Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are the drivers that will make these opportunities a reality. ITU’s Connect Arab Summit, set to take place in Doha, Qatar from 5-7 March, will bring together top government leaders and ICT experts from the region and beyond to develop strategies to drive broadband deployment and mobilize the human, financial and technical resources needed to bridge the digital divide in countries right across the Arab world.
One of the world’s most dynamic markets for ICT services, the Arab world is also a region of stark contrasts. While countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait have some of the world’s highest mobile cellular penetrations, other nations are languishing below world averages.
At the same time, fixed broadband penetration averages only 2.2% in the Arab States overall, compared with 6.2% in the Asia & Pacific region, 15.5% in the Americas and 25.8% in Europe.
“The Arab world has moved to the forefront when it comes to ICT-based development policies, yet there is still much work to do to ensure all people across the region have the kinds of access they need to keep that engine of growth well-fuelled. The Connect Arab Summit provides the top-level platform needed to debate and define the far-sighted policies that will further accelerate growth,” said Dr Hamadoun Touré Secretary-General, ITU.
Through the involvement of Heads of State, Heads of Government, ICT Ministers and top business leaders, the Summit aims to concretely tackle the connectivity challenges that are holding some countries back from realizing the full benefits of ICT. It offers a unique venue for leaders from the public and private sectors and international and regional financing and development agencies to network face-to-face and forge new initiatives and partnerships.
Hosted by the State of Qatar under the patronage of Emir of Qatar, H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Summit will feature a series of high-level discussion panels and roundtables around four main conference themes: Cybersecurity (Building Trust and Security in the Use of ICT); Access and Infrastructure (Broadband Access Networks, Digital broadcasting and Open-source Software); Digital Content (Multilingualism); and ICT Innovation.
The three-day programme is expected to serve as the platform for the announcement of a number of important ‘connectivity commitments’ from government, industry and the academic community. It will also bring together partners and donors looking to participate in the implementation of new Arab-focused ICT projects that will help further accelerate deployment of networks, applications and services.
“The Connect Arab Summit is an important opportunity for Arab States to collectively work towards improving ICT development in our region and Qatar is pleased to be hosting this important event. The Arab world must leverage ICT to promote business opportunities, entrepreneurship and innovation and empower various social groups,” said Dr Hessa Al-Jaber, Secretary General of Qatar’s Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR).
Journalists and industry analysts wishing to attend ITU Connect Arab Summit must be formally accredited.
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