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Bermuda 2009: Leaping forward with ICT

By Jimson Olufuye
There was a general consensus that the link between skills training and emplo-yment opportunities needed to be stronger.The Internet and Internet Governance.

The Internet governance panel was probably the calmest debate on Internet governance in some years which may indicate either we had the right people or we did not but we surely had the major decision makers on internet governance from ICANN, the United Nations
Internet Governance Forum, and the Internet Society (ISOC). The panel members concurred that WITSA is on target with the following principals:

i. Keep the Internet open and accessible to all;
ii. Ensure reliability and security;
iii. Recognize the multistakeholder nature of the Internet governance forum and its continuation for further policy development discussions;
iv. Strengthen and broaden the involvement in leadership in industry in these relevant forums; and
v. Ensure that the global public policy in governing national systems enable the use of  ICT products.

The panel did challenge WITSA and the private sector to maintain strong private sector leadership and participation in ICANN and Internet Governance Forum meet-ings. There must be strong private sector involvement to ensure the continuation of the private sector led, multistakholder approach to the Internet and Internet Governance issues.

ICT for the Environment
In the area of ICT for the environment, the first part of the session presented data and trends on global warming and climate change as a way to show urgency and importance to this challenging issue. It was not a positive message in many respects but at the same time it was a way to draw our attention to it and the seriousness of it.

The second part of the panel focused on why climate change matters for the ICT industry.
The panelists talked about various projects and approaches that certain ICT organizations or companies were doing to address the issue including recycling, reduction of power consumption in the data center and by ICT products.

It was also pointed out that most policy makers are focused on the carbon footprint of the ICT industry or, as it was pointed out, the two percent of the problem and did not pay enough attention to the fact  that  ICT could be the solution to the other 98 percent of the problem. It was noted that ICT can help other sectors to address the climate change challenges succe-ssfully and effectively and our work would have to be focused more on promoting how we have solutions for the remaining 98 percent.

There was a challenge to WITSA by the panel to engage more fully in the 2 percent/ 98 percent debate and that WITSA should gather more case studies to show the effectiveness of ICT help other industries to address the environmental challe-nges. It was suggested that there should be:

i.An action plan created and presented on this matter at the World Congress (WCIT)
The Netherlands in 2010; and ii. There should be a follow-up program to reach out and to talk about the results globally in order to raise awareness and get people to focus on how ICT can be part of the solution as well as our industry cleaning up and taking care of the two percent part in our sector.

International Institutions and What Role They Play in this Arena of Policy and ICT The next panel focused on the international institutions that have traditionally focused on global policies.

That is to say the World Trade Organization (WTO) in terms of global trading rules, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in terms of a think tank for global economic studies and best practice policies, the World Bank for development advisory assistance to developing countries, in particular on how to dere-gulate, regulate approp-riately, implement policies that help to create economic growth and development in their countries, including the use of ICT products and services, and the International Telecom-munication Union (ITU) in promoting the telecomm-unications infrastructure.

The representatives of these institutions were asked to give concrete evidence that their institutions have a positive role to play in promoting ICT and expanding economies and we asked them if these institutions were simply relics of the past.

To no big surprise, the four represe-ntatives did rise to the challenge and presented a lively defense of their institutions, including what we had hoped for – facts, igures and good concrete data. The WTO represe-ntative said that this period has been the longest delay between trade rounds as we await a successful conc-lusion of the Doha Round and that WTO agreements did provide stimulus, especially the basic telecom agreement and deregulation approaches, for ICT products and services at that time and going forward.

In general, the World Trade Organization provides a legal framework for international trading rules that investors and traders rely upon as they do their business globally. And this is an important aspect. In addition, the WTO representative said if the WTO was not there to help out globally how would we arrange international trade as it would be difficult to arrange such global rules though bilateral arrange-ments.

The World Bank representative pointed out that the World Bank was quick to infuse capital into the marketplace in response to the economic downturn and the World Bank  also has a plan to make sure that in the post_crisis period the Bank will continue its lending program and its advisory services, and we heard about one recent project in areas of trade facilitation.

The OECD representative did say he was sure he was invited to talk about the beneficial aspects of ICT because the OECD studies have shown that ICT does matter and is directly linked to economic growth.

In addition, he pointed out that in the recent economic crisis, governments were coming to the OECD to seek more advice and studies and it is a forum for policy coor-dination and cooperation on these issues and, hopefully, on issues mattering to us in the future as the OECD addresses technology and communications issues.

