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ITU Becomes Trans-Sectoral

Very little was said about telecommunications during the official speeches and forums at ITU Telecom World 2009.

The industry is even talking about changing its focus from telecommunications to ICT [United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force], Discussions are now focusing on how ICT can be used to underpin the various socio-economic developments that are taking place.

The opening of ITU Telecom World 2009 took place on the same day that two UN workers were killed and many more injured in the suicide attack in Islamabad, aimed at the UN food program. The ITU being a UN organisation, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was a participant in the opening ceremony and he used the event to make his statement in relation to the suicide attack.

This also moved the discussion in the direction of how ICT can help to create a more peaceful world and the Internet, mobile and broadband were identified as being directly linked to such developments, as they are rapidly becoming some of the world’s most powerful socio-economic tools.

Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, talked about the democratic benefits associated with the Internet, in spite of the large amount of slander that can also be found on the Internet in relation to himself and his policies.

This quickly took the discussion in the direction of cybercrime and ITU Secretary General Hamadoun Touré linked that to the ITU’s project on this topic.

He is passionate about using the issue of cybercrime against children to establish a global system that can be supported by all 191 ITU country members. There is a good chance of getting the world to work together for the protection of children, and once such a framework is operational we can look at expanding it.

President Kagame also mentioned the important role China is playing on the African continent, through its assistance with financing various projects (not just telecoms). Companies such as Huawei and ZTE are showing leadership in relation to telecoms developments—this is crucial at a time when access to capital has become extremely difficult.

These are now clearly seen as socio-economic developments, and the political leaders present at the event identified themes such as e-health, tele-education, smart grids and other trans-sector services as being topics that can profit from telecoms.

By Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

Paul is also a contributor of the Paul Budde Communication blog located here.

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