The Mobile World Congress organized by GSMA took place in Barcelona from 25 to 28 February, 2019. More than 100,000 visitors from over 198 countries attended while over 2,400 companies showcased their latest technology, products and services. Attendees discovered the era of Intelligent Connectivity - this year’s theme, which describes the powerful combination of flexible, high-speed 5G networks, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and big data. A few of our Commissioners participated in the event including Mr. Mats Granryd, Director General of GSMA and Mr. Chang-Gyu Hwang Chairman & CEO of KT Corporation who gave a keynote address on the topic of “Intelligently Connecting the World” while Mr. Chuck Robbins, CEO of Cisco discussed the topic of the Next Generation of Technologies. Other highlights from the conference include the GSMA Seminar “Mobile for Development: From challenge to impact – how to reach women at scale” presented by Connected Women for the launch of GSMA 2019 “Mobile Gender Gap Report” with speakers including Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women and Ms. Doreen Bogdan-Martin Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau of ITU. In addition, Mr. Robert Kirkpatrick, Director of UN Global Pulse discussed leadership in the Digital Age in one of GSMA’s seminars as well as H.E Ms. Aurelie Adam Soule Zoumarou, Minister of Digital Economy and Communications of Benin took part in a discussion on African startups.
Mobile Learning Week was held at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France from 4-8 March. Over 1500 participants, including experts from the educational and technological industry, government representatives, and additional stakeholders, gathered during the five day event to examine this year’s theme Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Development. A series of high-level plenaries, workshops, and hands on demonstrations were organized to highlight the opportunities and threats linked to artificial intelligence (AI) in education. Discussions revolved around ensuring inclusive use of AI in education, leveraging AI to enhance learning, promoting the development of skills for an AI era, and safeguarding transparent and auditable use of educational data.
The Global Forum on Emergency Telecommunications (GET) held its third meeting on 6-8 March in Balaclava, Mauritius. ICT Ministers, Heads of National ICT Regulatory Authorities, CEOs from the ICT industry, and representatives from NGOs and UN agencies were among those that attended to discuss this year’s theme - Innovating Together to Save Lives: Using Technology in Disaster Management. Participants acknowledged the importance of using early-warning and monitoring systems to refrain from potential natural disasters. New technologies such as big data, Internet of Things, robotics, and artificial intelligence could be a possible solution to detecting, monitoring, and predicting disasters in addition to aiding in the immediate aftermath should a disaster occur.
The Broadband Commission organized its special session at the 2019 eCommerce Week hosted by UNCTAD in Geneva on April, 2 to reflect on the post 50/50 moment with experts from the telecommunications industry, international organizations and governmental bodies. The Session discussed: “Trusted universal connectivity and innovative partnership to drive inclusive digital transformation” with panelists from some of the Broadband Commissioners’ organizations: Mr. Lars Erik Forsberg DG CONNECT, European Commission, Mr. James Howe, International Trade Centre, Mr. Ashley Lumsden, Huawei Technologies UK & Ireland Office and Ms. Imme Philbeck, SAMENA Telecommunications Council. Ms. Nancy Sundberg and Ms. Anna M. Polomska from the ITU Broadband Commission Secretariat moderated the discussion.
The session opened with a presentation of the Broadband Commission partnership, some reflections on its Global Advocacy Targets 2025 and a few insights into the findings and recommendations from its State of Broadband report. From different perspectives, each of the panelists stressed the importance of advancing connectivity in a meaningful and trusted manner. They highlighted the need to look at the whole picture of ICT connectivity, from both the supply and the demand side, encompassing all the different barriers and enablers of digital services and e-commerce such as infrastructure, affordability of access and cost of services, digital skills and literacy, trust and privacy as well as locally relevant content. Delving into this session and the Broadband Commission session at the WSIS Forum 2019, this ITUNews article provides further information and reflections on the issues raised.
From April 8 to April 12, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) forum 2019 took place at the ITU headquarters in Geneva. This year the WSIS Forum celebrated its 10th anniversary. Every year, the forum brings together high-level experts, ministers, deputies and ambassadors from around the world, leaders of the private sector and representatives of international organizations, academia and civil society to discuss the power of ICTs to achieve the sustainable development goals. This year, more than 3000 people participated in the forum, which included over 300 workshops, knowledge cafes and open-space talks with participants from more than 150 countries. The WSIS forum represents a unique platform to foster partnerships, enhance innovation and exchange knowledge. The outcome documents providing an overview of the fascinating discussions held this year are now available on WSIS website
A few members of the Broadband Commission community participated in sessions and meetings during this edition of the forum. Ms. Arancha Gonzalez, executive Director of the Internal Trade Centre (ITC) and Dr. Abdulaziz Salem Al Ruwais, Governor of the Communications and Information Technology Commission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia made powerful speeches during the Official Opening Segment highlighting the opportunities and progress achieved with ICTs and the challenges ahead to ensure universal connectivity.
