First ITU Plenipo­ten­tiary Con­fer­ence in the United Arab Emi­rates high­lighted by call to con­nect ev­ery­one to the In­ter­net

UN body calls for world to “act as one” to con­nect ev­ery­one to the In­ter­net.

Comms MEA - - Connecting The World Update -

THE UNITED NA­TIONS HAS COME TO THE UNITED ARAB EMI­RATES.

The first In­ter­na­tional Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Union (ITU) Plenipo­ten­tiary Con­fer­ence to take place in the United Arab Emi­rates has come and gone. The ITU’s 20th Plenipo­ten­tiary Con­fer­ence (known as PP-18) opened on Oc­to­ber 29 with a global call for the world to “act as one” to con­nect the world’s nearly four bil­lion peo­ple who re­main un­con­nected to the In­ter­net.

Held ev­ery four years, the event kicked off at the Dubai World Trade Cen­tre (DWTC) in Dubai, and ran un­til Novem­ber 16.

“Hold­ing the ITU Plenipo­ten­tiary Con­fer­ence in the United Arab Emi­rates is a tes­ta­ment from the ITU and the in­ter­na­tional telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­mu­nity to the UAE’s achieve­ments in the field of ra­tio­nal use of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy for the ben­e­fit of hu­man­ity, state build­ing, as well as the econ­omy and civil­i­sa­tion,” said H.E. Talal Hu­maid Bel­houl, chair of the Board of Di­rec­tors of the UAE Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity (TRA), on be­half of the Vice-Pres­i­dent and Prime Min­is­ter of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Rashid Al Mak­toum, on the open­ing day.

Houlin Zhao, ITU Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral, said more. “New tech­nolo­gies like 5G, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, big data and the In­ter­net of Things will change how we live, work and learn in ways that have yet to be imag­ined,” he said. “And ITU is in the front seat. The chal­lenge be­fore us to­day is to en­sure that these tech­nolo­gies and ICTs in gen­eral con­tinue to be a source for good for ev­ery­one across the world.”

The Plenipo­ten­tiary Con­fer­ence is the high­est de­ci­sion-mak­ing body of ITU, the United Na­tions spe­cialised agency for in­for­ma­tion and

New tech­nolo­gies like 5G, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, big data and the In­ter­net of Things will change how we live, work and learn in ways that have yet to be imag­ined. And ITU is in the front seat. The chal­lenge be­fore us to­day is to en­sure that these tech­nolo­gies and ICTs in gen­eral con­tinue to be a source for good for ev­ery­one across the world.” Houlin Zhao, ITU Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral

com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy (ICT). The con­fer­ence is the key event at which ITU mem­ber states build con­sen­sus on key in­ter­na­tional ICT is­sues, elect lead­ers for top posts, and de­cide on a roadmap for the ITU’s work over the next four years, in­clud­ing strate­gic and fi­nan­cial plans.

“We face a cru­cial chal­lenge: har­ness­ing the ben­e­fits of new tech­nolo­gies for all, while safe­guard­ing against the risks from their mis­use,” said United Na­tions Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­tónio Guter­res, in a video mes­sage to the global au­di­ence. “To­gether, we can nur­ture a dig­i­tal fu­ture that is safe and ben­e­fi­cial for all.”

A mid­day re­cep­tion hosted by Aus­tralia – at which there were co­pi­ous im­ages of kan­ga­roos and emus – within DWTC’s cav­ernous Zabeel Hall was fol­lowed by the open­ing plenipo­ten­tiary ses­sion, which kicked off at about 2:30 p.m. in an even more cav­ernous room. In at­ten­dance were rep­re­sen­ta­tives from more than 193 mem­ber states, as well as hun­dreds of pri­vate and govern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions and aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions in­clud­ing the African Union, Huawei, Face­book, and the SAMENA Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Coun­cil.

The ses­sion kicked off with an ad­dress by Van­u­atu Prime Min­is­ter Char­lot Sal­wai Tabi­mas­mas, who said ICT must “con­trib­ute to the pros­per­ity of all hu­man­ity.”

He said: “The ICT sec­tor is no longer an in­di­vid­ual na­tion’s is­sue,” adding “rapid and ac­cel­er­at­ing ad­vances in dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies are poised to trans­form small, de­vel­op­ing is­land na­tions,” and such ad­vance­ments can both dis­rupt tra­di­tional ways of life, but also of­fer op­por­tu­ni­ties amid mas­sive global change.

Sal­wai’s speech was fol­lowed by an ad­dress from Afghanistan Chief Ex­ec­u­tive (an ex­tra-con­sti­tu­tional post fol­low­ing the na­tion’s 2014 elec­tion) Dr Ab­dul­lah Ab­dul­lah. He spoke about the great good ICT had the po­ten­tial to bring about, par­tic­u­larly in re­gards to bring­ing peo­ple to­gether and pro­mot­ing peace. “The de­vel­op­ment in the field of ICT has rev­o­lu­tionised the life of ev­ery hu­man be­ing,” he said.

The ITU’s Zhao said the plenipo­ten­tiary ses­sion open­ing was the first time two sep­a­rate heads of govern­ment had ad­dressed the ITU Plenipo­ten­tiary Con­fer­ence.

He said: “I’m very con­fi­dent ICT will be a tool for de­vel­op­ment and peace.” More than 2,500 par­tic­i­pants took part in PP-18 dur­ing its du­ra­tion.

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