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Press release

Digital regulators embrace strategy to unlock benefits of transformative technologies

ITU’s Global Symposium for Regulators 2024 explores policies for impact in AI, space economy and climate action

Kampala, Uganda, 04 July 2024

​​​​​​​​​​​Regulators endorsed a set of guidelines to maximize the benefits of transformative information and communication technologies (ICTs) at the Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR-24) which closed today in Kampala, Uganda.

The “GSR-24 Best Practice Guidelines​" agreed by ICT regulators include a series of considerations for balancing innovation with regulation to create a positive impact on societies and economies from emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI).

“With one-third of humanity still offline and women and other vulnerable groups on the wrong side of the globe's digital divides, GSR-24 and the Best Practice Guidelines highlight the innovation, trust, and inclusivity that we need in the policy and regulatory environment," said ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin. “With change being the only certainty facing regulators and policymakers, we must work together to pursue regulatory approaches to leverage transformative technologies such as AI, promote the space economy, encourage innovation, and support climate action and the UN Sustainable Development Goals."

Charting the course of transformative technologies

H.E. Ms. Jessica Alupo, Vice-President of the Republic of Uganda, opened GSR-24 on 1 July speaking on behalf of H.E. Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda.

Organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN Agency for Digital Technologies – the symposium brought together over 600 participants including Ministers, Heads of Regulatory Authorities, industry executives and academics to discuss pressing regulatory issues.

“We are excited that the GSR provides a platform where all thought leaders, regulators, industry players and other key ICT stakeholders converge to dialogue and set the policy and regulatory agenda that will guide the global digital industry over the near future," said Uganda's Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi. “Best practice now calls for a coordinated and collaborative approach that is inclusive of all relevant stakeholders – if we are to achieve the impact that we all desire. We commit to align our national policies and regulatory frameworks around the well-thought-out Best Practice Guidelines that will encourage investment, innovation, and growth in the ICT sector."

Regulators at GSR-24 noted that equal, global access to existing digital services would help countries leverage transformative technologies.

AI, for example, could help network operators conduct better planning and prevent fraud, but it also raises challenges associated with privacy, bias, job displacement, and the reliability of information.

“At GSR-24, we discussed core policy and regulatory issues to maximise the potential of digital technologies to improve lives. We addressed key topics, including new developments in the field of generative AI and robotics, building an inclusive, safe, and sustainable space economy, and required interventions in addressing climate change challenges,​​" said Dr. Cosmas Luckyson Zavazava, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau. “We brought the global community of regulators together to strengthen our collective capacity to navigate the fast-changing technology landscape and drive sustainable and inclusive digital transformation. We heard from young innovators and entrepreneurs and adopted action-oriented Best Practice Guidelines to help us chart the course of transformative technologies for positive impact."

"As we navigate the transformative landscape of digital technologies, the importance of impactful regulation cannot be overstated," said the Chair of GSR-24 and Executive Director of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), George William Nyombi Thembo. “Our shared learnings and collaborative efforts are crucial in shaping a regulatory environment that not only fosters innovation but also ensures that the benefits of technological advancements are widely shared. By recognizing the interdependencies with other sectors, we can create a cohesive framework that supports sustainable development, economic growth, and inclusivity. Together, we have the power to turn technology into a force for positive change, illuminating pathways to a brighter, more connected future."

Engaging the global regulatory community

Prior to the opening of GSR-24, the Regional Regulatory Associations (RA) and Digital Regulation Network (DRN) meeting shared experiences and knowledge as well as areas for collaboration. The meeting also featured the achievements of the successful first year of the DRN, focusing on capacity building, thought leadership, and regulatory experimentation and innovation. Key activities presented include knowledge sharing through the ITU Academy, the broadband mapping project, capacity building activities, contributions to ITU-D Study Groups, RA participation in interactive workshops and engaging on twinning experiences to learn from other Regional Regulatory Associations. Dr. Ally Simba, Executive Secretary of the East African Communications Organisatiopns (EACO) served as RA-24 Chair.

Also ahead of GSR-24, the Industry Advisory Group on Development Issues and Private Sector Chief Regulatory Officers (IAGDI-CRO) convened industry and private sector thought leaders to share experiences and proposals with regulators to address the complex regulatory and business landscape of digital ecosystems. Topics discussed included digital infrastructure development, implementation of regulatory ''sandboxes,'' strategies to enable high-speed connectivity, regulation of the future, including new domains such as AI, and technologies for the future. These discussions were reflected in an Outcome Statement​ presented at the GSR-24 closing ceremony by Bocar Ba, IAGDI-CRO Chairman and CEO of Samena Telecommunications Council.

A session of Network of Women (NoW) in ITU's Telecommunication Development Sector at GSR-24 explored mechanisms for greater participation of women in ICT-related fields and address the leadership gender gap in the ICT sector.

Other announcements at GSR-24:

  • Africa-BB-Maps, the Africa's National Broadband Mapping Systems project, supported by the European Commission, will help establish broadband mapping systems to foster investment and digital transformation in Africa. With a budget of EUR 15 million over four years, the project will initially benefit 11 countries: Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
  • The Digital Skills Forum, a flagship event to discuss the most pressing needs that must be addressed to ensure universal digital skills, will take place in Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, from 17 to 19 September 2024. The event, organized by the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, is hosted by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the Kingdom of Bahrain. ​
  • The Communications, Space and Technology Commission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced that the country will host the Global Symposium for Regulators in 2025. More information and details will follow. 

Resources and background information:
  • Photos can be found here.
  • Videos can be found here
  • Watch the Highlights video here .
  • The GSR-24 Best Practice Guidelines are available here.
  • Learn more about GSR-24 here.

About ITU

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs), driving innovation in ICTs together with 193 Member States and a membership of over 1,000 companies, universities, and international and regional organizations. Established in 1865, it is the intergovernmental body responsible for coordinating the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promoting international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, improving communication infrastructure in the developing world, and establishing the worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems. From broadband networks to cutting-edge wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, oceanographic and satellite-based earth monitoring as well as converging fixed-mobile phone, Internet and broadcasting technologies, ITU is committed to connecting the world. Learn more:​​