International ICT conference heads to Durban

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Developments in ICT will for four days dominate discussions in September when over 7 000 global delegates descend on Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre for the ITU Telecom World conference. 

The conference, from 10 - 13 September, is an annual exhibition and forum for government and industry leaders to explore challenges, partnerships and solutions, and to identify investment opportunities and best practices for socio-economic development through information and communication technologies. 

It will be the first time the conference will be held in Africa. 

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is an ICT agency of the United Nations that allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits. It also develops technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect. 

It is anticipated that the conference will generate immediate economic benefits ranging between R60 million and R80 million in accommodation and exhibition procurement. 

Industry players are expected to engage on different technology dialogues and innovations such cryptocurrency and other forms of productions related to the ICT industry.

Speaking to Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) platforms today, an excited Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele said the conference would explore the ICT sector. 

“This conference [has] a lot of advantages. The first is to showcase what we can do in terms of new technologies as a country, and secondly, [it] tells the world that we are open to investment. 

“We are looking at particular investment so that we can create jobs, invest in data and innovation centres and new modern factories for production. 

“We are expecting people from government, regulators and industry. They will be coming to share ideas and innovation on how we can prepare ourselves for the Fourth Industrial revolution. They will also share [information on the upcoming] types of networks for 5G networks and what is possible in terms of production for this revolution.

“It should go beyond just traditional telecommunication companies -- it should also attract other sectors of the economy,” said Cwele. 

Stopping cybercrime in its tracks 

An ICT conference would not be complete without a focus on cyber security, with the Minister conceding that this has become an issue of great importance.

“There are millions of data out there. We are not just connecting gadgets, we are connecting people and identities so we need to step up [security]. Some of the companies that will be coming from Africa and abroad will deal with how we improve security,” he said. 

South Africa in 2012 adopted a cyber security framework, which tasked the Department of Telecommunication and Postal Services with assisting private business and the public to deal with the phenomenon.   

“We are also dealing with cyber awareness, where we educate the general public and youth about the use of technology. It is important to use the internet but be security-wise. Protect yourself. We don’t want to discourage our youth and gogos from using the internet but we want to instil confidence that as they use it, they won’t expose themselves to the bad guys,” Cwele said. 

South Africa’s ITU membership 

According to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), the ITU was founded in Paris in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union. The current name "International Telecommunication Union" was decided by the Madrid Plenipotentiary Conference in 1932. ITU activities are governed by the ITU Constitution adopted in 1992 and as revised at the plenipotentiary Conference at Minneapolis, USA in 1998. 

South Africa became a member of the ITU in 1881. In 1965 following the Montreux Plenipotentiary Conference, South Africa was excluded from participating in meetings of the Organisation but continued to remain a member of the organisation. 

A follow-up decision taken at the 1989 Plenipotentiary Conference in Nice resolved that South Africa would continue to be excluded from all conferences, meetings and activities of the ITU until such time as apartheid policies were eliminated. This resolution was set aside by the Executive Council on 9 May 1994 and formally adopted during the 1994 Plenipotentiary Conference. 

South Africa submitted instruments of accession to the constitution, convention and optional protocol of the ITU on 30 June 1994, thus permitting its full participation in the ITU with effect from the 1994 Plenipotentiary Conference held in Japan. 

At that conference and at the subsequent conferences in Minneapolis in 1998 and Marrakech in 2002, South Africa was nominated and elected to membership of the Council. -