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Newsletter Issue No. 5 2018

Broadband Commission Activities Overview

ITU organized its annual ITU Telecom World event 10-13 September in Durban, South Africa. This year, this global platform for accelerating ICT innovations explored the key issues under the theme “Innovation for smarter digital development”. The Forum discussions became an essential part of the ITU Telecom World and  different sessions featured following areas: leapfrogging to 5G, rethinking regulation, enabling innovation, smart cities, wireless technologies for Africa, AI and ​digital finance.


This year the Broadband Commission held a special session on September 11 co-organized with Huawei, which featured the Commission’s flagship report; The State of Broadband 2018. This year’s report discusses the role of broadband technologies for driving Sustainable Development. 

Many of our commissioners were present for this launch including:

H.E. Ms Amani Abou Zeid, AUC

H.E. Dr Abdulaziz Bin Salem Al Ruwais, CITC

Mr Bocar Ba, SAMENA

Mr Patrick Masambu, ITSO

H.E. Ms Aurelie Adam-Soule Zoumarou, Benin

H. E. Dr. Siyabonga Cyprian Cwele, South Africa

Mr Leong Keng Thai, Singapore

Mr Rob Shuter, MTN

and representation from Inmarsat, Nokia and GSMA

The report provides a global snapshot of broadband network access and affordability, with country-by-country data measuring broadband access against the Broadband Commission's seven advocacy targets. The report sets also the following 8 recommendations to boost Broadband:


This year's report was also presented with a new interactive tool for web publication, checkout the website here.

The Broadband Commission Working Group on Most Vulnerable countries launched its final report as a collaborative effort of several UN Broadband Commission Commissioners and Working Group Members at a special session during the meeting of the national Focal Points of the Least Developed Countries, coinciding with the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2018 in New York on July 12th. The report highlights how broadband, or high-speed internet helps Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and how they made progress in expanding infrastructure and improving affordability of broadband, including:


  • Rwanda is building a 4G/LTE wireless broadband network that will cover 95 per cent of its population by 2018.
  • Senegal's effective use of public-private partnerships to achieve broadband access for all.
  • Vanuatu's initiative to achieve 98 per cent broadband coverage by 2018.
  • Cambodia's low mobile Internet prices – some of the least expensive in the world.


"It is possible to start to overcome the challenges of ensuring access to broadband. In the four case studies we see signs of progress, yet also areas for further work. I hope that the recommendations here will help to unlock the myriad potential benefits that broadband can bring to communities, so that we leave no one behind as we strive to connect the most vulnerable of countries," said Ms. Fekitamoeloa 'Utoikamanu, Under-Secretary-General and High-Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) – and chair of the working group that published the report.

The report notes that use of broadband has not fully matched its increasing supply, due to challenges such as low digital literacy, unaffordability and lack of relevant local content and applications.

Speakers to the session at HLPF included several members of the Commissions; Mr Amir Dossal, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Partnerships Forum and representation from ITU, Nokia and Inmarsat.

ITU News article available here.

The Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR) was held in ITU headquarters, Geneva from July 9 to July 12 under the theme of New Regulatory Frontiers.
Topics discussed at GSR spanned over emerging technologies for digital transformation; artificial intelligence for development; new regulatory frontiers; digital identity across different platforms; the protection of personal data in a smart data-driven economy; new sustainable investment models.
Since year 2000, GSR brings together policy-makers, regulators and businesses from around the world to collaborate and define innovative regulatory responses that drive real changes in people's lives.

This year’s compelling discussions and debates focused on how digital transformation is extending regulatory frontiers and led to conclusion that innovative policy and regulatory measures are needed to respond to the evolving digital ecosystem.
Broadband Commissioners and representation from different organizations members of the Commission were present at GSR2018 including Mr Bocar Ba - Chief Executive Officer, Samena Telecommunications Council, Mr Paul Mitchell from Microsoft and Mr Stephen Spengler from Intelsat.

The GSMA held its Mobile 360 Africa in Kigali, Rwanda from 17 to 19 July. The event brought together current and future leaders of Africa’s Digital Revolution and enabled keynote presentations, panel discussions, fireside talks, startup pitches, case studies, working groups and networking. Over 840 Stakeholders from countries all around Africa were present, the representation from the Broadband Commission included H.E. Dr Amani Abou-Zeid from the African Union commission as a speaker.

The Mobile World Congress Americas was held from September 12 to 14 in Los Angeles. This edition focused on key areas: Innovation, The Forth Industrial Revolution, policies, Media & entertainment and the network. The Broadband Commission was represented by several key discussants including Mr Mats Granryd from GSMA, Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal from Bharti enterprises, Mr Rajeev Suri from Nokia. To learn more about the event, checkout the page here.


The Broadband Commission has welcomed several new commissioners;

Mr Rob Shuter, has been Group President and CEO of MTN Group Limited since March 13, 2017. Mr. Shuter has extensive experience in the telecoms sector in both Africa and Europe as well as in financial services. Before joining MTN Rob was the CEO of the Vodafone Europe Cluster responsible for Vodafone's operations in 9 European markets. Rob's career in the telecoms sector also included 5 years as the CEO of Vodafone Netherlands and 3 years in South Africa as the Group CFO of Vodacom Group.

