Commonwealth ICT ministers who met in London last week have set ambitious targets for member states.
The ministers agreed that the public and private sectors need to come together to help accelerate ICT development in Commonwealth countries.
The Commonwealth is an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states, including Nigeria, that are mostly former territories of the British Empire.
Held every two years, the event included a two-day open conference, which provided industry and government leaders with an opportunity to discuss challenges and solutions to ICT adoption in the Commonwealth and beyond.
The ministers pointed out that countries have to work hard to change business mindsets and increase capacity for collaboration to create sustainable ICT in businesses, especially small to medium enterprises.
Given that these businesses are high-risk, stakeholders have to absorb the risks and protect the companies against such risks, they noted.
Blockchain technologies took centre stage at the meeting, with the ministers saying they are important, as the current attention and energy being used to develop blockchain by the crypto-currency community is advancing our understanding of how blockchain can be built upon.
However, they noted that concerns about crypto-currency may well be justified, but this is the cutting-edge of an underlying technology that cannot be ignored.
According to the ICT ministers, bridging the digital divide is profoundly important if member states want to transform their global economy to a digital economy. The Internet of things will see 20 billion devices connected, possibly by the end of the decade, they said.
With crimes being committed at an alarming rate online, the need for accountability in cyber space is fundamental, they said, adding that 5G technology will require large blocks of spectrum within the frequency bands identified by International Telecommunication Union WRC-2015.
“Contributions from the private sector at this year’s event were very constructive, and from the various comments I’ve heard during and since the event, the addition of the Open Forum has been a success,” says Marcel Belingue, senior manager, membership and communications, and Ag secretary-general of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO).
During the event, the CTO issued the results of a report on over-thetops (OTTs), which was mandated by the ministers in 2016. The main objective of the study is to develop, based on consultations with relGiven that these businesses are high-risk, stakehold- ers have to absorb the risks and protect the companies against such risks, they noted.
The finding of this study shows the majority of stakeholders recognise and appreciate the innovative nature of OTTs and do not want innovation to be stifled as OTT services offer numerous benefits.
“We have set a lot of goals and they are ambitious; however, they quickly change, because technology moves so rapidly. We should focus more on bringing the benefits of ICT to e-commerce. You can’t be left behind. Supporting innovation in ICT is a must,” says Houlin Zhao, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union.