September 19, 2021

Transformative considerations for the “Year of Recovery”

Case Study By

Mr. Bocar Ba

Chief Executive Officer, SAMENA Telecommunications Council

State of Broadband 2021

The ideas and opinions expressed in this insight are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect those of ITU and UNESCO or the Broadband Commission. The mention of specific companies, products or services does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by ITU or UNESCO or Broadband Commission in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.

In response to the year 2020’s challenges, the digital communications industry has demonstrated its resilience and power to support societal and business continuity by leveraging digital communications networks and technologies and their meaningful application in accordance with newest human life experiences that have made digital interaction and remote work the “new normal”. 

Inspired by the Commission’s Agenda for Action and various recommendations, the right to prosperity for all, with broadband now being recognized as a fundamental human right, has received a new level of recognition within the international community, lending life to the objective of connecting the unconnected and leaving no one behind.

SAMENA Council, taking the Commission’s Agenda for Action and its spirit to execution, has over the last year, explored how to best catalyze technical, business, institution-level, and regulatory changes brought on by the epidemic across four fronts: multi-stakeholder engagement, public-private priority alignment, evolution of the cyber ecosystem, and enablement of socio-economic digital transformation through advanced technologies. To this effect, SAMENA Council has congregated ICT leaders driving change and setting into practice new norms in regulation and policy-making at its world-class stakeholder communication platform to focus on the need to transform policy to reality and thereby address the critical need to ensure cross-industry and cross-stakeholder collaboration, to be able to achieve the digital inclusion aspiration and to contribute to achieving the UN SDGs.

As part of the ITU’s efforts in the region, the Council has stressed the need to align public-private priorities coupled with the right incentives, so that investment is maintained in building the required broadband infrastructure and in realizing an inclusive digital economy in the region. The Council has emphasized to regional regulators the importance and availability of affordable spectrum and rectification of signal interference issues with effective regulatory approaches to address the future connectivity requirements. The Council has also voiced the need for devising mechanisms for reducing high industry fees and taxation by taking into consideration international best practices and implementing the ITU’s collaborative regulation model; allowing for cross-border data flow for network operators and immediate pilot projects to this effect; and championing innovation in the creation and adoption of new digital services by governments.

Universal Digital Access and Services are the fundament for a resilient and inclusive digital future and its enablers need to be at the top of governments’ agendas. While the private sector is the key engine of innovation and change, only in collaboration with the public sector and other key stakeholders including UN agencies and NGOs, academia and civil society can we ensure that no one is left behind going forward and that we can achieve the Broadband Commission’s connectivity goals and the UN’s SDGs.