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World leaders call for more timely data on global ICT access

13 December 2013

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ITU leads efforts to extend ICT data collection capabilities through new partnerships with tech industry, government agencies.

 Mexico City: Delegates to ITU’s World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS), held this week in Mexico City (4-6 December) endorsed the need to strengthen and adapt the way data on information and communication technologies (ICTs) is collected to better meet the needs of today’s fast-evolving environment.

Accurate data on indicators like network access, service affordability and connection speeds is increasingly recognized as essential to each country’s plans for social development and economic growth.

The three-day symposium is the world’s most important meeting of ICT data experts from around the world. Organized by ITU, and hosted this year by Mexican regulator the Federal Institute for Telecommunications (IFT), the event welcomed over 300 delegates, including government Ministers, industry CEOs and heads of national and international statistics agencies.

“The ICT sector is evolving faster than any sector in human history. The role of this annual symposium is to meet the challenge of measuring the rapid evolution of the sector, and of making sure that ICT data, statistics and indicators are internationally-harmonized, and internationally-comparable,” said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, in his closing address to delegates this afternoon. “Only by doing this can we paint a clear, impartial and – most importantly – universal picture that will enable us to make meaningful comparisons and track the evolution of the ICT ecosystem.”

ITU’s work in global ICT statistics gathering and analysis is relied upon by policy makers around the world, referenced by other influential institutions including the UN family of agencies, the World Bank, the IMF and the World Economic Forum, and acted upon by a growing international community of investors.

For the first time this year, the event featured a High-Level opening day with three key debates around future post-2015 development frameworks, the role of monitoring in building tomorrow’s information society, and strategies for enhancing multi-stakeholder dialogue and national coordination in data collection.

It brought together expert speakers and panelists to share views and best practices, and emphasized the importance of ensuring that ICTs are a cornerstone of the post-2015 development agenda as the catalyst of broad social and economic development.

“This has been the best-attended WTIS event to date, which demonstrates the growing recognition of the importance of data and statistics in the ICT sector. We look forward to seeing even greater participation next year,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “ITU remains committed to this process, and we look forward to continuing our work with the global community in this field as we move forward”.

In his opening remarks to the conference earlier this week, WTIS Chair Luis Lucatero, Chief of Regulatory Policy at IFT, said: “The biggest enemy of investment is information asymmetry. An ICT regulator is like an architect, building a strong and robust market that ultimately serves as a platform for national growth across all business sectors. The global dialogue that this event promotes is unique, and will help all players – industry, government and regulators – fulfil the ultimate goal of serving the needs of the ICT consumer.”

This year’s symposium also featured two special side events; the first hosted by Costa Rica on the national approach to data collection in partnership with ICT operators, and the second by Iran on the development and implementation of a new data measurement system.

The event also incorporated a special tour led by IFT to view a community ICT centre developed by Red de Innovación y Aprendizaje (RIA), a learning and innovation project of the Fundación Proacceso which is designed to bring access to technology training to marginalized communities. The tour was hosted by young co-founder, Jorge Camil Starr, and has already brought the power of ICTs to over 425,000 children and youth in 95 schools in the Mexico City environs.

Source: ITU

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