More than 400 participants from 59 countries, including government ministers, vice-ministers, Directors-General and leaders from business, academia and United Nations agencies met in Gaborone, Botswana, from 21 to 25 November to attend ITU's World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS-16).
The Symposium was organized by ITU and hosted by the Government of Botswana.
WTIS-16 featured a Ministerial Roundtable on leaving no one behind in the digital revolution; a Leaders' Dialogue on the structural impact of ICTs on societies and economies; and the launch of the Measuring the Information Society Report 2016 and the ICT Development Index (IDI) 2016.
Participants also debated and addressed a wide range of topical issues including measuring digital inclusion and data literacy, bundled services and the Internet of Things (IoT), and indicators for disaster risk reduction.
"ICTs are crucial in achieving all of the SDGs – because ICTs integrate and support all three pillars of sustainable development: economic growth, social inclusion and environment sustainability," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. "The debates in successful symposiums like WTIS 2016 confirmed how important a role ITU statistics play in development by helping track progress on the status of access to ICTs, show the rapid technological progress made to date by countries and help policy makers identify the people and communities being left behind in the rapidly evolving digital economy. "
"Botswana has made huge strides in using ICT in its development agenda," said Mr Onkokame Mokaila, Minister of Transport and Communications of Botswana. "This is largely due to its massive investment in infrastructure, information systems and human capacity. Botswana is of the view that this investment in world class ICT infrastructure is not a luxury but a development imperative."
ITU's flagship annual Measuring the Information Society Report was released in Gaborone on 22 November.
The report's annual ICT Development Index (IDI) country rankings were announced at a high-level WTIS-16 award ceremony. The Republic of Korea ranked number one in this year's IDI, which is a composite measurement that ranks 175 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills. Iceland, Denmark and Switzerland completed the top four countries.
The most dynamic country in IDI 2016 is St. Kitts and Nevis, which moved up 20 places to 34th in the rankings in this year's Index. Very substantial gains were also made by Algeria, Bhutan, Dominica and Myanmar.
"This WTIS has provided ICT sector players with yet another unique platform to exchange knowledge, share best practices and identify areas that need improvement so that none is left behind in the digital economy," said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau. "Global interconnectedness is spreading rapidly with many countries reaping the benefits of more liberalized and competitive ICT markets that encourage innovation and technology uptake across all sectors."
"In September 2015, the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) began the implementation of a converged ICT licensing framework designed to meet demands for real-time high quality and affordable services, accommodate emerging players for increased competitiveness and enhance value proposition for consumers," said Mr Thari Pheko, BOCRA Chief Executive. "Telecommunication/ICT indicators will play a critical role in measuring how well the new framework is meeting its objectives."
Cosmas Zavazava, ITU's Chief of Department for Projects and Knowledge Management, said, "As the international community seeks to fully implement the 2030 Development Agenda, WTIS provides a platform for the adoption of globally agreed tools for telecommunications and information society measurement. The event provides a unique platform for ICT data users and producers to meet and share knowledge and best practices, identify business opportunities and enhance cooperation."
At a ceremony held on 23 November, the Government of Tunisia offered to host WTIS in 2017.
First held in 1996, and annually since 2005, WTIS has evolved to become the main global forum for telecommunications and information society measurement. The event provides a unique platform for ICT data users and producers to meet and share knowledge and best practices, identify business opportunities and enhance cooperation.
*Note to editors:
ITU's IDI is widely recognized by government, UN agencies and industry as the most accurate and impartial measure of overall national ICT development. It combines 11 indicators into a single measure that can be used as a benchmarking tool globally, regionally, and at national level, as well as helping track progress in ICT development over time. It measures ICT access, use and skills, and includes such indicators as mobile cellular subscriptions, households with a computer, Internet users, fixed and mobile broadband Internet subscriptions, and educational attainment.