June 15th, 2016

Commonwealth ICT ministers endorse CTO’s four-year strategic plan at 2016 meeting

Outcomes of the biennial ministerial meeting held in London also include:

  •  A re-affirmation of the CTO’s mandate to coordinate Commonwealth consultations during major international conferences such as ITU’s WRC, WTSA and WTDC, ICANN’s GAC and IGF;
  • An acknowledgement of India’s resumption as Full Member Country of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation;
  • Support for the CTO’s plans to assess the impact of over-the-top players in Commonwealth markets.

LONDON, 15 JUNE 2016 – In a Declaration released on 14 June, Commonwealth ICT ministers meeting at a closed-door session in London have unanimously endorsed the strategic plan of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) for 2016 – 2020.

The strategic plan, which was approved by members of the CTO Council in March, was presented at the biennial ministerial meeting by the CTO’s Secretary-General Shola Taylor.

We “endorse the strategic plan for the CTO for 2016 – 2020, noting in particular the focus on ICT regulation, affordable and universal broadband including bridging the digital divide, and ICT applications,” states the Declaration.

CTO’s Secretary-General Shola Taylor, the Hon Dr Emmanuel Mallia, Minister for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy, and Chairman of this year’s Commonwealth ICT Ministers Forum, and Commonwealth Secretary-General the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland at the opening of the closed-door ministerial meeting, 14 June 2016, London

The ministers convene every two years to share views and provide direction on key global ICT agenda issues. This year’s meeting comes after the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals last September and which were at the centre of ministers’ preoccupations.

I was very pleased with the determination each one of the ministers present showed for using ICTs not just to support, but even to lead their national development agenda in key areas. They were unanimously supportive of our strategic plan and the CTO’s senior management team and I are highly encouraged by this,” said Mr Taylor who also gave the ministers a report of the CTO’s recent Commonwealth coordination initiatives, including in radio communications, Internet governance and cybersecurity.

At the previous meeting in 2014, ministers who had mandated the CTO to coordinate Commonwealth consultations and, where necessary common positions on all international agreements for ICTs re-affirmed this role for the CTO at yesterday’s meeting.

Speaking about the role of the CTO during the opening of the meeting, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth congratulated the CTO on its 115th anniversary being celebrated this year and said that the Organisation “has a most remarkable pedigree and an outstanding record of pioneering and facilitating collaboration between Commonwealth member states and I think it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate the 115th anniversary – and in this regard you have beaten Her Majesty. So this remarkable record is our starting point because the impact of our work in building understanding and sharing progress and increasing prosperity for the benefit for all is immense, and it is largely thanks to this organisation that we can speak, to use the words of our 2016 theme, of ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’.

Of the many government functions in our respective countries, expectations on using information and communication technology to improve the lives of our citizens are particularly high,” said Dr Emmanuel Mallia, Malta’s Minister for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy, and Chairman of this year’s Commonwealth ICT Ministers Forum.

One key priority for the CTO this year is the coordination of member countries preparations towards the forthcoming ITU World Telecommunication Standardisation Assembly (WTSA-17) later this year and their participation in the conference.

Malcolm Johnson, current Deputy Secretary-General, and previously Director of the Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union welcomed the Commonwealth plans: “Commonwealth coordination for ITU conferences has proved to be very effective, both in helping Commonwealth countries achieve their objectives, and to help reach the consensus that is necessary for a successful conclusion to a world conference,” he said.

Unlike the last event, this year’s closed-door meeting is followed by a two-day Open Forum on 15 and 16 June, also in London. “We see value in meeting regularly with industry and civil society to gauge whether we are going in the right direction, and the Open Forum is a good opportunity for us to do that,” said Harin Fernando, Minister of Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure of Sri Lanka yesterday.

Because of its membership across regions and the driving ethos of the Commonwealth, holding such an event is one important role the CTO plays in securing understanding and goodwill across regions on key issues. This, added to recent developments like India’s return, makes a significant difference,” said Minette Libom Li Likeng, Minister of Posts & Telecommunications of Cameroon.

For more information please contact The Communications Team, [email protected] or +44 20 8600 3816.