President of the Republic of South Africa – Cyril Ramaphosa officially opens the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World conference hosted by South Africa
“The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World provides a guide and compass to the future, as it enables us to navigate a new bright and brave world that many countries are traversing. The deliberations that will take place here concern the economies and societies of tomorrow that we are building today,” said Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of the Republic of South Africa at the official opening ceremony of the ITU Telecom World Conference 2018.
Hosted by South Africa at the iNkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban, from 10-13 September 2018 the ITU Telecom World under the theme “Innovation for a Smarter Digital Development” the annual exhibition and forum organised by the ITU aims to deliver economic development and foster social good through its exhibition for digital solutions, and forum for sharing knowledge and networking.
President Ramaphosa adds that it is a great privilege and honour for the government and the people of South Africa to host this event for the first time on the African continent. “This is a gathering of people who are involved in one of the most important sectors of various economies in the world. It is through bodies like the ITU that a digital agenda for inclusivity, sustainable and development can be crafted. We have the means and responsibility to direct the evolution of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the advancement of a better life for all the people of the world.
“It is therefore our task to ensure that this digital revolution responds to the needs of the developing world and its economies. It must contribute in overcoming some of the challenges that the world faces today which include unemployment, inequality and poverty. It must also bridge the digital divide and not widen it. And as such, as we develop technologies we must bear in mind that these technologies must not be the preserve of elite areas, but must be technologies that can be utilised by all,” said President Ramaphosa yesterday.
Secretary-General of the ITU which is the United Nations agency for information and ICT, Mr Houlin Zhao paid tribute to the late statesman, former President Nelson Mandela. Mandela who in 1995, as the first democratically elected president of South Africa, addressed the 7th World Telecommunications Conference and Exhibition (ITU event) in Geneva and led South Africa’s participation at the global ICT event as a full member of the ITU, post-apartheid.
“I wish to pay my respect to Mr Nelson Mandela, a global icon, a son of the African soil and a strong supporter of ITU. He reminded us that Information Communication Technologies (ICT) have the potential to solve many of the critical challenges facing society. Mr Mandela once said that ICT is one of the most powerful tools for human progress.
“ITU is honoured and proud today to bring one of its flagship events to a continent on the cusp of a new digital era. Over the next four days we are going to have the opportunity to put investment, innovation and inclusivity in the spotlight. These areas are critical to bridging the digital divide and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Let us use ITU Telecom World conference for smart digital development, let us all work together to ensure a smart and inclusive digital future for all — for Africa and for our world,” said Zhao in his address at the opening ceremony.
The ITU and the Telecom World Exhibition and Forum supports the African Union Agenda 2063 call to support Africa‘s accelerated growth, technological transformation, and for the attainment of a well-developed ICT and digital economy. This goal, is aligned to South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 of transforming South Africa into an inclusive and innovative digital and knowledge society, through the promotion of leadership and partnership to tackle the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
President Ramaphosa stressed the important role of women, young people and Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) in driving the agenda for technological advancements. “We need to use the three pillars to enable technological advancement to gain traction and if we are talking about the 4th industrial revolution – we need to ensure that it is supported by these three pillars.
“As our economies become increasingly dependent on ICT it is critical that government work more closely with industry to maximise the value of digital innovations. It is equally critical that we develop effective collaborative relationships with the communities we are expected to serve. Let us be guided by the vision that Nelson Mandela had – of a world in which everyone is connected, not only by tech but also by a common humanity,” concluded President Ramaphosa.
It is anticipated that there will be significant and long term multiplier effects from hosting the event, in sectors such as tourism and the hospitality industries, as well as for a number of export products. Immediate economic benefits could amount to approximately R60 million in the area of accommodation for the host city, and approximately R80 million to the industry on exhibition and local procurement, in addition to the direct benefits to the venue.
– Tsabeng Nthite
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