Johanesburg – South Africa this week hosted the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Conference in Durban.
The conference ran from September 10 to 13 and was officially opened by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the iNkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre on Monday.
In his address, Ramaphosa told delegates the importance of information and communication technology in advancing socio-economic issues.
“As our economies become increasingly dependent on information and communication technology, it is critical that governments work more closely with industry to maximise the value of digital innovations. It is equally critical that both government and industry develop effective collaborative relationships with the communities they are both expected to serve.
“It is such relationships that are required, for example, for the accelerated rollout of broadband in areas that are generally seen as not being economically viable,” said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa added that South Africa is working on a number of projects aimed at improving the ITU revolution in the country.
“We have finalised consultations with the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders to ensure allocation of spectrum reduces barriers to entry, promotes competition and reduces costs to consumers.
“Following a Cabinet decision last month, our regulator ICASA is now preparing to license available high demand spectrum. In addition, we have begun work in preparation for 5G spectrum licensing as part of our efforts to build a smarter digital economy. Earlier this year, we announced plans to establish a Digital Industrial Revolution Commission to ensure we are in a position to seize the opportunities of the rapid advances in information and communication technology,” he added.
This was the first ITU conference to be held on the African continent and it coincided with the centennial anniversary of the late icon Nelson Mandela who was the first democratic South African President to address the ITU in 1995.
The conference was aimed at developing knowledge and skills through digital innovation for the growth and transformation of the local economy.
Held under the theme “Innovation for smarter digital development”, the conference ushered a strategic platform for facilitating interaction among top government leaders, captains of industry, tech SMEs, policy makers, investors, corporates and digital innovators.
Group Chief Executive Officer for MTN, Rob Shuter, whose organisation was one of the sponsors of the conference, said South Africa still faces the challenge of access to connectivity, which requires more hard word to resolve.
About 8,000 delegates attended the four-day conference that featured an international exhibition of tech solutions and projects.