from PHYLLIS BIRORI in Kigali, Rwanda
KIGALI – THE global community has converged in Rwanda for the historic edition of the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC).
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is hosting the summit in the capital Kigali between 6 and 16 June.
More than 1 200 participants, including heads of state and government ministers are attending the landmark conference dedicated to driving digital transformation in line with the global Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations.
Held in Africa for the first time, it represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the international community to forge digitally focused strategies to help break down chronic socio-economic development barriers.
WTDC is held every four years.
For the first time, the Generation Connect Global Youth Summit preceded the conference.
The summit welcomed an estimated 400 young delegates aged 18-29 from around the world, along with up to 5 000 remote participants.
“We used to say that the future is digital, but I think the present is digital,” ICT and Innovation Minister, Paula Ingabire said.
“It’s our time now to embrace that and ensure that we can make this productive and impactful for all of us. The future is now,” she said at the youth summit.
With theme, “Connecting the Unconnected to Achieve Sustainable Development”, WTDC aims to adopt a global roadmap for digital transformation and ultimately help put meaningful access to digital technologies in the hands of billions worldwide.
It is apt that the 2022 edition is held in Rwanda, the continent’s technology hub.
The East African country has long placed technology and innovation at the heart of efforts to boost economic development.
The United States this past weekend confirmed its delegation to Rwanda.
Ambassador Erica Barks-Ruggles, senior representative for 2022 Conferences of the ITU and the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission, is leading the American delegation.
Other senior members of the delegation include Ambassador Lisa Carty, representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, OSOC); Embassy Kigali Chargé d’Affaires Deb MacLean; and National Security Council Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs, Curtis Ried.
US industry leaders are in attendance.
The US pledge will include new resources, partnerships and commitments to achieve universal and meaningful connectivity in each of the P2C (product-to-consumer) focus areas.
According to the US, nearly 3 billion people around the world remain unconnected to the digital economy, with little or no access to education and health benefits and economic opportunities.
The US will also use the forum to support the candidacy of Doreen Bogdan-Martin for ITU Secretary-General.
Russian, Rashid Ismailov, is the other candidate.
Houlin Zhao has been at the helm since 2014.
– CAJ News