Mr Bocar BA is an advocacy specialist, focused on the promotion of sustainable digital development, ICT infrastructure expansion and investment through collaboration and multi-stakeholder partnerships in the Middle East and Africa regions. BA is the CEO and a board member of SAMENA Telecommunications Council, which serves as a sector-development partner to governments and the telecommunications industry toward jointly creating a sustainable ICT environment as the enabler of sustainable digital economy.

Mr Marcin Cichy was a, a regulatory expert at UPC Polska from 2013 to 2016, responsible for regulated access to property and telecommunications infrastructure for investment purposes. He was in charge of projects on security and electromagnetic compatibility of the HFC network. A collaborator of the Polish Chamber of Electronic Communication (PIKE). In March 2016, he took the position of Director of the Analysis Bureau at the Ministry of Digital Affairs. He coordinated several projects in the area of digital affairs and the development of a concept of an electronic ID card. He also cooperated with the Council for Digitization and start-ups, with responsibility in the field of innovation. He was appointed as President of the Office of Electronic Communications by the Sejm of the Republic of Poland on 14 September 2016, with the consent of the Senate given on 22 September 2016.

Hans Vestberg is chief executive officer of Verizon Communications, a leading provider of wireless, fiber-optic and global Internet networks and services. He was named CEO on Aug. 1, 2018. He previously served as Verizon's chief technology officer and president of Global Networks, with responsibility for further developing the architecture for Verizon's fiber-centric networks. At Verizon, Vestberg has focused on delivering seamless experiences for customers over network assets consisting of the country's leading 4G LTE network, the largest 5G test-bed in the U.S., the nation's biggest residential fiber network, a global internet backbone and undersea cable network carrying much of the world's internet traffic, and fiber assets in 45 of the top 50 markets in the U.S.
Before joining Verizon in April 2017, Vestberg served for six years as president and CEO of Ericsson, a multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company headquartered in Sweden that provides 35 percent of the world's 2G, 3G and 4G mobile network infrastructures.

​​​Dr. Hessa Al-Jaber is the chairperson of Trio Investment, a technology investment company that invest in innovative technology that address some of the most pressing health problems in MENA region. Currently, Trio Investment is investing and building Droobi - The First Arabic digital therapeutic product that uses the science of Behavior Change to motivate healthy habits. As an expert in technology, media, and telecom practice, her focus is the impact of a digital economy in productivity and competitiveness. Dr. Al Jaber is currently appointed at the Shura Council (Consultative Assembly), which is the legislative body of the State of Qatar. Dr. Hessa was the former and the first-ever Minister of Information and Communication Technology in Qatar. Prior to becoming a minister, Dr. Hessa held the position of Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR) since its inception in 2005.


Mrs. Aurelie Adam Soule Zoumarou is a skilled Telecommunications and ICTs professional who has built up an experience in the ICT industry (SFR France, Accenture France, ARCEP Benin, GSMA Afrique).  She started out with SFR France before headed to Accenture France as a Consultant in Information System. She returned to Benin in 2008 and devoted her time and work at the Regulator's Office ARCEP BENIN, where her responsibilities included: but not limited to; radio-communications and radio frequencies management. In addition to all these, she played an active role in the participation of Benin and Africa in the 2015 ITU World Conference in 2015. Past challenges have led to earning a legitimate place in the team in charge of the GSMA's involvement with Governments, Regulators and Regional Organizations in the African region. As senior policy Manager for Africa, she contributed into bringing mobile services to 635 million Africans until then without fair access to internet.

She obtained a Master's degree with a focus on Telecoms and ICT Engineering from Telecom Sud Paris and also holds a Certificate in Management of Public Policies and Leadership from Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public affairs of Syracuse University (New York).

As the CEO for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association, the World Bank’s lending arms for middle-income and poor countries, Ms Kristalina Georgieva will build support across the international community to help mobilize resources and develop more effective solutions for the poor at the scale required. Previously, Georgieva, a Bulgarian national, helped shape the agenda of the European Union since 2010, first as Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, where she managed one of the world's largest humanitarian aid budget and established herself as a global champion for resilience. As the European Commission Vice President for Budget and Human Resources, Georgieva was in charge of the European Union's €161 billion (US $175bn) budget and 33,000 staff across its institutions around the world. She tripled funding available to the refugee crisis in Europe and drove rapid progress towards achieving a target of 40 percent women in management by 2019 in order to improve the Commission's gender balance. Georgieva is widely respected for her efforts to mobilize the international community to find innovative solutions to today's complex challenges. As the co-chair of the United Nations Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, she secured the adoption of a much more effective system to meet the needs of record numbers of vulnerable people.

Upcoming events

This year’s annual Broadband Commission Meeting will take place on 22-23 September in New York. As previous years, the meeting will be held in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly. A range of government and industry sectors, and Special Guests as well as The Broadband Commissioners will discuss “the 50/50 moment- Half the World’s Population online” and the importance of connecting the other half as set by the Commissions New Targets 2025 launched in January 2018

The Working Group meetings taking place on September 22 in New York in preparation for the launch of the final outcome reports during the main plenary of the Commission. This will be followed by the 2018 EQUALS in Tech Awards in the Grand Ballroom of the Yale Club from 6PM – 7:30PM. As the annual flagship event of the EQUALS Global Partnership, the Awards celebrate initiatives that are helping girls and women get equal access, skills, and opportunities online and in the tech industry, in addition to advancing research and data collection to bridge the gender digital divide. This year’s finalists include projects from all over the world, focusing on five different categories; Access, Skills, Leadership I, Leadership II and Research.