Information and Communication Technologies save lives and have the potential to maximize the benefits of the Knowledge Society for marginalized communities in landlocked developing countries, small island developing states and for people everywhere who have disabilities.
Within this context, the World Conference on International Telecommunications (#WCIT12) which recently concluded in Dubai adopted Article 5 – which mandates the Safety of Life and Priority of Telecommunications.
The article specifically references the need to ensure the safety of life, using telecommunications – such as distress telecommunications – and the need for service provider operating agencies to inform all users, including roaming users, in good time and free of charge, of the number to be used for calls to the emergency services.
The outcomes of WCIT-12 have reinforced the innovative initiatives that I launched two months earlier at the ITU World TELECOM in October 2012.
These initiatives include the “m-Powering Development” initiative which seeks to leverage the rapid growth of mobile technology across the globe to boost development through the deployment of m-applications such as m-education, m-health, m-banking and others.
In addition, the “Smart Sustainable Development Model” initiative seeks to link disaster risk reduction efforts and ICT4D. The concept behind this initiative is to ensure that when implementing ICT projects for social development, disaster management issues are also fully taken into account.
For example, local communities would be trained to use the mainstream technologies for public safety through timely disaster response. These communities should be supported to ensure they are effective first responders when disasters strike.
WCIT-12 also gave an additional boost to these two initiatives by adopting Article 8B on accessibility which calls on Member States to promote access for persons with disabilities to international telecommunication services, and a resolution on special measures for landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) and Small Island developing States (SIDSs) for access to international optical fibre networks.
Article 8B added to the ITRs at the conference currently states that “Member States are encouraged to promote access for persons with disabilities to international telecommunication services taking into account relevant ITU-T Recommendations“.
The conclusions of WCIT-12 will go a long way towards strengthening ITU’s ongoing initiatives in the development sector.
I am already in the process of establishing an Advisory Board for each of the two initiatives and look forward to keeping you updated on further developments and progress.
If you have any interest to get involved, contribute ideas or partner with ITU please do get in touch.
Mr. Brahima Sanou was elected Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau by the Plenipotentiary Conference, 2010 in Guadalajara, Mexico. He took office on 1 January 2011.