The Regional Preparatory Meeting (RPM) for Africa was held from 6 to 8 December in Kigali, Rwanda. Participants at the meeting assessed the ongoing implementation of the Dubai Action Plan adopted at ITU's last World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-14) and started discussions on the Regional Initiatives for the Africa region for the years 2018-2021.
The Regional Preparatory Meeting was the second of a series of regional preparatory meetings that will take place across the world to help identify priorities in each region in preparation for WTDC-17. The first RPM was held in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic from 9 to 11 November 2016.
WTDC-17, which will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 9 to 20 October 2017, will forge a global plan for telecommunication and ICT development over the next four years.
"The Regional Preparatory Meeting helps to achieve regional coordination in preparation for WTDC-17 and identify issues at the regional level that need to be addressed, taking into account the most pressing needs faced by the Member States and Sector Members of the region," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. "At WTDC-17, we will define the way forward and elaborate innovative ways to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals."
Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Minister of Youth and ICT of Rwanda, said, "Every time we have an opportunity to meet as leaders from the public and private sectors, academia and civil society in ICT, we must use it to advance the role that new technologies are playing and can play in making this world, and our continent, a better place."
"We are building blocks towards a successful WTDC-17," said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau. "We have had very interesting discussions and had the pleasure to hear from ITU membership about the needs and opportunities of the region for the future. ICTs have revolutionized communications in Africa and are empowering people everywhere on the continent, promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, generating income and setting a path towards the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."
Patrick Nyirishema, Director General of the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) and Chairman of the RPM, presented the final draft report. The report recognizes that the Regional Initiatives constitute an effective mechanism for fostering the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
In discussing the Regional Initiatives for the Africa region for the years 2018-2021, meeting participants made several proposals all centered on the recognition that ICTs are ultimately about people. Participants acknowledged that the ICT sector is fast-developing and there is a need to take a paradigm shift in approaches for the region to benefit from these changes.
"The Regional Preparatory Meeting is an important platform that allows us to get together and discuss our common goals in a fast changing ICT landscape," said Nyirishema. "The dialogue we have started here will continue and will forge a common vision for Africa region for WTDC-17."
The RPM for Africa was preceded by the Regional Development Forum. Speakers at the opening ceremony included Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Brahima Sanou and Lamin Maneh, the United Nations' Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Rwanda.
The Regional Development Forum provided an opportunity to hear about the status of implementation of the African regional initiatives approved at WTDC-14 as well as the development of the ICT sector in the region.
The initiatives approved at WTDC-14 focus on the following areas: human and institutional capacity building, policy and regulatory frameworks for the integration of African telecommunications/ICT frameworks, broadband access and adaptation of broadband, spectrum management and transition to digital broadcasting, and confidence and security in the use of telecommunications/ICTs.
Both RPM and RDF were organized at the kind invitation of the Ministry of Youth and ICT of Rwanda.
The next Regional Preparatory Meeting will be for the Arab States and will be held in the Republic of Sudan from 30 January to 1 February 2017. It will be preceded by the Regional Development Forum on 29 January 2017.