Legal Technology News
July 23, 2012
ITU Connect Americas Summit Seeks $53 Billion for Inter-American Connectivity and Digital Inclusion
The ITU Connect Americas Summit wrapped up last Thursday with a declaration from Heads of State and Government from Latin America and the Caribbean aimed at mobilizing “the human, financial and technical resources needed to connect the unconnected and to strengthen the role of ICT as the engine of economic prosperity and sustainable development, as well as poverty reduction in the Americas region”.
The two-day Summit brought together Heads of State and Government and Ministers along with leaders of regional development banks and organizations, international agencies, the ICT industry, non-governmental organizations and academia from 36 countries in the region. The Communiqué issued today renewed regional commitments to promote specific “measures of solidarity and assistance” as priority actions for less developed countries in the region, “with particular emphasis on Haiti, the small island developing States and other countries which face particular obstacles in developing their information and knowledge societies”.
ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré noted that mobile cellular penetration has surpassed the 100% threshold in Latin America and the Caribbean while 30 million mobile broadband subscriptions were added by end 2011. The percentage of households with Internet access also continues to increase, reaching 29 per cent.
“The Americas is a dynamic region full of potential to achieve regional inter-connectivity and reach the benefits of ICTs to everyone even in the remotest communities and under-served urban areas,” Dr Touré said. “And commitments announced today at the Connect Americas Summit will intensify efforts in the coming years to make the transition to a true knowledge-based information society that lies at the heart of achieving the broader goals of sustainable development.”
Connecting the Americas
The Connect Americas Summit aims at widespread broadband connectivity in the Americas region and ‘digital inclusion’ to enable social and economic development through affordable access to information and communication technologies (ICT) and services for all, while paying attention to the special needs of indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, women, girls, youth and children.
The Summit focused on the five regional priorities for the Americas region for the period 2011-2014 adopted at the World Telecommunication Development Conference in Hyderabad, India in 2010:
1. Develop telecommunication and ICT infrastructure, covering a complete range of access levels within the region
2. Adopt national regulatory frameworks which help close existing gaps in ICT development, while addressing evolving needs, including those brought about by an increasingly converged environment
3. Establish effective and practical emergency communication plans at the national and international levels
4. Implement a smooth transitioning from analogue to digital broadcasting
5. Develop Internet Exchange Points at the local, national and regional levels to reduce internet access costs, as well as to enable the provision of new services
6. Promote the use of ICTs as a tool for development by creating human and institutional capacities, particularly in rural and under-served urban areas, with special emphasis on indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities
Commitments to the tune of USD 53.4 billion were called for at the Connect Americas Summit to fund ICT projects aimed at infrastructure development and to build next-generation networks, to safeguard them by strengthening cybersecurity, to forge an enabling regulatory environment taking into account the needs of the future, and build the necessary human capacity while addressing the global challenges of our times, such as combatting climate change as well as mitigating its impact by increasing the capacity to rapidly deploy emergency telecommunications in the aftermath of natural disasters.
Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, noted that ITU was well positioned to translate the political commitment and expectations of the regional leaders towards full-fledged interconnectivity. He said, “ITU has a particular strength in forging creative partnerships. When we harness this ability to our extensive networks among senior representatives in government, the private sector and academia, which have been substantially strengthened over recent days, this represents a massive force for constructive change. I have every confidence that the region will rapidly succeed in connecting the unconnected and bridge its digital divide.”
Regional and international organizations and banks, multinational companies and non-governmental organizations among others entered into multi-million dollar partnerships with governments while allowing for the diverse needs of the countries in the region, including varying levels of telecommunication development and market conditions.
To name a few commitments announced at the Connect Americas Summit, the World Bank and the Government of Nicaragua signed an agreement to provide USD 5 million financing to increase access to telecommunications services among more than 200,000 rural inhabitants in Nicaragua; Intel announced its “3rd Billion Programme” to roll out broadband to transform education using Universal Service Funds; ITU and HUG - the Geneva University Hospitals - will collaborate on creating a Pan American Telemedicine Network to enable the deployment of telemedicine services and tools along with IT-enabled diagnostic devices to hospitals in remote areas of Latin America; ITU and the Real Madrid Foundation announced a partnership to support social inclusion and integration of Youth into Society by providing education and training in ICT and sports at school.
A follow-up mechanism will be implemented by ITU in collaboration with CITEL, COMTELCA and CTU and other regional/sub-regional organizations with the aim of building synergies and optimizing the use of resources. A tracking mechanism will be established.
The Connect Americas Summit was hosted by the President of the Republic of Panama H.E. Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal and organized by ITU in close collaboration with the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), the Comisión Técnica Regional de Telecomunicaciones (COMTELCA) and the Caribbean Telecommunication Union (CTU).
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