The ITU representative said that this institution is the technical advisors to promote the telecommu-nications infrastructure and interconnection with outreach to developing countries in particular.

But many in the audience asked about the coordination and cooperation among those international institutions and what were they doing to reach out to national governments so that these governments could understand the opportunities that the programs presented or, more importantly, the obligations that the agreements imposed upon them. And here we had an interesting and lively discussion that many officials, especially in the developing countries, did not fully understand or fully know the facilities made available
by all these institutions and that this was indeed a problem for coordination and reaching out to these groups. And so it was suggested that there be more raising of awareness by these institutions, and more training of officials, regulators, trade negotiators.

This led to an opportunity for WITSA to be part of the network to link to the national governments and to encourage them to look to these institutions for whatever projects and programs that may be beneficial to bring ICT to their countries. Thus, WITSA could try to assist in overcoming the problem of a lack of awareness, a lack of coordination, between national governments and these international institutions.

So these representatives said these international institutions are not relics of the past, but like rapid changes in technology in our industry, there have been rapid changes in policy makers, trade negotiators and government officials that know about these institutions and policies and so it is an ongoing learning process that WITSA must continue to help countries and our associations to link into these international institutions.

. Future Technology Trends Finally, the innovation panel was asked to identify what would be the next generation technologies, or next new technology wave, if you will. Sensors were identified, cloud computing with ubiquitous networks, consumer driven personalization to remove complexities for the user were also mentioned. The panel talked about the progression from hardware to software, the people who use the technology, and policies. It was noted that the key component in all future technologies is training people and having them
understand the technologies going forward.

Other Highlights
WITSA unveiled two new initiatives namely the G20 ICT Policy Network to support the new G20 Group of nations. (Based on my humble submission, leading developing nations like Nigeria will be part of this Policy Network as we work towards the Vision 20 2020).
The second initiative of WITSA is the B2B Portal launched to facilitate business between WITSA members’ members having established WITSA Business Centres in select national associations of which Nigeria is one.

It is important to indicate also that Nigeria was elected into the board of WITSA at the WITSA General Assembly.
WITSA Regional Centre of Excellence Nigeria with the backing of Kenya, South Africa and Egypt got the node to host the WITSA Regional Centre of Excellency for Africa which will also serve as the Secretariat of the African Region. The Secretariat will be located in Abuja.
The Bermuda Declaration.

At the end of the Summit, the Bermuda Declaration endorsed by more than 90% of the delegates was released with the following as its main points:

1. ICT is a proven driver for global economic activity and growth. 2. The economic growth generated by the development of the ICT sector will benefit all economies.

3. Access to ICT, knowledge and information provided by the Internet is an important part of an inclusive information society and is essential for broader sustainable economic growth.

4. Public_private partnerships are a critical part in building ICT infrastructure and an information society. 5. There should be an open trading system between nations free from barriers for ICT products and services. We urge WTO Members to reach the compromises
needed to achieve a successful conclusion to the Doha Development Agenda with an ambitious and balanced outcome, including comprehensive results in services.

6. Harnessing the power and benefits of ICT for society will not come automatically. Only if business and governments work together with other partners, including their education systems, can people everywhere be assured of access to ICT tools and the knowledge and empowerment they deliver.

7. International strategies to tackle climate change need to make full use of ICT as one of the most powerful tools available, and one of the only ones that can produce dramatic changes without negative effects on prosperity or individual lifestyles.

8. With the pressure on global public finances, governments should recognize the use of ICT and technology_enabled change as tools to address their operational costs and efficiencies.

9. The continued success and growth of ICT depends on trust and confidence; privacy and security should be appropriately integrated into ICT programs, systems, and products from the beginning.

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology of Egypt and that of Mexico led their countries’ delegation to the Summit while Mrs Yuwa Naps, the Senior Special Assistant on ICT to the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomole was the Nigerian government representation in the Nigerian delegation of six IT Professionals. The next edition of the Summit comes up in Mexico in 2011.

About Bermuda
Bermuda is a tiny Island nation of about 67,000 people (Abuja is 13 times bigger). It is a British overseas territory inhabited continually since 1609. Apart from UK it is the only country with uninterrupted parliament since 1620. Bermuda earns its foreign exchange from international business in Insurance and it is famous for the manufactured mystical Bermuda Triangle.
Jimson Olufuye is the President of ITAN and CEO Kontemporary Konsulting Ltd


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