Over 330 world leaders, including Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers, national ambassadors, heads of regulatory agencies, and CEOs from around the world, came together for the event, which saw debate and interaction on a broad-reaching global agenda spanning everything from broadband to connecting cities, harnessing innovation and next-generation wireless advances, and featured live participation from around the world.
The event was preceded by an invitation-only Broadband Leadership Summit which sought to tackle the many complex issues raised by broadband deployment, from the challenges of infrastructure financing in poorer nations and isolated regions to cybersecurity, data privacy and intellectual property rights.
As we accelerate towards a ubiquitous high-speed future, international dialogue is essential to ensuring we take the right decisions, learn from one anothers experiences and avoid having to re-invent the wheel.
ITU Telecom World plays an increasingly central role in forging best practices that the public and private sectors can draw on when defining and deploying the networks that will offer best quality affordable service to all users, said Dr Hamadoun Tour, ITU Secretary-General.
The Summit closed by addressing a Broadband Challenge to world leaders, top policy-makers, industry leaders, users and consumers as part of a Closing Conversation moderated by CNNs Becky Anderson.
The Challenge underlines the need for concrete policy measures to promote broadband, stresses the fundamental importance of making content meaningful to individuals at a real-life, local level, and calls on world leaders, governments, industry and civil society to work together to ensure that at least 50% of the developing worlds population, and 40% of its households, are using broadband Internet by 2015.
In his closing remarks, Carlos Slim Hel, President of the Carlos Slim Foundation and Co-Chair of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Digital Development, pointed to the past decades explosive growth in mobile as offering a potential roadmap for broadband take-up. He cited the success of the prepaid model in Latin America as an innovative alternative to large-scale top-down investment, in addition to affordable devices and low-cost universal access through WiFi in public places, schools and libraries.
New levels of interactivity
This years repositioned event included a comprehensive Forum programme featuring new streams, such as a Digital Cities programme focusing on how technology can help meet the challenges of increasing urbanization, and an in-depth Technical Symposium for CTOs and ICT engineers.
A new-look show floor highlighted opportunities in emerging markets across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Just being able to connect with Ministers from around the world, from developed and developing countriesits been a great chance to engage and learn, said Omobola Johnson, Nigerias Minister for Communications Technology.
Coming from a country like Nigeria, its a great opportunity to see what the new technologies are, what the new applications are, and how we can use these in Nigeria, she said.
To bring the whole world into the event experience, new levels of interactivity were assured through extensive webcasting, online polls, a metaconference involving 10,000 schoolchildren worldwide, and competitions for Young Innovators and Digital Innovators offering prizes of CHF 8,500 seed funding to help winners to turn their project concepts into reality.
Youth are the future, and nowhere is this more true than in our fast-changing industry, where innovation is being driven by a new generation of digital natives for whom ICTs are a natural and intrinsic part of the world. I have no doubt that many of the 45 young innovators ITU has hosted this week will go on to big things, and help further reshape our digital world in ways my generation cannot even imagine, said Dr Tour.
Innovation was the byword of this years event, with showcases by event partners including Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, China Mobile, China Potevio, Cisco, Datang, Du, Ericsson, Etisalat, Fiberhome, Fujitsu, Huawei, Intel, NTT Group, NTT DoCoMo, Qtel, Rohde & Schwarz, RIM, Satorys, Swisscom, Telkom SA, Turk Telecom, TDIA and ZTE.
Innovation, by definition, is the future of our industry and seeing some of the exciting ideas being worked on by the Young and Digital Innovators attending ITU Telecom World 2011 this year has shown how innovation is now truly global, said Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman of the Qtel Group. The event has been an excellent showcase of some of the creativity, passion and drive needed to create real change.
New players from established and emerging markets were also showcased on the many national pavilions including Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burundi, China, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Ghana, Geneva, Switzerland, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Malawi, Malaysia, Namibia, Nigeria, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda and Zambia.
“Russia has a long and proud tradition in the telecommunications industry, from Alexander Popov’s first practical application of radio waves to the current day,” said Igor Shchegolev, Russias Minister of Communications and Mass Media. “ITU Telecom World 2011 has enabled us to showcase the fact that Russian companies are at the very forefront of new developments in the industry, and has opened doors to new markets and investment.”