Other Commissioners took part in some of the High-Level Policy Sessions and workshops organized during the week. Mr. Marcin Cichy, President of the Office of Electronic Communications of Poland participated in the High-Level Strategic Dialogue – ICTs for Achieving the SDGs & Celebrating 10 Years of the WSIS Forum and 5G socio-economic impact organized by Nokia, among others inspiring panels.
Mr. Bocar Ba, CEO of SAMENA Telecommunications Council was one of the high-level panelist discussing ICT applications and services while Mr. Philipp Metzger, Director-General, Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) reflected on the importance of enabling environments during the High Level Policy Sessions.
H.E Ms. Aurelie Adam Soule Zoumarou, Minister of Digital Economy and Communications of Benin took part in panel addressing Artificial intelligence and Data privacy - the importance of a diverse engineering and technical workforce; as well as the High-Level Policy Session on Bridging Digital Divides and a session on Whole of Government Approach to Scale Digital Transformation for SDGs. Experts from GSMA, Facebook, Nokia, UN-OHRLLS, Huawei Technologies, UNDP, UNESCO, Inmarsat and many others also presented and participated in different talks during the week.
On April 11th, 2019 the Broadband Commission hosted an interactive panel discussion Cooperation in Action to Improve People’s Lives at the WSIS Forum, to provide insight into the workings of the Commission’s partnership. Several Commissioners, including Mr Marcin Cichy (President of the Office of Electronic Communications, Poland), Dr. Ann Aerts (Head of the Novartis Foundation), Mr Bocar Ba (CEO of SAMENA Telecommunications Council), and Ms Doreen Bogdan-Martin (Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau, ITU & Broadband Commission Coordinator) joined the conversation-style panel to share the important work the partnership is doing to ensure that nobody is left behind in the age of digital transformation.
The Commissioners shared their personal experience of being part of the Broadband Commission. As a platform for high level debates and conversations, this partnership was referred to as a ‘power house’ of stakeholders that work together to find solutions and advocate for broadband in development. In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, it will not be business as usual – strong partnerships will be required to implement new models of thinking. Panelists emphasized that we must find mechanisms to ensure that all sectors of society (public & private) are included, the consumer’s demand is adhered to, and that business models are sustainable and people-centered.
The Leaders’ Summit organized on April 18th by SAMENA Telecommunications Council is a high-level industry event for public and private sectors leaders from South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, Europe and beyond. This year’s edition addressed the theme Early Proliferation of 5G Vital to Building the Digital Economy and discussed how to enable transition to Inclusive 5G, the barriers to achieving economies of scale in 5G device capabilities and the technology, business and regulatory challenges in
Fifth-Generation Digital Communications. Many top-level executives of leading communications services providers and ministers attended, including some of our commissioners: H. E. Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Director General of the General Authority for Regulating the Telecommunications Sector (UAE); Dr. Abdulaziz Salem Al Ruwais, Governor of the Communications and Information Technology Commission Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mr. Mats Granryd, Director General of GSMA; Mr. Scott Gegenheimer, CEO Operation of Zain as well as H.E. Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of ITU.
During the Summit, Mr. Gegenheimer (Zain) presented the Broadband Commission Working Group on Child Safety Online, which he co-chairs with Ms. Rubinstein from the World Childhood Foundation. A brochure was distributed to the participants with updates on the issue of child online safety and case studies of national policy agendas including child protection.With its multi-stakeholder approach, the aim of the Working Group is to ensure that children can benefit safely from access to technologies and generate concrete actions on how ICTs can contribute to ending child online abuse to achieve the sustainable development goals. The group was set up in September 2018 during the Broadband Commission's Annual Fall Meeting and its final report will be launched at the 2019 Fall Meeting in New York.
