An innovation-oriented mindset that seeks out new approaches to regulation and traditional challenges such as infrastructure funding, service delivery, and taxation of ICT goods and services, will be key for developing economies to drive growth, a key global meeting of regulators has identified.
The International Telecommunication Union’s Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR-15), the world’s largest specialised gathering of ICT regulators and policy specialists from the public and private sectors, reached this conclusion at its recent meeting held in Libreville, Gabon
The regulators stressed that promoting digital inclusion and closing the ‘digital gap’ between a handful of highly industrialised economies and the world’s many emerging markets and developing economies will require innovative approach to regulation.
The meeting, which was chaired by Lin Mombo, President of Gabon’s ICT regulator, the Autorité de Régulations des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (ARCEP) and co-hosted by ITU and ARCEP, under the patronage of Mr Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon welcomed around 400 senior international policy makers from over 60 countries, representing the world’s information and communication technology (ICT) regulatory authorities and leading tech companies. Strategies to accelerate digital inclusion to leverage the growth potential of emerging economies and developing markets were a key focus of discussions.
[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of ITU”]“Young people are natural innovators, and today’s youth are also ‘digital natives’ – using ICTs to solve problems and create useful new services comes naturally to them, so they can become major drivers of socio-economic change…Far-sighted governments should look to ways of harnessing this energy and creativity to transform their economies through ICTs and help bridge the digital gap.” [/blockquote]
With the theme “Mind the Digital Gap – Regulatory Incentives to Achieve Digital Opportunities,” it focused on a wide range of pressing regulatory issues, including mobile payments, network sharing models, taxation and the digital economy, the ‘Internet of Everything,’ regulation and broadband uptake and ways that regulatory frameworks can help promote accessibility for all.
Speaking to delegates at the morning session on Wednesday 10th, Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General emphasised the importance of fostering the growth of technology-based small and medium enterprises in growing each country’s national digital economy. He also urged countries to invest in youth through education and ICT training. “Young people are natural innovators, and today’s youth are also ‘digital natives’ – using ICTs to solve problems and create useful new services comes naturally to them, so they can become major drivers of socio-economic change.”
“Far-sighted governments should look to ways of harnessing this energy and creativity to transform their economies through ICTs and help bridge the digital gap,” he said.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasised the role that ITU can play in fostering innovation. “In today’s increasingly globalised ICT markets, regulators and policy makers have a need to get together to find common ground and identify innovative ways of working together. Innovation is becoming central to the policy frameworks that will create the right enabling environment to drive growth – and ITU serves as the ideal neutral platform for those discussions.”
This year’s GSR culminated in a series of regulatory Best Practice Guidelines. Outputs from the meeting will also be incorporated into ITU’s annual regulatory report, Trends in Telecommunication Reform.
The next Global Symposium for Regulators, GSR-16, will be held in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. GSR-17 will be held in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.