WSIS 2017 – Moderated high-level policy session 9

14 Jun 2017 09:00h - 10:00h

Event report

[Read more session reports from WSIS Forum 2017]

The session, moderated by Mr André Lucas Fernandes (ISOC’s Youth SIG), featured discussions on an enabling environment for digital development. He introduced the session by saying that it would bring different and interdisciplinary perspectives and would explore some national and multistakeholder initiatives, reflections about the digital divide, access, and business implications.

Mr Kemal Huseinovic (WSIS Action Line Facilitator, ITU) talked about ITU efforts to help member states to create an enabling environment because information and communication technologies (ICTs) are an enabler for growth development. He affirmed that it is important not only to create an enabling environment but to learn how to work with other sectors, establishing partnerships with all the stakeholders. From his point of view, the telecommunications sector has changed over the years, passing from a monopoly through to an open market with independent agencies. For him, the current ICT stage brings the necessity of collaboration between different regulators inside a country and with the UN agencies.

Mr Léon Juste Ibombo (Minister, Ministère des Postes et des Télécommunications, Republic of Congo) said the Congo government integrates ICTs as a catalyst strategy to reduce poverty in the country. To guarantee universal access, the government is working on improving the national coverage for ICTs, improving the speed of the Internet and creating a national backbone and an Internet exchange point (IXP). Ibombo talked about the initiative of creating incubators for technological businesses and how important it is for the growth of the country. He ended his speech by talking about data protection and cybercrime concerns, and some governments’ actions for capacity building on these issues.

Mr. Ibrahim Ahmed Mohamed Osman (State Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Sudan) started his speech talking about the importance of ICTs for bridging the gap between countries and to achieve sustainable development goals. After that, he presented some government actions to facilitate citizens’ access to public services and to provide information without any limitation, such as 85% coverage fiber optics, inclusion of 9 million users, and many education and health applications put in place. Osman said that Sudan had done a survey to define a plan about how to serve isolated areas in the country. At the end of his speech, he emphasised the challenge of covering the whole country with e-government services.

Mr Nicolas Evers (Comisión Nacional de Telecomunicaciones – CONATEL, Paraguay) substituted for Eng Mirian Teresita Palacios Ferreira in the session. He talked about some uses for the Internet and how it can improve life conditions and cover social needs in Paraguay, particularly for people with disabilities. One of the challenges is how to make telecommunication services available throughout the country. Evers also talked about the national plan for telecommunications expected to be in action in 2020. Finally, he concluded that telecommunications are important to support education and health.

In the beginning of his speech, Mr Pablo Bello Arellano (Secretary General of ASIET, Spain) said that the world had never been so connected until now, and for every two people, one is connected to the Internet. He offered a reflection that the number of connected devices will become a problem in some years’ time because there will be many more of them in the developed world in comparison with developing countries. Another issue he raised was about productivity. In his view, it is necessary to change from a consumer Internet to a productivity Internet, especially in Latin America. He concluded that it is important to build a vibrant digital ecosystem and nowadays telecommunications are not the only actor in that respect.

Dr Carolyn Nguyen (Director of Technology Policy in Microsoft) began her presentation talking about the importance of collaboration with other stakeholders to build an enabling environment. She highlighted the importance of the fight against the gender divide, reminding the audience that only 30% of women are online. From her point of view, the empowerment of women is important, especially for the next generation. Nguyen described a project in Kenya where Microsoft had helped provide local capacity for connecting the population. At the end of her speech, she emphasised that it is necessary to take into account economic, social (human rights, local content, innovation) and governance (including different stakeholders) approaches to build sustainable solutions.


by Nathalia Sautchuk Patrício