The Regional Preparatory Meeting (RPM) for the Arab States was held from January 30 to February 1, 2017 in Khartoum, Sudan. Participants at the meeting assessed the ongoing implementation of the Dubai Action Plan adopted at ITU’s last World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC-14) and identified priority areas for information and communication technology (ICT) development strategies in the Arab region.
In his opening remarks, Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid, Assistant to the President of Sudan, said that ICTs play an important economic, political, and social role in all areas of people’s lives and across the sectors, including the health, security, defense, and academic sectors. “Sudan has contributed to the creation of a knowledge-based society for all by pursuing a policy based on knowledge-sharing and partnership with all stakeholders for the promotion of ICTs to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.”
“2017 is a very important year for the ITU’s Telecommunication Development Sector,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “The World Telecommunication Development Conference, to be held later this year, will forge a global plan for telecommunication and ICT development over the next four years. I am pleased to see that significant efforts have been made to engage Members in the preparation of key documents of the Conference.”
“The Arab region continues to count on the guidance of ITU policies and strategies,” said Tahani Abd Allah Attiyah, Minister of Communications and Information Technology. “The spread of ICTs and its impact on societies is a testament of the outstanding leadership of ITU.”
Five draft regional initiatives for the Arab States region for the years 2018-2021 were identified at the RPM for discussion and consideration at the upcoming WTDC-17.
The draft regional initiatives agreed upon include: environment, climate change and emergency telecommunications; confidence and security in the use of ICTs; Digital Financial Inclusion; Internet of Things, Smart Cities and Big Data and finally, innovation and entrepreneurship.
“The ICT landscape keeps changing,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “It is my hope that the next WTDC will embrace this new landscape for ITU, and ITU’s Development Sector in particular, to remain an active player and facilitator of innovations for development.”
“It was an honour for Sudan to host this important event, which was attended by 21 Arab countries, out of a total of 22,” said Yahia Abdalla, Director General of the National Telecommunication Corporation and Chairman of the RPM. “During the past three days, both Arab Member States and Sector Members discussed and addressed their challenges and agreed on a number of steps to overcome them.”
The RPM for Arab States was preceded by the Regional Development Forum (RDF). Speakers at the opening ceremony included Yahia Abdalla, Brahima Sanou, Marta Ruedas, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan and Wisal Hussein Abdallah, Assistant of the Secretary General of Sudan National Population Council.
At the RDF, participants shared their experiences and insights on the role that ICTs play in achieving the SDGs, with a focus on infrastructure development, health, education, employment, and economic growth.
This Regional Preparatory Meeting was the third in a series that are taking place across the world to identify priorities in each region in preparation for WTDC-17. The first was held in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic from 9 to 11 November 2016 and was followed by the RPM for Africa, held in Kigali from 6 to 8 December 2016.
The next Regional Preparatory Meeting will be for the Americas and will be held in Paraguay from 22 to 24 February 2017. It will be preceded by the Regional Development Forum on 21 February 2017.
WTDC-17 will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from October 9 to 20, 2017.