ITU Conference Comes to Africa for First Time

Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof Umar Danbata and Mr. Zhao SEC GEN ITU at Korea 2017 ITU Conference

THE Department of Telecommunications and Postal Service (DTPS) has identified a venue in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, which meets the ITU requirements of exhibition space and other facilities, for the next Telecom World Exhibition.
Telecom World is an ITU initiative for the global ICT industry and brings together public and private representatives to showcase innovative solutions, and collaborate and engage in high-level dialogue on the major challenges facing the sector.
The annual conference attracts government and industry leaders to explore and identify investment opportunities and best practices for socio-economic development through ICT.
DTPS told ITweb that the conference is expected to attract 9000 delegates and contribute an estimated R81 million to the economy.
As the conference increasingly focuses on small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs), the South African government believes hosting the event will highlight the innovations of ICT SMMEs on the continent, says the department in a statement.
“SA put in a successful bid to host the 2018 ITU Telecom World Exhibition Conference, subject to the conclusion of all the contractual arrangements that should be in place. These include securing a suitable venue and agreeing on dates. In line with this, a delegation from the ITU will visit SA later this year to inspect the prospective venue and take forward the contracting discussions.
“The ITU World Telecom and Exhibition Conference have never been held on the African continent. The government believes hosting the conference on the continent will increase the participation of other African countries, thereby increasing the possibilities of investment in ICT on the continent.”
Frost & Sullivan senior industry analyst for digital transformation practice Naila Govan-Vassen agrees the conference will bring great exposure for SA and the wider continent.
According to Govan-Vassen, the conference estimated contribution of R81 million to the local economy should be wisely used to update and upgrade SA’s infrastructure.
She states: “Furthermore, this platform can be used to address the key challenges that Africa is facing in terms of connecting the wider population, and to find ways in which all countries can work together to improve connectivity rates.
“Spectrum, national broadband plans and the increased drive for digital services are some of the topics that will need special attention, while strategising as to how new digital skills need to be developed in order to uplift the workforce and prepare the younger generation for a digital world.”
George Kalebaila, director for telecoms and IOT for Africa at IDC, also welcomed the news.
It will put the country in the spotlight and allow many local industry players to attend and gain access to the latest innovation and trends in the industry, he said.
“The value really will be that key discussions and decisions will be made in SA during this conference and South Africa [as] a host will be a key participant. But the greater value is the access it will afford to local industry to networking opportunities with thought leaders, key ICT industry players, policy and technology trends, partnership opportunities and innovation from across the ICT world.”
Kalebaila says an added benefit of hosting such an event is its contribution to the country’s tourism, as many participants will take extra days for holidays.
The convergence of key players might also allow local players to explore partnerships with global counterparts seeking to expand into SA and Africa, states Kalebaila.
“The event will put SA on the ICT map and elevate the country’s standing in the telecoms industry and hopefully lead to increased participation and involvement in key decision-making of the ITU,” he concluded.


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