International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated every year on April 25th around the world to encourage and empower girls and young women to consider careers in ICTs and ensure that women
and girls can equally reap the benefice of technologies. This year, ITU celebrated Girls in ICT Day in Addis Ababa at the African Union Headquarters. The event welcomed over 250 girls from local schools and leaders from government, private sector partners, UN agencies, NGOs and the educational community. H.E. Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy (African Union Commission) and Commissioner with the Broadband Commission, and Ms. Doreen Bogdan-Martin discussed driving change through Girls in ICTs. The complete program and speakers are available on the ITU website.
Intelsat Social Impact Initiatives in Africa
Throughout 2018, Intelsat participated in several social impact initiatives in African countries with the primary goal of delivering internet access to underserved communities in rural areas. Internet access has shown to be an empowering benefit with advantages in areas such as health, education, financial services, transport, agriculture, and more. The inability to afford basic internet connection is one of the most significant and solvable barriers to access. In close partnerships with stakeholders from both the public and private sectors, Intelsat has set forth to bridge the digital divide.
In collaboration with Coca-Cola, Intelsat has worked in a Tri-Sector partnership involving civil society, government, and the private sector to leverage capabilities, expertise, and resources for the social and economic benefit of rural communities. By placing EKOCENTER kiosks in rural areas, this partnerships works to help accelerate the social and economic development of these underserved populations. Functioning as both a community center and general store, employing individuals from the local communities, particularly women, these centers sell goods and services such as solar lamps, mosquito repellent, toiletries, in addition to pre-paid internet access, at a very low price. This allows rural communities to receive access to internet and simultaneously benefit from the advantages of being online.
A similar initiative in South Africa Internet 4Mzansi, aims to build strong partnerships in the private and public sector to bridge the digital divide. By placing Wi-Fi hotspot pilot sites at various locations, Intelsat hopes to address the adoption of internet services through a cost-effect, pervasive service in rural areas. Simultaneously, the objectives of this pilot strive to empower the youth, increase participation in ICTs, and create employment opport unities by deploying these hotspot sites.
In 2016, Intelsat and UNHCR developed an Internet access service to equip refugees and host communities with low maintenance, solar-powered, VSAT connected Wi-Fi service. What initially started as a pilot program in Ampain Refugee camp in Ghana, has now turned into a standard offering for refugee camps. Internet access is one of the tools that provides refugees with opportunities for development, empowerment, and protection.
Check out Intelsat’s website to read more about their corporate social responsibility objective!
The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development will be holding its annual spring meeting at the Facebook Headquarters on 28-29 April, 2019. This year's theme, Shaping the Future of Broadband for Sustainable Development, will allow participants to delve into topics related to digital transformation and partnerships in a post 50-50 world. With more than half of the global population now online, we face the challenge of achieving universal connectivity, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to be
connected and benefit from the digital economy. Connecting the remaining offline population will require different approaches than those used to bring the first 50% online.
The spring meeting will gather high-level Commissioners and special guests from across a range of government and industry sectors. Several sessions will take place during the two-day event, including an update on current working groups: Child Safety Online: Minimizing the Risk of Violence, Abuse and Exploitation Online and Broadband for All: A “Digital Infrastructure Moonshot" for Africa.
The Transform Africa Summit will be holding its fifth flagship edition in Kigali, Rwanda on May 14 - 17. This year’s theme “Boosting Africa’s Digital Economy” will touch upon topics relating to startups, connectivity, creative industries, and women in technology. The event will gather around 4,000 participants including Heads of States and Governments, Ministers, Regulators, International Organization representatives, civil society, and academia. H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and Co-Chair of the Broadband Commission, and H.E. Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure & Energy and Broadband Commissioner, are among the key speakers attending the event.
From May 28 to 30, the AI for Good Global Summit organized by ITU in partnership with UN Sister Agencies, XPRIZE Foundation and ACM will take place at the ITU Headquarters in Geneva. The Summit is the leading United Nations platform for global and inclusive dialogue on AI. It aims at connecting stakeholders from the different sectors to identify practical applications of AI to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and ensure a safe and inclusive development of AI technologies.
On 9-12 July, the Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) will be held in Port Vila, Vanuatu, where regulators and ICT stakeholders from all around the world will gather to share their views and experiences on the most pressing regulatory matters. This year’s theme, Inclusive Connectivity: The Future of Regulation, will allow participants to identify means to bring affordable, safe, secure and trusted connectivity and online access and use to people everywhere.
The Broadband Commission will be organizing a special session, the Leadership Debate: Getting the Next 3.7 Billion Online, on 10 July 2019 to examine the role of collaboration in getting the offline population online, including the need for inclusive people-centered approaches and innovative investment models for affordable and secured connectivity.