Ursula G. Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister of Communications Ghana, officiated the opening of the Third African Preparatory Meeting on Tuesday for the World Telecommunications Standardization Assembly (APM20-3 for WTSA-20) attracting over 30 nations in the continent. In her address, the Minister commended the stakeholders for coming together to develop a common voice on standardization matters that face the continent, particularly during this COVID-19 era.
“We are moving towards the realization that the digital world is indispensable and just as important as the physical world,” said Ursula who also proposed the need for Africa to work together to bridge the digital divide and put in place the right mechanisms to ensure that its people are not left behind.
The Ghanaian Minister, who opened the forum that is set to run up to July 30, 2020, further expressed her delight in how the ICT industry in the continent is centrally involved in guiding the development of the industry.
APM20-3 for WTSA-20 is the third in a series of African preparatory meetings for the world assembly and is convened by the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and the National Communications Authority (NCA) in Ghana. Among those taking part in the forum include African Governments through ICT ministries, regulators, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the Telecommunications Standardization Bureau (TSB) of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Regional Telecommunications Organizations, private sector players, academia, and telecommunication experts.
Stakeholders convened to discuss and develop African Common Positions (AfCPs) to the World Telecommunications Standardization Assembly (WTSA 20) as well as examine Africa’s ICT development.
They will also strategize on Africa’s ICT growth for the next four years in regards to the needed telecommunication standardization work aimed at matching the speed of the rapidly evolving communications sector.
Additionally, they will discuss and agree on how Africa can be included in the leadership structure of the highest decision-making body of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T).
The growth of ICT plays a crucial role in improving lives and is critical to the development of all aspects of Africa’s economy. According to a study conducted by ITU on the Economic contribution of broadband, digitization, and ICT regulation in Africa, the majority of countries in the Africa region confirmed that an increase of 10 percent in mobile broadband penetration in Africa would yield an increase in 2.5 percent in GDP per capita.
ATU Secretary-General, John OMO who also spoke at the meeting reiterated the importance of developing African solutions to African problems.
“Effective harmonized standards in the continent guarantees the quality of services and products for Africans and influences Africa’s participation in the global ICT markets and industry,” he said.
Other aspects to be discussed during the meeting includes, Emerging Technologies (Artificial Intelligence -AI, 5G and related issues), Over The Top – OTT; Cyber-security; Data Centers & Markets; Internet of Things – IOT and Smart Cities; Big Data; Ultra-high-speed Networks; Privacy and Trust in Telecom/ICT; Internet resources such as country code Top Level Domains – ccTLDS, BSG, and financial inclusion gap; Counterfeit and mobile theft; ITR reviews; International permanent mobile roaming; Streamlining resolutions among others.
“ICTs are emerging as a force at the centre of our connected world and are now a key part of every discussion about our future. Now more than ever we see the need to achieve a trusted ICT environment to be able to support social and economic development in all regions of the world,” said Dr. Chaesub Lee, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau.
The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) is the highest decision-making body of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), which oversees telecommunication standardization activities in the Union.
The assembly, which is the only global intergovernmental standards body for all telecommunication, convenes every four years.
Due to the disruptions brought about by COVID-19, the upcoming WTSA-20 is likely to be postponed to February 2021 and will take place in Hyderabad, India preceded by Global Standards Symposium (GSS) at the same venue.