Innovative technologies including 5G, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT) featured prominently today as the doors opened for ITU Telecom World 2017, an international platform for accelerating information and communication technology (ICT) innovations and partnerships. The event runs 25-28 September and aims to fast-track economic development and social good through its forum for sharing knowledge, exhibition for digital solutions, and business networking hub connecting nations, companies, organizations and individuals. It is organized annually by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations' specialized agency for ICT-related issues.
Participants include exhibitors bringing with them the smartest ideas and entrepreneurial spirit of digital start-ups and ICT small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as governments, regulators, industry leaders, consultants and experts from emerging and developed markets around the world.
The event was launched with a high-level opening ceremony featuring a live orchestra and traditional dance performance from Busan National Gukak Centre, and a video message delivered by Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea. Participating in the ceremony were (in speaking order) Young Min You, Minister of Science and ICT, Republic of Korea; Byung-soo Suh, Mayor of Busan Metropolitan City; Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General; Abdulaziz Bin Salem Al Ruwais, Governor, Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), Saudi Arabia; Majed Al Mesmar, Deputy Director General, Telecom Sector, Telecommunciations Regulatory Authority, United Arab Emirates; Rudiantara, Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Indonesia; Siyabonga Cyprian Cwele, Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, South Africa; István Mikola, Minister of State for Security and International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hungary; and Edwin Estrada Hernández,Deputy Minister of Telecommunications, Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications, Costa Rica.
Welcoming delegates to the Republic of Korea, Minister Young Min You spoke of how, thanks to a number of promising start-ups and small ventures joining, ITU Telecom World 2017 has opened up opportunities for global business. Speaking of future opportunities and challenges for the ICT sector, he told delegates, "It is imperative that we come up with systematic strategies and measures to forestall risk factors while turning new changes into an opportunity for growth. To this end, businesses and the government must join forces to do so."
Noting that this is the third time that Busan has hosted a major ICT event, following ITU Telecom Asia in 2004 and the most recent ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in 2014, Busan City Mayor, Byung-soo Suh told delegates, "At ITU Telecom World 2017 we will explore the latest technology trends and path of 5G communication, IoT, AI. I have every conviction that Busan will rise as the true capital city of world ICT."
Expressing his pleasure to be back in the Republic of Korea and Busan, home to many SMEs, digital start-ups and entrepreneurs, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao explained that, "Tech SMEs are critical to industry innovation, market growth and job creation – in both developed and developing markets. They have a crucial role to play in stimulating economic and social growth, accelerating innovation, digital inclusion and the development of smart societies."
Speaking via video message, President Moon Jae-in welcomed delegates to ITU Telecom World 2017 and spoke on the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution, which made the theme of the event all the more timely. "I hope the event will be a meaningful occasion for seizing opportunities and seeking ways together to address common concerns," he said.
Said Abdulaziz Bin Salem Al Ruwais, CITC Governor and sponsor of the opening ceremony, spoke on the smart digital transformation currently underway in the ICT sector, and the importance of digital technology going forward. "This event, which brings us together is a global opportunity for us to meet and to reflect on the nature of this exceptional era in which we live with innovation and rapid transformation," he said, adding that, "We are in an era that believes in leaps not steps."
Majed Al Mesmar, Deputy Director General, Telecom Sector, TRA and opening ceremony sponsor spoke on our rapid digital transformation, and how it is a key priority for UAE. He voiced hopes for the outcomes of, ITU Telecom World 2017, saying, "I am fully confident the discussions here will lead to greater understanding of what each country and each organization will do to move into the next stage, which is a smart world."
Indonesia's Minister Rudiantara spoke of the critical need to close the world wealth disparity gap, asking, "How can we utilize digitalization to address the strategic issues of wealth distribution and the income disparity gap around the world?" He outlined key steps taken to boost connectivity, promote SMEs as enablers of inclusive global growth, and the importance of enabling SMEs to "leapfrog" into the digital age.
South Africa's Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services expressed his country's willingness to host ITU Telecom World 2018, highlighting that, "There are many interesting and exciting innovations taking place in Africa. We believe that hosting ITU Telecom World in Africa will open up a wide range of possibilities for investment, trade and partnerships between African countries and the global ICT community."
Hungary's István Mikola, Minister of State for Security and International Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade reminded delegates of the capacity for ICTs to improve livelihoods, saying, "On a global level, digitalization and smart transformation of societies represent a great opportunity. We believe that, with the help of innovative new technologies, the ambitious programme of the United Nations – the Sustainable Development Goals – can be achieved, and must be achieved."
Edwin Estrada Hernández, Costa Rica's Deputy Minister of Telecommunications voiced optimism for the event, noting that it allows participants "not only to learn about new advances in technology and telecommunications, but also allows us to dream of a better tomorrow, a more collaborative and more inclusive world, for our inhabitants."
Following the official opening of ITU Telecom World 2017, under the theme "Smart digital transformation, global opportunities," debates began in earnest, with the Leadership Summit, moderated by European media giant Euronews, which convened high-level experts from public and private sectors to explore visions of smart societies in the future, as well as the best ways to build resilience into smart technologies, systems and cities.
During the four-day event, Forum sessions are delving into a timely set of topics including: maximizing the opportunities of smart digital transformation, how telecommunication companies can transform their operations, how we can develop and scale digital literacy, the industry sectors most likely to lead the 5G revolution, and the potential impact of AI on financial services.
The Exhibition showcases digital solutions and investment opportunities from both governments and industry, representing emerging and developed markets, including tech SMEs. Technologies on display include artificial intelligence, virtual reality, smart health, smart finance, IoT, radio frequency spectrum solutions, spectrum management, smart city technologies and more.
The prestigious ITU Telecom World Awards ceremony, recognizing excellence and innovation in ICT solutions with social impact from SMEs and corporates alike, will also be held during the event. Winners will be announced on 29 September, at the closing of the event.
ITU Telecom World 2017 will also provide a host of targeted networking opportunities including B2B and B2G business matchmaking, as well as sharing perspectives from the ITU and its membership and partners. This will include a host of engaging side events on trending topics, a number of important agreements to be signed, and several new technical publications to be launched – including the new ITU ICT Discoveries Journal.
Full details on ITU Telecom World 2017 available here / Forum programme available here.
Photos available here / Video interviews available here.