Engage, Collaborate, Connect!
Over 55 Forum sessions featured Ministerial Roundtables, workshops and interactive panel discussions, with participants encouraged to put forward their questions via range of multimedia platforms.
The opening session, Pathway to a Connected World, kicked off in landmark participatory style with chair Nik Gowing of the BBC drawing on the opinions of a distinguished and diverse panel from the public and private sector, including Stephen Conroy, Minster for Broadband and the Digital Economy, Australia; Russian Minister Igor Shchegolev; John Davies, VP of Intel Corporations World Ahead programme; Jianzhou Wang, Chairman of China Mobile, the worlds largest mobile operator; and ITUs Dr Tour.
Joining the audience in Geneva were thousands of participants from around the world, who were able to actively take part in the event through live webstreams and put real-time questions to panellists through a very active twitter feed.
Panellists agreed that there is no one-size-fits-all universal solution to broadband deployment. What works in one country may not work in another, so the important element is a common, shared vision and a good regulatory framework, they concurred.
Senator Conroy noted that broadband is too important to hope it will appear, it needs leadership from governments and also the ITU. Leadership is the key for ubiquitous broadband.
Focus on youth
Other highlights of the event included National Days for Ghana, Malaysia and Nigeria; a video message by President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, Patron of ITUs Child Online Protection initiative, reinforcing the importance of online security for young people; and the announcement of the six winners of the Young Innovator and Digital Innovator competitions, which brought 45 finalists from 22 countries to Geneva for training in how to pitch their innovative projects to potential investors.
The winners, who were voted for by delegates in Geneva and around the world via online polls, were:
Young Innovators category
Sanniti Pimpley (India) with a project to help urban youth learn while on the bus to work, through onboard screened content.
Fab-Ukozor Somto (Nigeria) with the MS2C (Mobile Skills to Cash) texting service that matches NGOs, private companies and public sector opportunities to text-messaged skill-sets of citizens seeking work.
Richard Seshie (Ghana) co-founder of Gas’Yo!, a project that helps make delivery of gas more efficient in the last mile of distribution, thanks to mobile apps.
Digital Innovators category
Jian Min Sim (Singapore), whose project involves developing a mobile app that gives volunteers the information they need to stay safe and informed.
Hasjra Bibi Cassim (South Africa) for Showmemobi: a mobile app that shares South African stories through film and helps lift people out of unemployment.
Andrew Benson (Sierra Leone), for Digital Hope, a service that uses digital tools to empower amputees to sell their own home-made goods.
The ITU Telecom World 2011 Young Innovators workshops provided a bridging effect to actually help you migrate your idea from theoretical concepts to something that is useable practical and feasible. The fact there was such a diverse mix of people from different backgrounds and different perspectives turbo-boosted the thought process, so that the ideas we came up with as a group were amazingly wonderful, said young innovator Komborerai Murimba from Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, in the ITU Telecom World 2011 Metaconference, children as young as nine years old were among the first to challenge speakers on the Forum panels with their own views, thoughts and video prototypes of ideas that could help solve the problems posed by ITU Telecom World 2011 delegates. Using Twitter to share their ideas with panel chairs who relayed their messages, students were thrilled to see that their voices had a global impact.
Manifesto for Change
The culmination of the event was a global Manifesto for Change that recognizes the importance of broadband for socio-economic development. Compiled with the help of event partner Ernst & Young, the Manifesto draws on input from delegates and online participants, capturing multi-channel knowledge flows from around the world. ITU will now be encouraging world leaders to commit themselves to put in place the necessary legal and regulatory frameworks to help the private sector implement this change.
Any good development programme starts with a dream from a leader, said ITUs Dr Tour. Once that dream is shared with the people it becomes a vision. You then need people who believe in that vision and can implement it. We have dreamed this dream together and it has now become a vision and now we need to take the necessary steps so that we move together . . . we are entering the Knowledge Society, where every citizen not only has access to information but can use information, create information and share information. In this new world, no person on the planet should miss out on opportunities through lack of information.
Next stop Dubai!
The next ITU Telecom World event will be held in Dubai, UAE, in Q4 of 2012.