Ms Mei Lin Fung (Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), USA) moderated the session.
Mr Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed (Minister, Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications, Bahrain) said that as part of the telecom plan, 95% of Bahrain will be covered by ubiquitous high-speed fibre broadband. Bahrain will offer the ‘commission service 5G by this June and will be the first country in the world to have nationwide coverage by 2020’. Their aim is to make Bahrain the hub for development of new services and new technologies. Bahrain is facing challenges which data protection and cybersecurity bring, but is also looking into benefiting from opportunities which the fourth industrial revolution brings.
Ms Ohoud Ali Shehail (Director General, Ajman Digital Government, UAE) underlined the challenges of data protection which can have a negative impact on consumers’ confidence. However, overprotecting data requests results with restricting businesses and creating adverse economic effects. Per Gartner’s study, by 2021 more than 30% of enterprises will implement the detailed security governance framework which is an increase of less than 5% to date. Trust and privacy should be considered as a cultural norm in a lot of societies around the world, but jurisdictions differ drastically. Public policy frameworks must ensure proper engagement of all stakeholders when it comes to policy design and implementation.
Mr Kazembe Kazembe (Minister, Ministry of Information Communication Technology and Courier Services, Zimbabwe) said that in Zimbabwe, they have come up with policies which promote infrastructure sharing. They are hoping to achieve two objectives: to ensure enough coverage in a very short time, and to reduce operating costs for the operators, as well as to the end users. Their government’s programs are connecting around 1300 schools to the Internet and deploying some of the community information centres in areas where people do not have connectivity. They are trying to ensure that connectivity is brought to the people and to train people on basic Internet-related issues.
Dr Mohammad Najeeb Azizi (Chairman, Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority, Afghanistan) said that consumer protection is a priority on the regulators’ agenda. Regulators should focus on the following:
coordination and location of the spectrum which is available, ubiquitous and affordable;
facilitating e-commerce and promoting the application of international interoperability standards for global e-commerce;
development of integrated regulatory framework, as well as a framework for online privacy; and
facilitating the establishment of Internet exchange centres both nationally and regionally.
Azizi said regulatory frameworks should be developed based on a consensus and consultations.
Mr Adolfo Cuevas Teja (Chairman, Federal Telecommunications Institute, Mexico) said that it should be important for regulators to find and ensure that the ambitions of humanity are united through communication and ICTs. He said that in order to bridge digital divides, it is important to ensure connectivity for all, especially women. He said that regulators have a responsibility to ensure that the regulation is correct, but they also need to be cautious, because a poor regulation can lead to difficulties with development and ICT development.
Mr Sorin Mihai Grindeanu (President, National Authority for Management and Regulation in Communications, Romania) said that in 2018, Romania has been ranked fifth in the world when it comes to broadband Internet speed. They have problems with digital literacy and digital integration of the economy. Decision makers need to ensure that the benefits of new technologies are available to all. In Romania, they work together with a dedicated group of professionals from the Ministry of Communications on issuing a national strategy for the implementation of 5G technology. Enhancing security is a precondition for both the adoption of 5G, as well as for the increase of interoperability between states and security systems.
Mr Philipp Metzger (Director General, Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM), Switzerland) said that it is important to understand what is behind an actual development in technical terms and to identify the relevant stakeholders. Switzerland is one of the leading countries in terms of a drone-enabling environment, which involves regulations for providing legal security and stability. More multidisciplinary co-operation is needed, said Metzger. There are ‘many fantastic organisation processes, stakeholder-driven initiatives’. However, they are operating in silos and are not connected.
Mr Anir Chowdhury (Policy Advisor, A2i, Bangladesh) said that the biggest issues are poverty alleviation, high illiteracy, access to healthcare, and lack of jobs. Beyond regulation, he finds the following important: incentives; innovation funds; creation of technology platforms; creation of one-stop service centres which are Internet enabled primarily in rural areas; creation of formation incentives that would enable digital service delivery within the civil service framework.
He noted that the fourth industrial revolution presents both ‘unprecedented opportunities as well as huge threats’.
Mr Pablo Bello (Executive Director, ASIET) noted that resolving structural problems of productivity means enabling growth and therefore equality of people’s lives. Studies indicate that in the next 15 years economic growth in Latin America will be 40-50% lower than economic growth in the last 15 years unless infrastructural challenges faced with productivity are addressed - which is why digitalisation is important. In Latin America 45% is still not connected.
Mr Crispin Conroy (ICC Representative Director and Permanent Observer to the UNOG, International Chamber of Commerce) said that meaningful connectivity requires access to services and relevant content available in local languages, as well as skills and capability to transform information into equitable knowledge. It is important that policymakers understand the means by which the private sector makes investment decisions as well as how political and regulatory decisions impact the technical functioning of the the infrastructure or specific services. The key elements are open markets and free flow of data across borders, a holistic governmental approach to policy-making, and multistakeholder partnerships that ensure policies meet the needs of everyone.
By Aida Mahmutović