ITU Regional Forum on Digital Inclusion boosts regional cooperation

Date: Tue, 08/10/2010 - 18:10

ITU Regional Forum on Digital Inclusion boosts regional cooperation

Ministers of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal commit to increased regional cooperation

A Ministerial Declaration was established at the ITU’s ABBMN (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal) Forum on Digital Inclusion, which was held in the Maldives on 3-5 August. The Declaration resolves to implement the following objectives, which are considered crucial for successful Digital Inclusion in the region:
• stimulate broadband access
• ensure cybersecurity
• minimize climate change, and
• build emergency communications capacity

The Declaration recognizes the key role that governments have to play in formulating and implementing relevant policies and regulations, as well as facilitating reasonable returns for investments by the ICT Industry. In turn it mentions the need for the ICT Industry to act responsibly in terms of business expansion and policies.
The Declaration resolves to establish national broadband policies and enabling regulatory environments, and strengthen national advanced ICT training capabilities. It also encourages service providers to expand broadband access using the full potential of wireless broadband to deliver innovative solutions in rural and remote areas, while encouraging establishment of Broadband Community Centers, capable of offering online applications including e-governance, e-learning, e-health, and e-publications, using local content with the engagement of local communities.
For cybersecurity, the Declaration recommends the establishment of national cybersecurity strategies and national Critical Incident Response Teams (CIRTs), the exchange of knowledge and expertise among ABBMN countries and special measures for the protection of children in cyberspace.
For climate change and emergency communications, the Forum agreed to establish a National Emergency Telecommunications Team in each of the ABBMN countries, to provide resources for disaster preparedness and response (including frequencies for use in emergency situations, to create an Asia-Pacific Multi-partnership Regional Platform for Disaster/Emergency Communications and to promote the deployment of ‘green’ environmentally friendly technologies.
The Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, Mr Sami Al-Basheer Al-Morshid, addressing the Forum, put forward ITU’s priority areas in the five countries:
• Broadband access and usage, supported by strong national backbones, are increasingly considered as essential services that need to be universally available to all citizens in order to develop networked economies and information societies. ABBMN countries need to encourage universal access for broadband by deployment of infrastructure including Broadband Community Centers in rural and remote areas, development of National Broadband Policies and strengthening capacity building.
• There is a need to enhance security and build confidence in the use of ICT applications with the active support of ITU in accordance with the principles of international cooperation as stated in the ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Agenda. This will be realized by the establishment of national cybersecurity strategies, implementation of a national CIRT, and ongoing capacity building.
• In the area of emergency communications and climate change adaptation, ITU will work in close collaboration with member administrations and its partners to develop the National Emergency Telecommunications Plan and to facilitate ratification of the Tampere Convention by the five Member States. ITU is also leading in setting up the Asia-Pacific Regional Platform for Disaster/Emergency Communications Management with various partners including UN agencies, international development organizations, private sector and member administrations.

The Forum was attended by 51 delegates from 10 countries, including four Ministers and one Member of Parliament from the ABBMN countries as well as partners such as the World Bank, UNESCAP, UNEP, UNODC, Motorola, IMPACT, STA Andorra, and VNL.

Above, Mr Sami Al-Basheer Al-Morshid, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau


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