June 25th, 2018

ICT Ministers conclude the Commonwealth ICT Ministers Forum 2018

LONDON, 20 JUNE 2018 – Commonwealth ICT Ministers meeting in London this week agreed that the public and private sectors need to come together to help accelerate ICT development in Commonwealth countries.

Held every two years, the event also included a two-day open conference which provided industry and government leaders with an opportunity to discuss challenges and solutions to ICT adoption in the Commonwealth and beyond.

Key outcomes of the two-day open conference were as follows:

  • ​Commonwealth countries have to work hard to change business mindsets and increase capacity for collaboration creating sustainable ICTs in businesses, especially the small to medium enterprises (SMEs). Given that these businesses are high-risk, business stakeholders have to absorb the risks and protect against the businesses against such risks.
  • Blockchain technologies are important as the current attention and energy being used to develop blockchain by the crypto-currency community is advancing our understanding of how blockchain can be built upon. Concerns about crypto-currency maybe well-justified, but this is the cutting edge of an underlying technology that cannot be ignored.
  • Bridging the digital divide is profoundly important if we want to transform our global economy to a digital economy. The Internet of Things will see 20 billion devices connected, possibly by the end of the decade.
  • With crimes being committed at an alarming rate online, the need for accountability in cyberspace is fundamental.
  • 5G technology will require large blocks of spectrum within the frequency bands identified by ITU WRC-2015 for study for accommodation of 5G; In addition, the C band, the Ka band and the Ku band will need to be protected due to the large investments that satellite companies have made in satellite systems in these frequency bands.
  • Gender-balance on ICT to enable leadership for growth needs to increase as only 5% of the participants today are women. Governments are doing their best to bridge these gaps. ​​
  • Telcos need to work more closely with OTTs as increased Internet traffic results in increased GDP. Switching off OTTs because they create competition is detrimental for the economy, but also bad for ISPs. New business models need to be developed for this collaboration.

Companies that took part in the Open Forum ranged from service providers and manufacturers, such as Avanti, Huawei, Eutelsat, ICANN, Inmarsat, GSMA to carriers and operators. International organisations and leading associations such as the ITU and ITSO also took part in the event.

“Contributions from the private sector at this year’s event were very constructive, and from the various comments I’ve heard during and since the event, the addition of the Open Forum has been a success,” said The Communications Team, Senior Manager, Membership & Communications and Ag Secretary-General of the CTO.

During the event, the CTO issued the results of a report on OTTs which was mandated by the ministers in 2016. The main objective of the study is to develop, based on consultations with relevant stakeholders, a good practice operational framework for OTT service providers, policymakers and regulators. The finding of this study shows that majority of stakeholders recognize and appreciate the innovative nature of OTTs and do not want innovation to be stifled as OTT services offer numerous benefits to consumers. There is, nonetheless, widespread support for regulatory responses although, predictably, less so from the OTT sector itself.

Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of ITU said that “We have set a lot of goals and they are ambitious, however they quickly change, because technology moves so rapidly. We should focus more on bringing the benefits of ICT to e-commerce. You can’t be left behind. Supporing innovation in ICT is a must.

Victor Zhang, President of Global Government Affairs Huawei said that “The spread of 5G technologies and the expansion of the fiber backbone network will improve current efficiency. Industry and governments should coordinate their efforts to ensure that cybersecurity remains an absolute priority. Huawei is working with partners in all countries to build stronger digital infrastructure like the cloud and 5G.”

We want to empower people with Digital services, including mobile banking, giving subsidies to the right beneficiaries. We are able to therefore target the less-privileged communities. We know it is a long and arduous journey, but the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”, added Honourable Shri Manoj Sinha, Minister of State, Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications, Republic of India

For more information please contact the Communications Team, [email protected] or +44 20 8600 3820.

About the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) is the oldest and largest Commonwealth intergovernmental organisation in the field of information and communication technologies. With a diverse membership spanning developed and least developed countries, small island developing states, and more recently also the private sector and civil society, the CTO aims to become a trusted partner for sustainable development for all through ICTs.