ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao says innovation, inclusivity, infrastructure and investment form the “4 I’s” that are critical to boosting the economy, bridging the digital divide, and leveraging the power of ICTs to advance sustainable development.
He was speaking at the Huawei ICT Ministerial Forum at the ITU World Telecom 2018 which is taking place in Durban, South Africa this week.
Zhao addressed ICT ministers and stakeholders on how to transform today’s digital revolution into a development revolution.
“As the head of the lead UN agency for ICTs, I have made clear that infrastructure is absolutely my first priority − and that investment in ICT infrastructure is an absolute and urgent need. Huawei’s Global Connectivity Index report shows that 20% increase in ICT infrastructure investment can lead to 1% growth in GDP and 20% increase in productivity. Together with innovation and inclusivity, infrastructure and investment form the “4 I’s” that are critical to boosting the economy, bridging the digital divide, and leveraging the power of ICTs to advance the SDGs, “Zhao said.
He also unveiled the 2018 State of Broadband report issued by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development. It shows that a growing number of governments now benchmark the status of broadband in their national broadband plans. It also shows that for the first time at least 15 countries now have strategies in place for promoting the safe use of Artificial Intelligence.
Speaking at the Ministerial Forum, South Africa’s Minister for Telecommunications and Postal Services also stressed the need for the national broadband strategies to be implemented in earnest to ensure social and economic development. He added that investment must deliver broadband inclusion for all.
“We need to foster digital inclusion which can be achieved by providing basic access to communities; this must be coupled with a range of localised digital content and digital literacy services,” said Cwele.
Ghana’s Minster of Communications Ursula Owusu-Ekuful reported back on Ghana’s progress on its’ mobile connectivity programme highlighting the gains they had made in rural coverage. Onus–Ekuful says her government had forged a very successful public-private partnership with MTN Ghana and Huawei to bring mobile connectivity to thousands of Ghanaians in remote villages, bringing the country closer to its goal of 100% coverage by the year 2020.
“The Rural Star Solution proves that carriers can make rural connectivity a sustainable investment. In Ghana the solution cut the cost of deployment by 60% and operating costs by 40%,” said Owusu–Ekuful.
Mr Jianjun Zhou, Vice-President of Huawei ‘s Carrier Business Group, described Huawei’s vision and mission to bring digital to every person, home and organisation for a fully connected, intelligent world. He said Huawei had set up a dedicated office for emerging markets with a business programme to connect the unconnected. He emphasized that Broadband deployments are a shared social responsibility.
Dr. Mohamed Madkour, Vice-President of Wireless Networks Marketing & Solutions suggested that when we speak about ICT we are talking about the hope of every African person to live safer, happier and wealthier lives. “The hope of every country to eradicate poverty and grow their economy. We need to harness the power of technology and collaboration to make this happen. Mobility and broadband can make the economy grow,’ said Madkour.