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ITU Council opens with high-level segment

Focus on cybersecurity and ICT infrastructure

Geneva, 7 September 2007 — Focusing on cybersecurity and building telecommunication and ICT infrastructure, ministerial representatives of seven countries addressed ITU’s annual Council meeting, in session 4−14 September.

This is the first time in the history of the Union that the Council meeting opened with a ‘high-level segment’. It is indicative of the importance attributed to the mission of ITU in connecting the world, in developing new standards for state-of-the-art information and communication technologies (ICT) and managing spectrum in an increasingly wireless environment.

In his State of the Union address, ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, thanked all ministers present and expressed his "deepest appreciation for their support of the new initiative to hold a High-Level Segment" of the Council.

Strengthening cybersecurity

Confidence and security in using information and communication technologies (ICT) are fundamental in building an inclusive, secure and global information society. The legal, technical and institutional challenges posed by cyber-threats and cybercrime are global and far-reaching, and can only be addressed through a coherent strategy taking into account the role of different stakeholders and existing initiatives, within a framework of international cooperation.

Italy’s Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Communication, Professor Luigi Vimercati, said that his country considered the ITU Global Cybersecurity Agenda, launched by the Secretary-General in May, a very important initiative for building international cooperation and for helping to develop technical and regulatory solutions "to guarantee higher data and user protection in cyberspace".

Addressing national concerns, H.E Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Development for the Government Sector of the United Arab Emirates said, "The key elements to be considered in formulating a national strategy plan for cybersecurity in order to prevent cybercrime is by enhancing the current UAE Cybercrime Law and by closely working with the ICT sector in the country to secure ICT infrastructure."

In Cameroon, the greatest cyberattacks range from piracy, the spread of illicit content such as paedophilia, pornography, money laundering and drug trafficking, as well as identity fraud, commented H.E Maïgari Bello Bouba, Minister of Post and Telecommunications. He added that Cameroon plans to develop by 2012 an optical fibre-based next-generation network to meet the chronic lack of broadband.

Developing telecommunication/ICT infrastructure

ITU is organizing a series of multi-stakeholder initiatives in different parts of the world with the key objective of accelerating ICT investment and broadband access in underserved areas, as well as supporting broader social and economic development. The first of these initiatives is Connect Africa, a summit to be held in Kigali, Rwanda, on 29-30 October 2007.

"The lack of investment in reliable and affordable infrastructure has undermined the development of necessary infrastructure and thus resulted in persistently high connectivity costs in developing countries relative to those in the developed world," said South Africa’s Minister of Communications, Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri. "As developing countries grapple with challenges regarding the provision of basic services such as water, sanitation, electricity and housing to the poor, deliberate efforts must also be made to create a policy and regulatory environment to enable the provision of ICT connectivity".

Burkina Faso’s Minister of Post and ICT, Mr Joachim Tankoano, called on ITU to increase its assistance to developing countries in the formulation and implementation of their national strategies for telecommunications/ICT development. These include the development of broadband infrastructure by promoting new public-private partnerships; the RASCOM project in efforts to launch the first pan-African satellite for telecommunications; strengthening and harmonizing policy and regulatory frameworks to promote the integration of African ICT markets; bridge the standardization gap between the developing and the developed world; facilitate equitable access to the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits; and capacity building.

Ghana’s Minister of Communications, H.E Dr Benjamin Aggrey Ntim, said that in Africa, ICT/telecommunications was not a matter of choice but a necessity. "We recognize that ICT is an indispensable tool for enhancing development and providing opportunities in the achievement of our developmental objectives, in particular the Millennium Development Goals." He stressed that governments owe it to their citizens to play key collaborative roles in pursuing infrastructure development programmes in the communications sector, including the energy sector. In Ghana, telephone subscription reached 6.7 million this year, representing a teledensity of 32 per cent.

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