November 16th, 2016

Secretary-General Taylor highlights solutions to universal access challenge at ITU Telecom World

CTO hosts the first Commonwealth pavilion at ITU Telecom World.

BANGKOK, 16 NOVEMBER 2016 – Taking part in a in a high-level discussion on “Reaching another billion: Understanding what works to stimulate ICT adoption”, Shola Taylor, the secretary-general of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), has highlighted key factors that must be considered by policymakers to extend access to ICTs to the billions of unconnected people around the world.

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Shola Taylor, the Secretary-General of the CTO participating in a panel discussion at the ITU Telecom World 2016.

It is estimated that over two billion people worldwide are yet to access the Internet, and for Mr Taylor, three factors are critical to bridging this gap and achieve universal access.

  • Policy formulation – For Mr Taylor, policy formulation remains the most important factor in reaching out to the unconnected, and governments must assess access gaps and formulate clear connectivity objectives in response. “From a governance perspective, it is our experience at the CTO that policy and lawmakers in our member countries are not always equipped with the necessary information to come up with ICT policies and frameworks relevant and adapted to their national environment. So four times a year, we hold a round table with regulatory board members and commissioners, members of parliaments, investment boards and local governments to appraise them of the issues at stake,” Mr Taylor said.
  • Spectrum planning – Mr Taylor argued that better spectrum planning holds part of the solution to the challenge of universal access. “We are all excited about 5G networks, and rightly so. But contrary to spectrum bands being earmarked for 5G networks, spectrum in the 600MHz and 700MHz bands have a far greater potential to reach out to rural and very remote areas where most of the unconnected live,” he said.
  • Investment – “Too many governments around the world continue to perceive the ICT sector as “profitable” and use this as a reason not to invest in the sector’s infrastructure. I have to say that those countries that continue to leave it to the private sector to invest in ICT infrastructure may find themselves among the least attractive markets for investors in the long run,” Mr Taylor said.

Based on a report on demand by the Broadband Commission released today, the discussion included the following participants:

  • John Galvin, Vice-President, Government and Education, Intel Corporation, USA
  • Shola Taylor, Secretary-General, Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, United Kingdom
  • Brahima Sanou, Telecommunication Development Bureau, International Telecommunication Union
  • Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communications Commission
  • Sonia Jorge, Executive Director, Alliance for Affordable Internet and Director of Digital Inclusion Programmes, Web Foundation, Alliance for Affordable Internet (Web Foundation), USA
  • Nikolis Smith, Senior Advisor, Global Connect, Department of State, USA

For the first time, the CTO also built a Commonwealth stand where the CTO and a dozen of regulatory and other national ICT agencies and institutions from Commonwealth countries are exhibiting their work.

I am very pleased with the high interest we received from members who wanted to be part of the Commonwealth, and given the success we have had this year, we are now considering a far bigger exhibition space for next year in Busan,” Mr Taylor said.

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For more information please contact Marcel Belingue, m.belingue@cto.int or +44 (0) 20 8600 3820.

About the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation

The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) is the oldest and largest Commonwealth intergovernmental organisation in the field of information and communication technologies. With a diverse membership spanning developed and least developed countries, small island developing states, and more recently also the private sector and civil society, the CTO aims to become a trusted partner for sustainable development for all through ICTs.