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Global ICT regulatory meeting highlights key role of innovation
in driving ICT development

Debates stressed need for more innovative approaches to funding
challenges, ICT taxation, network sharing and licensing of new services

Libreville, Gabon,11 June, 2015 – Promoting digital inclusion and closing the ‘digital gap’ between a handful of highly industrialized economies and the world’s many emerging markets and developing economies will require an innovation-oriented mindset that seeks out new approaches to regulation as well as to traditional challenges such as infrastructure funding, service delivery, and taxation of ICT goods and services, according to delegates at ITU’s Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR-15), which was held this week at the Stade de l’Amitié in the Gabonese capital, Libreville.

The GSR, world’s largest specialized gathering of ICT regulators and policy specialists from the public and private sectors, was chaired this year by Lin Mombo, President of Gabon’s ICT regulator, the Autorité de Régulations des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (ARCEP). The event was co-hosted by ITU and ARCEP, under the patronage of His Excellency Mr Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon.

The event welcomed around 400 senior international policy makers from over 60 countries, representing the world’s information and communication technology (ICT) regulatory authorities and leading tech companies. Strategies to accelerate digital inclusion to leverage the growth potential of emerging economies and developing markets were a key focus of discussions.

The theme ‘Mind the Digital Gap – Regulatory Incentives to Achieve Digital Opportunities’, focused on a wide range of pressing regulatory issues, including mobile payments; network sharing models; taxation and the digital economy; the ‘Internet of Everything’; regulation and broadband uptake; and ways that regulatory frameworks can help promote accessibility for all.

Speaking to delegates at the start of the morning session on Wednesday 10th, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao emphasized the importance of fostering the growth of technology-based small and medium enterprises in growing each country’s national digital economy. He also urged countries to invest in youth through education and ICT training. “Young people are natural innovators, and today’s youth are also ‘digital natives’ – using ICTs to solve problems and create useful new services comes naturally to them, so they can become major drivers of socio-economic change,” said Mr Zhao. “Far-sighted governments should look to ways of harnessing this energy and creativity to transform their economies through ICTs and help bridge the digital gap.”

The GSR-15 closing ceremony this afternoon was presided over by the Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), Brahima Sanou; GSR-15 Chair Lin Mombo; and Gabon’s Minister for Digital Economy and Posts, Pastor Ngoua Nneme.

Minister Ngoua Nneme said: “Today, telecommunications/ICT is a strategic sector in the creation and distribution of national wealth, and contributes significantly to the improvement of the main macroeconomic indicators and the development of socio-economic activity in Gabon. The ambition of the Gabonese government is to ensure that ICTs not only contribute to the growth of GDP, but are accessible, available and affordable. I assure you that the Gabonese Republic under the leadership of President Ali Bongo Ondimba will take the necessary steps to implement the outcomes of your work. I would also like to reaffirm the commitment and will of my government to support and assist the ITU in its mission to connect the world and transform Africa.”

BDT Director Brahima Sanou emphasized the role that ITU can play in fostering innovation. “In today’s increasingly globalized ICT markets, regulators and policy makers have a need to get together to find common ground and identify innovative ways of working together. Innovation is becoming central to the policy frameworks that will create the right enabling environment to drive growth – and ITU serves as the ideal neutral platform for those discussions.”

In his closing address to delegates, Mr Mombo said: “By hosting this meeting, Gabon has shown its commitment to international cooperation in working towards an inclusive information society in the world in general, and in Africa in particular. I would like to express our satisfaction with regard to the excellent results which we have reached after three intensive days of work. I do not doubt for a moment that these results will benefit all actors in the ICT sector. I am particularly delighted with the relevance and quality of the Best-Practice Guidelines that we have just adopted. They respond to the current needs of ICT development in bridging the digital divide.”

This year’s GSR programme featured a special information session for regulators and industry on the upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15), an important international treaty-making conference which will be hosted by ITU in Geneva from 2-27 November, 2015. The session was led by François Rancy, Director of ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau.

A second information session illustrated how reliable measurement and data are key to better ICT policy making and encouraged regulators to be active participants in ITU’s World Telecommunication Indicators Symposium, which will be held in Hiroshima, Japan from 30 November - 2 December 2015.

As always, this year’s GSR culminated in a series of regulatory Best Practice Guidelines. Outputs from the meeting will also be incorporated into ITU’s annual regulatory report, Trends in Telecommunication Reform.

The next Global Symposium for Regulators, GSR-16, will be held in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. GSR-17 will be held in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

Watch the GSR-15 Highlights video here and other GSR-15 videos here.

Download GSR-15 photos here

The full programme of the GSR-15 symposium is available here.

A series of Discussion Papers on the key issues discussed at this year’s GSR is available here.

Biographies of GSR-15 speakers are available here.

Background information, including speeches of the high-level participants and key global statistics on broadband, are available on the GSR-15 Newsroom at http://www.itu.int/en/newsroom/gsr-15/Pages/default.aspx.

Follow the event on Twitter at: #GSR15.

For more information, visit the GSR-15 home page or contact:

ITU:

Sarah Parkes
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information
tel +41 22 730 6135
tel sarah.parkes@itu.int
Monica Albertini
Communication Officer, BDT
tel +41 22 730 5317
tel monica.albertini@itu.int 

ARCEP:

David Ella Mintsa

Head of Communications

tel +241 07 71 8546
tel davidellamintsa@gmail.com  
Victor Missanda
Communication Officer
tel +241 07 32 04 76
tel  landjifils@yahoo.fr

 

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