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Arab States define key ICT development priorities

Broadband, digital broadcasting, open source software, Arab digital content and cybersecurity are main objectives

Geneva, 28 January 2010 The Arab States Regional Preparatory Meeting (RPM) for the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference 2010 (WTDC-10) concluded on Tuesday, 19 January in Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic, with delegates reaching consensus on regional strategies to foster the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The agreed strategies and priorities will serve as inputs to WTDC-10, which will take place in Hyderabad, India, 24 May — 4 June 2010.

The meeting was opened by the Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid. ITU Deputy Secretary-General Houlin Zhao and Syria’s Minister of Communications and Technology, Imad Sabouni, also made opening remarks. The Director General of the Syrian Telecom Establishment (STE), Mr Nazem Bahsas, was elected chairman of the RPM.

Mr Al Basheer commented on progress in ICT development in the Arab States, particularly in mobile communications, but noted that there is room for improvement in broadband access. This is critical to accelerating the diffusion of e-applications and services, and in turn contributing to rapid socio-economic development. He emphasized the importance of the RPM for setting priorities ahead of WTDC-10 aimed at establishing an effective ICT development plan for the next four years.

In his opening remarks, Mr Zhao spoke of the active participation of the Arab States in ITU TELECOM WORLD 2009, demonstrating their strong interest in telecommunication investment and affirming their place among the top competitors in the world telecommunication market.

Mr Imad Sabouni highlighted the need for Arab countries to play an active role in the preparations for WTDC-10, and referred to the Arab States’ support to ITU during the WSIS process and follow up. He noted that Syria has hosted many events for the Arab States aimed at enhancing ICT development.

Following a review of the 2006 WTDC Doha Action Plan, the meeting set priorities for future development and proposed a set of key regional initiatives:

  • Broadband connectivity
  • Digital broadcasting
  • Open source software
  • Arab digital content
  • Cybersecurity
  • In conjunction with the RPM, ITU released a new report profiling the Arab States region: Information Society Statistical Profiles 2009: Arab States, which showed that as of 2008, the Arab States accounted for five per cent of the world’s mobile cellular subscriptions, three per cent of the world’s fixed telephony lines and four per cent of the world’s Internet users.

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    Updated : 2010-01-28