ITU statistics symposium underlines enormous untapped potential of ICTs to improve socio-economic development
Date: Mon, 12/07/2015 - 14:46
Image credited to ITU
More than 600 participants from 88 countries, including Deputy Prime Ministers, government ministers, vice-ministers, Directors-General and leaders from business, academia and United Nations agencies met in Hiroshima, Japan, from 30 November to 2 December to attend ITU’s World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS-15).
The event opened with a special ceremony commemorating ITU’s 150th anniversary, followed by a Ministerial Roundtable focusing on ICT as a driver of sustainable development, and a Leaders Dialogue on the topic of future ICT trends, policies and measurement challenges.
Participants addressed a wide range of topical issues including big data, progress in measuring the socio-economic impact of ICTs, ICT statistics and the Sustainable Development Goals' monitoring framework, strategies to measure ICT innovation, and the use of data generated by the Internet of Things to drive ICT development.
“Information and communication technologies are crucial to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “Indicators are a useful reference for future planning and development; better data means better policy making and more informed investment decisions.”
“WTIS-15 focused on the role ICT plays in association with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said H.E. Sanae Takaichi, Japan’s Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications, in her opening remarks to delegates. “This symposium features discussions on bridging the digital divide, addressing global challenges, such as poverty, environmental issues, health and education; and the engagement of women and youth,” she said. “Some of these themes will also be discussed at the G7 ICT Ministers’ meeting that will take place in Takamatsu, Japan, in 2016.”
ITU’s flagship annual Measuring the Information Society Report was released on the opening day of the event (30 November), with rolling launches throughout the day starting in Hiroshima, and followed by (in alphabetical order) Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Brasilia, Brazil; Cairo, Egypt; Geneva, Switzerland; and Moscow, Russian Federation.
The report’s annual ICT Development Index (IDI) country rankings were announced at a high-level WTIS-15 award ceremony. The Republic of Korea ranked number one in this year’s IDI, which is a composite measurement that ranks 167 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills. Denmark and Iceland followed closely in second and third place, respectively.
“We cannot forget that behind numbers and statistics are real human stories,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “Our mission is to bring the power of ICTs into the hands of ordinary people, wherever they live. By measuring the information society, we can track progress towards achieving socio-economic development for all.”
At a ceremony held on 2 December, the Government of Botswana offered to host WTIS 2016.
First held in 1996, and annually since 2005, WTIS has evolved to become the main global forum for telecommunications and information society measurement. The event provides a unique platform for ICT data users and producers to meet and share knowledge and best practices, identify business opportunities and enhance cooperation.