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SAMENA Council, represented by its CEO - Bocar BA, who also delivered a keynote in support of the Private Sector, participated and contributed to the Guidelines adopted during the Sixth World Telecom/ICT Policy Forum (WTPF-21), held virtually in December 2021. The Forum brought together representatives from all stakeholder groups belonging to 90 ITU Member States, 40 Sector Members, including SAMENA Council, and various Observers.
Deliberations at the WTPF-21 delved into identifying actions that can be taken to mobilize new and emerging technologies and ICTs for sustainable development, as well as practical measures to boost universal, affordable and secure connectivity. Delegates recognized the need to re-energize sustainable development and drive faster and more inclusive connectivity, and to ramp up digital skills. The essential requirement for setting best policies and practices for adopting and utilizing new and emerging technologies and services to facilitate the use of ICTs for sustainable development was recognized as being crucial. It was also agreed that an enabling environment for the development and deployment of new and emerging telecommunication/ICT services and technologies to advance sustainable development is critical for a sustainable digital future. (SAMENA Council noted that this was in accordance with the earlier acknowledgement by the global community of the role that the Telecom/ICT industry, especially the Telecom Operator community, has been playing in digital development worldwide and more so throughout the 2020-to-date pandemic response and future preparedness processes.)
Aligned with the Report presented by the ITU Secretary General, H.E. Mr. Houlin Zhao, and Opinions 3 & 4 agreed to during the WTPF-21 regarding the need to adopt effective future-oriented policy approaches for building the digital future, SAMENA Council stressed upon two particularly important aspects for future policymaking and governance: One, adopting innovative and sustainable funding, financing and investment models that need to be much broader and include contributors apart from Telecom Operators alone and predictable and sustainable contributions from all those that benefit from infrastructure investments. Two, understanding and meaningfully utilizing the vast data flow landscape that now exists, and for which Policymakers and Regulators should help in the harmonization of data categorizations such as global definitions and data-related concepts; developing common technical data-related standards; exploring emerging forms of data governance, and agreeing on digital and data-related rights and principles at the top of their data-centric policy and regulatory approaches.
Bocar BA, in his keynoted, stated that "Focusing on these two aspects will help establish a foundation on which the future of connectivity can be built. SAMENA Council suggests that the Policymakers and Regulators consider extending the regulatory sandbox approach to understand and address new challenges associated with cross-border data flows, which are an integral part of the global connectivity system we have recognized today for building a sustainable digital future for all."
BA also reiterated that "In the age of collaborative regulation, policy and regulatory approaches should aim to more effectively address the needs of the Private Sector, in particular of Telecom Operators. The success of the Governments and the success and sustainability of the Private Sector are closely interlinked. Consequently, in support of the Opinions adopted regarding future-oriented policy approaches, it is almost inevitable that we’d also need to focus specifically on the need for reducing Taxation and incentives in investment, adopting future-friendly Spectrum allocation approaches and rectification of Spectrum Interference issues and supporting innovation in the creation, adoption, and championing by the government sector of the adoption of new digital services."
WTPF-21 brought together policy-makers from across the globe, providing a venue for exchanging views and knowledge to create shared vision on issues arising from the emergence of new telecommunication/ICT services and technologies. It is the sixth such Forum, previous having taken place in 1996, 1998, 2001, 2009 and 2013. The Forum was convened at the request of ITU Membership to discuss new and emerging technologies. The Sixth World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum (WTPF-21) was due to be held on 16-18 December 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. However, given the deterioration of the epidemiological situation and the announcement of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in Switzerland and many other countries, WTPF-21 was only held as a fully virtual event.
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