants from 26 countries, including seven
Heads of State or Government, 26 Ministers, and representatives from 18
international and regional organizations, 99 private sector companies and other
It was convened to forge regional consensus on new strategies to boost
infrastructure deployment, extend access to marginalized populations, and
stimulate innovation and employment across the Arab region.
The Summit closed with a communiqué endorsed by all participating governments
from across the Arab region, which set out four key development goals around
Access and Infrastructure; Digital Content; Cybersecurity; and Innovation. The
full text of the communiqué can be found at:
“The energy in this region testifies to the Arab world’s transformation into
a major technology hub and a pre-eminent force in the global ICT industry. A
growing number of the world’s most exciting new ICT companies are now based
here, and I confidently predict that within the next ten years, the ICT sector
could become the single biggest employer of young talent,” said ITU
Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré.
Connectivity commitments and partnerships announced during the event
- A project between ITU and the League of Arab States to
establish a ‘dot Arab’ domain name. UAE announced that it would
host this important new domain.
- An Arab Women’s Literacy project involving ITU, ALESCO and
UAE designed to empower women in the region with ICT skills in
- A project between
ITU and the Linux Professional Institute to promote open
source software training and certification.
- A broadband toolkit to be developed by the World Bank, along
with a regional broadband connectivity study to support
additional infrastructure investment and an employment study
focusing on the West Bank/Gaza.
At the national level,
Egypt proposed a raft of projects for investment, and
made three announcements with ITU:
- A project to enhance access to Arab digital content through
the Memory of the Arab World project.
- A project to strengthen Arab statistical indicators to
better inform policy-making in the region.
- A project to leverage the power of ICTs to help persons with
The Arab Information and Communication Technologies Organization (AICTO)
proposed several projects, including a regional cybersecurity initiative to
promote safe and secure e-transactions; a digital broadcasting project; a new
project to establish e-accessibility centres to provide education, training and
retrofitting of Arab websites in partnership with W3C; and a common legal
framework on e-accessibility in Arab region.
In addition, a number of counties, including Djibouti, Mauritania and Sudan,
put forward exciting ICT investment opportunities for which they are seeking
Djibouti’s projects focused on improving core infrastructure, building ICT
links to hospitals and schools, and boosting technology training for girls.
Mauritania is seeking investment partners to improve its backbone links and to
help develop a Technopole smart city project and new e-government initiatives.
For its part, Sudan is looking for additional partners for new telecentre
projects being developed in collaboration with India, a video conferencing
project to improve health services, and new initiatives to help persons with
Details of all projects can be found at:
Focus on youth and employment
The high-level part of the event kicked off on Tuesday March 6th with a
lively Opening Debate on youth issues, moderated by ITU’s Dr Touré. The session
addressed three key questions which had been earlier debated and submitted by
- Youth asked the Connect Arab Summit Leaders to look for a
mechanism to ensure that their voices are reflected in policy
- Youth requested a national or regional umbrella organization
that would be responsible for training and mentorship, and that
could possibly provide seed funding to help get their ideas off
- Youth suggested that policy makers engage in more profound
awareness raising for the prominent role that ICT can play in
social and economic development. In particular, they asked that
leaders draw attention to the growing opportunities in the
sector, especially when it comes to developing local content to
meet local needs.
The opening debate was followed by five Roundtable sessions on education;
policy frameworks to attract investment; cybersecurity; local content
generation; and innovation and job creation.
In his closing remarks to delegates, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s
Telecommunication Development Bureau, hailed the Summit as an outstanding
success in bringing countries from right across the region and the world to
share ideas and identify opportunities for business partnership. “This summit
has brought together so many like-minded people, in a warm, positive spirit of
friendship and commitment. We leave this event with a strong sense of purpose,
and a clear vision of what needs to be done to connect the unconnected, here in
the Arab region. This Summit has demonstrated the true power of partnership,” he
The full Connect Arab Summit programme can be found at:
A full list of speakers for each session can be found at:
http://bit.ly/wpPCpU. Archived webcasts of
all sessions can be found at:
An archived webcast of this event is available at:
High-resolution photos from the event can be downloaded at:
Video interviews and event overviews are available at:
An executive summary of ITU’s new Arab region statistics report, ICT adoption
and prospects for the Arab region 2012, is available at:
www.itu.int/net/newsroom/connect/arab/2012/index.aspx. The full report is
Speeches and policy statements are available on the event Newsroom at
For more information please contact:
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, ITU
The Supreme Council of Information and
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