ICT development strategies agreed at Asia-Pacific meeting

ITU's Asia-Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the World Telecommunication Development Conference 2010 concluded today in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The main objective of the meeting was to develop regional strategies to foster the development of ICTs as inputs to the forthcoming ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) scheduled for 2010.

The meeting was inaugurated by the Deputy Minister of Information, Communications and Culture of Malaysia, Dato' Joseph Salang in the presence of ITU Deputy Secretary-General Houlin Zhao and Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid. Mr Abu Hassan Ismail, Special Adviser, Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture, Malaysia was elected Chairman of the meeting.

Dato' Salang underlined the need to narrow the digital divide, develop broadband networks, build human capacity, deal with the issues emerging from the increasing convergence in ICTs, and strengthen cybersecurity.

Mr Al-Basheer recognized the rapid growth of ICT in the Asia Pacific region but acknowledged the existing gap between the countries that have attained higher growth in ICT and those that still have limited access. He emphasized the need to improve infrastructure, build an appropriate enabling environment, strengthen emergency communications, reduce the human capacity gap, and deal with the impact of the ongoing global financial crisis.

Mr Zhao touched on the need to mainstream gender and people with disabilities while stressing the urgent need to address the challenges posed by the current economic downturn. The conference stressed the need to facilitate access to information and knowledge for all, especially for women, youth and children, indigenous people, and communities living in underserved areas.

Following a review of the 2006 WTDC Doha Action Plan, the meeting set priorities for future development consolidated into four broad programmes and five regional initiatives. It also identified topics to be the subject of study over the next four years.

The Programmes cover

* Information and communication Infrastructure

* Cybersecurity and ICT applications

* Enabling environment

* Capacity building and other initiatives

The programmes will be implemented through the creation of tools, the development of training materials, information dissemination (workshops and seminars) as well as through direct assistance.

Regional initiatives emerging from the meeting in Kuala Lumpur centred on five priority areas:

* The special needs of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and landlocked countries

* Emergency communication

* Digital broadcasting

* Broadband access in urban and rural areas

* ICT/Telecommunication policy and regulation

For each Regional initiative, the objective and expected results have been clearly spelled out in order to foster partnerships and resource mobilization for the implementation of small-, medium- and large-scale projects.

Questions to study will cover spam, costing methodology in a converged environment, country experiences and case studies on NGN migration and guidelines to improve the quality regulatory decision-making.

Seventy-four government delegates from 25 countries and 23 representatives from 13 operating agencies, regional and international organizations participated in the conference.